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Bake - Rachel Allen

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Author: Rachel Allen / Format: Hardback / Date of publication: 06 October 2008 / Genre: General Cookery / Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers / Title: Bake / ISBN 13: 9780007259700 / ISBN 10: 0007259700

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    14 Reviews
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      27.02.2012 20:50
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      A great all round book that you'll keep going back to!

      If you were thinking that this book is only about baking cakes, biscuits or bread then you'd be wrong.

      Admittedly the title 'bake' would probably lead you down that path of thinking, but it's so much more than that. There are chapters covering anything you can think of that might be baked. To give you an idea, the chapters are as follows -
      Sweet mouthfuls
      Cakes
      Puddings
      Breads and savoury bites
      tarts and pies
      breakfasts and patissiere
      baked meals
      holiday and celebrations
      Basic recipes and techniques

      Yes, there are plenty of sweet things there, but the baked meals for me was the star. I have made the baked butternut squash risotto so many times now that I know the recipe by heart, I've made it for people and passed the recipe around to encourage people to buy this book because it is so good. It is easily one of the most used books in my very (very!) vast collection of cookbooks.

      For me the book is somewhat of a baking bible, it might be disappointing for some because there are not photos for every recipes, but it really is crammed with some basic but great recipes. Some are classics, but quite a lot of the recipes I haven't really seen elsewhere. The honey loaf is yummy and always goes down well when I make it!

      But don't forget the savoury baking, there are some delicious recipes like spicy bacon and gruyere scones, corn bread and a recipe for sourdough bread. I also love the recipe for the gingerbread house, so cute! One of the great things about this book is this book is the basic recipes section. There are a whole heap of recipes for jams, icings and basic sauces such as toffee, hot chocolate, raspberry etc which so often are the sorts of things left out of cookery books. I just like the fact that this is really homely basic cooking, the sort of cooking you'd do for your family and friends.

      I'd thoroughly recommend this book to anyone (and frequently do!).

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      24.02.2012 16:00
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      Delicious recipes of both savoury and sweet dishes

      Over the last year or so I have become an increasingly avid fan of Rachel Allen. I'd never heard of her, seen her programs on tv or read any of her books until a friend mentioned that she loved her books and used them all the time. I started looking out for her more and have now purchased a few of her cookery books (although I've still not seen any of her tv shows) and for my birthday recently was very pleased to receive her Bake book as a gift from aforementioned friend (she also got me the Nigel Slater Real Fast Puddings book from my previous review...at least this one was more successful!!)

      So, if you're like I used to be and have never heard of Rachel Allen, you'll probably have guessed from my introduction that she's a tv chef, born and trained in Ireland and, like most tv chefs nowadays, has written numerous cookery books including Easy Meals, Entertaining at Home and Home Cooking. The thing that keeps drawing me back to her books is that she has a really down to earth, practical, calm manner about her which even comes across in the books. She seems to really understand that not everybody has hours to spend cooking every day but that a lot of people don't mind spending more time in the kitchen at weekends and on special occasions and most of the books that I've read cater for all tastes and occasions, whilst keeping it as simple and unfussy as possible.

      On to Bake, then. I was thrilled to receive this as a gift as the other books I have of hers are all more geared towards savoury dishes and I seem to have lots and lots of main meal/savoury cookery books but not many that focus on the naughty decadent baking/pudding aspect of cooking, so I frequently used to end up scouring the internet for inspiration when it came to puddings. Bake is a decent chunk of a book, hardbacked and generally feeling top quality. The front cover has the obligatory chef-looking-happy-and-busy-in-their-kitchen photo, but the back cover is filled with photos of some of the delicious looking concoctions from inside. How I wish I could create a tea-table that looked that tempting!! It has nearly 300 pages and is sensibly divided into the following sections:

      - Introduction
      Very short, just a brief word from Rachel herelf extolling the virtues of baking!

      - Sweet Mouthfuls
      Full of recipes for cookies, cupcakes, traybakes, blondies, scones and other delicious treats!

      - Cakes
      Self -explanatory really! With recipes for both traditional chocolate cake, carrot cake and swiss roll and also some more modern versions such as red velvet cake and upside down cranberry cake. Curiously,she also includes some "breads" in this section too; honey loaf, banana bread, zucchini bread and sweet potato and pecan bread. I've not made any of these yet so can't say for sure why they're in the cake section, I can only assume it's because they have a more cakey texture/consistency than traditional breads.

