“ Author: Lorraine Pascale / Format: Hardback / Date of publication: 06 January 2011 / Genre: Cookery / Subcategory: Cookery Dishes & Courses / Category: Desserts / Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers / Title: Baking Made Easy / ISBN 13: 9780007275946 / ISBN 10: 0007275946 „
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Did I need another cookbook? No. That didn't stop me from picking this one up from The Works, spending £6.99 to add it to my collection. I am a big fan of baking, and enjoyed Lorraine's series on BBC2, so it was inevitable that this would end up being added to my collection.
==Who is Lorraine Pascale?==
I was a bit late catching Lorraine's series on TV, so she had been around for a bit longer than I realised. Lorraine is a former model, who retrained to become a chef, specialising in patisserie. She has had three TV series, three books published, and has opened The Cupcake Bakehouse in Covent Garden. All this has happened in the space of a couple of years, so if nothing else she is excellent inspiration and a role model for achieving your dreams with a bit of hard work and perseverance (although being incredibly attractive probably helps!). Having watched all three series, I find Lorraine to be a very down-to-earth celebrity chef, who focuses on making cooking and baking easy and accessible to all, minimising the time and effort involved but maximising flavours at the same time. To find out more about Lorraine, visit her website www.lorrainepascale.com.
The title of the book suggests that we can expect to see recipes which make baking accessible to all. Indeed, Lorraine is a big fan of letting gadgets do the work in the kitchen, and a lot of recipes rely on the use of electric mixers and beaters rather than spending hours painstakingly adopting the more traditional methods such as creaming butter and sugar. In a way this is appealing to anyone trying to save time, but I must admit I quite like getting my hands dirty in the kitchen, and although I am happy to let gadgets do the work for me sometimes, I do like traditional cooking methods as I think you can apply the techniques more frequently once you have mastered them from scratch. That said, everyone is short on time these days, and this book delivers what it promises.....easy baking. This is quite refreshing when so many cookery books promise great things but fail to actually deliver (30 minute meals? Yes, I'm looking at you Jamie Oliver).
==Design and Layout==
The recipes in this book are organised into the following chapters:
· Lorraine's Baking Tips
· Savoury Baking
· Desserts & Patisserie
· Dinner Party
· Sweet Treats
The introduction is written by Lorraine, and tells us a bit more about her background and inspiration for wanting to work with food. As someone who loves cooking and is passionate about baking, I found this a lovely read and it inspired me to pursue my dream which is starting a cake decorating business. The baking tips section is worth a read, because although a lot of it may be obvious to the experienced baker, you might just pick up a tip or two to help you improve. For example, Lorraine gives away the secret to the perfect crust on a loaf here, which is to throw some ice cubes into a tray at the bottom of the oven when you put the bread on the shelf. This creates a steamy environment and gives the perfect crust. I know this is true because I tried it after seeing it on her TV series, and my bread making skills haven't looked back since.
The chapters are logically thought out, and make it relatively easy to find what you're looking for. If you're flicking through the book looking for general ideas, you can see which section you're in by glancing at the bottom of the page where it is identified...however you'll probably have a big clue by the recipe you're looking at. There is also an index at the back if you're looking for a particular recipe but you're not sure which chapter it falls under.
Lorraine covers a fair bit of ground with this book. Rather than being based mainly around cakes, which is what you might expect had you not seen the TV series, she gives a broad range of recipes which will enhance your skills in a few different areas such as bread making, cakes, and savoury tarts and pies. Whether you're looking for a stodgy cake to munch over the weekend, or a special dessert to impress your in-laws when they come to dinner, this book has what you need. Although I'm not sure there is ever a place for an omlette recipe in any cook book, unless it is aimed at students or imbeciles. This is a mix of down-to-earth recipes (carrot cake, scones, toad in the hole), and slightly poncy named dishes such as "feta, pomegranate and mint vol-au-vents", "gorgonzola and pear soufflé", or "whisky and chilli tiger prawns". Lets be honest, however easy these last three are to make, they're not things most people will rustle up on a weeknight after a busy day in work.
