The Friendly Baker Cookbook
By Lucy Parr
I came to creating recipes when my eldest daughter was a few months old and diagnosed as allergic to milk and eggs. There was so little I could buy for her, and she always seemed to be missing out. No food at parties, no pancakes at nursery on pancake day, few snacks able to be bought when on a day out. I decided to try my best to recreate dishes for her, so she could experience the same as her friends.
When my younger daughter was born, and subsequently diagnosed as allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts and sesame, and we were strictly told to avoid all nuts and all potential traces, suddenly even those items we’d previously relied upon where out of bounds. No fresh bread from the bakery, few shop bought biscuits, cereals, or any other nice edible foods. I used my training as a pastry chef to recreate delicious bakes for them to eat and as these recipes became more successful, people started asking for them and I decided to start writing a blog to share the recipes way back in 2012. There are now over 800 friendly recipes completely free-from milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts and sesame, with many also free-from soya and a good proportion free-from wheat and gluten.
It’s always been a dream of mine to write a cookbook, and you would think that 10 years of creating and writing ‘friendly’ recipes on my blog would have meant that it would be completed almost as soon as I began, but that really hasn’t been the case. I have renewed respect for all cookbook authors, or in fact anyone who has published a book of any kind.
The journey started as a little seed of thought that germinated and has grown into an actual beautiful cookbook that you can purchase online direct from my publishers, in Waterstones and other bookshops and on Amazon, how amazing is that?
Over my ten years of running Lucy’s Friendly Foods, I’ve had some moments of doubt, ‘maybe I should just give it all up’, as well as some moments of where “can I take this”, “how can I make more of my friendly recipes”. It’s odd, because whenever the doubts have crept in something has happened; one of the girls has been left out of an occasion, or we’ve been somewhere and there has been nothing suitable to eat, and I’ve been fired up again.
Food that anybody can enjoy
The whole point, all along, has been to ensure those with allergies don’t have to miss out; that they can also enjoy delicious food, and share that food with those around them because it may be safe but also delicious, pretty and as good as the ‘real thing’.
I did consider selling baking mixes, but when it comes down to it, what I really love is setting myself a challenge in the kitchen, to recreate some delicious delicacy and make a winning recipe. I love the whole process; the initial thoughts and research, the dabbling in the kitchen, the perfecting the recipes, and then the writing up and posting some great photos. So, I took the big leap: I wrote a proposal in early 2022 and sent it to many, many, publishers and literary agents. A lot didn’t reply, which is only to be expected.
Then came a yes! I was quite shellshocked and couldn’t quite believe it, it made me query the whole thing!
I really thought I had a polished proposal when I initially sent it out, but the concept has really changed and evolved into the final book you can now buy in shops. The title was one of the hardest things to pin down – I wanted to get across the idea that the recipes are suitable for those with allergies, they’re plant-based but they’re also delicious for everyone. I knew I couldn’t say allergen-free as lots of my recipes contain wheat and gluten, but I wanted to get across my purpose, which is to make recipes that can be made suitable for most (if not all) people.
My recipes and why “The Friendly Baker”
I’ve created recipes that can be easily adapted to suit anyone’s own requirements, making my bakes accessible for even more people. The title that stuck, and what most people immediately liked was ‘The Friendly Baker’, which obviously stems from Lucy’s Friendly Foods but also explains why all my recipes are friendly:
They’re friendly because they are:
- Allergen friendly or as much as possible, with easy substitutions to make them suitable for you,
- People friendly because they’re easy and delicious,
- Planet-friendly because they don’t use animal products, which on the whole are more damaging to the environment,
- Pocket-friendly as they use easy to source and inexpensive ingredients.
Even though I had a lot of the recipes already, they all needed refining and tweaking to be made perfect. Some of the recipes have never been published before. There has been a lot of taste testing along the way!! I’m really hoping the book sells well, mainly because I want friendly bakes to be more accessible to those who need them, but I also have plenty of ideas for more cookbooks, as I would love to repeat the process!
The photoshoot may have been the most intense and crazy 5 days of work I’ve ever had, especially as the first three were in the middle of a heatwave – if you’ve ever tried to use buttercream, pastry or chocolate in a heatwave you’ll understand how hard this was! Luckily I was working with an amazing food photographer, who made the process as seamless and enjoyable as possible. I was extremely organised and prepared, but even so we were completely pushed to the wire – prepping, styling and photographing up to 13 recipes a day is a monumental task! I hope you like the photos in the book as much as I do, I think they really show my bakes off to their best, and I’m proud to say that I made everything in the book, with a little help from the family.
How you can support me
For me the next bit will be hard, as of course, I think this is a fabulous cookbook and I would certainly buy it myself, but I’m no saleswoman and I need to help the publishers spread the word beyond my own and online community.
I have given away recipes for free for 10 years, and I’ve had masses of amazing feedback in that time on how they’ve made their lives a little bit brighter and sweeter. It would be so nice if everyone who has used my recipes supports this step into print by giving back a little and buying a copy, or recommending it to people they know or come across.
If you buy it, and I hope you will, please let me know what you think, write your reviews on Amazon and spread the word so more people can be Friendly bakers. The more friendly baking that happens, the more people can be included and enjoy delicious food with their loved ones.
My recommendations for allergy friendly restaurants
Here are my 5 allergy friendly recommendations:
Turtle Bay – really great with allergies lots of dairy and egg free options – even the burger bun is ok! No nuts used on site either
The Stable – fun atmosphere and interesting pizza options. Happy to add or remove ingredients to make pizzas safe – lots of vegan options too and a gluten free menu too
The Ivy – great service and a bit more special. Knowledgeable staff and reliable processes in the kitchen make you feel safe
Wagamama– always a reliable favourite. Hardly anything contains dairy and no peanuts on site. Sesame is a little more tricky but there are a few options.
Nando’s – fast food but done a bit better – staff take great care cleaning the grill before doing an allergy order and we’ve never had any issues when visiting
Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you enjoy trying the recipe in my cookbook!