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This book is one of my favourite baking books, which is quite surprising considering the number of cookbooks I have which are mainly from various celebrity chefs and bakers. It is part of the "Love Food" series, and comes in hardback format with beautiful photography. Although the title would suggest that the book is aimed at beginners, there is certainly plenty to keep the more advanced baker satisfied, and I find this a really handy book to refer to when I'm looking for inspiration for new recipes.
The book is very logically laid out, with each recipe showing an initial photograph of the ingredients, all weighed out, photographs of the instructions in a step by step format, and a photograph of the final result. The book is quite photo-heavy rather than wordy, and I find this helpful for reasons I will talk about later.
The book is broken down into chapters, to help categorise the kind of thing you're looking to bake. The chapters include cakes and traybakes, pastries, small cakes and biscuits, and breads. The pastries section includes savoury dishes as well as sweet, so you'll find things like baklava followed by broccoli, pancetta and blue cheese galette, tomato tarte tatin and asparagus prosciutto wraps.
==Price and Availability==
I bought mine in the January sale last year, it was half price at £7.50. However, I notice it is currently on sale in The Works bookshop for a mere £2.99. Bargain!
So, if you're a competent baker, and not an idiot who doesn't know what an egg looks like, you may be wondering why the pictures are useful. Initially, the step by step photographs weren't really what drew me to this book. I saw it in the sale, had a look through, and liked the look and sound of some of the recipes. As I've used this book, I have actually found the detailed photographs useful for the following reasons:
· A quick look at the ingredients photo alerts you to the fact you might have forgotten something
· The photos make it clear exactly how the ingredients should look at each stage, so if you're a bit unsure if your baking is looking as it should, you should be able to tell at a glance
· The step by step photographed instructions make you less likely to skip a stage. I sometimes get distracted with very wordy instructions, so seeing the instructions in picture form helps me focus on each step instead of getting ahead of myself and realising I've missed a stage
· The pictures give an indication as to how complicated a recipe will be, so you don't get halfway through and discover you have to start fiddling round with something you don't have the time or patience for
Obviously, everyone prefers to receive information in different formats, so some people might find the photos a bit patronising, but personally I think they're a lovely way to follow a recipe as they leave no room for doubting yourself, and I find the final outcome from recipes in this book generally tends to be fail-proof as I know at each stage if I'm on the right track.
The diversity of recipes in this book is also excellent, and far from basic. Personal favourites include the banana coconut loaf cake, the chocolate chip brownies (which also include pistachio nuts), and the spring onion and parmesan cornbread. I have lots of post-it notes plastered over this book, which are either marking recipes I've tried and want to make again, or recipes I've yet to try but want to. The pictures do really whet your appetite, and as the final results are so pleasing, I don't think I've tried anything yet that hasn't been bookmarked with a view to making again. My husband is my taste tester for recipes, and he loves everything that comes from this cookbook.
The only downside to the book is that it doesn't give you cooking times at the beginning of the recipe, however I find because of the photos it's quite easy to estimate how long it will take, as you can see at a glance how complicated each step is. I tend to look at the final step which tells you how long to bake it for, then backtrack through the stages to estimate how long they'll take. Each person works at different speeds anyway so I take the time guides with a pinch of salt generally.
I love the simplicity of this book. There's little in the way of extras, background stories, or poncy celebrity chefs, but the content is absolutely excellent, and if you're into baking I would recommend getting yourself down to The Works bookshop to snap a copy up for £2.99.
(This review may also be posted on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)