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I'm not the best cook so when I make a cake or a dinner I need to follow a recipe fairly to the letter so this is why I have quite a few cook books in my house. One of the cook books I have had for a number of years now is Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book.
Mary Berry is a very familiar face on our television screens at the moment with the Great British Bake off and according to an article I read, "She has published over 70 cookery books (her first being The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook in 1970) and hosted several television series for the BBC and Thames Television. Mary is an occasional contributor to Woman's Hour and Saturday Kitchen. She has been a judge on the BBC Two television programme The Great British Bake Off since its launch in 2010."
This book is one of my favourites when it comes to cake making as it really does have over 200 classic recipes like it says on the front. You could think of practically any classic dessert and it will be in this book, fruit cake, shortbread, lemon swiss roll, scones, cheesecake, pavlova, the list goes on and on.
What I like about the book is that in the beginning she explains some cake making methods such as creaming, whisking etc so this doesn't have to be explained later on and you now know the techniques well. There is also a section about what are the best pans and equipment to have which is helpful.
Then there are different chapters for different types of cakes. These are as follows:
Chapter 1 - Glorious chocolate cakes
Chapter 2 - Meringues
Chapter 3 - Traybakes
Chapter 4 - Celebration cakes
Chapter 5 - Cheesecakes
Chapter 6 - Scones and Teabreads
Chapter 7 - Biscuits and shortbread
Chapter 8 - Continental cakes
Chapter 9 - Family cakes
Chapter 10 - Little cakes, rock cakes and Yeasted Buns
Chapter 11 - Bazaars and fetes
Chapter 12 - no-bake cakes and cakes for children to make
Chapter 13 - Cakes and biscuits for presents
Chapter 14 - Healthy cakes and biscuits
I find the recipes are all laid out well and easy to follow. The ingredients are listed at the top of the page and then there is just a small amount of text about how to bake the cake, short and easy to follow I find. There are colour photos throughout the book which I like also so at least you get an idea of what your cake is meant to look like even if it doesn't turn out as nicely! I have made a number of these cakes now and find it an inspiring book, easy to follow and my family and friends have definitely been very appreciative of all the cakes.
What I also like about these recipes is that they are quite simple. THe ingredients are all regular ingredients you can find easily in the shops or is stuff you would have at home anyway. In some cook books they ask for just a pinch of some weird and wonderful ingredients and you end up spending a fortune buying all these things but with these recipes the ingredients are simple but effective which I like.
The book is a BBC book and cost £14.99 in paperback.
Mary Berry is apparently a (or even the) Queen of Cakes and her ''Ultimate Cake Book'' promises to be the home-baking bible with over 200 classic recipes. The book delivers on its promise and if you are looking for one recipe source for British home baking, this might be one of the best options.
The book starts with a short intro on ingredients and equipment, but quickly goes to the main recipe section. The recipes are divided among mostly logical sections, including chocolate cakes, meringues, cheesecakes, scones and tea-bread and biscuits. Other sections are more confusing - traybakes are grouped separately and the only section distinguished by format - with some more functional groupings like ''Bazaars and Fêtes'' (I hate this one as I never know why something would be included here and not for example in ''Cakes and Biscuits for Presents'') or ''Family Cakes''. There is an index though so not a big deal - and I have seen much worse chapter-making.
The recipes gathered in the ''Ultimate Cake Book'' include pretty much every classic British cake and biscuit one can think of, plus several less standard ones especially in the ''Continental Cakes'' section which. The book is very strong on sponge cakes, probably even overdoing the subject, as five recipes for a Victoria sponge alone (in a small, large, orange, chocolate and coffee varieties) seems a tad excessive even in the Ultimate Book. There is also a good selection of chocolate cakes, cheesecakes and meringue deserts as well as several versions of a rich (Christmas-type) fruit cake and a few light fruit cakes (though no Dundee cake, sadly). There are also a few good tea-breads and loafs (many in the Bazaars section, actually).
The ''Ultimate Cake Book'' is quite weak on tarts (only a few tart and tartlet recipes are included) and yeast cakes are almost non-existent (apart from some buns). There are a few savoury recipes scattered around the book, but they seem thrown in fairly randomly and I think would be better in their own section which could have been expanded, maybe at the cost of removing one of the many Victoria Sponges or Swiss Rolls or one or two oddities like no-cook fudge that surely is out of place in a cake book.
