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I am by no means a master chef in the making. I can throw dinners in a slow cooker and even steam stuff and of course I'm ok at making toast and heating up ready meals and so on but anything more complicated than that.....well I'm done for really lo!
Since moving back to Coventry near my friends and family though and getting myself a huge kitchen I decided to get myself some new cookbooks. I was looking for something simple in the way of cake making to begin with and looking on Amazon this book rated very highly with people liking its simple format and that every recipe had a photograph so I thought for my first venture into cupcake and muffin making this would be a good bet for me!
The book that came is a light pink in colour and has a photograph of some lovely looking cupcakes on the front of it and we are told of course that it is published my Hamlyn and is an 'All Coulour Cookbook', 200 Cupcakes and that it is written by Joanna Farrow then on the back of the book we are told a little bit about the book and the rrp of the book is stated which is £4.99.
I have to say I really do love this book, so much so that I have already put in an order for all the other Hamlyn '200' recipe books from within this collection I can get which includes a recipe book for slow cooking, how to make stews and casseroles, cocktails, cakes and jam and the likes and there's actually loads of them and if they are half as good as this handy and beautiful book then I will be really delighted with them and I ordered them from my usual place which is Amazon.co.uk
This book has 240 pages and about half of those pages are beautiful photographs of the cupcakes/muffins and the likes and as I mentioned earlier each recipe has a photograph to show what your outcome should look like!
The book starts off with a content page and then the book is split into sections which are an introduction to the world of cupcakes and then an introduction into the equipment we will need which isn't really much at all and then we are told a little about frosting and how to make a simple buttercream and so on and of course this all has little photographs to accompany all this information and then we move on to the interesting part which is making the cupcakes and muffins which again these recipes are divided into sections which are Everyday Cupcakes. Chocolate Cupcakes, Cupcakes For Kids, Cupcakes For Adults, Savoury Cupcakes and Special Occasion Cupcakes. Each recipe is on the left hand side of the book and takes up a whole page and that gives us the ingredients and of course the instructions to make the cupcakes and also we are told how many the mix shoudl make and how long they take to prepare and to cook. Most of the recipes have alternative ideas for ingredients on them too so in actual fact you get more than 200 recipes in this book and of course you get the photograph of the finished product on the other side of the page.
The first thing I did was go and get he equipment I needed which simply was a bun tray and some paper cases and I already had a food mixer though I could have got away with a hand mixer for the recipes if that's what I'd of had. I have since invested in some silicone bakeware and cases....that's how much this recipe book has impressed me!
I have made Vanilla Cupcakes, Double Berry Muffins, Chocolate Toffee Cupcakes, Marmalade Madeira Cupcakes and Saffron & Potato Buns. I won't lie and say all have looked exactly as they did in the book but all recipes were easy enough to follow with the right amount of cooking time given and so on.
I have made the above recipes quite a few times now and all the time my presentation improves and this book has given me a lot of confidence to get more creative and I love the mix of really simple recipes such as the vanilla cupcakes which are basically little golden sponges and really simple to make to giving me things to aspire to. Some recipes are more intricate than others but none of them outrageously hard and this is simply a great book for any occasion and of course you can adapt the recipes to how you want them.
At the back of the book there is a list of all the recipes so you can find what you want at a glance and its fair to say if anything happened to this lovely little book I'd repurchase it pronto as I simply adore it. When I get bored now I simply whip out my book and make some cupcakes up, they don't have to be expensive to make and do taste better and in time will look better than shop bought ones too! Promise!
Available from Amazon at about £2.50 a book though Google if interested for the best prices.
This review is also posted on Ciao under this same username.
I love cooking, baking and creating in general in my kitchen and it is because of this that I have collected a small pile of recipe books since we moved in to our first home together in 2010. I first found the Hamlyn books in Robert Dyas and when some were reduced down to just £2.99 I promptly snapped up a few and they have become a source of regular recipes for me now.
I purchased this cupcakes book as we love cupcakes, as do most people we know, and I wanted something to go well with my newest gadget at the time, my cupcake maker, which obviously this does.
This is basically a paper book recipe book that contains 200 recipes. This is quite thick and I love the feel of the cover as it is kind of a matte finish that feels quite nice when I open it. Each of the recipes has two pages, one with a picture, and the photographs look absolutely mouth wateringly delicious! I love getting an idea of what the finished product SHOULD look like. The recipes are very easy to read, understand and follow, I am yet to find a recipe that I have made a mistake on or that has not worked and I have tried about 15 or 20 different recipes now.
There are different sections within the book and this makes it very simple to find an easy cupcake recipe or a more luxurious, expensive one to make. There are many different designs available as well as some tips and icing recipes & tips in the book. There is even a section for savoury muffins, two of which I have tried with very pleasant results.
The main recipes that I have used from this recipe book tend to be the more 'plain' or 'original' ones such as chocolate or vanilla but I have been encouraged to try some other recipes too and I am yet to find one that I haven't enjoyed sampling afterwards.
Patience is definitely a virtue when making cupcakes as it can take quite a while to prepare the mix, cook them, cool them, prepare the icing and pipe it on, however, once you have practised a few times you will soon get the knack of making wonderful cupcakes just like I have.
