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Baking book recommendations please!

(21 Posts)
ToothyMcTooth Mon 24-Sep-12 13:47:24

I am keen to extend my baking repertoire but am mind-boggled by the options of baking books out there.

I've after something that covers cakes/biscuits/muffins etc and has basic techniques but also has a 'modern' twist. So not so much jellied sweets on top but more cranberries and pumpkin seeds iykwim. Oh and I have a kitchenaid mixer so recipes that I can make in there too!

If possible as well I could do with a book that would trouble-shoot when it doesn't go right grin. When I watch GBBO I have no clue which doughs need to be handled lots and which not at all. Which should go in the fridge for a while etc etc


BirdyArms Mon 24-Sep-12 13:53:25

I think you need Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard. Lots of recipes, everything I've tried has been a success and it has a great reputation. It explains why things might and might not work and talks about ingredients etc and is definitely more dried cherries than jellied sweets - so I think everything you're looking for.

My only slight criticism is that the recipes aren't always the quickest, some have a lot of steps, but there are plenty of simpler things included. I have the last GBBO book (ie not the most recent one) and it's fine but find short and sweet more inspiring.

dotty2 Mon 24-Sep-12 14:08:15

I find Short and Sweet inspiring but quite a few of the recipes haven't turned out that well for me. Did make a fab upside down pear cake from there (with a bit of modification) at the weekend though. I think Nigella's How to be A Domestic Goddess is good, though the recipes tend towards the extravagant. Mary Berry - reliable, but a bit dull.

BirdyArms. (With apologies for the hijack)

- none of my friends have the Dan Lepard so you're the first person I've been able to quiz. What recipes would you recommend in particular? The Alchemists Chocolate Cake was a disaster for me and the Choc Marble Crumble Cake somewhat disappointing. The one with hazelnuts and toffee condensed milk was lush, though - wonder if it's because the recipes are quite technical, there's more scope for things to go wrong?

ToothyMcTooth Mon 24-Sep-12 14:15:43

Thank you!

Yy to Mary Berry - my mum is desperate to foist her books onto me but its hers that I find quite dated and not inspiring. I've got Nigella's Domestic Goddess but as you say its a little ott and not very well set out. I find I have to trawl through for ages to get inspiration.

I'll check out Short and Sweet thanks.

ToothyMcTooth Mon 24-Sep-12 14:20:15

Oh and (without sounding too mad) I'd love it to have pictures of the finished product and not lots of pics of the author licking a spatula

BirdyArms Mon 24-Sep-12 14:41:23

Hi Dotty - from short and sweet I would recommend the Apple, walnut and custard cake (a bit fiddly but worth it), easy bread rolls, naan bread, the easy carrot cake (though pretty much a bog standard recipe), saucy monkey (very quick and easy pudding), one a day cookies, oat and sour cherry cookies (yum yum yum), peanut butter cookies (v quick and easy).

Actually the chocolate marble crumb cake has been my only disappointment but my 6yo was given quite a free rein making it so I'd been blaming him for it's dryness rather than Dan!

dotty2 Mon 24-Sep-12 14:51:36

Birdy: wow - thank you for those recommendations. Will have a go next weekend. I quite fancied the custard one myself but baulked at the idea of cooking custard just to put it in a cake.

Toothy - one bad thing about Dan Lepard is that he's quite light on pictures. But no spatula licking either!

coffeeinbed Mon 24-Sep-12 15:11:25

Dan Lepard has the column in the Guardian - I just made the Orange cake from a week ago and it was lovely.
You can try before you buy the book.
Alchemist's cake was a disaster here as well.
The tahini flapjacks were lovely, and the Upside down cheesecake was a dream.
He can be a bit hit and miss, but when he's good he's very good.
River Cottage Baking - though you probably have seen those.

pumpkinsweetie Mon 24-Sep-12 15:15:02

British Bake Off books are very good.
Lots of cakes, cookies, breads etc and lovely illustrations.
I have made a lot of the recipes and they have all turned out lovelysmile

dotty2 Mon 24-Sep-12 15:16:07

I gave the Alchemist's cake to my dad, who commented that the alchemists didn't actually manage to turn base metals into gold!

coffeeinbed Mon 24-Sep-12 15:18:28

It was very dry.
Strangely so.

