This month, we invite local writer, Adele Nozedar to tell us about her newest book
Some of you might know me for The Hedgerow Handbook, which is about the commonest wild plants and what they do. So you might think a book about sweets is a bit of a stretch? Not so! Take many of our traditional herbal remedies and add sugar, and you turn medicine into confectionery! Think of mint, chocolate, liquorice…get the picture?
This book was absolutely brilliant to write. Gliffaes lent me their kitchens to test the recipes! Their chef Karl Cheetham collaborated with me to make the biggest curly wurly on the planet!* Best of all, me and my BFF Lisa took to the road to find sweet makers all over the UK; I wasn’t interested in multinationals, but in the family-run companies who are still making sweets in the traditional ways, using equipment that is often close to 200 years old. Being a sweetmaker, I found, takes imagination, ingenuity, and a working knowledge of chemistry, physical stamina and mechanical skills to boot…even if the latter are restricted to knowing which bit of the machine to kick! One particular company – Grays of Dudley – have been going strong for 6 generations, and still don’t have a computer on the premises.
And the stories attached to our favourites are often mind-blowingly bizarre…aniseed balls, for example, used to detonate limpet mines? Jelly Babies’ origins as ‘Unclaimed Babies’? (they didn’t sell…) Possession of liquorice punishable by hanging? Honestly, you’ll be amazed! Oh, and let’s not forget the fact our very own local company Brays of Newport are the world’s leading supplier of fart-flavoured sweets to the former Soviet Union!
And, of course, there are recipes. Fancy making your own branded Pontefract cakes? Or Mars Bar brownies? Or that gigantic Curly Wurly? And for the grown up how about sherbet lemon vodka, or parma violet Gin??? Recipe testing for this book was torture, believe me!
Adele’s book, Great British Sweets: And How to Make Them at Home will be officially launched at The Hours Cafe & Bookshop in Brecon on 26th September at 7:30
Great British Sweets: And How to Make Them at Home is printed by Square Peg, part of Vintage Publishing. RRP £12.99