      - Puddings
      This includes a variety of puddings including cheesecakes, bread and butter/sticky toffee pudding, crumbles, steamed puddings and rice puddings.

      - Breads and Savoury Bites
      Here you'll find plenty of choice of all things bready including focaccia, naan, soda, gluten-free and sourdough, and plenty of savoury recipes too such as cornbread, bacon and cheese scones and cheese straws.

      - Tarts and Pies
      This section is split between savoury and sweet, British and Mediterranean and includes recipes such as; spinach, potato and goats cheese tart, chicken and leek pie, calzone, pasties, tarte tatin and seville orange meringue pie.

      - Breakfast and Patisserie
      Recipes for all your breakfast staples like bagels, brioche, muffins, waffles, omelettes and crumpets.

      - Baked Meals
      A real bonus section for me as I wasn't expecting savoury main courses in here too, but it includes yummy looking things like cheese fondue in a squash, red lentil dahl, baked aubergines with tomatoes, basil and pine nuts and chicken with lemon and garlic and pilaf rice.

      - Holiday and Celebration
      Includes the more impressive cakes (croque en bouche, easter tart etc) and traditional holiday recipes including simnel cake, mince pies, hot cross buns and a gingerbread house

      - Basic Recipes and Techniques
      A very handy little section for both novice and more experienced cooks with information about the equipement you might need, recipes for the various types of pastry, basic bread, cake and meringue recipes and information, different ways of decorating your bakes and sauces to accompany them.


      - Glossary
      Extremely useful if you're not sure what a term means such as bain-marie, prove, knock back - words and terms used in many recipes but not often explained!

      - Index
      Self-explanatory!

      - Acknowledgments
      Ditto!

      Now why do I like this book? There are many many reasons, but most of all I really do think that there's something for everyone in this book. Sweet, savoury, cakes, puddings, traditional, contemporary, British, European, vegetarian, gluten-free...ok, not every recipe will be suitable for vegetarians or someone following a gluten free diet, but I like that there are moves towards including these and I'm sure most people that fall into these categories, if they're competent cooks, will have their own techniques for tweaking recipes to suit their requirements anyway.

      I like the lay out of the book and, whilst there isn't a photo of every dish, there are plenty of pictures scattered throughout the book showing the dishes in their finished states and looking mouthwateringly good!

      One of the things I like most however is that for many of the recipes there are "alternatives" so if you like the look of something but don't like a particular ingredient in it you can alter it, making a different version to suit your tastes. Examples include converting the easy soda focaccia into red onion, olive and rosemary focaccia, the rustic bacon and cheddar bread can easily become pumpkinseed, gruyere and thyme bread or sun-dried tomato, rosemary and olive bread, and the muffin recipe can be transformed into 5 other variations; banana and maple, rhubarb and strawberry, cherry and almond, apple and raisin and blueberry. So, as I said before, there really is something for everyone!

      Admittedly, I've only had this book for a few weeks but I've tried and tested several recipes already and each one has gone down a treat and been classified as an "againer" by my husband. I've so far made mocha cupcakes (a variation on the mocha cake recipe), the banana and maple muffins, crumpets (I wish I'd known earlier how easy these are to make! I always imagined a really tricky process with these but that's so not the case!!) and the baked aubergines with tomatoes, basil and pine nuts (great for when my vegetarian mother-in-law came for dinner). The seville orange meringue pie is a particular favourite and will probably become my "go-to" pudding when we have guests now. I love lemon meringue pie anyway, and to have a variation on that is great.

      Each and every recipe was clear, easy to follow, as simple as possible and only used readily available ingredients. That, in particular, is a must for me. I hate getting a new cook book only to find that half the things in there can only be bought from specialist shops for you to then only use a teaspoon of it and have the rest of it languishing in the back of the cupboard forever more!

      There are delicious looking recipes in all the sections that I will definitely be trying but perhaps the most pertinent for me is the breakfast section. On a weekend, when I have more time, I like to try different things for breakfast instead of the usual cereal, toast, bacon and eggs etc. Having spent a lot of time in the USA both myself and my husband like experimenting (well, I do the experimental cooking, he does the experimental trying!) with both sweet and savoury breakfasts so that this includes so many ideas for those is great.