All the recipes are presented in a clear format, printed in readable font with imperial and metric measurements and step by step instructions. There are also 'tips for success' scattered around the book and a short paragraph intro to most recipes. I would like more of these as I love reading about the food, but obviously they are not strictly necessary. The style is nearer to Delia's stern and matronly 'follow all instructions' approach than some more relaxed formats, but this isn't a bad route to good cakes, where following instructions is important - and knowing which don't have to be followed comes with practice only.
The recipes included vary in difficulty, although the vast majority are pretty simple and easy to follow. The 'Continental Cakes' section seems to be the relatively hardest, but a lot of the difficulty is with finishing decorative touches that one can easily dispense with (spun sugar anybody?) with only minimal loss to the eating pleasure. My ten-year old used the ''Ultimate Cake Book'' without supervision and managed to produce quite edible results, though obviously she didn't pick the more difficult recipes. She's planning meringues soon, though, which might prove more of a challenge.
I have seen some criticism of lack of photographs of the finished products in other reviews. There are in fact photos of most cakes and biscuits, some are the full-page colour pictures of the cakes accompanying the recipe and others are included in group photos distributed throughout the book. It's only a minority of recipes that have no image at all. I am not bothered by this in the slightest, as I think that all that lavish photography is often a waste of space and feel no compelling need to see what the final product 'should look like' . It's good to have some photos for inspiration, though, and there is more than enough in the ''Ultimate Cake Book''.
I have baked from the ''Ultimate Cake Book'' extensively and although it's not the most exciting of the cookbooks I have, it's one of the most useful ones. The best recipe so far is the Double Orange Cake, but everything that we ever baked from it was pretty much as expected. For a solid base for British home baking, ''Marry Berry's Ultimate Cake Book'' is hard to beat and comes highly recommended.
I am an avid baker, and am often trying out new recipes on family and friends. This book is full of inspiration and tasty recipes for every type of cake that you can think of. Mary Berry uses a good deal of illustrations and useful script to describe each recipe and the cooking instructions are quick and easy to follow. Another particularly useful feature of thie book is the recommendations on equipment and how to solve general problems which enable even the most basic of bakers to be able to make tasty cakes. A particular favourite in my household is the Millionnaires Shortbread which is particularly popular at this time of year served with strawberries and whipped cream. All in all this cake book is a very useful reference to have on any cookery bookshelf which could also serve very well as a gift idea, as this book was to me.
This is another book which my mother had. She actually had the first edition, but ive had this edition for 5 years and its every bit as good as I remember.
Before I go into why I like it, I thought id list the sections to make the point of just how VAST this book is.
1. Introduction- this basically goes through the types of ingredents you're going to come across when baking, and the equipment you'll need. She goes through flours and fats and all that, followed by a detailed look at things such as types of ovens and cake tins. This chapter ends with a section about different methods of cake making; the creaming method, whisking, etc. To be frank, this section alone could be sold as a little book.
2. Choccy cakes- this is a nice little starting point. All the recipies in every section start with a little blurb prefacing them, before a list of ingredients followed by a method. She also includes some stuff on chocolate decorations, personally im not a fan of this part, I think its surplus to requirement, but useful none the less. Theres recipies for everything from gooey cakes to chocolate roulades.
3. Traybakes- These are all prettymuch the same recipe with tweaks. Basically things cooked in a tray rather than a tin like a traditional cake. I can't say ive been inclined to try one of these yet, I far prefer a proper cake, traybakes in my experience are far too dense and sticky.
4. Celebratory cakes- here mary goes into cakes such as xmas cakes and bday cakes. Theres also a WONDERFUL recipe for icing fondant, the hard stuff that goes on these kind of cakes. Obviously due to the nature of these cakes the recipes are a bit harder to follow. Well, not hard, just more too them. A few people on amazon have complaiend that this section is out of keep with the others, but realistically this kind of cake was always going to be a bit harder.
