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Mary Berry's Baking Bible - Mary Berry

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Author: Mary Berry / Format: Hardback / Date of publication: 03 September 2009 / Genre: Cookery / Subcategory: Cookery Dishes & Courses / Category: Baking & Icing / Publisher: Ebury Press / Title: Mary Berry's Baking Bible / ISBN 13: 9781846077852 / ISBN 10: 1846077852

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      17.01.2012 20:43
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      A book that is worth its cover price.

      I own a lot of cook books and I hire even more from the library. To be honest, there isn't many cook books that I feel I have to own myself straight away, I either borrow them, buy them from a charity shop or put them on a birthday wish list. But having loaned this from the library, I went out and bought it immediately - even though it cost £25. I feel that I have found a book that I will use forever so I don't begrudge a penny! I had some tokens to spend but if you can shop around you will find it discounted on Amazon.


      THE AUTHOR.

      The author is the famous cookery writer Mary Berry. She has been writing books for decades but this is the first one of hers I have used. Good Food magazine voted her books one of the 3 most reliable celebrity cook books [according to the sales blurb.] I can see why. If you do have any of Mary's previous books, you should know that some recipes included here have previously been published in her older titles. It is difficult to say from the information given how much duplication there would be. I would suggest that if you have several of her baking themed books, it may be a good idea to flick through a copy of this one before you buy it.


      THE BOOK ITSELF

      My money brought me a substantial hard back book graced with a delicious looking strawberry cake photo. In fact, I think it looks a well presented title from the cover in. Not every recipe is illustrated but I think the photos that are included are good quality and that there is enough of them to make the book attractive. I have found it a very enjoyable book to browse through. I also like the fact the print isn't too small. I think that if a cook book is too cramped with a small typeface it is hard to keep your place in the recipe.


      GENERAL INFORMATION INCLUDED

      The first part of the book includes miscellaneous useful information such as a metric to imperial measures conversion table. Both sets of measures are used in the book so I didn't really need to refer to this but it is useful if you are using other less thorough books. Then there is an explanation of general cooking terms and techniques. These would be useful for a beginner. Although I have made a good few cakes, I still found this an interesting part because Mary gives you the benefit of her personal experience, rather than just repeats the same information as found elsewhere. For example, I like the fact that she rarely feels that it is important to sift flour, as I often don't do that myself! I also realised that I struggle with lining some cake tins because I haven't been doing it quite right so the step by step instructions for doing that have really helped me be a better cook. The trouble shooting pages cover just about every problem I have had over the years, and give simple advice on what to do about it. Another reason to have it on your bookshelf I think!


      RANGE OF RECIPES INCLUDED

      A total of 250 recipes are covered including just about every really traditional cake you could think of. There are recipes for large and small cakes, traybakes, bread, buns, tarts, pies, puddings, brownies, biscuits and special occasion cakes eg Christmas cake. I have made 12 recipes now and every one has turned out brilliantly. I can't fault the instructions at all. Some recipe are very easy but there are also ones that take more time and effort. This is one of the reasons that I feel confident that this is a book I won't grow out of. There are simple recipes that you can tackle without a lot of knowledge or experience as well as those that provide a challenge to the keen cook.

      Although most of the recipes are for what I would describe as old favourites such as Madeira cake, there are also more unusual ideas. I am intrigued by the courgette cake idea having made some nice muffins with this ingredient in. My favourite bake so far is the first recipe I tried - a vanilla sandwich cake. This produces a lovely light sponge which gives me a great sense of achievement when I take it out of the oven! I also highly recommend the brownies - moist, gooey and chocolatey.

      There isn't any nutritional information included with the recipes. This doesn't matter to me personally, but it could be frustrating for those who like to know these things.


      CONCLUSION
      I would recommend this book to anyone who loves baking, experienced or not. It is perfect for beginners and for those wanting reliable recipes for the more traditional cakes in particular. I will certainly treasure my copy!


      OTHER INFORMATION
      Published by BBC Books, 2009.
      ISBN 978 184 607 7852
      Hardback, 400 pages.

      {A slightly different version of this review also appears under my user name on Ciao.}

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