KATE Young's food-writing career began with an innocuous slice of treacle tart (Harry Potter's fave), a side-order of homesickness and an all-consuming love of reading.

Having grown up in Brisbane, Australia, she moved to London to pursue a career as a theatre producer - but, finding herself heartsick for her family, she turned first to Hogwarts for comfort, and then to the oven.

"I've always found reading Harry Potter to be immensely comforting," she explains. "I'd never eaten treacle tart, but I remembered it was his favourite dessert, so I made one and was like, 'This is lovely!'"

She fed it to friends who, beguiled by the idea of eating the food inspired by, and found in, literature, encouraged her to start a blog.

It was picked up by the Guardian and now, fewer than two years later, the result is The Little Library Cookbook.

Cooking the (literary) classics comes with a certain amount of responsibility

Kate admits she easily could have stuck to only creating versions of the food Harry, Ron and Hermione scoff, but couldn't shy away from tackling some of the most iconic literary food moments.

Hence why you'll find recipes for Paddington Bear's beloved marmalade, the delicate fluted madeleines that define Proust's Swann's Way, and Bruce Bogtrotter's giant chocolate cake from Matilda.

"People do get attached, particularly to books they loved as children, that shape us and make us who we are," notes Kate, but she says it doesn't deter her from whisking fiction into the physical. "It is a thing that I think is affectionate, that I hope people and authors will take well. I'm in no way stomping on anyone's toes - it's essentially a fan service!"

Even making Edmund's pillowy-pink Turkish delight in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe didn't worry her. "It's just so time-consuming!" she admits. "It's as faithful as I can possibly make it, while being the thing I really want to eat."

There are a few things she wouldn't attempt though, like the huge pies for hundreds of people ("Well, mice,") in Brian Jacques' Redwall series. "I hate wasting food, and when it's made for the sake of being made."

Fundamentally, she explains, the recipes in The Little Library Cookbook are not gimmicks. It's not about hosting themed parties and presenting food that looks accurate but tastes rotten.

"It's a real, usable cookbook," says Kate earnestly. "The recipes aren't the imaginary dishes in books - it's the treacle tart rather than fizzing whizbees." Although she did once invent hot honeycomb doughnuts that burst in the mouth, like the pop cakes from Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree.

"I hope people read it and go, 'That's a lovely story, but I would happily just make chicken and tarragon without needing to tell everyone it's from Anna Karenina'."

"So much of what we do centres around food," she muses. "There's something really interesting in the moments we come together and sit down and eat, and the conversations we have. I always find it quite weird when people don't eat in books."



(Serves 10)

For the pastry:

250g plain flour

2tbsp icing sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of salt

175g butter, chilled and cubed

1 egg yolk

For the filling:

600g golden syrup

1/4tsp ground ginger

150g fresh fine breadcrumbs

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 egg, beaten


1. To make the pastry, combine the flour, icing sugar, lemon zest and salt in a bowl. Rub in the cold butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and one to two tablespoons of very cold water. Combine with your hands until the mixture comes together into a dough. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and form into a ball. Don't work the mixture too much or your pastry won't be crisp. Wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for half an hour.

2. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface (if the pastry is sticking, roll it between two pieces of greaseproof paper). You want a 30cm circle that is around the thickness of a pound coin.

3. Transfer your pastry to a fluted tart tin. Use a small ball of spare dough (rather than your fingers - your nails may cut the pastry) to push it into place, making sure it goes right into the corners. If there are any tears, patch them up with extra dough. Lightly prick the base with a fork and return to the fridge to chill for a further 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5 and insert a baking sheet in the middle of the oven to heat up.

4. Line the chilled case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or uncooked rice. Place in the oven, on the baking sheet, for 15 minutes, then remove the baking paper and beans and bake for a further five minutes, until golden.

5. For the filling, heat the golden syrup and ground ginger in a saucepan over a low heat until hot, but not boiling. Remove from the heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and juice and beaten egg until just combined, then pour into the pastry case.