5. Cheesecakes- again, simple recipes for cheesecakes. They're quite comprehensive. Though I hate cheesecake
6. Merangues (this is actually chapter 2 but I forgot about it ) - this section coveres every aspect of the humble merangue aswell as its uses. I like this chapter the best, in my experience theres a lot of difficulty making them, and so I found her simple, grandmotherly approach wonderful. She even bothers to talk about storing them.
As you may have guessed by now, I am a fan of this book. Theres so much choice within it, and so many pictures that make me soooo hungry. I think Mary Berry is so good because she comes from an era when people HAD to make cakes. There was no option of going to tesco. and for this, she knows how to do it easily and without fuss. She pays lots of attention to what one should do if the recipe fails, and also about how to keep your cake once its made. Very few other authours devote space to this kind of content which Is absolutely invaluable. The cakes are good, not incredible, but theyre foolproof and taste just like you remember from childhood when your grandmother baked. Cant fault the woman! I just wish she appeared on TV more than these plastic models pretending they can bake
Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book was first pubished in 1994 and is available in both hardback and paperback.
If you are looking for a nice simple easy to follow cook book which is packed with tasty recipes... look no further this could be the book for you.
The book is jam packed with over 200 classic recipes, predominately cakes and biscuits but there are and a few savoury scone recipes thrown in too. There really is something for everyone.
A lot of the recipes use the 'All-in-one' method which is so so easy. Basically it involves measuring all ingredients into your bowl and mixing together - it is such a simple method but gives surprisingly good results.
Before getting to the recipes there are 4 sections at the beginning of the book that will prove useful to all but the most experienced of cake makers.
This section gives a brief introduction to the book.
* Cake-making ingredients
This handy section lists the ingredients you will come across in this book along with a brief descritption of each one.
* Cake-making equipment
This section goes through all the equipent that is used in home baking. The list is quite extensive but don't be put off by this as most of the recipes in this book can be made with just a few baking essentials.
* Cake making methods
This section tells you all about different cake making techniques, eg, creaming, all-in-one and rubbing-in methods.
* Cake making
This section tells you how to prepare and line tins, how to prepare oven. It also gives a guide on how to tell when a cake is cooked, how to cool, ice decorate and store.
These 5 sections combined really do provide a really handy reference guide to cake making.. No previous knowledge is assumed and everything is explained in a way that clear and easy to understand.
Following these introductory sections comes the recipes. These have been divided into 14 separate chapters. Each of which starts with an introduction to the section followed by a selection of tasty recipes:
1. Glorious Chocolate Cakes
4. Celebration Cakes
6. Scones and Teabreads
7. Biscuits and Shortbread
8. Continental Cakes
9. Family Cakes
10. Little Cakes, Rock Cakes and Yeasted Buns
11. Bazaars and Fetes
12. No-bake Cakes and Cakes for Children to Make
13. Cakes and Biscuits for Presents
14. Healthy Cakes and Biscuits
Over the years I have attempted quite a few of these recipes although there are some I have yet to try. I have always found the recipes easy to follow and have never been disappointed with the finished results...
The only drawback with this book is there are not enough pictures, the ideal layout of a recipe book for me is a colour photo of the finished product alongside the recipe and instructions - sadly not the case with this book. There are a few pages of photos dotted throughout the book, some for a single cake but many show about a dozen cakes on a page with a key at the side telling you what they are.
Overall I would highly recommend this book, it is extremely well written, contains a really good selection of recipes and so easy to follow.
One of my favourite cookery books has to be my Mary Berry Cake Book, it is a paperback book, however it does come in hardback and has over 200 recipes. The hardback copyis exactly the same as my mum has this version. It has a wide range of recipes including cakes, biscuits breads and many others, some easy and some a little more complicated, however there is something for most occasion. It also includes recipes which would be ideal to make with children
The book consists of an introduction split up into 4 sections and 14 chapters of various recipes and methods.
The introduction is made up of 4 sections
1)Ingredients - This section provides information about various different cake making ingredients such as fats, butters, oils, yeast, raising agents, eggs, flours, sugars nad sweeteners. Each ingredient is divided into separate headings with an easy to read paragraph about each one underneath
2)Equipment - This section is divided up in the same way as the ingredients section but provide information on all the different types of equipment needed to make the various cakes and deserts. It includes information on items such as ovens, baking trays, dishes, knives and may more
3)Cake making methods - Again split up like the previous sections this areas provides information on the different baking methods needed to make the cakes and deserts sunch as melting, whisking and creaming.
