Tag: Paul Hollywood

Top 10 baking books, the one’s you’ll want under your tree.

TOP 10 baking book giftsYou can never have enough baking books can you? Every one has something different to taste and each one can inspire a whole meal, cake or just give you that excited feeling we get when we find something that just makes out mouth water. This list is a combination of the ones I have that I reach for all the time and the ones that I really want to get my hands on. They would all make the perfect last-minute Christmas gift so, in no particular order….

1. Lorraine Pascale:

A lighter way to bake

A Lighter Way to Bake

This is one of those books that’s at the top of my wish list. There’s something very fresh and exciting about Lorraine’s recipes. The book is broken up into Breakfast and brunch with recipes like raspberry and banana no-knead bread and Apple and apricot spiced hot cross buns then goes on with Bread -Honey and oat bread anyone? , Savoury bakes like butternut squash, basil and onion Quiche, then Puddings and desserts– I fancy the plum and almond frangipane tarts with sticky Amaretto glaze- how good do they sound?  Cakes– there are ten to choose from, Cookies and traybakes – I’m really into tray bakes at the mo. Teatime treats – these are cupcakes recipes, meringue kisses and scones. Mmmmm, Special occasions and entertaining these are recipes for parties and Christmas. The Cashew, cranberry and spice biscotti caught my eye. Pastry and basics – ooooh sweet honey shortcrust pastry. I want some!

So in other words it’s jam packed. Just a quick“click to look inside this book” on Amazon with all the beautiful pictures and I was hooked!

2. The Humming bird Bakery cookbook

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

This is a book I had my eye on for quite a while, but as I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes I didn’t get it till really recently. I’m so glad I did. I think the reason I’m not a huge fan of cupcakes is because I’m never happy with how they turn out. This book puts an end to all that!

It’s broken up into more than just cupcake recipes. There are cupcakes – obviously, cakes, pies, brownies and bars, muffins and cookie recipes and I have to admit that it is so much better than I was expecting. I thought it would just be more of what you can get in the shop and it is – but more!

The recipes look really delicious and there are so many to choose from. You can put inches on your hips just drooling over the pages. The lemon Meringue pie looks particularly appealing as does the chocolate cheese cake (an old favourite of mine)and the nutty apple loaf.  They can keep the green tea cup cake though! I’ll stick to the pumpkin ones and black bottom cupcakes instead.

I think this is going to become another fave on my cookery book shelf. I’ll report back!

3. Delia’s Cakes

Delia’s Cakes

How do I only own one Delia book and that is the ‘How to cook’ which I picked up for 99p at a charity shop! This is a book I should have! It was first published in 1977 so it’s 35 years in print means her recipes can definitely stand the test of time! This new edition with it’s modern day makeover has been tested for gluten free recipes too which is brilliant. I’m always looking for good gluten free recipes.

Delia Smith has a way of explaining the reasons why we mix/whisk/fold a cake to get the best results. The book has loads of beautiful photography show casing her recipes. The sections are Sponge cakes, loaf cakes, family cakes, little cakes, muffins, biscuits, chocolate cakes, celebration cakes and dessert cakes.

 I NEED this book.

4. Great British Bake Off: Everyday

Great British Bake Off: Everyday: Over 100 Foolproof Bakes (The Great British Bake Off)

I have to say that I have two of the British Bake off books from the first two series The Great British Book of Baking: 120 best-loved recipes from teatime treats to pies and pasties and The Great British Bake Off: How to turn everyday bakes into showstoppers and I refer to both of them all the time. I’m not normally one to go back for more of the same type of book when it comes to baking books, but I admit that I am hooked. I have found the cakes from both these books and this latest additon to be easy to make and taste amazing, always coming out perfectly so I was really keen to get my hands on this one. They also have really good food (not cake) recipes with delicious flavouring. Something I need to learn more of.  Watch out pies. I’m coming to get you! 


