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The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak

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Notes about this book

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Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Prune, oat and spelt scones

    • ElianeW on February 19, 2017

      I was lucky enough to watch Claire Ptak do a cooking demo at the Abergavenny Food Festival a couple of years ago. We've tried many of the recipes in this book since and they NEVER fail. These didn't look like much going into the oven but they were so delicious. Great that you can freeze them and then just bake from frozen.

  • Sweet potato, coconut, date and rye muffins

    • Frogcake on October 09, 2016

      These were quite good, with interesting texture from the coconut and complementary flavours from the dates, maple syrup and sweet potato. I used about a cup and a half of mashed sweet potato -you could also use unsweetened pumpkin. As well, I did not have any agave syrup so I used all maple syrup (one and three quarter cups). I found the batter wasn't as thick as she describes. Made twelve large muffins, baked for thirty minutes at 360F. I recommend sprinkling coconut chips on top -adds a nice decorative touch and taste of browned crispy coconut.

    • Frogcake on October 10, 2016

      Take note- these are even better second day!

  • Cinnamon buns

    • Zosia on November 06, 2015

      errata in the North American edition: 560g all-purpose flour is far more than 1-1/2 cups; dough thickness of 5mm is more than 1/8".

    • Zosia on November 06, 2015

      These are a fantastic alternative to yeast-raised buns providing almost immediate gratification if the craving for a cinnamon bun strikes (only about 1 hour start to finish with almost half of it baking time). The biscuit-like dough was very tender and the bun was nicely spiced and not overly sweet. I rolled the dough into a 52cm x 40cm rectangle which created rolls that fit perfectly into the muffin tin. I used the weights and metric measurements but noticed a few conversion errors in my North American edition of the book, noted separately.

    • Astrid5555 on January 02, 2016

      These are senational! Made only half a recipe but still ended up with 12 buns in my regular muffin tin, which were a perfect size for an afternoon sugar craving. A really great alternative to yeasted cinnamon buns which, as mentioned by Zosia already, are ready within the hour with very little actual hands-on time involved.

  • Raspberry and star anise crumble muffins

    • LindaAphoto on November 29, 2017

      I found them to be a little doughy-tasting... was not very impressed overall. Kind of standard, despite the anise / spices (which I ground fresh).

    • Zosia on November 18, 2015

      Loved the flavours in these muffins; the unusual (for me) spice combination complemented the raspberries perfectly. A half recipe made 12 generous muffins baked in a standard pan, which baked in 18min in my oven.

  • Strawberry, ginger and poppy seed scones

    • Astrid5555 on June 11, 2016

      We all loved these! The dough was a bit difficult to work with because of the addition of the sour cream which I substituted for the crème fraîche as per the author's suggestion and the strawberries. Just patting the dough down and using the pastry cutter and a spatula to transfer the unbaked scones onto a plate helped a lot. After chilling them in the fridge they could easily be put on the baking sheet. They were still a little bit underbaked after 20 minutes, but they were very tender with a lovely crunch from the poppy seeds. Left out the crystallized ginger though since this is not one of my preferred flavor combinations. Will make again!

  • Ham, cheese and leek scones

    • Zosia on December 05, 2015

      These had fantastic flavour with the ham and leeks holding their own against the large amount of Parmesan cheese (volume measurement for this ingredient is suspect) but the texture was a little off, moist but more cake-like than flaked layers. Also, without any dimensions for the "log" of dough given, mine may have been thicker than intended so my baking time was longer.

  • Banana buttermilk bread

    • Zosia on February 04, 2016

      I tried this recipe again with 450g (4-1/2 small) mashed banana. Success! I estimate that I used 550g the first time which led to textural failure. The banana flavour was still excellent but I suspect the dark brown sugar and rum are partly responsible for the loaf's deliciousness. I made 4 mini loaves the first time but this time baked in a 9 x 5 pan and one mini pan. Baking time on the large loaf was 70 minutes.

    • Zosia on November 06, 2015

      I do wish the recipe included the weight of the bananas; my 5-1/2 smallish fruit (at least I thought they were on the small side) produced a very thin batter and a wet cake. Unfortunate because the flavour was exceptional. This was very easy to put together so I will try it again perhaps with 1 less banana.

    • Astrid5555 on March 19, 2016

      Thanks to Zosia's review I only used 5 small bananas which weighed 450g and the recipe was a total success. I used dark Muscovado sugar, substituted Bourbon for rum and left it in the oven for 60 minutes. Kids called it best banana bread ever, and I could not agree more.

    • Melanie on November 05, 2015

      Delicious! Substituted yoghurt for buttermilk. This cake stays nice and moist and is full of flavour - six bananas help with that I'm sure.

    • Breadcrumbs on January 05, 2016

      p. 104 - What attracted me to this recipe (its use of 6 bananas) turned out to be its achilles heel. I should have read Zoisa's review prior to making this as my 5 1/2 regular sized bananas were far too much for this cake and I had a very runny batter that never truly set. After 1 hr and 20 mins of baking I finally called it a day and it was no surprise when my giggly cake fell almost immediately after being removed from the oven. I would also agree with Zosia in that the cake itself is absolutely delicious. The recipe is worth another try with fewer bananas or additional flour.

