Christmas at the Palace: a cookbook review

 Back in June, I reviewed Carolyn Robb's Tea at the Palace. Well she's back with another beautiful book that combines stories about eight royal residences and the Christmas fare one would encounter there. Christmas at the Palace takes on its subject matter with approachable authority and boy, is it pretty to look at.

Carolyn Robb served as royal chef to the House of Windsor for 12 years and in this book, she highlights 50 recipes that announce very loudly that the holiday season is upon us. I love the British approach to food and I love their respect for baking especially. I never fully grasped how lacking traditional American baking is until I started exploring the differences between the British approach and ours.

I fancy myself to be an accomplished baker but it wasn't until I ran into broadcasts of the Great British Bake Off on Netflix that I truly understood how broadly they interpret words like cake and pie. Exposure to British baking is also how I came to see the light when it comes to weighing my ingredients instead of the traditional American method of using volume measurements.

Carolyn Robb's Christmas at the Palace is themed and arranged by the eight royal residences she highlights. Each chapter covers a range of foods, none of these chapters or recipes are restricted to baking alone. I gravitate toward baking recipes but there's something here for everyone. All of these recipes would be ideal to work into any holiday plan.

I made this recipe yesterday as a test.

These Savory Blue Cheese and Walnut Biscuits are spectacular. As the name states, they're a biscuit and not a cracker. These aren't something that you'd spread anything on but what they are is something we in the US never see, a savory cookie. Honestly, they're amazing and as of about an hour ago, nearly gone.

Meringue doesn't get nearly the attention in the US that it deserves and Robb makes ample use of it in her new book. The Australians may claim credit for the Pavlova but more Americans need to start making these things.

The Crown Pavlova on page 131 takes three pages to plot out completely yet despite all of the steps and the time involved in making one, they are really easy to make.

Is that thing beautiful or what?

But be warned, even though these recipes are Americanized by giving volume equivalents to metric quantities, there are a few British ingredients you'll need if you want to wade into this book. Caster sugar can be tricky to find in the US as can other things like demerara sugar and golden syrup, but that's why we have Amazon.

Christmas at the Palace hits the bookshelves on 8 November 2022, but you can pre-order it here. In the interest of disclosure, Insight Editions, an imprint of Weldon Owens, sent me a review copy of this spectacular cookbook.