Baking Books

Rococo - Mastering the Art of Chocolate

Star Rating:
You may of heard of award winning chocolate shop Rococo which was founded by Chantal Cody who envisaged a chocolate paradise that challenged the stuffy attitudes of some more traditional chocolatiers.

Rococo produce beautiful chocolates in an array of amazing flavours. Their shops are also something to behold and their chocolates have a very distinctive wrapping. Now this special approach to chocolate has been encapsulated in a book - Rococo Mastering the Art of Chocolate.

This is a beautiful book with beautiful chocolate recipes and beautiful photos. You'll marvel at all of the amazing designs and flavours. The book is split into the following chapters:
  • Bonbons, bites and bars
  • Confectionary
  • Decorating chocolate
  • Desserts, sauces, drinks and ice cream
  • Tarts and pastries
  • Cakes, bakes and biscuits
  • Savoury chocolate
  • Equipment, techniques, ingredients
If you're interested in working with chocolate, this book gives you an insight into techniques such as tempering which could be useful.

You'll certainly be drooling over the photos in the book, it's one for the coffee table and comes in a lovely presentation box. However, I've only given it four stars as it's probably not one for beginners. Some of the recipes are a little more advanced and will take some time to make...but if you're up for a challenge then this could be the book for you.

Sweet Paris by Michael Paul

Star Rating:


The subtitle for this book is 'a love affair with Parisian pastries, chocolates and desserts', and that it certainly is. This is an absolutely beautiful book with amazing photographs, top tips for patisseries to visit in Paris, as well as the history and further information on many French classics.

You'll find the following chapters in the book:

  1. The Chocolate Capital of the World
  2. Paris - A Taste for Fashion
  3. Patisserie and Salon de The Classics
  4. Traditional Viennoiserie
  5. Decadent Desserts
  6. Ice Cream, Gelato and Sorbet
  7. Confiserie - Favourite Parisian Confectionary
In terms of recipes, you'll find all the French classics here, such as macarons, madeleines, tarte tatin, crème brulee and brioche. All the recipes are clearly written and beautifully photographed.

So you may be wondering why I've only given this book three and a half stars. Well, it all comes down to the number of recipes, the book is 156 pages long but there are only around 20 recipes within it. For me, 20 recipes does not a recipe book make.

However, if I was rating the photography and other tips, including top foodie addresses to visit in Paris then this book would certainly get five stars. So it all comes down to personal preference as you may be looking for just such a thing. If you're planning on visiting Paris soon or want to learn more about how many of the recipes originated, then this is the book for you.

You may be interested to know that reviewers on amazon have given this book five stars and I can see there reasoning. You can read their reviews and find out more about the book here.







The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook

Star Rating:


Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last year or so you can't have failed to notice the Clandestine Cake Club. It's 'Britain's first and only underground cake club' and it's been so popular that it's now gone global! They've even been featured on the BBC's One Show as well as in various national newspapers.

The Clandestine Cake Club was founded by Lynn Hill who was inspired by the popularity of Supper Clubs. The premis is simple, advertise your event on the CCC website, give it a theme and only disclose the secret location once the bakers have signed up. From small beginnings 'thousands of home bakers are now meeting covertly in hidden locations with the same simple mission: bake, eat and gossip about cake'.

The events are free to attend and may be hosted in all sorts of unique venues. Events generally tend to occur monthly. Each baker must bring with them a cake that fits the theme. However, the rules forbid cupcakes, muffins, brownies, pies or tarts...it's just cake, cake and more cake.

When I attended a CCC meeting, the theme was March Madness with the cakes being inspired by Alice in Wonderland. I made a teapot cake which features in the tea party in Alice in Wonderland. Some of the themes for forthcoming events include Easter Eggstravaganza, Spring Clean, New Beginnings, My Favourite Ingredient, Sweet Shop and Continental Cakes, plus many more...you can be as inventive as you like.
There are now over 100 affiliated clubs in the UK and over 150 in total so there's bound to be one near you...and if not you could start your own! You can find out about the events here.