  • Coffee cardamom walnut cakes

    • MsMonsoon on December 04, 2017

      Clever way to make individual cakes that are not cupcakes. (Bake in muffin tin, turn each little "muffin" upside down, ice them, garnish with a walnut half.)

  • Buckwheat butter cookies

    • LindaAphoto on November 29, 2017

      I have no idea what happened, my cookies spread completely thin when I baked them, and they did not hold together, even after cooling. I did bake them from the freezer. And I carefully measured all ingredients on my scale. The butter to flour ratio from the beginning threw me off a bit. Don't know if anyone else has had this issue. The flavor however, was delicious.

  • Apricot kernel upside-down cake

    • hirsheys on July 16, 2018

      Agreed about the baking time - I ended up baking it for nearly an hour (with a break in the middle), which seemed more appropriate. Also, I think a shorter pan is more ideal than a tall one. That said, the tartness of the apricots is absolutely delicious in this - I really enjoyed it. (The apricot kernels don't add as much as I wanted, but there's definitely a unique hint there...)

    • swegener on May 27, 2015

      Baking time is woefully inadequate. Tester came out clean, but cake was completely un-cooked in the middle after 35 minutes of baking, could have used a lot longer. Very sad as flavors were nice.

  • Chocolate oat agave cookies

    • DKennedy on February 26, 2016

      I made these for a class pot luck for my son's school. E is GF so bringing in cookies he can also enjoy can be a challenge. We really liked these. The taste and texture are different than a wheat based cookie, but comforting and delicious in its own way. I am writing my note well after the fact so I can't quite pin point what they were like, but I do know they fall into the make again category.

  • Egg yolk chocolate chip cookies

    • LindaAphoto on November 29, 2017

      The absolute best chocolate chip cookies I have ever baked. Crispy on the edge, tender on the inside... rich without being too heavy. Everyone I have given them to loves these!

    • sosayi on July 16, 2018

      I didn't love these as much as the others. I agree the flavor is great, but my texture was a bit off. They were distinctly dry and crumbly, while still being soft. I am not sure how else to describe it. I have more to bake off in the freezer, so we'll see how future batches go.

    • dprostrollo on June 09, 2018

      Phenomenal cookie. Delicate crumb exterior and chewy center. Just beautiful.

  • The Violet butterscotch blondie

    • pandasaurusrex on July 11, 2017

      These are delicious (if quite sweet and decadent). Everyone raved about them. Great texture, and I loved unexpectedly biting into the scattered caramel shards. I swapped the milk chocolate for semisweet -- that helped blunt the sweetness. I used a hammer with a paper towel wrapped around it to smash up the caramel shards when cooled. Way easier than using a knife to carefully slice. Again, Ptak's instructions leave something to be desired for inexperienced bakers like myself (e.g. the eggs/sugar mixture never became "frothy") but luckily the recipe is straightforward and foolproof enough.

    • sosayi on April 07, 2017

      Have made these many times to great reviews. The perfect bar cookie: soft, chewy center, and loads of flavor. The caramel is a great touch. I have found that I prefer a dark chocolate disc, though, to the milk chocolate discs she calls for in the recipe. Chocolate chips, while not as good, also work in place of the discs.

    • Zosia on December 08, 2015

      These were easy to put together and had great texture and balance of flavours. You don't need the full recipe of caramel but I used it all anyway to no ill effect. They were easiest to cut while still a little warm and the caramel was soft.

  • Rye chocolate brownies

    • Zosia on November 11, 2015

      Inspired by Chad Robertson's Salted Chocolate Rye Cookies (which are fantastic), these brownies are decadent, fudgy, intensely chocolatey squares that capture the essence of those cookies. I used 60% cacao chocolate and I thought they could be less sweet. Next time I'll use 70% or perhaps reduce one of the sugars by 100g. With no 8x12 pan available, I baked these in a 9X13". They were gooey at 20 minutes and fudgy - my preference - at 24 minutes. I weighed my ingredients but checked the conversions as I went and again noticed problems in the North American edition: 200g rye flour is closer to 1-3/4 cups (dip and sweep method); 200g eggs are 4 "large" Canadian eggs.

    • sosayi on April 14, 2017

      These are incredibly rich, but also incredibly good. The rye flour adds a great undertone to the brownies... it marries perfectly with the dark chocolate flavors. Love these!

    • MmeFleiss on March 07, 2018

      I made this using the metric amounts and it worked perfectly. The rye was not noticeable to the brownie purist in my household.

    • e_ballad on July 21, 2017

      Very good & absolutely decadent. The rye & dark chocolate is a fantastic combination.

    • Astrid5555 on March 12, 2016

      As mentioned in the recipe headnote "... (these are) a chewy, rich, gooey, nutty chocolate treat" - actually the best brownies I have baked in a very long time!!!

    • DKennedy on March 04, 2017

      I made a batch of these for Super Bowl this year and I am sorry to say they were too rich for my tastes.