6. Bake the tart in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the filling is set and the pastry golden. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from the tin and serving warm. Leftovers (should there be any) should be reheated a little in the oven before eating, or you risk losing a tooth!



(Serves 4)


120g plain/all-purpose flour

3 eggs

Pinch of salt

300ml milk


2tbsp butter

1tbsp flavourless oil (or beef dripping if you have some)

8 fat sausages

5 stalks rosemary (optional)

10 sprigs thyme (optional)


1tbsp butter (or oil, if you prefer)

3 small red onions, sliced into semicircles

1tsp brown sugar

2tsp Worcestershire sauce

1tbsp plain/all-purpose flour

500ml beef stock

Salt and pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Tip the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre, crack in the eggs and whisk. Add the salt and then whisk in the milk until you have a smooth, runny batter. Set aside for 15 minutes, while you cook the sausages.

2. Add the fats to a pan, heat until bubbling and fry the sausages over a medium heat until they are cooked. Allow them to blacken and blister in places.

3. Scatter the herbs over the sausages, stalks and all. Pour the batter into the smoking hot pan, around the cooked sausages. It may spit a bit, so protect your arms with a tea towel. Put the tin straight into the hot oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, pulling it out when the batter is risen, crisp and browned it patches.

4. While the toad-in-the-hole is in the oven, make the gravy. Melt the butter in the saucepan and, once it is bubbling, add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat until softened.

5. Add the sugar, stirring until it has dissolved into the butter. Pour in the Worcestershire sauce, and stir through. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to coat the onion. Pour in about 100ml of the stock and whisk until the sauce surrounding the onions is smooth. Add the rest of the liquid and bring to the boil, stirring with the wooden spoon until thick. Remove from the heat and warm again when you're ready to serve. Season to taste.

6. Remove the toad-in-the-hole from the oven and serve immediately. Make sure that everyone has plenty of crispy bits from the sides of the dish and a generous slug of the gravy.



(Serves 10 - generously)


6 eggs, weighed in their shells, then the same weight of:

Unsalted butter

Caster sugar

Self-raising flour

2tsp vanilla extract (not liniment)

Small amount of milk, if necessary


120g unsalted butter

1kg icing sugar

1 vanilla pod

4tbsp milk


1. Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas Mark 3. Grease three 20cm sandwich tins and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Ensure all ingredients for the cake are at room temperature.

2. Beat the butter and sugar on a high speed for at least five minutes, until the mixture is pale in colour and very light in consistency.

3. Crack the eggs into a glass, and add them one at a time. Add a spoonful of the flour after each egg to prevent the mixture curdling. Add the vanilla and mix again.

4. Sift the remaining flour into the batter and fold in gently. Once it is incorporated (don't overmix it here - stop as soon as you have mixed in all the dry bits of flour), test the consistency. Take a spoonful of the batter and hold it above the bowl. It should drop off the spoon and back into the bowl. If it is reluctant to do this and clings to the spoon, add a tablespoon of milk and test again.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the tins. Level out the tops, then transfer to the oven, putting them on the same shelf if your oven is big enough. Bake for 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into each cake comes out clean.

6. Cool the cakes in their tins for five minutes, then tip them out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

7. To make the icing, beat the butter until light. Fold in half of the icing sugar, and beat on a low speed until incorporated. Add the other half and again beat on a low speed until incorporated. Split the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the icing. Increase the speed to high, and beat for a couple of minutes.

8. Start adding the milk, a tablespoon at a time, then beat on high for five minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.

9. To assemble the cake, place one of the sponges on a serving plate, and spread about a quarter of the icing over the top. Add another sponge, another quarter of the icing, and then the final sponge. Scrape a thin layer of icing around the sides of the cake, to seal the crumbs inside. Dollop the rest of the icing onto the top of the cake, then smooth it down the sides. Run a palette knife around the edge of the cake to smooth the icing. Serve in large slices, on your nicest plates, with tea.

n The Little Library Cookbook by Kate Young, photography Lean Timms, is published by Anima, an imprint of Head of Zeus, priced £25. Available now