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A cupcake a day..
Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook 200 Cupcakes - Joanna Farrow
Member Name: ryeb
Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook 200 Cupcakes - Joanna Farrow
Advantages: Reliable recipes for all occasions, attractive photos, low price.
Disadvantages: Does not have a stay flat spine, some recipes have been published in other books previously.
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.
Summary: A great gift for a baker, experienced or otherwise.