    • TrishaCP on March 30, 2018

      I liked the combination of rye and chocolate, but otherwise I wouldn't make them again. Maybe I found them too rich also, I'm not sure, but something was offputting about them to me. My husband liked them a lot though. I baked them for 25 minutes because they were still liquidy at 20, and they had really dried out by then, so that may be coloring my opinion.

  • Coconut macaroons

    • Astrid5555 on December 20, 2015

      These are delicious! Husband declared them to be among his top then cookies ever. Very easy to make, however I had some issues with the instructions. Recipe tells you to keep stirring the mixture until it thickens and dries out. After 30 minutes of stirring and no drying I gave up and just scooped the mixture onto the baking sheet with my smallest ice cream scoop, which worked perfectly as well. Will definitely go into regular cookie rotation!

  • Chocolate sunken soufflé cake

    • pandasaurusrex on May 07, 2017

      Some Amazon reviewers strongly criticized Ptak's recipes as lacking clarity or thorough testing--and this recipe is another example. She makes repeated assumptions of your skill (or mind-reading ability), leading to growing confusion, frustration + disappointment unless you're an experienced baker. A souffle cake is deceptively simple -- at no point (in the recipe, or at the book's start) does she proffer any words of wisdom or help you avoid pitfalls for, say, beating egg whites. She never mentions not letting yolk contaminate whites when separating (I realized via a google search after 20 min of beating the whites + sugar that I had to start over). No mention of whether eggs should be cold vs room temp, or at what speed to whisk the yolks + sugar together. No time estimates given for any step. The recipe seems to suggest you combine the whites + sugar before you start beating, but it's not explicit and contradicts advice from most sources. Surprise! -- the cake didn't turn out. Ugh.

  • Chocolate devil's food cake

    • sosayi on November 16, 2017

      This recipe should read: fits in TWO 8” cake pans. Not one. Because it doesn’t. And will overflow into your whole oven and cause a smoky, gooey disaster. I’ll be the first to admit that I should have realized that would happen. But.... I was in a rush. So, don’t be me. Pay attention and put it in two pans. The non-ruined part of the cake did taste delicious, so I’d make it again, just in two pans. Sigh.

  • Salted caramel icing

    • Astrid5555 on September 03, 2016

      Way too sweet for my taste, even though I used only half the amount of icing sugar stated in the recipe.

  • Loganberry-vanilla birthday cake

    • Astrid5555 on September 03, 2016

      Made only the vanilla cake part of the recipe without the loganberry icing. Used the salted caramel icing instead. Nice and simple vanilla cake recipe!

  • Marshmallow icing

    • sosayi on November 18, 2017

      Excellent marshmallow frosting. While it stayed on the cake fine, we probably should have cooked it a tad longer to make it set up just a bit more firmly for piping purposes. Paired this with a 2nd attempt at the Devil’s food cake from this book and a chocolate buttercream filling. Soooo good.

  • Salted caramel sauce

    • Astrid5555 on September 03, 2016

      Fool-proof recipe, delicious and easy to make. Makes a big batch and keeps in the fridge for a long time.

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Reviews about this book

  • San Francisco Chronicle

    Best Cookbooks of 2015: With an eye toward seasonal fruit, simple ingredients and whole grain flours, the recipes are tempting without feeling gratuitous - most don’t have multiple-step techniques...

    Full review
  • Mercury News (San Jose)

    Ptak's newest cookbook takes baking to new, whimsical and utterly accessible levels.

    Full review
  • Food52

    You’ll like this book if: If the idea of laminated and yeasted doughs makes you want to run screaming from the kitchen.

    Full review

Reviews about Recipes in this Book

  • ISBN 10 0224098500
  • ISBN 13 9780224098502
  • Linked ISBNs
  • Published Mar 05 2015
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 272
  • Language English
  • Countries United Kingdom
  • Publisher Vintage
  • Imprint Square Peg

Publishers Text

Violet is a bijou cake shop and café in Hackney, east London. The baking is done with simple ingredients including wholegrain flours, less refined sugars and the natural sweetness and muted colours of seasonal fruits. Everything is made in an open kitchen for people to see. Famed for its exquisite baked goods, Violet has become a destination.

Owner Claire Ptak uses her Californian sensibility to devise recipes that are both nourishing and indulgent. With real thought about taste and using the purest ingredients, she has created the most flavoursome iterations of classic cakes, as well as new treats for modern palates. Over 100 recipes include nourishing breakfasts, midday snacks, teatime treats, puddings to share, pantry preserves, and stylish celebration cakes. For example:

Morning – Buckwheat Granola or Cinnamon Buns

Midday – Squash, Brown Butter and Sage Quiche or Mozzarella, Rosemary and New Potato Tarts

Teatime – Butterscotch Blondie or Ginger Molasses Cake

Desserts – Cherry Cobbler or Fig Leaf Ice-cream

Party Party – Loganberry-vanilla Birthday Cake or Coconut-cream Trifle Cake

This book is about making baking worth it: simple to cook and satisfying to eat.

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