Food News

Local chefs contribute to the #BakeforSyria cookbook

From Sharon Salloum of Sydney’s Almond Bar to Flour & Stone’s Nadine Ingram, Australians will recognise plenty of names in the new cookbook from the Cook for Syria project.

By Lee Tran Lam
Bourke Street Bakery's pear and pistachio love cake, part of the #BakeForSyria cookbook
Bourke Street Bakery's pear and pistachio love cake

For Sharon Salloum, who runs Almond Bar in Sydney, the Syrian war isn't just a distant conflict. After all, she has "great memories" of visiting the country as a kid: riding donkeys in Zwaitineh, her father's village in the west, and sitting down to extravagant breakfasts of labne, fresh bread, pickles, olives and preserved stuffed eggplant with extended family. It's where she fell in love with mukloubi (upside-down lamb with eggplant, rice, yoghurt and fried nuts), a dish her grandmother would prepare. But because of the seven-year Syrian war, Salloum was unable to see her grandmother before she died recently – it was simply too dangerous. Her uncle was also kidnapped by rebel forces, an obviously distressing event for Salloum's aunt. "Luckily, she was able to pay the ransom and fled to Germany for refuge."

Given the chef's Syrian roots, it's no surprise that Salloum is involved with the new #BakeforSyria cookbook edited by Lily Vanilli, Clerkenwell Boy and Serena Guen. The publication is in aid of Unicef's Children of Syria Appeal and its Syrian-influenced recipes are meant to inspire bake sales that will raise funds for the charity, too. Salloum's contribution is a turmeric cake called sfouf, which she's dressed up with chocolate raspberry labne.

Sharon Salloum's sfouf (photography: Katie Wilson)
Sharon Salloum's sfouf (photography: Katie Wilson)

The book also features recipes by household names Yotam Ottolenghi, Dominique Ansel and Jamie Oliver as well as plenty of Australian talent including Bennelong's Peter Gilmore and Flour and Stone's Nadine Ingram.

"My fig and walnut galette is partly inspired by the Syrian walnut cookies that are embossed with elaborate patterns on top," says Ingram. "In Syria, women will gather around the kitchen table and use small bespoke tools to emboss each flavour cookie with its signature adornment to differentiate it from the others. It's also a play on Alice Waters' date galette that I love so much."

The team at Bourke Street Bakery has contributed a love cake with pears and pistachios (or quince when it's in season).

"It's a recipe using some of the flavours and ingredients of Syria," says David McGuinness, co-founder of Bourke Street Bakery. "I became involved because I want to offer support to the people of Syria."

The company's social initiative, The Bread & Butter Project, after all, teaches refugees to become bakers and currently has a trainee from Aleppo (who is reminded of the pastries made in their family's wood-fired oven every time they make hoagies at The Bread and Butter Project) and an ex-jeweller from Hama who sees the similarities between the initiative's brioche and their mother's sweets.

Nadine Ingram's fig and walnut galette
Nadine Ingram's fig and walnut galette

This international project shows how far #BakeforSyria has progressed since its initial launch as a London bake sale and offshoot of the #CookforSyria movement started by Clerkenwell Boy.

"It's amazing to see the support grow from all around the world, including top chefs, bakers and food writers from Down Under ... all joining forces to help children affected by the Syrian crisis," he says.

#BakeForSyria (Suitcase Media, hbk,£25) is on sale now, cookforsyria.com