I own a considerably large selection of cookery books, which I've amassed over the years and whilst some of them rarely see the light of day I regularly use those belonging to a collection by Gina Steer. I own eight of the books in total, which were all purchased from the high street store, The Works with this review discussing Breads and Baking.
I love spending time browsing in bookshops, particularly in the gardening and cookery sections where I'm easily tempted. It was the wipe clean cardboard cover displaying a colourful and extremely mouth watering image of Marble Chocolate Traybake that captured my attention in addition to the fact that the book offers an easy to handle size with its measurements of 16 cm x 17 cm. Another appealing area for me in relation to all of the books contained within this range is the words "Quick and Easy Proven Recipes", which appear on the front covers. This is a huge selling point as far as I'm concerned, particularly as I have no desire to stand for hours on end in a hot kitchen fussing around with complicated recipes.
The book provides us with 384 glorious pages packed with the most delicious looking (and tasting!) recipes that are sure to tantalise the majority of taste buds. The pages are fairly thick and are of a high quality paper whilst offering a glossy sheen, so messy cooks such as me are able to easily wipe away any food spillages with a damp cloth. An absolute must for me when it comes to cookery books is that I am provided with colourful images of the dishes, particularly as I find it so uninspiring following a recipe, which consists solely of text, as I prefer to see how my completed dish should appear.
The book begins with a contents section, which spans over five pages with each of the recipes being listed under specific categories, for example, savoury bakes, biscuits, cookies and celebration, cream cakes and gateaux. All of the books within the series offer a few pages covering essential ingredients and utensils together with helpful information offering advice on the best ones to use. We are presented with several pages that discuss baking techniques, which is extremely useful for beginners or a recap for the more experienced. As I have been growing my own vegetables for many years I like to utilise my crops in my cooking where I enjoy being creative with the assurance that I am using quality ingredients.
In addition to the appealing cover and the fact that I'm familiar with Gina Steer's recipes, I chose this particular book as it contains a variety of delicious breads. There is something so very welcoming and comforting about the aroma and taste of home made bread and the recipes are extremely easy to create such as Quick Brown Bread, Rustic Country Bread and Bagels. Whilst I cannot admit to having attempted all of the breads, those that I've tried are extremely simple to create and I've produced the Quick Brown Bread on numerous occasions with its preparation time of approximately twenty minutes.
What I favour about this book is that the recipe is presented on the left hand page in an easy to read good size font with information relating to the number of people it serves together with both imperial and metric measurements. In addition, each recipe offers three reasonably sized accompanying images, which display various stages of the preparation process. On the lower side of each of the recipes we are provided with a couple of alternative dishes.
Unlike some of the other cookery books that I own, which offer small accompanying images or basic sketches, the facing right hand page provides one large colourful image. I like the fact that the book isn't solely dedicated to one category of foods, as there are a large variety of both savoury and sweet dishes from which to choose. I find the book extremely inspiring as it has enabled me to become more creative in the kitchen and experiment with dishes that I would not previously have considered. There are a considerable amount of recipes to create the most delightful puddings, tarts and pies; many of which I have tried and tested with one of my favourites being Fruity Apple Tea Bread, which is quick and simply to create where I use apples freshly picked from my sister's garden.
As I own seven other books written by Gina Steer, which belong to the same range, I have noticed a few recipes being repeated, which is a rather disappointing. I have a real passion for chocolate and the book does not disappoint with its Chocolate Buttermilk Cake and White Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Gateau; both of which are quick and easy to create and recipes that I've repeated on numerous occasions. The savoury section offers a wide range of choices for both vegetarians and meat eaters with Cheese and Onion Pie, Layered Cheese and Herb Potato Cake and Smoked Haddock Tart. All of the ingredients used are easy to find in the supermarket as well as being affordable enabling home cooking to be a cost effective exercise. The only downside with this book is that the dishes are extremely tempting, particularly the cakes, biscuits and dessert sections! There is an A - Z index contained at the reverse of the book, which enables easy reference.
I can highly recommend Breads and Baking as it offers a huge amount of choice and the recipes are simple and fast to create and I would totally agree with the text on the cover, namely "Quick and Easy Proven Recipes". I have never experienced any issues in following and creating any of the recipes, although I must admit that I've not tried them all, as my waist line wouldn't thank me! The ingredients measurements have been accurate, as with all of the books contained within this range and everything I've created has turned out exactly as expected. At the time of writing you can make a purchase from Amazon for £5.53 inclusive of postage and packing although if my memory serves me correct I paid just £3 in The Works
General Editor - Gina Steer
Published by Flame Tree Publishing, London
ISBN : 13:978-1-84786-180-1
This review has been written for Dooyoo's relay competition for TEAM WAGG