BOOK REVIEW: Bake by Love Food from Parragon Books

by - November 14, 2013

In the world of cookbooks saturated with celebrity chef endorsements, nameless books are often eyed with suspicion. Sometimes a miss-match of collective recipes (often untested page fillers) they can seem uninspiring and unrewarding to cook. But not always and certainly not in this instance.

Bake is big (an impressive 1.5 inches thick). Bake doesn't have anyone's smug "I'm making so much money" face on the cover. It doesn't even have a name credit on the front. Its gold, typographic cover reveals almost nothing yet if you crack it open it contains page after page of interesting baking recipes from cakes to breads. I think as it focuses on global baking from 13 areas of the world, it holds your attention for almost 400 pages. I'm not one of these hardcore passionate bakers, I can take or leave it and often the saccharin colours, twee design and gaudy decoration of most baking books turns my stomach.

This is a really classically laid out book, and whilst not winning any awards for ground-breaking design, is easy to navigate, has a useful index and some nice touches like a photo of all the ingredients laid out as a visual checklist. It also has progress photography where needed. The images overall are actually quite nice and simply styled, illustrating each recipe perfectly. I suppose the only thing I would want to change is adding an equipment list in the recipe sidebar as most call for a specific cake tin shape and size. That way you could see at an easy glance what you can make with your stock of tins and anything else like cutters, forms and piping bags.

Unusually, I wanted to bake quite a lot in this book, mainly from countries I wouldn't have tried baking from; Moon Cakes from China, Sweet Pierogi from Poland or Siphonoptta cheesecake from Greece. Breads feature too like Pitta, Fougasse, Naan...there is even a recipe for fortune cookies and savoury tarts and rolls. The USA, UK and the French of course, have all of their classics represented (as they should) although I'll never eat another croissant now I know how much butter there is in one!

So after a lot of bookmarking, first up were these little German Baumkuchen layer cakes. And for the first time in my life, the result is the spit of the book image. My whole family loved this cake from the baby to the grandparents. A very unusual batter mix, cooked in thin layers under the grill (get a cuppa and stick the telly on), it was fun to create such a different take on a cake. It is quite wasteful in chocolate and offcuts - but these can be eaten too. I will definitely, definitely re-make this, maybe adding a little orange liqueur to the mix and making a template so I get 100% even triangles. For the effort (hardly any), these were impressive little cakes. The recipe was spot on with the timing it takes to make as well (a recipe feature I like as I am time poor).

I was tempted enough to purchase a Madeleine tray as I do like these little cakes and it turns out they are so easy to make. I ended up baking 3 batches of the lemon and poppy seed Madeleine in a week as they are so quick and take a mere 8-10 minutes to bake. A good one to knock up to take on house visits or get the kids involved with. Will really enjoy playing with the base of this recipe and using other flavour combinations with it.

A Victoria sponge is a classic recipe and the one in this book is exactly that. I've always used a similar ingredient spit as this and gave a light sponge with a fine texture. The second time I make it I substituted half the butter with Chobani strained yogurt (and some lemon and poppy seeds) and the cake didn't suffer much at all, maybe being just a tad dryer.

Seeing as I had the biggest pumpkin in the UK to deal with, I just had to make the Pumpkin Pie in here for Halloween. Thankfully calling for shop bought pastry (I HATE making pastry), the filling was easy enough and the result was pleasant. No soggy bottoms here. Can't say I'm the biggest fan of pumpkin pie but I ate quite a few slices of this one. The spices gave warmth without being too over the top.

As I said, there is so much I want to bake from this book, but I will be giving my hips a rest before trying out a few more. If you like baking, or if like me, the latest series of Great British Bake Off has inspired you to get interested in it again, then Bake is an ideal book for you. I've had quite a few cake books that have been relocated to the charity shop for being unreliable but this one I'm keeping. With the range of recipes, it should be the only one you'll ever need too.

Bake by Love Food is published by Parragon Books and costs £xx0.

I received this copy for review.

You May Also Like