The pages of this book are glossy, and although I am always careful to keep my cook books away from the ingredients I'm using, I am notoriously clumsy so on the odd occasion I have splashed the book, the damage has been minimised.
==Instructions and Ingredients==
I've made a fair few recipes from this book, although admittedly I tend to favour the sweet rather than savoury recipes. I think this is because the savoury ones don't appeal to me as much, and I have many other books I can get ideas for pies, tarts and so on. In my mind I tend to associate baking with sweet things, so I don't really think to look at this book when looking for savoury recipes, and each time I do I find myself thinking "I must try that sometime". I find the instructions easy to follow, and they are written in a laid back style, so it's almost like Lorraine is talking to you as you're making the dish. For example, in the Battenberg recipes, she comments that you only need a drop of food colouring, "otherwise you'll end up with a psychedelic battenburg!". This is true of most of the recipes, and I like the informal style as it engages me more than reading boring step by step instructions. The only thing I would change about the instructions, however, is that they aren't numbered. This isn't a huge problem as they are split into separate steps, however sometimes I find if I turn away from the book to carry out a step of the recipe, when I return to it I lose my place as I would usually make a mental note of which number I was up to.
The ingredients and equipment required for each recipe are clearly set out on the left hand side of the page. Although I would expect this of ingredients, it isn't always the case that books state the equipment needed, so this is a nice addition in this book because it ensures you're not going to get halway through a recipe and have a nasty shock because you need three cake tins and you've only got two. Many cookbooks tend to assume you have an inventory equipment similar to a celebrity chef or restaurant.
For the most part, the ingredients are easily sourced, and quite often I will be able to use my stock of baking ingredients to produce something I don't need to buy a huge list of ingredients for, although some recipes rely on more expensive ingredients such as rum or whisky.
I must admit, I am a big fan of photographs in cookbooks. My brain works in a logical and linear manner so my ideal cookbook would have each recipe laid out in the same way, with a picture of each one. A photo isn't always necessary, for example if you're baking a Victoria sponge you'd have to have lived under a rock to not know what the finished result should look like. However, if I was to follow the recipes for Kugelhopf, tangerine Financier cakes, or vanilla tuiles in Lorraine's book, I have to be honest and say I have absolutely no idea what these things are, nor what they should look like. This is a bit of a hindrance to me, because not only does it mean I'm baking "blind", I also don't know on flicking through the book whether it's something I actually want to eat or not, and so far I've not been bothered to google the dishes to see what they are. This seems quite odd to me when you consider she (or her publishers) have chosen to include photographs of carrot cake (I know what that looks like, thanks), and pork pies (oh, that's what a pork pie looks like. I've got to the grand old age of 32 without seeing one). It seems the publishers have decided to play on Lorraine's former career of modelling by including some lovely photos of her sifting flour and giggling to herself as she places a slice of quiche onto a plate. Attractive as she is, I am much more interested in what the hell a Doris Grant loaf should look like.
==In a Nutshell==
Don't get me wrong, I do like this book and it is one I use relatively frequently. This is quite a compliment to Lorraine when you consider I must have in excess of 100 cookery books, and am a bit of a cookbook addict. However, I think this book would have benefited from focussing on sweet rather than savoury dishes, and including more practical rather than flowery (floury?! Sorry, bad pun) photographs. It seems odd that they have marketed the book this way, yet I suppose they want to make the most of Lorraine's looks and the fact she is very photogenic.
The results I have had from this book have been very pleasing, and I must admit it's nice to see a recipe for cake which involves sticking the ingredients in a mixer and allowing the mixer to do its work instead of spending ages creaming and folding. The recipes will appeal to all skill levels, as there are some which are suitable for beginners, and some which require a little bit of prior baking experience. Some of the recipes are a bit fancy for me, and some of them are a little heavy on ingredients, however Lorraine promised to make baking easy, not necessarily cheap. I do like this book and overall I feel four stars is fair.