Chapter 1 - Glorious Chocolate Cakes
This chapter stars with a couple of pages about the different types of chocolate used for cooking such as white, milk dark and carob aswell as the different methods used to make chocolate decorations, these may take a bit of practise!!!!! It then moves on to the various recipes. Each recipe starts with a small piece about the cake/ desert, then moves on to list the ingredients followed by the method. Recipes include items such as roulades, missippi mud pie, chocolate rum cakes and may more
Chapter 2 - Meringues
Again starts with a sections on the different methods of meringue making for example baking meringues, serving and storing and freezing. All recipes are set out in the same method as above and include items such as pavlova, meringue gateau's, key lime pie to name a few. Again all very simple to read and follow
Chapter 3 - Traybakes
I have not actually made anything out of this section but all recipes appear to me in the normal Mary Berry format with a small piece of writing about tray bakes at the beginning of the chapter. All the traybakes seem to be of a similar basic recipe but using different flavourings and toppings.
Chapter 4 - Celebration Cakes
Personally this chapter appears to be the most complicated and includes some of the more difficult recipes out of the book. The recipes are set out in the same format however they are slightly more difficult to read. This section includes recipes for various types of Christmas cakes (Classic or Victorian) along with a recipe of how to make fondant icing, it also includes the recipe and step by step instructions to make an American chocolate wedding cake (one of the most complicated recipes) This chapter does have slightly simpler recipes for birthday cakes and Easter cakes but it does have the more difficult recipes to make.
Chapter 5 - Cheesecakes
This is one of my favourite sections of the book with a huge variety of cheesecakes to tackle ranging from easy cheesecakes, baked cheesecakes and many different flavour cheesecakes. One of my favourite recipes from this section is the recipe below for Easy Lemon Cheesecake, this was the very first cheesecake I have made and I found it a very simple recipe to follow with a simple list of ingredients and simple methods to follow.
Approximately 16 digestive biscuits
2oz butter (melted)
1oz demerara sugar
5fl oz single cream
1 x 14oz tin of condensed milk
6oz low fat soft cheese
Grated rind and juice of 3 large lemons
Crush the biscuits into a bowl and melt the butter and sugar together.
Mix the biscuits, butter and sugar together and press into a 9" flan dish and leave to set
Mix the cream, condensed milk, soft cheese and lemon rind together in a bowl and gradually add the juice.
Whisk briskly until the mixture thickens
Pour this over the base and chill in to fridge for 3 - 4 hours or over night.
I found this recipe very simple to do and was extremely pleased with the result. The topping was lovely and creamy with a nice tangy lemon taste. You could add more lemon juice and/ or rind should you require the flavour sharper depending on your taste.
Whilst the recipe says to chill in the fridge for 3 - 4 hours or over night I still found that the topping was a little runny. I left some of the cheesecake in the fridge for 24 hours and have to admit the topping was much better for having the extra hours in the fridge. It was much firmer and more like the cheesecake topping you would expect. Although this cheesecake is very basic to make it is perfectly good enough as a desert for a dinner party or as a generally everyday desert.
Simple to make, easy method
No complicated ingredients to buy
Tangy and tasty
Could be used as an everyday desert or as a desert for a diner party
Does need slightly longer to chill in the fridge than the recipe says inorder for the topping to fully set therefore if you are making it for an occasion it would be best to make it the day before to ensure that it is fully set in time.
Chapter 6 - Scones and Teabreads
Again a chapter I have not actually made anything from however it has a large range of scones and breads again all easy to follow, it contains simple recipes which could be used to make everyday breads and savouries.
Chapter 7 - Biscuits and Shortbreads
This chapter has some very easy recipes in which are as I keep saying easy to follow. Personally I feel a lot of these recipes in this chapter could be made with children under supervision.
Chapter 8 - Continental Cakes
I have to say this is probably my least favorite chapter, possibly due to the fact that I have never tried or heard of many of these recipes, therefore there is not much I can say about this chapter other than it does have a large choice of continental cakes to make if this is your sort of thing.