      Rachel also provides further hints and tips for many of the recipes to further aid our enjoyment/experimentation with the dishes. A good example is the baked aubergines I mentioned. At the beginning of the recipe she suggests adding chopped anchovies or olives into the sauce too. or with the roulade recipe, she advises us that the meringue can be made a day in advance and stored, to save time on the day. This can be useful for cooks/bakers of different skill levels as you can then make the dish as simple or as complicated as you like/have time for.

      Overall, then, I have been very impressed with this book and can see already that it will become one of the most frequently dipped into when I'm looking for inspiration. I really like the fact that there are different recipes for basic things, so if I've made a cake from another recipe but want a different frosting I can leaf through this and find the perfect one. Or if I make a sponge pudding I'll never run out of variations for the topping as in this book recipes for creme anglaise, toffee sauce, chocolate sauce, coffee sauce, raspberry sauce, blueberry syrup and apple sauce are all given...that's enough to keep even me going for a while!

      As I didn't buy this book myself I don't know how much my friend paid for it, but looking on Amazon they currently sell it for £14, which I think is well worth the investment and I'll probably be buying several copies over the next year to give to other friends as gifts. Although I'm more likely to restrict it to female friends as it does have quite a girly feel to it with lots of pastel colours and flowers creeping into the photography!

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        30.07.2011 10:53
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        Rachel Allen at her best

        I am a big fan of Rachel Allen and always have her TV series on series link so I don't miss any. I own all her books, and as baking is my favourite kitchen pastime it wasn't surprising really that I ended up with two copies of this book as gifts for my birthday!

        When I saw Rachel was due to release a baking book I was really looking forward to it as I love Rachel Allen and I love baking! I like the style of Rachel's books and this was no different, if not better, than her previous offerings. There are lots of gorgeous pictures and the photography in Rachel's books is always excellent. The book is beautifully presented and has a ribbon so you can keep the page of the recipe you're working on. My only criticism of the book is that it's too big to fit on my bookstand in the kitchen so I have to keep opening and closing it whilst following recipes!

        The book itself is nearly 300 pages long so there is a lot of food to be made here! I had presumed initially that it would be mainly cakes and sweet treats, but was pleasantly surprised to see that there is a good mix of sweet and savoury recipes, so you can make a full three course meal with this book. She gives recipes for cakes, pies, bread and tarts. There is also a useful section at the back where she gives techniques and recipes for pastry and sauces that might be useful.

        I have tried several recipes from this book, sadly time doesn't allow for more cooking from scratch in our household, but if I'm going to cook a proper meal I'll tend to use Rachel Allen's recipes because they're always down-to-earth, wholesome food.

        My personal highlights of this book are the carrot cake (which even impressed my father-in-law-to-be, not an easy task!), the bacon and cheddar bread and the spinach, potato and goat's cheese tart. As I said earlier, it's possible to create a three course meal with this versatile book.

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        29.09.2010 16:48
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        A nice introduction to baking

        I really love this book, and every recipe that I have tried from it so far has turned out mouth wateringly delicious and has provoked demands of 'more cake!' from friends and family. There is a nice range of recipes from cakes to pies, and a really good illustrated section at the back on making different types of pastry, cake decorating and basic sauces etc. I am a vegetarian and have been pleased with the amount of recipes that I can actually eat in this book - although this might not please others quite so much!

        This is one of the most well-worn cookery books in my collection and I am quite surprised to see that so many previous reviewers have criticised Rachel Allen herself. Yes she does pop up a lot in the book but surely it is reassuring that she seems to have tried these recipes herself? I also think that the slightly patronising manner comes from her being a cookery teacher, and although sometimes annoying, it is easy to overlook!

        All in all, I think this is a really nice and easy to follow book for the amateur baker with all the traditional recipes as well as some new ones. Personal favourites are the butternut squash cheese fondue and the peanut butter and white chocolate brownies.... mmm, might go and make some now actually....

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        12.07.2010 01:03

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        Give Rachel a chance and enjoy!

        I purchased this as I am a great fan of Rachel Allen despite being a vegan. Many people think I am crazy for buying books that I am obviously not going to use as the recipes have animal products in. However, I seem to have developed an art for veganizing (word?) cakes etc. The book is very well written by Rachel herself and details all that is necessary for baking great breads, cakes, scones but of course I change this. There are lovely pictures throughout showing the baker how the end product should look as well as a whole section at the back of the book dedicated to techniques for bread shaping etc.

        What I thought was a nice added extra and showed a higher level of class compared to other cooking books is the piece of fabric which allows you to keep tabs on where the next recipe is.