The "I just don't give a damn" chocolate cake (yes, that's its real name) - this is so easy to make but always turns out perfectly and is ideal if you struggle to achieve a moist sponge
Chorizo and thyme fougasse - easy to make and great for tearing and sharing
Sticky glazed Asian Ham - I tried this at Christmas as a change from the usual honey and mustard topping, and it went down a storm
==Price and Availability==
I bought this from The Works for £6.99, but it is available on Amazon for £4.85 which is a bargain. The RRP is £18.99 which, as with most of these celebrity cook books, is a little ridiculous. It's worthy of adding to any respectable cookery book collection.
(Review also appears on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)
This was perhaps not a book I would have chosen for myself, as I have not seen the BBC2 show that is associated with the book, nor had I heard of Lorraine Pascale before, but my Husbands Uncle decided that this would be a great Christmas present for me.
My first look at this hard backed book I thought that it looks really quite pretty, with a picture of Lorraine dressed prettily in pink to match the title of the book, holding a lovely looking dessert in her hands. Who would not find that appealing?
This book is a 2011 publication but it is something I only came across through receiving it as a gift. It is Lorraine's 3rd cook book, and this particular book features 100 recipes, most of which I have never even attempted before.
This book is supposed to have a RRP of about £20, but at the moment it is only £4.85 on amazon in hard back, or £6.99 from the Book People. If you would rather have it in kindle format, this is £7.99. I personally think this is an absolute bargain for such a beautiful looking book. This is published by Harper Collins, and printed on materials approved by the FSC, something important to me because non-approved paper is not from sustainable sources and leads to destruction of habitats.
Something I really like is that each page is glossy. Something that majorly bugs me when cooking is when you get food on the pages of your cook books. Here, it just wipes off. I haven't got grease on it yet, so I don't know if this would wipe off, but other cooking materials would.
Because it is hard back, there is a paper cover. Opening the book, the hard backed cover is lined with a gorgeous pink coloured paper, before you start reading. There is a short introduction first of all that explains Lorraine's background and motivation for writing the book. This is followed by a baking tips section, where she gives advice to help you get the best out of your baking, from telling you she used medium eggs in all her recipes, to what type of flour she uses. I like how she splits her tips up into baking tips and bread making ones, as it is easy to find information you need again at the relevant point in your cooking.
Her recipes are then divided by sections into 7 areas. Most recipes are on one or two pages, and a lot of them (not quite all) are completed with a full page colour photograph to drool over.
Here, not just your everyday sandwich loaf, there are recipes for scones, croissants, brioche, fruit loaf, alongside pannetone, foccacia, breadsticks and muffins. I have real trouble making my own bread in that mine always ends up rock hard, so Lorraine's tip to cover the loaf at the top with foil while the bottom cooks is something I can't wait to try out.
My favourite thing to make is cakes. I can make edible items, but my lack of expertise comes across in my presentation. This section takes you through popular choices like carrot cake , Victoria sandwich, banana loaf, coffee and chocolate cake, but then goes on to do grander looking items like Battenburg, Red Velvet cake and cupcakes.
This part feels least expected to me from the title of the book, but is the sort of recipes I will personally get most use out of. Here there are pastry based items like quiche, various pies and sausage rolls, bread based items like pizza. Then you get the completely unexpected recipes for items like omlettes, baked butternut squash and baked camembert, a fish pie recipe. It is an interesting section, but to me it felt a little out of place in this particular cook book, and I think some of the recipes are for main meals rather than desserts, snacks or accompaniments.
Desserts and Patisserie
This is the bit that is most mouth watering to me. Here you get familiar items such as Bakewell Tart, baked pears, cheesecake, crumbles, treacle tart and pavlova with a bit of a Lorraine twist. I wish there were a few more photos in this section. You then get more exotic patisserie items like Les Petits Croquembouches which look really tricky, and I am not sure I could ever recreate the spun sugar like Lorraine's picture shows. She explains the method, but I don't think I am the type of person who could replicate the light handed touch it seems to need.
