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Chocolate and Baking - Gina Steer
Member Name: alyson29
Chocolate and Baking - Gina Steer
Date: 18/02/12, updated on 18/02/12 (79 review reads)
Advantages: Recipes are easy to make with affordable ingredients
Disadvantages: I want to make them all!
I own a huge selection of cookery books; many of which have been stored on the bookshelf and never been used, particularly as I find the basic sketch illustrations a little dull and uninspiring. Whenever I visit Cardiff I cannot resist popping into The Works where they stock a vast choice of cookery books at very reasonable prices. During the course of last year I purchased a number of books written and edited by Gina Steer with each of them providing recipes for a range of different foods and this review discusses Chocolate and Baking.
It was the word "chocolate" that caught my eager eye as I absolutely adore the delicious taste of the luxurious and extremely comforting food. The book measures 17 cm in width, 16 cm in length and 2½ cm in depth, which is an easy to handle size, particularly as I cannot bear large and heavy books. I have a few must haves when choosing new cookery books where they need to display full cover images of the dishes together with quick and easy recipes. The 352 page book offers a fairly sturdy glossy cover and the pages are of a good quality and are easily wiped clean with a damp cloth. This is a necessity for me as I've been informed that I am an extremely messy cook, as I manage to get covered in flour and margarine as does my cookbooks, worktops, floor and wall tiles! I would describe myself as a very organised and methodical person, but when it comes to the kitchen I change into a totally different person!
Whilst I would never expect to meet the culinary skills of top chefs such as Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsey I enjoy the challenge of experimenting with new recipes and testing them out on my husband and work colleagues. However, as my husband is an insulin dependent diabetic his tasting of my cooking is somewhat limited, so I am on a mission to learn more about diabetic treats that can effortlessly be prepared at home. Whilst I have frequently read articles about nutritional values of particular foods and the benefits of different vitamins I find the first section of the book extremely valuable as there is a breakdown of each vitamin with details of the foods where they can be found.
Each recipe is printed on the left hand page in an easy to read font and what I find very useful is that the ingredients are listed in the upper section together with the amount of people the menu will feed. Consequently, I am not wading through masses of text before I can make a list of any items that I may need to purchase during my next visit at the supermarket. The recipes provide oven temperatures in various formats together with measurements in both imperial and metric. They generally consist of up to six fairly short paragraphs, so for novices like me they are extremely easy to follow. The opposite page to each recipe displays a delicious looking coloured image of the completed dish, which is the selling point for me with any recipe book as if there are no photos I am not inspired to try out the recipe. I would have liked each recipe to provide details of calories and fat content, particularly as my husband and I try to maintain a healthy diet, but it goes without saying that all of the cakes and biscuits in this book are fairly fattening.
A real plus for me with the design of the book is that the pages are attached with several lengths of strong white twine, which are discreetly hidden at the edges of the pages. The design enables the pages to remain fully open when I'm following a recipe as a problem I experience with some books is that the pages will flip over of their own accord, so I've needed to use floury and greasy fingers to return to my original page. I'm aware that I can purchase a book stand for the kitchen, but I'm the type of person who does not like many objects on the surfaces as I prefer things to be hidden away. Due to the way the book has been created and despite its repeated use it is looking as good now as the day I first made my purchase.
As you can probably guess from the title of the book there is a huge range of chocolate recipes from which to choose; all of which display the must alluring colourful images. My husband and I have a few firm favourites such as the Chocolate Sponge Pudding with Fudge Sauce, which I would not have had the confidence to have previously attempted, but the straightforward instructions have enabled me to produce a masterpiece (even if I saw so myself!) with very little effort. I have a real passion for mousses and until purchasing this book I had never attempted to make my own, but I have now learned to perfect an extremely scrumptious Brandied Raisin Chocolate Mousse.
If you are not a fan of chocolate (if ever there is such a person!) the first section of the book offers a large variety of chocolate-free recipes, such as the Lemon Drizzle Cake, which is an absolute delight with its fresh, zingy and fluffy taste. What I favour with this book is that on the lower section of each recipe we are offered substitute recipes where we are provided with two choices, namely an alternative and one for children. For example, the alternative for the Lemon Drizzle Cake is Lemon Bars and the suggestion for children is Lemon-Iced Ginger Squares.
All of the recipes use basic ingredients, which are generally found in the kitchen cupboard of most households, so there's no hunting high and low in the supermarket trying to locate that little bottle of something that you've never heard of before. Another favourable point for me is that the recipes use affordable ingredients, which is very important due to the current economic climate and consequently, this book is perfect for entertaining or simply for treating the family. I have to admit that as of yet I've not tried out all of the recipes as otherwise my husband and I would be the size of beach whales, but over a period of time I will try out the majority with the next on the list being the Supreme Chocolate Gateau. Although I have had a few mishaps along the way, I feel a real sense of satisfaction that I've been able to produce some delicious tasting and professional looking food, particularly as I've previously had very little confidence in relation to cooking as I tended to stick with what I knew. Chocolate and Baking comes with my full recommendation as if I can do it anyone can.
I purchased my copy a couple of years ago from The Works for just £2.99 and I am aware that they are still in stock at most stores. I have checked on Amazon and at the time of writing you can purchase a brand new copy of this book for £7.09 inclusive of P+P, so I'd head to The Works if you can.
General Editor: Gina Steer
Published in 2006 by Flame Tree Publishing
Summary: A beautiful recipe book for the chocoholic
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