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I have several titles in the "Good Food 101" recipes series. A couple of years ago I saw that Waterstones were running a 3 for 2 promotion that included the range, so I took the opportunity to buy some of the books that were missing from my collection. One of these was "101 Fruity Puds" which I thought would help me use up some of the fruit from my then new allotment, as well as give me me some healthier dessert ideas.
THE BOOK ITSELF
"Fruity Puds" is the same size and format as other book in the series. In other words, it is a small paperback, full of colour photos. All of the recipes included in this particular volume have previously been published in BBC Good Food magazine. I have also spotted some of them on the magazine's website. This doesn't matter to me as I don't buy the magazine often but if you have been a regular subscriber you may need to bear this in mind. I do prefer using a cookbook to the website, good as it is, because I enjoy browsing through the pages, and using the index gives me a more manageable number of results than the websites search function!
Each recipe has a lovely photo to accompany it. The food always looks well presented and frankly mouthwatering more often than not. If I don't really feel like cooking, a look through this book always inspires me to get back in the kitchen again.
RANGE OF RECIPES INCLUDED
All of the recipes obviously involve fruit but I did wonder how intregal they would be to the desserts. I have often found recipes for "strawberry cake" for example, only to find that it was a recipe for a standard sponge decorated with a few strawberries. A nice idea but I could think of that myself. I needn't have worried though, as these puddings really do seem designed to make the most of fruit flavours. Summer fruits and berries are the most well covered when it comes to different dessert ideas- in fact they have their own chapter. I like this because they are just the type of fruit I most often need to use up in a hurry as they don't keep very long once picked. If you were hoping for lots of resipes using exotic and tropical fruit, you should be aware there are fewer ideas involving those.
The first section is called "quick and easy". I agree with the easy part, but I think some of the ideas are pushing the edge of what I would call quick. A berry "slump" that takes 50 minutes being one that springs to mind. To be fair, most of this is the actual baking time when you would be free to do something else, but this is no help if you need something ready in less time than that. A suggested amount of time to allow for preparation and cooking is given at the start of each recipe, so I recommend that you read it carefully when you are in a rush. There are some desserts that take just 5 or 10 minutes if you look throug the whole section. [The berry slump is delicious though, and well worth the wait if you can spare the time!]
The remaining recipes include both hot and cold dishes, puddings for a party, and "special" fruit cakes. The party suggestions include such things as trifles and cheesecakes, a few of which can be made ahead which is obviously useful. My favourite part of the book is the one dealing with hot desserts, as it contains my best finds from the book. Individual cherry crumble pies, and toffee fig tarts are 2 simple but delicious recipes that quickly found their way into my "make again-soon" list! This is a good section to find ideas for desserts once the summer berries have passed out of season, or you feel like something more substantial and warming. Without it, I think the book would tend to feel like a summer cookbook, because of the emphasis on raspberries and the like.
I thought that a fruit based cookbook may contain a large number of relatively healthy recipes. Whilst there are some lower calorie options, many of the fruit have been combined with ingredients such as cream and butter before the end of the recipe, so I found more of the suggestions to be high in fat than I thought. Each recipe does have a nutrition guideline per serving which does help me to shortlist the healthier choices. I think this would be useful for dieters too.
IS THE BOOK EASY TO USE?
Good Food say they triple test every recipe before it is included, and this is probably why I find them so reliable. The ingredients list is clearly printed in bold on one side, and the recipe method on the other. I never have trouble following the instructions, which are always clearly worded. The only thing I would improve would be to have a more consistant approach to how many people the desserts are designed to serve. One recipe is for 2, the next 8-10... In most cases it is easy to see how to double up or reduce the pudding size, but it would be useful to know how long some would keep if you couldn't use all of it at once. There are plenty of really simple recipes, involving not much work than a fruit salad, as well as the more complicated and time consuming ones such as frozen layered ice cream cake. I have found a good mix of simple ideas, and those that challenge me more, which suits me.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THE BOOK?
I have gained some great ideas from this little book. It cost me £4.99, although it was in a 3 for 2 offer as mentioned above. It has been worth every penny for the fun I have had with it. I have lots of ides for using my allotment harvest, and I think it would be a book especially useful if you do have a good source of berries and summer fruits to hand. If you don't, then of course these aren't the cheapest fruit to use a lot of and some of the desserts would start to come expensive. In general, there are great ideas here, but be aware of the fact they are not newly created just for this book, as mentioned above. Recommended to all but dedicated keepers of old issues of BBC Good Food Magazine!
ISBN 978 184 607 7234
Paperback, 215 pages.
[This review is also under my user name on Ciao, and has beed edited slightly for Dooyoo.]