This section is pretty but is probably going to be my least used section as we rarely do dinner parties at the moment, and if we did, I would rather cook something that left me more time to talk to my guests. Here, I could make tiramisu, or brandy snaps, or creme brulee if I wished. I could also attempt baked alaska, lemon meringue pie, or the slightly easier sounding chocolate mousse.
This is another very appealing section with most recipes in here familiar at least, although some like the fondant fancies I may just leave to Mr Kipling. The flapjacks, chocolate brownies, whoopie cakes, and biscuits are all on the list to make though and if I master the mini jam doughnuts I think I will be in for a best mummy award.
The final section is a bit of a skills/reference section. Here, there are recipes for making different types of sweet and savoury recipes, alongside chocolate and vanilla crem patisserie recipes. These are simply explained, and terms I am familiar with. If you see me on Great British Bake Off next year, you will know I have mastered them.
My overall thoughts on this book is there are a good mix of recipes. I would attempt somewhere around the region of 75-80% of them, so this to me is the mark of a good cook book. Some recipes seemed nice but a little more tricky, or would use ingredients we would not really want to eat, It is very professionally produced with lovely clear pictures, and thought to the fact you would want to use it in the kitchen with the type of paper it is printed on.
While I have never watched the show, I like Lorraine's style here as it is all clearly and logically set out and explained with an ingredient list down the left hand side of the page followed by a larger column with instructions on the right hand side. I feel I could attempt any of the recipes following the method and tips she has given.
Hardcover: 256 pages - Kindle version: 7.99 GBP
Publisher: HarperCollins (01/2011)
Not so long ago, on a cold, damp night I had pangs for the scent of home baking - the same home baking smell I grew up in, when bread crumbled as it should and melted in the cake-hole like a moist spongy crumpet and cakes oozed with jam and cream and when pizza's were home made - then I saw your smile Lorraine.
You're a Dahl
Following in the Sophie Dahl footsteps 'The Delicious Miss Dahl'; Lorraine Pascale opts for the same culinary career - a six part BBC series - emulating Dahl, to the book a year later - a model turn TV Chef. Women wearing aprons are the quickest turn-on for men, especially when a model is part of the 'BBC Baking' package. Now that Dahl has a second 'bun in the oven'- courtesy of Cullum - set at gas mark 'phroar'; ready to pop out in July 2013. Lorraine has taken the reigns as the culinary cutie, showing off her not so bumptious beauties, and dazzling smile. 'Baking Made Easy' doesn't have the same marketing prowess as 'The Delicious Miss Dahl' nevertheless she's more appealing than the 'Hairy Bikers', if not for hygiene reasons. She is no Delia, whose bulbous jaw-line epitomises an oven's front, and you can believe she has only baked and cooked all her life - Lorraine is not quite so convincing. Her 'sell-By-Date' having expired as a lucrative model, I did wander if she was going to rise to the occasion - a case of a flour, self-raising.
Well, proof is always in the eating - which is one of my specialties having done it everyday. Lorraine seems to abhor complex experimentation, albeit, competent in her pose and presentation I yearned that she smeared flour on her high cheek-bone - a 'magnifique' colour contrast offering cheekiness and endearment to the equation. Obviously this isn't what Lorraine is all about; she is a master baker with paperwork to state her gastro-credentials - Albeit, no friend of Glutton for punishment labels. However, better than a pub-grub (grub as in the neologism form) Chef who's had the Marco Pierre White's seal of approval, I take it as being in the 'culinary' sense of approval. 'Marco, Yee ol lothario'. Like Pierre White, Pascale simmered in the culinary obsession that has encompassed the BBC for nearly two decades. Programmes / books depicting every cooking word associated possible, apart from 'vegetable' - which is notably uncouth? No model can be termed as a vegetable; surely - certainly not one whom purely bakes instead of stirs provocatively whilst flicking her hair from cheek to cheek not forgetting a side-way glance towards camera 'phroar'. What a refreshing change, Lorraine just gets down to it, (the baking of course) she is as sexually unaware as Rusty Lee was in the 1980s; the difference being, Pascale's obviously sexy - this compliments her master baking - the 'blueberry and lemon millefeuille' is one of the simplest of baking master classes offered. Thumbs-up to the divine light fingers, which tantalise and flirts with the taste-buds as if lap dancing with my muscular hydrostat. I'm a fan, it brings flab to all man. Now, how often do I dream of a warm oily Rosemary foccacia - when the gastric juices kick-in? Lorraine does lacks ingenuity when it comes to what can be done with a foccacia. I usually opt for the sweet spicy bread options - but the Chilli' mixes are going too Caribbean for me, Lorraine: 'you'll get me heart racing ma gal; yee too hot for me lassie, I wilt at the thought of your warm breaded chillies on me lips; a lifetime on my hips'.