5. Mary Berry’s Baking bible

Mary Berry’s Baking Bible

I love, love, love this book! It’s one of my favorite baking books ever. It really is my bible (that and The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook but I don’t want to put a Jewish cooking book here on a Christmas list!)

It’s my first point of reference whenever I want to bake something quick, easy and that I know will turn out well. It has so many recipes (over 250) that you will always find something new. I did a more thorough review on this book which you can find here, but trust me it’s worth every penny.

6. Paul Hollywood, Bread

Paul Hollywood’s Bread

Would you believe that in the Top 10 baking books on Amazon this Christmas, the Mary Berry/ Paul Hollywood/ British Bake off books total six. SIX!!! So it stands to reason that they know their stuff.

I have Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake book which I really liked (you can see the full review of that book here) I haven’t baked much bread,- compared with cakes, but after attempting a few from his book and having a lot of fun/mishaps when making brioche recently I am now more keen than ever. I love the way Paul explains everything in such easy to understand detail. I will make beautiful breads and this is the book to help me!

7.The Cake decorating bible, Juliet Sear

The Cake Decorating Bible: Simple steps to creating beautiful cupcakes, biscuits, birthday cakes and more

I reviewed this book when it first came out back in February this year and have refered to it often when making cakes. It’s great for cake decorating novices and experts alike. Full of inspiration and great hints and tips. It’s also really beautifully shot which makes it a winner in my book. With so many celebrity baking books on the shelves this is probably a more unusual Christmas gift which is why I think it’s a winner.

8. Leiths: How to cook or

Leiths Baking bible

Leiths How to Cook (Leiths School/Food & Wine)

Leiths Baking Bible

I was given the Leiths Baking bible for my birthday by the team at Woman & Home a few years ago and what isn’t in this book you just don’t need to know! It is huge and packed with tons and tons of recipes for ANYTHING you may want to bake. It’s really detailed and explains how things work and why they don’t, why you should and shouldn’t do certain things, what gluten does to the flour/eggs etc. It’s the kind of book you will pass on to your kids as it has everything in it you could possible need. So, when the How to cook book came out I wanted to get it for the same reason. It has everything in it from how to boil an egg to how to prepare fish/meat/poultry – even how to carve!  Each stage is explained – which when it comes to cooking I really need.   It has over 500 recipes in it and I’ve made loads from it. You can see my full review of the book here

9. Peggy Porschen

Boutique Baking: Delectable Cakes, Cupcakes and Teatime Treats

I love Peggy Porschen. Her attention to detail is exquisite. This book has both amazingly designed cakes and biscuits as well as her delicious recipes. Her Lemon Limoncello cake recipe is one of my biggest hitting posts. Her recipes are seriously mouth watering.

The book is packed full of beautiful ideas and the photography is lovely. Real eye candy. Here’s my detailed review

10. Mich Turner’s Cake Masterclass

Mich Turner’s Cake Masterclass: The Ultimate Guide to Cake Decorating Perfection

This is another book I refer to often, especially when I am baking a celebration cake. Mich’s books have tons of really useful information in them like the different amounts of marzipan needed to cover a cake or sugarpaste to cover a cake board. She has really easy to follow steps on how to create a beautiful cake and her designs are just beautiful. The book also has everything you need to know from lining a cake tin to the essential kit you need. There’s a good reason it’s called the ‘Cake Masterclass’.

Mich’s cake recipes (which come with the amounts of ingredients needed for different size cake tins) are really yummy. There are chocolate cakes, moist fruit cakes – my favorite one ever and the only recipe I use, cupcakes and tea cakes.  I made her chocolate and cherry cake for one of the layers in my sister-in-law’s wedding cake and it was deeeelish.

This is the perfect gift for a keen baker or cake decorator. I highly recommend it, if only for the eye candy.


So there you have it. Which one’s do you want? Which one’s do you have? Or are there some that I have missed off that you think should be there? Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to know what’s on your list?