        Despite the book being called 'Bake' which makes one infer the book is all about cakes, there is a large section on casseroles etc.

        I purchased the book from Amazon for £10.40 which is a great price considering the original price was £20!

        Overall this is a very pleasant book.

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        02.04.2010 13:02
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        Give it a go, you'll be baking up a storm!

        I was given 'Bake' by Rachel Allen as a Christmas gift and, though unsure about her recipes in the past (I'd tried a few from GoodFood online) this book has turned out to be a real staple in the kitchen. In it, Allen shows how simple and versatile baking can be: from pies to cupcakes, Rachel covers everything.

        There also plenty of savoury recipes such breads, pies and tarts which I've found really helpful because it's not the sort of thing I've tended to cook, but the photographs are so inspiring and the instruction so friendly and easy to follow I've been encouraged to give them a go, and I haven't once been disappointed yet.

        The one problem I've had so far is the 'gingerbread house and people'...oh dear...Before I explain, to anyone hasn't made a gingerbread house before this is a very long, time-consuming and stressful feat (no exaggeration!) which I think probably requires a masters in civil engineering...However, the *big* problem with Rachel's recipe is that she gives incorrect measurements for two of the walls, cue distaster...The house doesn't stand up.

        However, every other recipe I've tried has been accurate so this must have been a mere oversight. It's still a great book, just be aware of the above if you ever attempt the gingerbread house!

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        28.01.2010 19:28
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        a great addition to any cookbook collection

        'Bake' is as you might expect Rachel Allen's book specialising in baked meals. There is an accompanying series which is sporadically shown on the GoodFood digital channel.

        The book is in hardback with a matt finish cover. The paper inside is of good quality but also matt meaning that you do have to be careful to protect it from splashes. The spine is very flexible but as you get further through the book it needs a bit more encouragement for the pages not to close in on themselves. A fabric bookmark is also woven in to help you keep your place.

        After an short introduction by Allen we get into the recipes good and proper. Typically each recipe has a short introduction and occasionally also extra variations and tips on the standard recipe. Most recipes also have a beautifully shot photograph which illustrates the finished dish on the facing page.

        In comparison this book almost works exactly backwards to conventional cookbooks starting with a number of sweet chapters and moving into savoury towards the end.

        The first chapter is for sweet mouthfuls. Example recipes are as follows: oatmeal and raisin cookies, ginger and honey snaps (light and perfect for dipping in tea), bakewell bars, scones, Eccles cakes, lemon cupcakes, fairy cakes, Viennese biscuits.

        Next up is cakes : butter-free sponge cake, iced orange cake, upside down cranberry cake (a great alternative to other Christmas desserts, really fruity and moist.), Dutch apple cake (also with a raspberry and pear variation - my favourite of all of the ones I have tried in this book), cherry crumble cake, red velvet cake, swiss roll, carrot cake (the best recipe for this cake that I have ever tried), banana bread (on a par with the one in Nigella's How To Be A Domestic Goddess), zucchini bread and sweet potato and pecan bread.

        The next chapter is on puddings featuring the following amongst others: baked cheesecake with blueberries, date bread and butter pudding with boozy toffee sauce (there are no words!), baked brown sugar custards, baked Alaska, chocolate lava cakes, creamy vanilla rice pudding, raspberry jam steamed pudding.

        Following this we have breads and savoury bites eg: cardamom bread, easy foccacia (with a gorgeous red onion, olive and rosemary, bacon and cheddar bread (stunning both on its own and with soup), naan bread, various soda breads, Cornish saffron bread, crispbread, spicy bacon and gruyere scones, pretzels
        Then we come to tarts and pies which include: a wonderful spinach, potato and goats cheese tart, cheese and leek pie, calzone puttanesca (with a stunning Italian sausage variation), pork chorizo and spinach pie (firmly on my evergrowing 'to cook' list), tarte tatin, date, orange and cardamom tart, Seville orange meringue pie, lemon and passion fruit tart,

        Next we have the Breakfast and patisserie - Breakfast English muffins, 30 day muffin recipe (the batter keeps for 30 days in the fridge and a lot of ideas for variations on flavours, bagels, brioche, waffles, croissants, crumpets, baklava, éclairs.