'Baking Made Easy' is lacklustre in complexity and is no different to the BBC's culinary programme. 'Easy peas-eey lemon squeezy!' Not a bad thing, although, I feel it has been done many times before, by far ugly Chefs who find themselves on 'Saturday Kitchen' with James Martin. Where the infinite phrase: 'Only takes ten minutes max', have echoed through the BBC corridors since the days of Floyd. I half expected Lorraine to show me the recipe to do Worcester and Cheese Toast, done via the grill - offering tips such as: 'remember not to close the oven door while doing this process, readers, resist the temptation to close the oven door'. Tip Two: 'open a kitchen window so not to set-off the smoke alarm'. Yeah, these are Lorraine's tips; I wouldn't say these are necessarily culinary tips from a Pierre White approved master baker, rather than logical, generic tips, echoing the famous 1970's 'Green Cross Code Message' for children. For example, 'Do not put un-gloved hands in oven, if you do you'll feel extreme pain, as it is hot, very hot, very, very hot'. How do I get smooth dough? Tip: 'Pat out the crumbs gently, don't be slap-dash, take you time, you'll reap the rewards by having smooth dough'. My favourite tip: 'Preheat your oven, helps to turn it on'. Her tips are odiously basic - How do I know when my bread is baked? 'It is baked when it sounds hollow and shrinks to the edges'. How do I know when I've made perfect meringue? 'You'll know when it is shiny and stiff; at that point you'll wanna stick it on a shelf and exhibit it as a trophy'. Yeah, I'm good with meringue. For an amateur baker, the meringue tip sticks.
Pascale comes across not as a trophy girl, but as a likeable, gappy toothed entrepreneur - who has taken the culinary world by storm by being overtly vivacious; enabling her to being a competent baking specialist. Baking is her 'Pav-lova', and she excels at it. Her 'pièce de résistances' is edible Christmas decorations. Wonderfully crafted sugary objects representing delicate and delicious bunting, the problem is they do not last long and a sticky pain in a hot room. Tip: 'just don't tell the kids'. Pascale's spirit created the cup-cake phenomenon. Even I was caught up with the facade, perusing for cup cakes for the youngsters eighteen months ago. Hard to forget, remembering the mountains of cup cakes feeding into the obesity of tomorrow. She prizes herself on aesthetics still; notably successful baking has not consumed her body via mass, only her mind and entrepreneurship. 'She's doin it for the dough'. Well, for the love of the stickiness, and I believe her.