Orangesarenottheonlyfruit Mon 24-Sep-12 15:37:09

This is definitely my area!
I'm not really into celeb books BUT The Hummingbird Bakery book is absolutely brilliant. A friend bought it for me and I was a bit condescending about it but I have used it loads, things like their buttercream is amazing, much better than Nigella's. Also, their chocolate loaf cake is quick, easy and doesn't use chocolate (!) so I can knock it up in a few mins and bake it for the kids tea.

Also this book is American but so, so useful King Arthur Flour. An American friend recommended it to me and I use for everything for quick cookies, proper US pancakes for Saturday breakfast to fancy cakes, lovely job. The measurements are US but I have an American cup measurer which is fab for that kind of thing.

David Lebovitz is the 'go to' for all thing sweet or ice creamy. He is an American exchef living in Paris but his website is amazing and full of wonderful recipes for all things sweet. His book is meant to be awesome and is on my Amazon wishlist Ready Dessert

Finally, Fiona Cairns is worth a punt. I have Bake and Decorate which I have used and used. I have done about half of the recipies in the book and it's well written and easy to follow.

I have to say though that I really, really rate Nigella's Dom God. I have done almost every cake in that book in the last ten years and have rarely had a failure. It has truly influenced my cooking and baking styles, her banana cake is my absolute failsafe standby, the layered choc meringue cake thing has got me through some tricky dinner parties and the choc pastry cases filled with white choc cream are amazing. She alos introduced me to Anna Del Conte and Simon Hopkinson whom I resort to about every third day. She is, in my opinion, worthy of canonisation!

Phew! Enough ranting, hope this helps!

I'd echo the Hummingbird Bakery book - I think mine is an older version than the link above but I find I use it lots - plenty of cupcakes, muffins, traybakes and some regular cakes...

dotty2 Mon 24-Sep-12 15:53:44

Annoying spatula-licking tendencies aside, and for times when money is no object, I do think Nigella's cake recipes are good. But some of my favourites come from her other books - the Guiness Gingerbread in Kitchen is lovely. I am now looking forward to trying oranges recommendations too - thank you.

Trazzletoes Mon 24-Sep-12 15:58:09

Another vote for the amazing deliciousness of the Hummingbird Bakery. The recipes are written for stand mixers (whoop whoop!). I have Cake Days and everything so far has been a success.

MoreBeta Mon 24-Sep-12 15:58:20

I tend to use the internet a lot. Many recipes there from people like Mary Berry and James Martin and Nigella.

Its much easier to Google search than flick through loads of recipe books.

One set of cookery books I do strongly recommend are in the Le Cordon Bleu range that are written for serious pastry/desert chefs and culinary arts students. I have The Chocolate Bible along with several others in desert and main courses as well as bread and pastry.

They do walk you through advanced techniques and the deserts and cakes are like you would buy in a high end patisserie but follow their steps and you really can do it. Their recipes are very precise and always work.

FireOverBabylon Mon 24-Sep-12 16:03:08

The Bourne Street Bakery book is fab, and covers bread, cakes and pastries. My only concern would be the size of some of the recipes, because they bake for a shop - the ginger bread men recipe makes 50 and the Christmas cake recipe makes 2 small cakes, but it's easy enough to scale the recipes down.

YouOldSlag Mon 24-Sep-12 16:03:22

I have been baking for years but still like simple recipes. the best baking book I have EVER bought is the BBC Good Food 101 Cakes and Bakes. It's only about 3.95 on Amazon and there is one recipe and one full page photo per page.

My favourites are the peach teabread, Feel Good muffins, flapjacks, Chocolate and Oat cookies, Spotted Dog ( a very simple tea bread that you spread with butter), Anzac Biscuits, ... well I could go on but let's just say if you saw my splattered and sticky copy you'd know how much I love it.

habbibu Mon 24-Sep-12 16:04:28

Another vote for Short and Sweet - really inspiring, and really varied.

ToothyMcTooth Mon 24-Sep-12 19:43:32

Wow - so many replies!

Thank you so much!!

will end up buying 10 books now grin

hippermiddleton Tue 25-Sep-12 13:13:35

Another vote for King Arthur Flour - their website/blog is also fabulous for American-inspired cakery. I visit it every day at teatime...

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