Anna Olsen’s Baking Wisdom

The publisher’s spiel says:

Inside Baking Wisdom lies the answer to every baking question you’ve ever had (and many you haven’t yet), plus over 150 perfected recipes—both savoury and sweet—for bakers of all skill  levels. Get inside Anna’s baking brain, as she shares a career’s worth of experience to build a true masterclass in baking. In this incredible baking compendium, you will learn the hows and whys of baking through her flawless techniques, patient advice and literally hundreds of photos. This is an all-encompassing guide, guaranteed to make you a better baker…
    Also included is extensive advice on topics such as baking ingredients, tools and actions, as well as numerous step-by-step how-to guides for all types of baking techniques. If you’ve ever wondered how to separate an egg, or frost a cake, or temper chocolate, the answers are here. And if you’re interested in a deeper understanding of how and why ingredients behave the way they do in baking, or the impacts of altitude, or even how to calculate butterfat content, there’s a whole section dedicated to the science of baking, too.


Okay, so that’s my job done… Seriously though, until my friend Donna told me about this book I’d never heard of Anna Olsen – and now I’m wondering why not. She is, from all accounts, baking royalty in Canada. Like Mary Berry or Delia Smith but younger.

To the book – to say this is comprehensive would be to undersell it. The recipes are beautifully written and photographed, but the value of this book is in the front chapters where Anna takes your hand and leads you through everything from baking tools, ingredients, oven temperatures, how-to’s, ingredients (and how they react under different circumstances) and even, valuably, what to do to fix something that has gone wrong or what to do when you don’t have the exact ingredient you need. Science, but not in an eye-glazing-over type of way. Recipes are accompanied by relevant “bites of wisdom” and, where appropriate, make-ahead or freeze afterwards instructions.

I’ve bookmarked a number of recipes to try including the Bacon, Beer and Mushroom Quiche, Lemon and Blueberry Bars, Sticky Date Loaf and the apple-cinnamon pull-apart bread. I also intend to give her method of making puff pastry a go.

As regular readers know, I happen to believe that the world is a better place with tea and scones and consider myself (not at all humbly) to be a pretty good judge of one…and bake a good one too. So even though my husband said, ‘just how many ways are there to cook a scone?’ followed by ‘I wish you’d just decide on one scone recipe you’ll cook forever and ever,” the recipe I’ve chosen to focus on is her English-style scones.

I followed the recipe exactly, deviating from my usual method of resting the butter/flour mix in the fridge to make sure it was really cold – usually necessary for the early autumn humidity here in Queensland. I also worried that the inclusion of the egg would make the scones cakier than I’m used to and that there was more baking powder and sugar in the recipe than I’d normally use – but I shouldn’t have. The scones were perfect.

The critics (Grant and Sarah, who was home for the weekend) eyed them over, split them along the defined split line, and checked out the layers before piling on jam and cream.

Grins came to faces. ‘Good scone,’ said Grant. ‘Very good scone.’

‘Not quite as good as your Fortnum’s scones, but pretty close,’ said Sarah.

High praise indeed.

You need this cookbook if:

  • You’re a novice baker or want to be a better baker
  • You want to understand your ingredients a tad better
  • You’ve often wondered how to save a baking disaster
  • You frequently wonder about how you can substitute dairy, egg, flour and other ingredients
  • You like your recipes to be accompanied by fabulous photos
  • You’re fascinated by the science of baking – but in a practical way
  • You need a great recipe for scones…and plenty of other yummy things

Anna Olsen’s Classic English Scones


  • 2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp (37g) granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp (90g) unsalted butter, cold
  • ⅔ cup (160 ml) 2% milk, plus extra for brushing
  • 1 large egg


Preheat the oven to 200C (180 fan) and line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Into a bowl large enough to hold everything, tip in the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Mix to combine.

Using a box grater, grate the butter into the bowl and rub in with the tips of your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Into a jug measure out your milk and crack in the egg. Whisk together and pour into the floury mix. Stir with a normal kitchen knife and then turn out onto a clean surface and bring the dough and the scraggly bits together with your hand, folding and flattening until it’s a soft dough – taking care not to overwork it.

Flatten out with your hands to about 2cm thick. Using a 6.5cm round cutter, cut out your scones, taking care not to twist the cutter. Reshape any scraps of dough and keep cutting until all the dough is used up. Place on the prepared tray leaving a narrow space between each scone. Brush the top with a little extra milk.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown on the top. Reist the urge to eat them for 10 minutes or so – if possible.

While these are best eaten on the day you bake them, if you wrap them in a clean tea towel they might last until morning tea the next day…unless they’re eaten before that.

I was fortunate to receive a pre-publication digital version of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Net Galley. Thank you NetGalley, Penguin Random House Canada and Appetite Random House for this ARC.

Anna Olsen’s Baking Wisdom is available from 14 March 2023.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

11 thoughts

  1. Hi, Jo – Fantastic review! I am so glad that you enjoyed this book. Although I truly do not need another cookbook on my shelf (even my digital one) this book looks like a keeper. I am sorry that I passed on the NetGalley offer. I will now look it over carefully when it comes out at my local bookshop.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to agree that I haven’t heard of Anna Olsen either but your pictures of the scones have sold me on the cook book. I will look out for it now to add to my shelf. Gosh, I wish I wasn’t craving scones, jam and cream now!


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