        Next up is baked meals, including: easy empanadillas with blue cheese and bacon, baked cheese fondue in a squash -(has to be seen to be believed - would be impressive at a dinner party), baked red lentil dahl, baked potato,onion and rosemary gratin (now firmly in my regular recipe rotation), baked butternut squash risotto with sage and toasted pumpkin seeds, simple sausage and bean bake, pork spinach and mushroom lasagne, pizzas (and many different variations)

        Then we come to holiday and celebration: eg Easter chocolate tart, hot cross buns, simnel cake, pink meringues with raspberry cream or blue meringues with blueberry cream (!), doughnuts, croquet en bouche (ie a French wedding cake made up of 40 profiteroles), Christmas pudding and cake, mince pies, Gingerbread house and people (with detailed measurements on how to construct it.)

        Next Allen details 'basic recipes and techniques'. First up Allen spends some time discussing basic baking equipment eg bakeware, everyday essentials, and extras such s piping bags and food mixers. Next up is a section on pastry, specifically how to make shortcrust, choux, hot water, puff , flaky pastry and detailed photographs on the method. Then a short section on how to make bread, cakes and meringue. She then moves on to discussing decorating and filling cakes where she lists a number of icings and fillings such as cream cheese, butter, glace, American frosting, crème Chantilly, crystallised flowers, easy chocolate curls. Next up she describes sauces - béchamel, toffee sauce, raspberry sauce, apple sauce. Finally, she gives some simple jams and preserves such as strawberry jam and a sweet onion jam (which I heartily recommend).

        Finally there is a two page glossary helpfully describing a number of useful techniques.

        I really like this book. It is really beautifully presented with lots of really attractive pastel shades and clear photography throughout. However, this does not detract from the fact that it is all really clear and easy to read. The recipes are very well explained and easy to follow, and whilst Allen may not have a distinctive food writer's voice yet, she is gentle and encouraging.
        As you can see from my descriptions above, there is a wide variety of recipes available from the British traditional to European classics which whilst not overly complex to make are unusual enough to seem adventurous and for you to have lots of fun making and impressing people with! Quite aside from the obviously fantastic sweet baked goods that are Allen's speciality, she has also put together some solid and really great savoury recipes that are hearty and highly reusable.

        Although not an everyday cookbook, there really is enough here to experiment with over time. It is really lovely to flick through and I think would be a good gift if not to yourself, somebody who really enjoys implementing their baking skills

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          18.01.2010 21:34
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          Excellent Selection of Recipes for any aspiring Baker

          Having watched and enjoyed a few of Rachel Allen's "Bake" TV programs, I decided to indulge my interest in baking by buying the tie-in book. Although it is quite a recent purchase, I've already made quite a dent in the recipe selection, and for the most part have been very pleased with the results.

          The Book
          Containing almost 300 pages of recipes and photographs, the book is divided into 9 sub-sections:

          Sweet Mouthfuls
          The Miscellaneous collection - various types of bars, biscuits and scones are given an airing, with handy hints provided on how to adapt the more basic recipes ( such as a plain cookie) into a more special thing altogether (in this instance, a crystallised ginger and dark chocolate cookie). I would particularly recommend the chocolate and coconut bars - an easy to follow recipe that produces a very tasty snack.

          Cakes
          My favourite section - A very comprehensive selection of cake recipes, ranging from the simple (such as a deceptively easy but very tasty Dutch Apple Cake) to the elaborate (a very decadent and visually stunning Red Velvet Cake). As with all the recipes featured, the instructions are very clear, and littered with handy hints. The small introductions that lead onto the recipes offer a nicely personal touch.

          Puddings
          In this section, classic puddings such as Apple Crumble, Baked Cheesecake and rice pudding sit alongside more exotic fare, including a very scrummy looking coconut meringue roulade. The baked cheesecake with blueberries has become a very firm favourite, being both very simple to make and, most importantly, very good to eat!

          Breads and Savoury Mix
          Basic bread recipes are included in the final section of the book (Basic Recipes and Techniques), but for the more adventurous, the Bread and Savoury section includes a good selection of ideas, including a brown bread with treacle and sesame seeds, and a rustic bacon and Cheddar bread

          Tarts and Pies
          Both the savoury and sweet are covered in this selection of recipes, including a delicious apple tarte tartin (which can easily be adapted to utilise other fruits - pear and ginger is particularly nice) and a very hearty beef and stout pie.