Baked; I'll Ask Her
Chapter 6: Sweet Treats, are sugar for my honey and one of my favourites. My lovely pav-lova cannot resist brownies, having been a child and engaged in badge stitching activities and loves the warmer climes, whereby she bakes her own brownies usually by less conventional culinary methods, by the pool. I just gaze, licking my lips as the baking procedure takes hold. Lorraine extinguishes any natural sexual innuendos of a Nigella and like a delicate orchid smiles sweetly - 'butter wouldn't melt'. To talk of the book without mentioning the 'Bake With Yet Another Celebrity' TV series resembles eating just a banana without the 'offee pie' at a plush dinner party. The book accompanies the TV series - which you can view on the BBC website after a 'Google' prompt, or on 'YouTube'. 'Bake Made Easy' is indeed, easy. The method takes centre stage and rightly so, the ingredients are lined up like 'Dad's Armyon inspection, waiting for instruction. Waiting for instruction from an ex-supermodel does indeed add marketing value, learned by the 'model turned chef' concept with Sophie Dahl - Although, Pascale maybe the face for 'home baking, home cooking', for a fair duration - her culinary entrepreneurialism being the key factor. Just like Kipling, she makes exceedingly good cakes, difference is: it is all done by 'Lorraine our baking flour'.
Four stars, predominantly for amateur bakers - kneading to bake for their masters, for brownie points.
For a lover of baking this book is a must have. I own quite a few baking and cupcake recipe books, and most are either full of the same recipe that has just been tweaked slightly, or bizarre one's that would require a dedicated trip to the shops even if you wanted to make them. Lorraine Pascale's book however, actually has some really nice proper recipes of things you would actually want to bake and cook. Not only that, it is more of a complete recipe book, rather than just a sweets and cake book it has savoury recipes, and dinner party menu ideas - basically it's about anything you can cook in the oven. I have to strongly recommend her Glam Mac & Cheese, although I do it with just cheddar instead of the posh cheeses, it is all you could wish for on those nights you just want something warm and comforting.
This book is also really accessible if you are quite new to baking, it has a section of baking tips and another about how to do the basics in baking. This means that those who know these things, can just skip past these sections, and everyone can easily understand and follow her recipes.
From: Lisa Smith [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 27 August 2012 21:42
To: Lisa Smith
Subject: baking made easy lp
'Baking Made Easy' is the first cookbook by model turned patisserie chef Lorraine Pascale and accompanied the BBC TV series of the same name. I have to say I was not a massive fan of her programme, finding her presenting style quite cringeworthy and amateurish but was won over by the recipes in this book and went ahead and purchased it.
The book is hardback with glossy pages with a looseleaf cover (something I always recommend you remove if you're planning to cook from it a lot as it easily gets damaged.)
The book is 239 pages long and contains 100 recipes.
After a thankfully short introduction - Lorraine gives 3 pages over to some bulletpointed tips to accompany the ideas in the book then we get to the recipes good and proper.
Examples from each chapter are as follows:
*Each recipe has a short introduction by Pescale, an indication of how many people the recipe will serve and indicates whether or not it is vegetarian. The ingredients are listed down the side of the page and she often splits them into useful segments such as coating, sauce, by layer, cream etc as well as separately listing the equipment that is required. A number of the recipes also have photographs of the finished dish alongside them.
Breads - Croissants, Brioche rolls, coffee and maple panettone, foccacia, chorizo and thyme fougasse, pumpkin and rosemary muffins
Cakes - Carrot cake (with 3 tiers!), mojito genoise, orange and cardamom ricotta cake, Battenberg, Victoria sandwich, Three-tier Red Velvet Cake, cupcakes
Savoury baking - Camembert and roasted garlic, butternut squah with quinoa, feta, basil & mint, quiche Lorraine, pork pies with cider, fish pie
Desserts and patisserie - dark chocolate and raspberry swirl cheesecake, bakewell tart, pear tart tarte tatin, jam roly poly, peach clafoutis, rum babas with star anise cream, sticky toffee pudding,
Dinner party - parmesan and poppy seed lollipops, sun dried tomato and rosemary palmiers, pork with calvados, marscarpone and ginger crème brulee, passion and lime meringue pie,
Sweet treats - Fondant fancies, bite-sized jam doughnuts, macaroons, flapjacks, cookies and cream fudge brownies, honeycomb, churros, rosewater marshmallows,
Before the final section - index and acknowledgements comes a section of basic recipes including: puff pastry, shortcrust pastry (savoury and sweet), flavoured pastries.