Cake International 2013

Yesterday I went to the second ever Cake International show at Excel in London. I have it on good authority that the show has had a 70% increase on last years attendance proving that the baking bug is still alive and strong. And as you walk around the show you can see why.

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood opened the show and when my mum and I arrived they were busy doing demonstrations and a Q and A session in the Bakery theatre. Mary looked her lovely self and Paul had a constant cheeky grin on his face. He does make me laugh. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry open Cake International at Excel, London




The show has over 80 exhibitors offering all the latest in sugarcraft, cake decorating and baking supplies, but it’s the very talented cake decorators on these stalls showing how to get different techniques that makes this such a valuable show to attend.  I loved how this decorator showed us ruffles. She also had some cakes entered into the competitions. She’s one talented lady! Cake International 2013



The first area we headed for were the competition cakes. The judges were all in action- as it was the first day and the tables were sectioned off which meant we couldn’t get too close to all the cakes.  There are loads of categories and the criteria is very seriously looked at. If you do one thing incorrectly you can get disqualified. Some must be made of all edible ingredients – no supports or ‘props’, some are allowed to be fake cakes as the judging is on the sugarcrafting talent. The bakers dozen cupcakes are cut open and tasted and judged on that as well as how they look. One judge told us that the children’s cakes are looked at with a sympathetic eye. If a cake made by someone under 12 has a little crack in the sugarpaste “we might turn a blind eye”. To be honest these kids cakes were amazing! I mean they are under 12!!

Cake International 2013
The judges in action


While we were looking at some of the novelty cakes a full size head from a Terminator cake came toppling off it’s shoulders. Someone must have knocked the table it was on to get a closer look. Mum and I have never been so pleased to have been so far away that we knew it wasn’t us who wobbled that table!  A judge had to come over and pick the head up off the floor. Poor Arnie’s sugarpaste nose was all squashed in and dented. We felt so bad for the cake decorator. It must have been devastating to see that your cake had been damaged before it had even been judged.

Cake International 2013
One of the under 12’s cakes


The Cupcakes

The cupcakes in the competition were beautiful and displayed in the most amazing ways.

Cake International 2013

This is the cupcake entry by the ruffle cake decorator lady (I wish I got her name!) She incorporated her cupcakes into this face design which she told us only took 6 hours to do the day before! Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Mmmmm maggots in your cupcake!


Cake International 2013

The display for this Magic Roundabout cupcake entry was brilliant, but why did the judges have to cut poor Dougal in half to taste test… especially with that jam filling in the centre!

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

These tiny models on these cupcakes were amazingly intricate


Cake International 2013

We loved the birds and flowers on these cupcakesCake International 2013


Novelty cakes

The novelty cakes were just amazing. The details that people can achieve is just awe inspiring.

Cake International 2013

I would love to be able to do airbrushing like this!Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

I love the simplicity on the side of this cake.Cake International 2013

Beau asked if this Rocking horse cake actually rocked. It looked so real I almost think it could!

Cake International 2013

That apple is sugarpaste! Amazing!Cake International 2013



Cake International 2013

The detail in this house was outstanding. Just look at the bottles in the room below. Not only is this an amazing thing to make, but the fact that it could be transported without getting broken – like so many others is a feat in itself!


Cake International 2013



Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013


Tiered cakes

The tiered cakes were really beautiful. Some had such simple designs that were so effective, some had really garish colour combinations but in all they were fantastic. 

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013


Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013

Cake International 2013



So, in all it is a pretty great show with tons of interactive workshops, demonstration theatres and lots to buy! The show is on till Sunday 14th April. Visit www.cakeinternational.co.ukfor more information.

Cake International – The Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show

ExCeL, London
12-14 April 2013

Ticket Prices:
Adult £14.00
Senior £13.00
Children free if accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket, otherwise £5.00


Mary Berry and the best butter tip ever!