          Breakfast and patisserie
          Crumpets, Brioche, Muffins...although one of the smaller sections, the recipes that are on offer provide enough variety to satisfy most tastes. While I've found most of Allen's recipes to be both very easy to follow and consistent in their results, the one exception I've encountered is in the croissant recipe - admittedly, this was my first attempt at pastry making, so the disaster that resulted may have owed more to my inexperience than the recipe itself. I, however, like to think otherwise...:)

          Baked Meals
          In a break from the sweet stuff, this section provides some lovely ideas for savoury dishes, with enough variety to please both meat eaters (the Baked Chicken is delicious) and vegetarians alike (including a lovely butternut squash risotto and very tasty red lentil dhal).

          Holiday and Celebration
          Included in this section are a variety of cakes, pies and brownies designed for those extra special occasions and holidays. The mince pie recipe makes for some delicious Christmas treats, while the gingerbread house (complete with very detailed instructions) would be ideal to make with kids.

          Basic recipes and Techniques
          A very useful section which includes a variety of simple ideas, including a very good recipe for a basic sponge cake, various icings (I'd recommend the vanilla butter cream frosting - divine!), pastries, and numerous sweet and savoury sauces. Each recipe is provided by way of a step-to-step guide, which makes for very easy following - even for the more inexperienced cooks among us.

          General Thoughts
          The layout of the book is well done, with the sub-sections providing an easy means of navigation. Most recipes are accompanied by a very professional looking photograph (albeit that there seems to be a considerable amount of vanity photography going on - the book would be better served by a few less photographs of Allen smiling at the camera and a few more photographs of the food itself). But this is a minor niggle - on the whole, the book provides a very comprehensive, accessible guide to baking, with easy to follow recipes and thoughtful hints throughout. At £20, the book is by no means cheap, but given the quality (and indeed, the quantity) of recipes to be found, it is by no means unreasonable.

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            22.09.2009 15:10
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            Good for the less experienced

            I love to cook and bake, and I had been after this book for some time when I saw it on The Book People's website for a bargain £4. I had never seen Rachel Allen on tv, however I had seen this book featured many places and was keen to try out some of the recipies.

            On receiving this book it is a good size, with lots of recipies, most of which have pictures. However many of the pictures are actually of Rachel Allen posing while stiring a bowl or putting something in the oven, personally I would have prefered to see more pictures of the finished products.

            The recipies are divided into categories, and there is also an index if you are looking for something specific. The chapters include Sweet Mouthfuls, Cakes and Puddings, Tarts and Pies, Breads and Savouries, Breakfast and Pastries, Baked Meals, Holiday and Celebrations and Basic Recipes.

            I have found the recipies in this book to be quite standard, always finished to a high quality but nothing new or earth shattering. This book would be good for new bakers and cooks, but not for the more established seeking something different. Personally I tend to stick to my Hummingbird Bakery book, for some more imaginative tea time treats.

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            21.09.2009 20:56
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            A good book for aspiring housewives

            I love to cook and so when my godmother selected this book for me last birthday I bet she was counting on the fact that this would be a winner! No doubt filled with nostalgic thoughts of us baking banana and walnut bread together when I was a youngster I can almost picture her delight when she found it in the book shop..........however the one thing my godmother could not have counted on was my dislike for poor Rachael. The thing is the women has never done anything to me I just find her annoying, in fact I find her patronising, I know judging by some of the reviews on her books that people love her wholesome and family approach to cooking but there is just a niggling thought I the back of my mind that she is not the jolly happy person she appears to be, or maybe its just the accent!

            With this slightly unfortunate attitude that I possess towards Ms Allan I did not expect to enjoy this book one bit but it is an attractive and weighty tome and the hardback cover made it ideal to slip in my bookcase in the kitchen just begging to be used when I got the next Sunday afternoon baking urge. As a hardback this book retails at £20 which is standard for any TV chef this days. Thankfully the only really 'Rachael' bit is the introduction which I avoided and the sickly sweet "Look I made pie!" photo on the first page.

            I like the way this book is assembled, at first Bake seems like a limiting subject of simply cakes and desserts but Rachael does her best to diversify and introduce the reader to more savoury, one pot dishes.

            The book has six sections
            *Sweet Mouthfuls
            *Cakes
            *Puddings
            *Breads and savoury bites
            *Tarts and pies
            *Breakfast and patisserie
            *Baked meals
            *Holiday and celebration
            *Basic recipes and techniques


            The recipes are easy to follow, I liked the layout of each page with space being given freely, one recipe per page which makes it easy to follow and a simple font so it is easy to refer to when your knuckle deep in flour. The photographs are pleasant but not stylish in the Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey sense but they give good, so far accurate descriptions of the product I turn out. They radiate warmth, family and homeliness which on a rainy Sunday afternoon when im hunting out a tasty morsel or two to make is quite comforting.