Chapter 9 - Family Cakes
Probably one of the most popular chapters with simple everyday cakes to make for the whole of the family, again simple sponge based recipes which could be made by children under supervision. Recipes include various flavoured Victoria sponges and Swiss rolls (not tried these but could be a little tricky rolling them)
Chapter 10 - Little Cakes, Rock Cakes and Yeasted Buns
Again simple recipes suitable for children such as butterfly buns, along with slightly more complicate recipes. This is quite a small chapter but does have a section on pastry making.
Chapter 11 - Bazaars and Fêtes
The title of the chapter says it all really, easy to make cakes which could simply me made in large quantities for bazaars ect. Recipes include many different flavoured loafs and biscuits. Again could be used for cooking with children.
Chapter 12 - No-bake Cakes and Cakes for Children to Make
This is obviously the best chapter to use when cooking with children, but it does include some nice recipes which could be whipped up quickly for parties ect.
Chapter 13 - Cakes and Biscuits for Presents
This chapter has both savoury (cheese straws) and sweet( Fruit cake) recipes in it. They vary in difficulty but on the whole they are reasonably simple to make with easy to follow recipes.
Chapter 14 - Healthy Cakes and Biscuits
This is the last chapter in the book and has some of the healthier recipes in it including carrot cake, lemon yoghurt can and courgette loaf (not too sure if I will be trying that one!!!!!!) Again relatively
simple to make and easy to follow recipes.
The book has various pictures of the different recipes throughout the book all in full colour. At the back of the book is a questions and answers section including some of the most common problems people have with the recipes included in the book.
Overall I think Mary Berry Ultimate Cake Book is a must have, it has a huge variety of recipes both savoury and sweet. What I particularly like is that there is something for every occasion and something for peoples different capabilities. All the recipes are very simple to follow (apart from maybe the wedding cake and Christmas cake recipe) All the ingredients and equipment needed is list clearly and simply. It is a book suitable for any household.
Overall I would recommend every house has a copy of this book, not matter what your cooking skills are like there is something for everyone in this book and is a great way to get children involved in cooking with some of the simpler recipes.
Please note this is a review of the 2nd revised edition (the paperback version with the white strip across the top).
I have been very impressed with this book, having been given it as a Christmas present last year, the recipes are simple to understand and follow, without talking down to you. So far all the recipes I have used have been successful first time, and delicious. I have just made the chocolate Victoria sponge, and it is incredibly light, fluffy and moist. The walnut loaf is also particularly popular with my family.
From the recipes I have used I have found that they all use the all-in-one-method, i.e. they all ask you to 'put everything in the bowl at once and mix it', rather than 'blend the butter into the sugar then add the flour and...' which makes it quicker and easier to do, but I have to use the hand whisk rather than doing it the hard way with a wooden spoon, it just isn't possible with everything in the bowl at once.
There is a detailed section at the start looked at the ingredients and why and how they are used, the equipment, and the methods used (such as whisking and rubbing in). The benefit of having this extra information is that you can read it all through and have a greater understanding of what you are doing and why. But the recipes are so reliable that you can blindly follow them and they will still turn out well (which is what I do). I like having that choice, and knowing the information is there if I ever want it.
A lot of the recipes also have a 'Secrets of Success' caption at the bottom, some of these are useful hints like what to do if your cake sinks in the middle (cut the middle out, fill it with fruit and whipped cream and serve it as a desert) and some are scaled down versions of the recipe if you are using smaller tins (I've already used one of these scaled down versions and it was really helpful, saved me guessing and getting it wrong).
The recipe chapters are as follows:
1 - Glorious chocolate cakes
2 - Meringues
3 - Traybakes
4 - Celebration cakes
5 - Cheesecakes
6 - Scones and teabreads
7 - Biscuits and Shortbread
8 - Continental cakes
9 - Family cakes
10 - Little cakes, rock cakes and yeasted buns
11 - Bazaars and fetes
12 - No bake cakes and cakes for children to make
13 - Cakes and biscuits for presents
14 - Healthy cakes and biscuits
My only quibble with the book is that there aren't many pictures of the cakes, of course, with 200 recipes this is to be expected, but it does make it harder for me to make up my mind what I want to make when I'm browsing through.
For the cover price of £14.99 this is really great value (and it is also on Amazon cheaper).