‘Baking Together’ gets us through lockdown blues

The dynamic woman behind the Crafts of Ireland enterprise has published a second book ‘Baking Together, More of Our Favourite Recipes’.

Sandra Coote, who lives with her family on a beef farm that sits under the ancient Loughcrew hills on the border of Cavan and Meath, has tapped into the renewed interest in baking during the pandemic lockdowns.

“I published my first cookbook in late October 2020. It contained the recipes that I had baked live on Facebook during the earlier part of the year during our initial lockdown and at the beginning of our second lockdown,” said Sandra.

“The included lots of firm family favourites including brown bread; soda bread; scones; a Christmas pudding; and a very old recipe for porter cake that had won numerous prizes at local shows for me,” she said.

“As with any first attempt, I was very nervous as to the reaction that the book would receive and how its sales would perform. I was totally surprised by the number of sales that I achieved and quite happily spent many days approaching Christmas addressing envelopes.

“Earlier in the year I had availed of a trading online voucher from Cavan Enterprise Board. This enabled me to sell my book online and to streamline the entire process. Without the website I don’t think the sales would have been nearly as successful,” said Sandra.

The books have travelled worldwide with copies going to Australia and the US as well as to the UK and to Irish people living throughout Europe.

The best part of the sales was that we raised €2,500 for Childhood Cancer Ireland by giving a donation from each book sold.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get the reprieve that we hoped for from lockdowns and travel limitations so the live baking on Facebook continued into December and recommenced in January,” Sandra said.

“This meant that I had another collection of recipes that were waiting to be collated into another book. In January, I began the process of getting them together into a book format and by late January I had my second book published and ‘Baking Together, More of our Favourite Recipes’ was added to my website,” she said.

Most popular recipes

“It is easy on social media to see what dishes or cakes are the most popular and sometimes the results are surprising.

The highest views on a video so far are for vegetable soup followed closely by gur cake.

“I had lovely memories of my father bringing us home slices of gur cake / chester cake from a small newsagents in Granard when we were growing up. It’s a traditional Dublin bake and one that holds many fond memories; it received an enormous reaction.

“The other bake that received a tremendous reaction was a recipe for a three-ingredient pineapple cake. It only requires a tin of pineapple in juice, flour and sugar,” Sandra said.

“Practical, nostalgic and easy seem to be the best combination for popular videos. The journey into writing cookbooks came totally by chance. It was never something that I could have imagined doing but has brought great satisfaction seeing on my social media all the posts of pictures of cakes and dishes that people have succeeded in making.

“Spring of 2021 is now upon us and the live bakes continue on my Facebook page but behind the scenes the farm is getting busier and when the weather conditions improve, I will be breaking ground on a new extension to my craft studio which probably will be completed before the business can reopen, so it’s exciting times ahead.”

Copies of ‘Baking Together, More of Our Favourite Recipes’ can be bought through the Crafts of Ireland website at €23 each.