            My favourite recipes are in fact the baked meals, pressed for time during the week these have come in surprisingly handy. Baked butternut squash risotto with sage and pumpkin seeds, chicken and leek pie and onto the sweet tooth favourite tart tatin. I am desperate to try her poppy seed cake and the fact that I can remember particular recipes is all credit to this book's quality. The recipes do not feature any guide as to their nutritional value which I know some people find important when looking at what to make.

            On the whole the ingredients listed are easy to get hold of and the recipes generally easy to follow, the section on basic recipes and techniques was very good, again written in a comprehensive and helpful manner with pictures depicting the various stages you will go through for more complex techniques.

            There is no doubt about it this book is for the female with its pink inner pages, page separator ribbon and the heart-warming photographs of teapots and gingham. I suspect this book was made to appeal to people buying a gift for housewives and mums. Of course that is not necessarily a bad thing and I enjoyed the recipes. This is a good book for people that already bake a little, a complete newbie in the baking world would enjoy the basic technique pages and an expert would probably be tempted by the croque en bouch. For me its still a little bit 1950's housewife but I don't mind it taking up space on my shelf for those spare Sunday afternoons.

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              09.09.2009 21:56
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              Excellent book

              Cooking is something that I do for fun, especially baking so for my birthday my parents bought me Bake by Rachel Allen. I had never heard of her before (I don't get many chances to watch television) but my parents who live in Ireland (where Rachel Allen's from) had heard of her and felt that she made the sort of foods that I would adore.

              They were completely right! Bake is full of all sorts of scrumptious sounding and tasty (from the recipes that I've tried so far) recipes. Rachel has included a wide range of options both savoury and sweet. The instructions are given clearly with all the basic recipes for pastry, bread, cakes, meringue, decorations and fillings for cakes, sauces, and jams and preserves featured at the back of the book.

              My favourite recipes so far have been baklava and baked cheese fondue in a squash. Both of these recipes have been used when I've had my family over for dinner and they both went down brilliantly. Some of the recipes are for basic cakes etcetera but to have them all compiled in one book is very helpful and the other recipes in the book are ones I would never have thought of.

              This book is brilliant and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who likes baking.

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                25.08.2009 12:29
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                Read review, hope you enjoy

                I love to cook, especially bake, and having caught this TV series now and again, and finding that Rachel Allen always seems to make amazing, family friendly food, I ordered 'Bake' by Rachel Allen when I found it on special on Amazon at £8.00, better than half price! Bargain!

                It is a hardback book, no sleeve, a quality matt finish. The pages are thick and again matt and easy to turn. There is a long baby blue ribbon that is to be used as a page marker. A lovely looking book with a picture of almost each recipe on the adjacent page, perfect in my opinion

                The Contents is split into 9 categories,

                Sweet mouthfuls
                Cakes
                Puddings
                Bread and Savoury bites
                Tarts and pies
                Breakfast and patisserieBaked meals
                Holiday and celebration
                Basic recipies and techniques

                My pet hate with all cook books, is that things don't work...not the case with this book so far! Everything has come out perfectly!

                I have tried a few, so here goes,

                Baked cheesecake with blueberries.
                A well written and simple recipe that created an outstanding....yes outstanding cheescake that everyone had seconds of! Easy to make when pressed for time, looks lovley, tasted great.

                Poppy seed cake with vanilla buttercream icing.

                My husband loves seed cakes, very popular in sweden where he is from. This was a robust cake, full of flavour, not to my taste, but was simple and fairly good for you, and most importantly, worked well!

                Baked cheese fondue in a squash

                This was a wonderful sinful supper! Looked great, tasted even better...one to avoid unless you really want to get fat as its addiction city!

                I did have one slip up at the weekend. I promised my 2 year old that I would make hot cross buns.......omg, this was a nightmare! I had all the ingredients in my larder....so away I went....It was complicated, messy and very very intricate.....rising, neading, leaving to stand, knocking back....blah blah blah. several hours later, lots of work and cleaning, I did get the MOST outstanding buns (hot cross-less I must add!!!) Have 2 batches in my freezer, hope the family enjoy them, as I will never ever ever be making them again.

                This is a must have baking book for any home baker. Great new ideas, a chock full of any bake you might want.

