So, the lovely folks over at Penguin RandomHouse sent me a copy of The Redpath Canadian Bake Book a while back. They never made any demands that I write about it. It has, however, continued to make it to the top of my book pile(s). Fine! I will read and cook and write! All about you, Redpath. All about you.
Ten Things I Learned from The Redpath Canadian Bake Book
- John Redpath, the founder of Redpath Sugar, was orphan. He was brought up by an older sister and her family.
- John Redpath’s original trade was that of a stonemason. He trained for seven years in Scotland, from the age of 13. Once fully qualified, he found himself without any employment prospects.
- Rather than mope, he spent what little money he had and headed off to Lower Canada (today’s Quebec, for those whose Canadian history knowledge is a bit rusty).
- Over the next 20 years, John Redpath built up one of Canada’s most successful building companies. He is responsible for constructing notable structures such as The Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal General Hospital, and parts of McGill University. Maybe you’ve also heard of the Rideau Canal? Redpath had his hand in that, too. Not bad for a penniless kid from the hills of Scotland.
- Redpath was the first to include 5 and 20 pound blue paper bags for grocers to use to scoop their customers’ sugar from large barrels. Before this, people brought home cones of compressed sugar and chipped off what they needed. While this may have looked cool, I am thinking the chipping and grinding would have gotten old pretty quick.
- The women who began working in the Redpath factory may have been responsible for pre-packed 1 and 2 pound bags of sugar. Either that, or it was purely a coincidence that this innovation occurred around the same time women began working in the packaging department.
- The granulated sugar we are so familiar with is extracted by first liquifeying, then cooking, and finally filtering the resulting product. You may never look at that little sugar packet the same way again.
- Looking for your next career move? You could be a Master Sugar Boiler. This individual is responsible for knowing when the conditions are just right to return the final sugar syrup back to sugar crystals.
- Redpath is Canada’s old food-related trademark. Founded in 1854, it is in fact, it is older than Canada itself.
- Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened Redpath’s current location in Toronto in 1959. Now, if that isn’t a stamp of approval, I don’t know what is.
But What About The Recipes?
Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, The Redpath Canadian Bake Book is also full of delicious recipes. I’ve tried both their classic chocolate chip cookies and the lavender cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting. Both are fantastic.
The rest of the recipes are equally enticing. Ones like grapefruit brulée bars, chocolate-ginger biscotti, and (my favourite) jelly doughnuts. No matter what the season or occasion, you will find an accessible recipe that fits the bill.
This cookbook definitely earns a space on my bookshelf.