Best books for baking
I think now is a good a time as any to start sharing with you all my favorite baking books. I have a LOT, as I am sure you can imagine, but some I love more than others. I’m not going to feature them in any particular order. I’m just going to share them with you and do a good review on each one that I can’t live without. I’m also hoping to review new books as they are released, but more on that another time.
Mary Berry’s Baking bible
I was given this book when it first came out in 2009 by Jane Curran, the Food Editor on Woman and Home magazine. When a book is called a ‘baking bible’ you really expect a lot from it, and I have to say that it really delivers. It’s the first book I pull off my shelves when I want to bake something new! It has over 250 recipes so if you can think of a cake, tart, biscuit, tray bake, and pudding or pie the chances are it’s in here!
I have tried about 20-30 recipes from this book so far. My favorites are the Lemon Drizzle Tray bake (recipe to come tomorrow! Yay!) the very best chocolate fudge cake – it really is THE best and the melting moments biscuits, which I make with my girls as they have to be rolled in oats before they’re baked and they are brilliant fun to make with kids. I still haven’t attempted any breads or rolls. I think I may be too impatient to make bread, as you have to leave it to rise before you come back to it, knead it a bit more and so on and I’m more of a bake it now and eat it now kind of a girl.
So what makes this book great?
The book is divided up into sections which cover everything you could possibly want to make. There are also pages covering baking hints and tips, conversion tables and clever techniques. Here’s what’s inside.
- Classic cakes– like Madeira and Victoria sandwich (which I am making tonight to take to a friend’s house tomorrow)
- Fruit and nut cakes– Cranberry and Apricot fruit cake anyone?
- Spiced cakes– like Almond Spice cake
- Chocolate cakes– you name it, it’s in here! Death by chocolate and brownies to name just two.
- Cupcakes and other small bakes– like Madeleines, muffins, and eccles cakes
- Celebration cakes, including a classic Christmas cake with different measurements for different size cake tins- very handy.
- Special Cakes– These are “more complicated to make but look very impressive” such as Sachertorte, Wimbeldon cake and Chocolatines.
- Tray bakes– I’ve only just discovered these, having only made flapjacks before. They’re really light and soooo easy to make. I defy anyone not to go back for seconds. Iced chocolate tray bake, Devonshire apple cake and Fast flapjacks are the next ones on my to try list.
- Biscuits and cookies. So far I’ve made the Fork biscuits, chocolate chip cookies (for Tim… not me!), Lavender biscuits and Oat rounds. But the melting moments as mentioned earlier are my favs, especially still warm from the oven!
- Fancy biscuits– These are a bit more fiddly but taste fantastic (of course) I’ve tried a few but I fancy having a go with the Almonds Tuiles and Macaroons. As Mary says in the book, these would make a great gift with a personal, thoughtful touch.
- Shortbreads and bars – Bishops fingers, Millionaire’s Shortbread, Bakewell slices, They’re all here. You know how I feel about shortbread?
- Baking for Children– Here there are a selection of fun and easy to make cakes and biscuits for kids to help make your kitchen a mess- or is that just my girls?
- Tarts and Pastries – My father-in-law is the master of the tarte tatin so I don’t even go there, but all the recipes you need for tarts, tartlets, chocolate éclairs (Tim’s favorite – do I say that for everything?) and pastries are here.
- Breads– Just looking at this list makes me hungry- English muffins, honey glazed walnut bread, Irish soda bread, Focaccia!!!!
- Fruit breads– Oooooh I’ve just seen the recipe for Banana and honey tea bread- two favorites in one. There’s also carrot and orange loaf, Courgette loaves and tea breads
- Buns and scones. This is where I think I should really give yeast bakes a go! Bath buns, Rock cakes, hot cross buns and no less than eight types of scones.
- Hot puddings and pies– Now I am a HUGE pudding fan. This has to be my favorite section, starting with classic apple pie and going right through to bread and butter pudding, treacle sponge and Pecan pie… pass the ice cream please?
- Soufflés and Meringues– Roll on summer so we can all make the Strawberry Pavlova and lemon meringue pie. I’ve never attempted to make a soufflé before, but looking at the hot chocolate one I really want to have a go now.
- Cheesecakes– There are nine cheese cakes to choose from. I fancy the American Chocolate Ripple one.
After writing all that I have decided that I should only sit down to review a cook book after lunch and NOT before. Instead of wanting something healthy today, I’m dying for some bread and butter pudding now! Probably due to its warming effects and the fact that there’s 3 inches of snow outside. Resist Emma resist!
So, you can see why I recommend Mary Berry’s Baking bible to any keen baker whether a novice or an experienced cake maker. It’s got it all and what’s more you can hear Mary Berry’s voice encouraging you when you read it. Her recipes are simple to follow and are nearly all made up from baking cupboard supplies. If you have eggs, flour and sugar in your baking cupboard then you can conjure up a treat from this book in no time at all.
A quick Mary Berry story
Last summer I went to the Lakeland Christmas press launch. (Christmas starts in June/July for stylists!) At press launches shops show you all the new products that they are going to be selling the autumn and winter and Lakeland were also showing all the food gifts that they will be selling that year too.
I was being shown around the launch by the lovely Lakeland PR , Kelly. One of their newest designs was a sandwich cake tin that has a form in the middle that lets you have tons more cream filling in the centre. On the display was a copy of Mary Berry’s Baking bible and I said to Kelly “I’ve got that book. It’s fantastic” To which she replied “Oh Mary’s here, she’s in the next room being shown the new kitchen gadgets” Well you can imagine how excited I was. I HAD to meet her.
Now I should just make it clear at this point that I have met quite a few celebrities in my time. I’ve shot a lot of famous people’s houses and been to a lot of celebrity product launches, so I really shouldn’t get star struck anymore. I mean I’ve been an interior stylist for 12 years!) But let me tell you, meeting Mary actually made me nervous. This is ridiculous as she is so tiny and slim (doesn’t she eat her cakes? I only have to look at a cake and I put on 3lb!) but she is the nicest lady. When I met her I prattled on about loving her book and being a baking mad nut and we chatted about how impressed we both were with the new Lakeland products and she was really sweet. She talked to me for what seemed like ages. It absolutely made my day. Now whenever we see her on TV on The Great British Bake Off I always say to Tim “I’ve met her. She’s lovely” Now, if I could only meet Paul (I’ve got the bluest eyes ever) Holiday!