Books I like

When I first became interested in cookery, especially baking, I acquired lots of books, some new, some second hand. The collection grew steadily. Currently I have about 120. Some I use often, others less so. I’d like to feature some of my favourites here.

This first one I bought second hand from a charity shop, but I’ve used it more than any other book in my whole collection. It’s simple, it’s clear, it’s well illustrated, it’s just a great little book. As the title informs us the author, Christine France, has used a basic “starter” recipe, but the variety of cakes inside is excellent. I’ve not achieved my “century” of bakes yet, but am well on the way. Favourites have included:

  • Frosted Raspberry Almond Ring
    IMGP3394 Fri 14 Sep 2018 - Book cover 1 Mix 100 cakes
  • Walnut Torte
  • Strawberry Mousse cake
  • Blueberry Swirl gateau
  • Chocolate and Cherry gateau

…. and lots more.

It may not be in print currently, but I’ve seen it on Amazon and in other charity shops – definitely worth a search!

12th Feb 2019

If you like scones then this book is for YOU. It’s excellent.

NT Book of Scones

It combines snapshot info on National Trust properties around Britain with a scone recipe on the opposite page. Most of the classic scone flavours are here plus many more unusual ones that cry out to be tried. I’m working my way through it scone by scone. Among those that I’ve enjoyed baking and eating so far are: Blue Cheese & Hazelnut; Zesty Lemon; Cherry & Almond and Shropshire Blue & Fig.

No baking book library could be complete without one or more Paul Hollywood volumes. In fact it was his superb “100 Great Breads” that really got me started. It’s a terrific book with a great variety of breads. Some of the most memorable are his:

  •  Cottage loaf (A basic, but great, British classic)
    IMGP3475 Paul Hollywoods 100 GREAT BREADS book
  • Focaccia Pugliese with Mozzarella                                       (One of several excellent focaccias he offers)
  • Tomato and Basil bread (Lovely flavour)
  • Date, Prune & Pecan bread                                                         (Sweet and nutty – tastes great.)
  • Apricot Rye (light and very tasty)

Two other Paul Hollywood books in my collection are his “PIES & PUDS” and “BRITISH BAKING“. Both contain dozens of super recipes, sweet and savoury.

IMGP3471 Paul Hollywoods PIES & PUDS book
IMGP3473 Paul Hollywoods BRITISH BAKING book

The next book is by Martha Collison who came to the attention of the baking world (I’m sure such a place exists) a few years ago as the youngest ever contender in TV’s “Great British Bake Off”. Her first book “Twist” is not merely a book of excellent recipes, but she provides options and alternatives along the way. It’s a good concept and works well, especially as her recipes are really tasty and innovative.

Twist by Martha Collison

Her cakes are especially lovely, my favourites being: Caramel Nut Brittle Layer Cake, Chocolate and Passion Fruit Layer Cake and Carrot, Blueberry and Orange Cake. 

There’s more than just cake though. Her Millionaire’s Flapjack and Zebra Cheesecake are well worth a bake. Her second book – “Crave” – has also been highly acclaimed. I’m looking forward to Christmas morning as I know there’s a copy coming my way.

How baking works - by James Morton

Another book I often refer to is by yet another “Bake Off ” contender, James Morton. His book “How Baking Works” has some good recipes, including many interesting slightly unusual ones such as Blueberry Pizza and Grapefruit Polenta Torte.    

He covers many of the basics very clearly too, writing with a friendly, chatty style that I like. Having said all this, I value this book on my shelves highly not because of the actual recipes, but for the teaching and explaining nature of the volume. It’s great to have a book that actually tells me not just how to do things, but WHY. Thanks James.

The best book I’ve ever seen for in-depth pastry is “Pastry Recipes” by Catherine Atkinson. Not only does it contain over a hundred excellent recipes, savoury and sweet, but there’s an extensive section at the end titled “The Art of Pastry Making” that has over 30 pages of information and explanation about every conceivable aspect and type of pastry.

Going back to recipes I’ve enjoyed making and eating the Caramelised Onion tart,  Chicken and Apricot Filo Pie and her Exotic fruit Tranche.  I’m now looking forward to trying the Roquefort Tart with Walnut Pastry, and the Chocolate, Date & Almond Filo Coil. (That will be a big calorie hit, so I’ll need to run much further than my usual 5 miles that day. It’ll be worth it I’m sure.)

Pastry recipes by Catherine Atkinson

September 29th 2019

I’ve been a bit too busy to put any new books on these pages for a while, so here are three at the same time. Two were bought second hand, but seem to be still available. The Bread book was a bargain at The Works, a shop I’d happily recommend for cut price cookery and baking books.

I’ll start with the bread book. Its full title – “The Complete Book of Bread & Bread Machines” – is very accurate as it’s probably the most “complete” book I’ve ever seen on bread. It has lots of interesting bread information and history plus recipes from all round the world. Here’s a random selection, some of which I’ve made, others are on the “to do” list:

Danish Julekage

Portuguese corn bread

Moroccan holiday bread

Mallorcan Ensaimadas

Finally, I really must make Finnish Knackebrod, if only for the sake of the name.

The authors are Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter and it’s published by Hermes House.

Annie Bell’s “Gorgeous Cakes” is a big book with some lovely big cakes and bakes inside. My favourites so far include the Lime and Coconut Delice and her Lemon & Orange Custard tart. The California Cheesecake looks interesting too.

“Everyday Easy Cakes & Cupcakes”, like all Dorling Kindersley books, is superbly illustrated. Once acquired, it immediately became one of several “go to” books on my shelf. Most of the recipes are for cakes you will have seen elsewhere, but the clear instructions and great pictures make it so very good to use.