This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what we’re eating, drinking, and buying right now. Here, Genevieve Yam writes about the cookbook that celebrates her inner cat lady.
It’s 10:30 p.m. and I’m hunched over my kitchen counter, rolling and pressing cookie dough into cat-shaped blobs. My shoulders hurt and I’m exhausted, but I can’t seem to pry myself away from my family of cookie cats. I’ve made a black kitten that looks like Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, a streaky gray one meant to resemble my feisty cat Star, and a black and white splodge, a poor imitation of my goofier cat, Marino. I present my hard work to Star and Marino, who don’t seem too impressed with what’s supposed to be their likeness. Perched on the kitchen counter, they both give me a glare that says: “Woman, we’re just here for the room temperature butter.”
If I had all the time in the world, I’d probably spend it doing this: baking with my cats or simply baking things that look like them. Kim-Joy, the British baker who rose to fame after competing on the Great British Bake Off in 2018, seems to feel exactly the same way. Earlier this year, she published Bake Me a Cat: 50 Purrrfect Recipes for Edible Kitty Cakes, Cookies, and More!, a book that celebrates her love for baking and furry felines. This isn’t a traditional cookbook, but it’s the one for me—and if you are as obsessed with cats as I am, I suspect you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Bake Me a Cat is filled with cute recipes for cat-inspired desserts like “meowringues,” “marshmeowllow cats,” and a “purrito Swiss roll,” as well as cakes, cookies, tarts, and even delightfully chewy mochi and tang yuan. As Kim-Joy writes in the introduction of the book, the recipes encourage readers to “embrace the quirkiness and joy of cats.” (She notes that her two cats, Inki and Mochi, have been a big source of inspiration for her since she adopted them just over three years ago). Each recipe has a “paw rating” to indicate its difficulty level, and though the baking itself is fairly simple, readers will likely find the decorating to be the most time-consuming and complex part.
This is how I, an unapologetic cat lady and avid baker, ended up in my kitchen night after night. I baked simple sweets like shortbread-y Calico Cat Cookies (shaped like cats, of course), which I then pressed into the batter for Feline Like Brownies—satisfyingly fudgy and a hit with my neighbors. Vanilla Raga-Muffins got their shaggy look from buttercream pressed through a grass piping tip. (Mine ended up looking more like hairy yaks than actual kittens.)
I attempted Kim-Joy’s whimsical but more technical bakes such as the pudgy 3D Cookie Cats, which I assembled by rolling and pressing together different-sized portions of dough: small spheres for the ears and paws, a medium-size blob for the head, a larger oval for the torso, and a tiny little baton for the tail. Individual sprinkles, which I painstakingly placed onto each face with culinary tweezer tongs, served as whiskers below eyes dotted with an edible ink pen. Though labor intensive, the cookies were melt-in-your-mouth tender once baked—if you can bear to eat them after all your effort.