Did you catch the Great British bake Off Masterclass program? It was on the week after The Great British Bake Off final. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood showed us how the technical challenges from the show should have been made. They made it look so easy!

I picked up a ton of tips in that one program (you can watch it here) but the tip I have used the most and think is sooooo useful is Mary Berry’s butter tip.

Room temperature!!!!

How many times have you gone to bake a cake and found that you’ve forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge to let it get to room temperature? Or you’ve decided that you need just a smidge more buttercream, but your butter is all still chilled and hard. Well, not anymore. Mary’s tip for quickly softening butter is  ingenious.

Simply cut it up into cubes straight from the fridge and place it in a bowl of tepid water (not hot- trust me, hot water makes a BIG mess!). Leave for just 10 minutes -usually the time it takes to measure out the rest of a cake ingredients, drain the water away and it’s perfectly soft and ready to use.

I’ve done this so many times since the program. Tonight I felt like making a warm and wintery apple cake, so I softened up the butter in less time than it took to slice and core the apples! You can see from the picture above that the butter became nice and soft and left a finger sized dent when pressed after it’s warm soak!

One thing I would recommend is that you measure out the butter you need for your cake before softening it up. Otherwise you have to re-chill it and that’s not a good idea!


Paul Hollywood’s white cob bread loaf recipe

This is what Paul’s White cob loaf looks like – Taken from the book ‘How to Bake’

So, as I said yesterday, bread is not my thing. So when I set about making this loaf for the first time I was a little apprehensive! But my worries were completely unfounded. ‘How to bake’ by Paul Hollywood is really easy to follow and I really loved getting my fingers into the dough and having a good knead (as you will see below). It’s strangely satisfying. So soft and spongy not like sugarpaste which is much harder to manipulate. I’m sure I’m developing better toned arms from kneading sugarpaste, but I digress!

Making bread is fun. Not quite as relaxing as baking cakes (well for me anyway) but it’s just as rewarding.

I have been lucky enough to get permission to feature a book extract from ‘How To Bake’ published by Bloomsbury Publishing so without further a do…. here’s the White cob recipe – words Paul Hollywood,  along with my action shots!

White cob loaf recipe 

MAKES 1 loaf / PREP 3 hours / BAKE 30 minutes


500g Strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

10g salt

10g instant yeast

30g unsalted butter,softened

320ml cool water

Olive oil for kneading

How to make a white cob loaf

1. Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl.

With a little help from Beau

Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other.

Add the butter and three-quarters of the water, and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add the remaining water, a little at a time, until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want dough that is soft, but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.

This is the fun bit!

2. Coat the work surface with a little olive oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 5–10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin. When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – at least 1 hour, but it’s fine to leave it for 2 or even 3 hours.

3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment or silicone paper.

4. Once risen, the dough should be bouncy and shiny. Scrape it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. First shape into a ball by folding it inwards repeatedly until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Then form it into a round, smooth cob shape.

I couldn’t resist poking my fingers into it!

5. Put the dough on the baking tray and place in a clean plastic bag. Leave to prove for about 1 hour, until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 230˚C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.

6. Dust the dough with some flour, then slash deeply with a knife. Fill the hot roasting tray in the oven with hot water: this will create steam and give your bread a lighter crust. Put your bread into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until it is cooked through and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.

It takes serious will power not to eat the bread when it first comes out of the oven.

So, does it look right? I’m not sure. But I can tell you this. It tasted amazing! Beau and I had some toasted and that was even better than the warm slices we had once it had cooled down enough to handle it.

I will definitely be making bread again. It’s pretty straight forward and fun, you just need to have the time to come back a few times and do some kneading, but it’s definitely worth the effort.


Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake – book review

If there was ever a man to teach me how to bake its’s Paul Hollywood. I mean is it me or does he have the bluest eyes on TV? Now I know that I should start a book review with “This is what this book is all about” but really! You can’t get past them. Anyone who watched the ‘The Great British Bake off’  series (new series is starting tonight by the way!) will know what I ‘m talking about.  (There! Secret crush dealt with. Now onto the book)

How to Bake,

By Paul Hollywood

I have a confession to make. Before getting my hands on this book I had never made bread, or rolls, or buns or anything with yeast in it before! So, this is the perfect book for me! It has all those “I want to make bread recipes in it” and they are really simple to follow. Step pictures always help I find! Don’t you?

Paul says that baking bread is not difficult. “It’s all about mastering the techniques”  And it’s true! Check in tomorrow to see how my first loaf turned out.

So, What’s in the book

Every chapter has tons of techniques, ingredients, the tools you need as well as baking advice. Paul’s years of knowledge is evident throughout and his tone is really coaxing. He makes you feel like you can make any bread with ease.

The chapters

Getting started with bread

This is where you learn about what each ingredient does when baking bread. It’s the science bit that I always want to understand but no one usually includes in a baking book. You can see how to do all the different techniques from kneading and mixing to rising and knocking back the dough (great if you have had a stressy day!) There’s also a list of the basic tools that you’ll need – don’t worry, if your a keen baker you’ll have most of them already.

How to knead bread

Basic breads

Now the fun starts. There are so many great recipes here that you won’t know where to start. White cob, soda bread and Cholla loaf are the ones I am going to start off with.


Of course I had heard of sourdough, but I didn’t really know what it was. Now I do, I can’t wait to try it. It takes forever to make but is well worth the effort from the look of it. There are 15 sourdough recipes in this chapter! I think I’ll start with the basic sourdough and move on from there!

Croissants, Danish & Brioche

Now, I remember seeing the contestants on ‘Great British Bake off” making croissants and being astounded by how much butter was in them. I couldn’t believe how there was any dough at the end of all the kneading and not just a pile of butter!  I vowed to stay clear or become the size of an elephant. That lasted about 2 weeks till I was on a shoot. Croissants are the staple breakfast on any shoot!

This chapter is not for the dieters out there. Pain au chocolat, frangipane, Creme Patissiere, Apple brioche!!!!!! I can’t go on! Just know that there are 14 deeeeelicious recipes to choose from.

Biscuits, puddings & cakes

This chapter is bursting with thirty three fab recipes that I either haven’t seen for a while or have a Paul twist to them.  I was very excited to see Clafoutis there after my trip to Norfolk a few months ago. There’s also carrot and almonds cheese cake, raspberry and passionfruit muffins and spiced coffee and date cake as well as a few traditional bakes like Victoria sponge, scones and buttery shortbread biscuits. In short theres loads to choose from.

Clafoutis Monique

Tarts & Pies

I never make pastry in a food processor as my mum always taught me to use the warmth of your hands to blend the ingredients together. Paul says exactly the same thing. He gives loads of hints and advice throughout all the chapters. Each pastry recipe states where it’s best used- be it a tart, pie or a pasty. I’ve been wanting to make Lemon meringue pie for a while now and this one looks seriously good. Each level is nice and thick! There’s puff pastry, short crust pastry as well as ingredients for sausage rolls, Pithivier, Peacan and chocolate pie and Flamiche to name but a few!

Lemon Meringue pie

Directory page – self explanatory!

What I like about the book.

The colours and layout throughout the book are really good. They give baking bread a modern touch. I love the punchy oversized fonts used for each chapter. The step by step shots are also perfectly placed, just when you need to see how your dough should look or how to knead it- there’s a picture to show you.

There’s no getting away from the fact that some breads need a lot of time to prove, but my mouth was literally watering when I first looked through this book. I love bread and I love cheese so the thought of putting the two together is just too yummy to resist. So in short. I’m sold on bread. Although I’m more of an instant baking results sort of person, there are plenty of recipes where you can leave the dough overnight and pick up where you left it in the morning.

I can’t wait to get started. Can you?

