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I can't remember when or where I bought this book, I think maybe WH Smiths but I honestly couldn't say for sure, it was about three years ago though. It was one of the first baking books I bought and is still my favourite; I use it all the time, as you can tell by how greasy and creased some of the pages are!
** About the book **
The book was published in 2008 by Love Food, which is part of Parragon Books Ltd. It's a large hard back book (27.2cm x 22cm x 3 cm) with a greyscale image on the front of somebody rolling bread or pastry or something, the book title is written in large pink writing. The back of the book has a blurb about the book and a few images to tempt you. There are 320 pages in the book including a five page index.
The layout of the book is great, very clear and in a decent size font with lots of colourful images.
The first part of the book is an introduction, information about baking, a glossary of baking terms, equipment needed, how to grease and line a baking tin, top tips on getting the best results. This information was so helpful to me, I didn't really know much about baking when I first bought this book, it might be as in depth as some of my other books but it's straight forward and easy to follow.
Now we come to the recipes, firstly it's Everyday Cakes, such as Victoria Sponge, Chocolate Fudge Cake, Coffee & Walnut Cake, Madeira Cake and my favourite cake ever, the Cherry Cake. I've adapted this recipe over the years but the original is still delicious and I get asked to make this all the time. There are 24 recipes in this section; I've made maybe half of them so far. Another good one from this section is the Banana Loaf, I could eat this every day!
Next up is Celebration Cakes, there are 23 recipes in this section and I've only made one recipe from this part which was the Dotty Chocolate Chip Cake. These recipes are a bit more "exotic" but I'm sure I'll get around to trying them soon. Some of the recipes in this section are: Halloween Spiders Web Cake, Golden Christmas Cake, Panforte Di Siena and the Sachertorte (if you're fan of Great British Bake Off, you'll have seen them make this).
We've then got Small Cakes & Bars, there are 25 recipes in this part and I've made maybe 10 of them so far, definitely wanting to make more of them very soon, including Lamingtons and Bakewell Slices. My favourite is the Lemon Drizzle Bars, I sell these at fairs and markets and they're hugely popular, amazingly moist and tasty. The only downside to this section was a lot of the cupcake recipes are included in another book I have but I guess that happens when you've got several baking books. Another yummy recipe is Rock Cakes, I love these and even got my husband eating them, after him pulling his face when I told him what was in them (he's not a fan of sultanas, raisins etc.)
Next up is Pies and Pastries, this section I haven't used much, I've made the Pear Tart with Chocolate Sauce, it was a bit too bitter this and I wasn't very keen. I really want to try the Cinnamon Rolls, I love these so it'd be great to be able to make them myself. The Strawberry Tartlets look delicious and quite straight forward too. There are 24 recipes in this part. All the recipes are sweet, although I'm sure a Sweet Potato Pie must be considered savoury!
Biscuits is next with 24 recipes, I made the Mega Chip Cookies only the other day for my nephew, he didn't want a cake so I made a stack of these to look like a cake, they were a huge hit with everybody. My cheeky Dad liked them so much; he wouldn't believe I'd made them, pfft! The Shortbread recipe is extremely easy and very tasty; I would definitely recommend this recipe for those new to baking. Other recipes include Citrus Crescents, Jam Rings and Iced Cherry Rings.
The final section is Bread & Savoury, again with 24 recipes. I've only made one recipe from this section - cheese straws and it was a bit of a disaster! I think I'm too sweet for savoury baking haha! Some of the recipes including are the traditional white loaf, Irish Soda Bread, Coriander and Garlic Naan and Basic Pizza Dough.
Last is the index, four pages listing every recipe by each of the main ingredients used.
** My opinion **
It's without a doubt my favourite and most used recipe book, the recipes and instructions are clearly laid out, each page is laid out with the method taking up most of the page and the ingredients listed in order down the side on a coloured strip, each recipe has a full page colour image with it. This is a big plus for me, I need to see what a bake should look like at the end, it makes it easier to use my instincts as sometimes the method isn't necessarily right (In my humble opinion!) For example the Lemon Drizzle cake tells you to cream the butter, sugar and eggs at the same time but for me you should definitely cream the butter and sugar first until very pale and fluffy before adding eggs. It will help your cake rise and be light and fluffy.
I also think it's good that the ingredients are listed in the order used, this helps you keep organised and are less likely to miss something out by mistake. I get all ingredients out before I start and then put them away as I've used them, I'm a bit anal for that actually!
Nearly every recipe I've made from this book has turned out perfectly and I've gone on to make them time and time again. I had trouble with the cheese straw ones, I'm not sure where I went wrong with them but I know it was one of the first things I ever baked so maybe now I'm a bit more "skilled" I'll be able to pull them off.
** Summary **
I highly recommend this book, with 120 recipes to choose from, I'm sure you'll find a lot that you enjoy baking (and eating!) It is for sale on Amazon for £19 but it's temporarily out of stock, it's available on the marketplace, used starting at £1.12 or new starting at £16 but I'm unsure of the postage.