I have thoroughly enjoyed using this recipe book and on the few occasions that I have made one of the pages dirty I have simple gave it a wipe with a wrung out damp cloth and it was fine once it dried out again. This book does need to be balanced a little bit in order to see the pages but I tend to just copy out the recipe on a piece of paper if I think that I could get messy when making the recipe, most of them really.
If you love to eat cupcakes and are wanting to try out making some yourself then even at the usual price of around £5.00 this book is a fantastic introduction to making cupcakes and you could easily be kept busy for many a lazy Sunday afternoon, by yourself or with children who love to bake generally, with this one recipe book.
I love baking so it is no surprise that a popular present to give me is a cookery book. For my last birthday, my parents bought me "The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook of 200 Cupcakes" by Joanna Farrow. Having now made a good number of recipes from the book I have decided to write a review..
Joanna Farrow is the author of a large number of cookbooks of various kinds. I have several and I have enjoyed them all.
THE BOOK ITSELF
Like the other books in the Hamlyn "200 recipes" series, this book is a small paperback. It is not as tall as a standard paperback novel book but it is a little wider. As someone who has a large number of cookbooks already and a somewhat limited amount of space to store them in, I really appreciate a book that is both compact and full of recipes. Each recipe gets it's own double page spread so thankfully the small size of the pages doesn't result in a book that is cramped and unattractive. I would have prefered a book with a "stay flat" format as it doesn't sit very well in my cookbook stand. Keeping the book open on the page I am using involves my pummeling the book flat with my hands. That will no doubt prove unhealthy for the book's spine in the long term!
There are plenty of lovely photographs inside the book - one for each recipe. They make the recipes look delicious, as well as giving inspiration for pretty ways of presenting your cakes. This is one book that is guaranteed to make me feel hungry whenever I browse through.
RANGE OF RECIPES INCLUDED
Despite the books title, it actually contains more than 200 recipes if you count the many ideas for interesting variations to the main recipes. For example, after a recipe for lemon and poppy seed cupcakes comes an idea for using the same method but different ingredients to make Brazil nut and orange cakes. This makes the book feel even better value for money. A few of the bakes are actually muffins but I think it is fine to include them as they are similar enough to cupcakes to fit in.
The recipes are organised into sections: everyday cupcakes [which use slightly simpler methods and ingredients], special occasion cupcakes, those aimed at adults [many have alcohol in!], those for children, and chocolate cupcakes. There is also a selection of savoury recipes. When I first started baking the idea of using vegetables in a cupcake would have filled me with horror. I noticed that savoury cakes such as these were becoming more popular as so many of the recently published books I have bought contain a few. I decided to give some a try and I have to say they are surprising nice. I enjoyed the parsnip and cheese muffins a lot, especially as an interesting accompaniment to vegetable soup. If you don't think you would like this kind of recipe though, you should bear in my mind that they take up a whole chapter.
The more traditional sweet recipes present a great variation of flavours. Having a lot of cookbooks already means it can be hard for me to find a book with fresh ideas in. This book, however, has plenty. A Turkish delight fairycake recipe has been my favourite so far. The flavour is gorgeous and so unusual. There are of course recipes for the old favourites such as chocolate fudge and vanilla too.
The special occasion ideas are based around celebrations such as Easter and Valentines day. Christmas is the main focus though. I would say that the main thing that sets these recipes out as seasonal is the way that they are decorated. For example, the Easter cupcakes are just vanilla ones with frosted spring flowers on the top. The same is true for the childrens cupcake section. I considered using some of the ideas in the latter part for my niece's birthday party. However, I realised that the preparation guidelines suggested that I sholud allow an hour to prepare 12 cakes, on top of the baking and cooling time. I thought this was a little too long given the number I would need to make. So I would say that the recipes here, while looking beautiful, require a good amount of time and patience if you are going to decorate them as per the recipe. Thankfully, I have found that the vast majority of the recipes in the everyday section are much quicker to make!
ARE THE RECIPES EASY TO USE?
I have found the book very easy to use. I especially like the fact that the list of ingredients you need for each bake is printed in bold type. This means it doesn't get lost amongst the quantities and measures. This makes things a bit quicker when you are gathering all the ingrediants together before you start. The preparation instructions flow logically and are easy to understand. I have not wanted to make all the recipes again but this has more to do with my personal taste than any deficiencies in the instructions. For example, I found the lavender cakes didn't have enough flavour for me. As lavender has such a distinct taste, I can understand that most people would probably appreciate this subtle flavour though!
If you are completely new to baking, you will probably find the introduction to the book helpful as it explains basic techniques such as melting chocolate. Cupcakes are one of the easiest things to mke anyway and don't require a lot of different equiptment. As I am now more experienced the introduction didn't tell me anything new, but it only takes up a few pages so it doesn't impact on the books good value in my eyes.
The cover price of the book is only £4.99 so I think it is great value considering the number of recipes included. The book looks good and the recipes work. I have enjoyed using it for both those reasons. I would recommend it for both novice and experienced bakers as I think there are ideas here to suit both.
One word of warning - according to the publishing information given in the book, some of the recipes included have been previously published in other Hamlyn titles. This may be a problem for you if you do own any of these. Sadly, the book does not say which titles have featured these recipes, or how many are new. This seems to be a trend among cookbook publishers and not a very helpful one.
ISBN 978 060 062 0785
Published by Hamlyn/Octopus Books, 2010.
Price £4.99. Small paperback.