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                  22.04.2009 12:19
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                  .

                  My brother recently bought this book after watching the TV series. I can't quite make out if this was a good idea or not. OK so maybe it's alright because he wants to be a baker, but then there's the problem of other people using it and wanting to make absoloutly anything!

                  The 288 page long book is full of nice little photos, showing you what the cake, pie or maybe just a biscuit is supposed to look like. However on some occassions you just have a picture of Rachel Allen putting a cake in the oven. Or maybe just a photo of some pans. Now correct me if I'm wrong but I assummed that this was a cooking book. I'm not saying that other cooks don't do it in their books, culprits being Jamie Oliver or Nigella Lawson, but I would still rather see if what I'm making is looking somewhat recognisable and not something just flung together.

                  Anyhow, the actual book is split neatly into 7 sections. I have to say this makes things a bit more easier to find when you know it's pretty obvious which chapter it's going to be under. These sections are :~ Sweet mouthfuls, Cakes and puddings, Tarts and pies, Breads and savouries, Breakfast and pastries, Baked meals, holiday and celebrations. There is also a little bit at the back which tells you how to make stuff like pastry, or maybe butter icing etc.

                  The first thing that was made out of the book, was the coconut tart and may I say that it was so nice we've made it a wopping 3 times! (In the recipe it says that you can use rasberry jam as an option, but if you do intend on buying it, I suggest you don't!)

                  In my opinion it's all down to your own tastebuds but I am going to be completely blunt here, out of the food that has been made so far I would skip past the poppy seed cake and Spinach, potato and goat's cheese tart.
                  You could be thinking that maybe we made a mistake but no, in my mind they really are not at all that nice!

                  The recipes in themselves are easy enough to follow but like with all cookery books it's best to read though them first just to make sure that you know exactly where's best to start. Especially if something is supposed to be finely chopped but you only have them whole.

                  This book I think was well worth getting. I don't remember the programme actually being shown at the time it was on, and although not all the recipes are that original, fairy cakes and eclairs there are some new ones which I thought had never even occurred to me.

                  If however you are strapped for cash a cheaper alternative to finding about how to make these recipes would be to go on the website below

                  http://uktv.co.uk/food/stepbystep/aid/607684

                  and you should find pretty much most of them on there!

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                    26.01.2009 21:57
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                    Bake Bake Bake - A must in any kitchen!

                    Rachel Allen's Bake is my favourite baking book that I currently own. My other half bought it for me as a Christmas present, I carefully opened the wrapping paper on christmas morning and peeked at 'Rachel Allen - Bake' down the side and I was just so delighted with it I could not wait to starting baking - Rachel style! The only thing is was really gutted about was that I could not start cooking from it on Christmas day.

                    The illustrations in this book draw you in so deep, I could not even put it down I read it from front to back. So Christmas day over with Boxing day was my day to bake and this is the first book I opened, I could not hold back the excitment (so sad I know!)

                    So as many of Rachel's books are they are set into different sections over the 288 pages, so that it is more easy to find what you are looking for, but to also make to clear to the readers.

                    The chapters that included in Bake are - Sweet mouthfuls, Cakes and puddings, Tarts and pies, Breads and savouries, Breakfast and pastries, Baked meals, holiday and celebrations and basic recipes that everyone should know and the techquiues to develop your cooking further.

                    The first thing that I cooked was the Chicken and Leek pie, but instead of Chicken I used Turkey (it was boxing day!) and it worked perfectly it was so lovely and creamy and went down well with the family. For After's I made the Walnut cake with American Frosting as I wanted something other than rich fruit cake, and It did not disappoint at all, it is a fantastic cake that is full of flavour, The Walnut cake includes a Vanilla Butter cream filling (which is to die for - I ate most from the bowl!) and an American frosting smothered all over the cake, I was a little worried about making the frosting first but I did not have nothing to worry about because the easy to follow instructions it turned out perfectly.

                    Other recipes that I have tried and turned out great is the raspberry jam steamed pudding that turns out great every time and have made it every Sunday since Christmas for after supper. I have also tried thee Dutch Apple cake, Bake well bars, Sausage and bean bake and also the Swiss roll.

                    I cannot speak highly enough of this book and recommend this to all my family and friends, it has everything from pies to cakes and just fills your home with fantastic smells, I am slowly working my way through the book and know that I will love everyone of these recipes, and will cook these recipes time and time again.

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