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We've had this Baking book for children for several years, and it's really very good.
*** Contents ***
It is full to busting with clear colourful photographs of ingredients, stage-by-stage cooking methods and the finished products. The lay-out is very easy to follow.
The first section introduces 'baking by pictures', teaching you and your child how to get the most out of the book. This explains the lay-out and gives a key to any symbols used, such as the oven glove to indicate when to put on oven gloves and ask for adult help. It also gives 'cook's rules' to help the child work safely in the kitchen. (This is very handy to back up parental instruction against the "whys?")
The first recipes use ready-made puff pastry for eccles cakes, palmiers and cheese twists. This breaks you in gently before you learn how to make your own choux pastry from scratch, for eclairs and profiteroles. Then it's on to sweet and savoury scones, fruity bread, meringues, cakes and muffins. After this come the biscuits: peanut butter cookies, shortbread and chocolate brownies.
For each recipe there are different suggestions of products to create: so for example, with the scone recipe, you could make a big scone round or individual scones, and the book explains how best to achieve each of these. Ideas for decorating your buns and meringues abound, with ghosts, snowmen and fruit nests for the latter, and from butterfly cakes to more complex fondant icing animals for the former. All these ideas spark the imagination as well as inspiring us to try to replicate the results shown.
At the back of the book there are removable stencils with which you can decorate your cakes when you dust them with icing sugar.
*** Any good? ***
Our copy of the book is hardback, with slightly padded wipe-clean covers and spiral binding inside. This means the book can be laid flat or placed on a stand for easy reading while we cook. It's a little bit grubby now and some of the pages were stuck together, but that's testament to how much use we've had out of it.
In practice, the recipes and techniques are very easy to follow, helped along greatly by the excellent illustrating photographs.
Although it is called a 'first' baking book, which implies it is aimed at the very youngest of cooks, it has a lot to offer older children and adults as well! I know I've learnt quite a lot from it and gained confidence to try baking things I wouldn't have previously. Although the outer cover suggests quite a young audience, there is quite a lot of writing inside, which may be off-putting to some small children.
This cookbook has in no way been outgrown by my children, whose interest in baking continues to flour (sorry!). The cover is a bit "babyish" for their liking nowadays, but the recipes and ideas are still extremely useful and fun to attempt.
I'd recommend this book to any young family with an interest in baking, or indeed, any novice who wants to learn some baking techniques!
The First Baking Activity Book is available new through Amazon at £3.50. Well worth it, I'd say.
Product details (as available from Amazon):
# Hardcover: 48 pages
# Publisher: Dorling Kindersley (4 Jan 2007)
# Language English
# ISBN-10: 1405319542
# ISBN-13: 978-1405319546
# Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 19.2 x 2.2 cm