As you can probably assess - given that 100 recipes isn't necessarily a massive number for a book of this type - the recipes that Pascale has chosen do seem to fall into two types - traditional /well-known and original variations on this.
I have to say that this has gradually become one of my most used cookbooks and I really like the mix that she has selected. In particular the camembert and butternut squash recipes have become part of my regular rotation. I have found all of the recipes that I have tried have been really well descrived and I have been thrilled with the end results. There are a lot of staple baking classics that I have never had the confidence to try before such as croissants but this book has really changed that.
The recipes are written in a clear and concise way and don't ask you to have tons of difficult to source ingredients, although it is advised that you should have some basic baking equipment. As a patisserie chef, I think it would have been easy for her to go really over-the-top with her sweet goods but the book is incredibly well balanced.
One criticism I would have is that I would have liked a few more photographs - particularly on some of the more complicated recipes (ie multi-layered cakes).
In conclusion, I would really recommend this book both as a baking cookbook but also in a more general sense. I think that anyone with a general interest in cooking would get something out of it and it also serves as a really good reference for anybody who is looking for a one-stop place for baking basics.
I first got into Lorraine Pascale one sleepless night when I decided to watch an episode of her 'Baking Made Easy' cooking programme on catch up TV. I was hooked after the first 5 minutes. So I watched another episode, and another, and another! What really stood out was the ease and the basic ingredients Lorraine used to make outstandingly good, mouth-watering dishes. You can imagine my delight when I found all of her recipes in one book. No more pausing and rewinding her video clips.
Baking Made Easy published by Harper Collins in May 2011 is a hardback yet affordable recipe book consisting of 256 pages and available from most book retailers. I purchased mine from Selfridges for £6.99 (reduced from £18.99) although if you shop around you can get it for around £5. The hardback cover is definitely a bonus when cooking in a messy kitchen as it keeps the book in much better condition!
Unlike most of the 'jumping-on-the-bandwagon-baking-is-the-new-black' pink and flowery baking books which mostly consist of 100 different ways to decorate a cupcake (aka fairycake - where has this sudden cupcake obsession come from?) Pascale's Baking Made Easy is an excellent guide which relives the joys of good, solid, all-round baking. Not only are there many scrumptious desserts and cakes, but there are also delicious savoury recipes, which have been seemingly forgotton in the art of baking. In fact not only this but the book is set out in 6 sections all dealing with different things you can bake and inspiration for how to use your baking - 'breads, cakes, savoury baking, desserts and patisserie, dinner party, sweet treats'. In addition there are some great sections on tips and the basics of baking, so whether you are a well established baker or new to the art, this book has something for everyone.
What I love about each of the recipes is that they are easy. Ingredients are kept to a minimum, and there are no weird and wonderful items which you can only get from the bottom of a valley in Thailand or from a certain soil in the Outer Hebrides. Each product is readily available in a local supermarket and will be used again, so you are not wasting money on something which you use once and then throw out when you find it 3 years later at the back of the cupboard. Additionally all of the recipes are things that you would most probably eat at some point in your life - bread, croissants, victoria sponge... none of this weird world food, cant pronounce the name type stuff, although there are one or two surprises for fun.
So far everything I have made from the book (apart from the Macaroons which are an art-form in themselves and need their own degree) has been amazing and worked out beyond my expectations. I cannot wait to try more and am working through the book during my Christmas holidays!
Whilst there are many positives, there are also a couple of negatives, although I shall keep these to a minimum. The step by step instructions can be quite hard to follow as they are quite wordy - not something I welcome when covered in flour and needing 4 pairs of hands. Also the 4 pairs of hands thing can be an issue - some of the recipes, whilst trying out new ideas and tips, can be quite complicated and use methods which I find difficult to carry out. Finally I love Lorraine and she is very beautiful - but the book seems to be overtaken with photos of her modelling a sieve rather than what the food should look like. Not each receipe has a picture. Although these are only minor issues compared to the great stuff you can make.
Overall I love the book and can't wait to buy her second one 'Cooking Made Easy'.