Check out other reviews on Amazon by clicking on the picture link below or see See Paul in action here

P.S. Check out Paul Hollywood’s White Cob loaf recipe here.

‘The Great British Book of Baking’ book review

The Great British book of bakingThis book accompanies the first BBC series of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ TV series. It’s fantastic, which is probably why it’s been in the top 10 best sellers list for ever! It’s got over 120 savory and sweet recipes from around the British Isles. Loads that you’ve heard of and some you may not.

So what’s in the book?

These are the headings for each chapter and a glimps of what’s included.

  • A word from Mel & Sue The very funny duo who present the programme
  • Tips from the Judges. I’ve mentioned I’m a big fan of Mary Berry – She is the Original Guru, and Paul (I’ve got the bluest eyes on TV) Hollywood. Great tips from them both.
  • Introduction
  • Biscuits and tea time treats– Annetha’s moulded shortbread, brownies, all the classics I love- chocolate banana bread, Jewish honey cake, scones oooh and Welsh cakes. Yummarge!Annetha's moulded shortbread-The Great British book of baking
  • Bread– Farmhouse soda bread (I love this with eggs Benedict so much) Jasminder’s Focccia- do you remember it from the programme? Looks just mouth-watering. Four plait Challah (another Jewish one – Now I REALLY have to have a go at this one. No excuses!) Bagels, Naan, hot cross buns, Mark’s sticky Marmalade tea loaf. Too much choice!
  • Tarts and Flans– There is a great section on how to make pastry and fill a flan case and plenty of recipes for savory tarts to whet your appetite, like Blue Shropshire and broccoli tart, but it’s the sweet ones they really float my boat. I want to try Westmorland tart which is packed full of dates and raisins. But there’s all the classics too. Bakewell tart anyone?Cherry Pie-The Great British book of baking
  • Pies– If you want to make a pie you have to make a rough puff pastry (apparently!) so this is where you get the low down. There’s chicken, beef as well as apple and Cherry pie recipes, individual plum cobbler (Mmmm). I really want to give the Apple pie with cheddar crust a go. I had never heard of this before but it’s been around for 300 years.Apple Pie with Cheddar crust-The Great British book of baking
  • Cakes– Now we get down to the nitty-gritty. Cherry cake, Lea’s Pistachio and cranberry cake, Lemon drizzle, Jasminder’s parrot cake- don’t worry there’s no parrots in it, just loads of exotic fruit, Cornish clotted cream cake and of course a victoria sponge to name just a few! I could go on and on but as there are 50 pages of cakes I think you get my gist. There are tons!Lea's Pistachio and cranberry cake- The Great British book of baking
  • Puddings – I don’t feature anywhere near enough puddings here on CB&C considering how much I love them. The pudding recipes in this book are of course lush. Loads of traditional ones including bread and butter pudding, sticky toffee pudding, Baked Alaska, Apple and cinnamon Charlotte and Queen of puddings. I hadn’t heard of quite a few of these recipes till I watched the TV series so it’s great to find a book that not only gives the details but where they come from too!
  • Fancy pastries In this chapter you’ll learn how to make puff pastry and choux pastry. There’s plenty of savory recipes like sausage rolls and Little goats cheese and tomato tarts but for me a pastry is all about the sweetness of the Honeyed Baklava, cream puffs and Millefeuille!Millefeuille-The Great British book of baking

What I love about this book

There’s so much background information about all the foods and where they come from throughout this book as well as cute little cameo’s from local bakers and tea room owners. It’s so much more than a recipe book. I’ve been sitting reading it all. Things I ordinarily wouldn’t consider making take on a whole new meaning and I am so much more interested in them. It’s almost like a food history lesson.

Although this book is from The Great British Bake Off and has Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and the contestant’s recipes throughout I can’t review it without mentioning the very talented Linda Collister and Sheila Keating who wrote it. They’ve done a cracking job and I think it is going to become a very dog eared/ stained book on my bookshelves in the years to come.


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