Due to the popularity of the CCC, Lynn Hill has recently published a cookbook of all the best recipes from CCC members around the country. The book contains '120 sensational recipes from Britain's most famous cake club'. It has been split into the following sections:
    1. Classic Cakes
    2. Victorian Cakes
    3. Fruity Cakes
    4. Global Cakes
    5. Zesty Cakes
    6. Chocolatey Cakes
    7. Celebration Cakes
    8. Creative Cakes
So what's it like? Well I have to say that this is a lovely book and if you're a keen baker this could be just the thing for you. The greatest selling point is the fact that it doesn't contain all the cupcakes, muffins and brownies etc which are forbidden at CCC events. These all have their place and I enjoy them as much as the next person but it's really great to see so many enticing cakes all in one place...there's bound to be a cake for any occasion.

It also contains some more unusual cakes that you may not have come across before as all the recipes come from CCC members, with many putting their own creative spin on things. Sometimes when you buy a new cookbook it's just the same old recipes that you can find in all your other books but with the CCC book you are bound to find something new and exciting.
Finally, nearly all the recipes are accompanied by a full page colour photo which is always a bonus as you know what you're aiming for. The photographs are all very enticing too and are guaranteed to have you heading to the kitchen to try out the recipes.

So all in all a highly recommended book and I for one can't wait to start working my way through the 120 recipes! The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook is widely available in stores such as WHSmith and you can also buy it online from retailers such as amazon.


Please note that I was sent a copy of the CCC Cookbook to review but with no expectation as to the content. All opinions are my own and I genuinely would recommend this book! :-)






The Hummingbird Bakery - Home Sweet Home

Star Rating:

This is a brand new baking book on the block. Following on from the immensely popular 'Cake Days' also from the Hummingbird Bakery, this is more of the same.

The front cover proclaims that this book contains '100 new recipes for baking brilliance' and inside there are various different chapters including:

  • Cupcakes
  • Cakes, Cheesecakes & Roulades
  • Cookies and Biscuits
  • Traybakes
  • Sweet Treats & Classic Puds
  • Savouries
All the recipes in the book are extremely inviting and there is also a picture of each bake, which as you can tell from previous reviews, I find to be an absolute necessity.

I have yet to try any of the recipes in this book but they all look achievable and yet have a bit of style about them. There's a lovely range of recipes too as you can see from the chapter list.

This book was released on February 14th and so far on Amazon it has a five star rating...so why have I only given it four stars? Don't get me wrong, it's a great book but there may be one or two people for whom this is not to their taste. I know some baking purists are not fans of the cupcakes which are a staple of this book and the Hummingbird Bakery, the book itself is also slightly Americanised with milkshake cupcakes, lashings of frosting, candy bar pie and cornbread. However, a highly recommended buy and all the other Hummingbird recipes that I've tried previously have worked out really well and I imagine that there are some people out there who will absolutely LOVE this book! :-)

Some creations I have made from this book:

Jaffa Cupcakes

Apple and Almond Bear Claw Pastries



The Great British Bake Off Showstoppers

Star Rating:






I’m sure most people have this book already but I couldn’t resist making it this month’s review. The Great British Bake Off has been tremendously popular over the last couple of years and there have been various accompanying books. I have to say, this one doesn’t let you down.

The book is broken down into the following chapters with each one being prefaced by top tips for success.

Cakes
Biscuits
Breads & Sweet Dough
Tarts
Pies
Desserts
Puddings
The Basics

It’s fair to say that the recipes in this book are a little more challenging than some…but I guess there must be some element of challenge to produce a showstopper. There are, however, some simpler recipes to get you started if you’d prefer. If you watched the series you may want to test your skill by taking on some of the technical challenge recipes and there are also signature bakes from Mary and Paul. The recipes I’ve made from this book have been very successful and the instructions easy to follow.

The basics section at the back of the book runs you through measurements, icings, fillings and sauces, as well as cake decorating and other techniques. So this is a great book to help you improve your skills. The majority of recipes are sweet but there are some savoury recipes included too.

The only reason I’ve given this book four and a half stars is due to the fact that not every recipe has a photo. I always have a little bit of a problem with this as I don’t think I’ve ever made a recipe that doesn’t have a photo… based on this principle some of the recipes in this book are redundant.  It is worth noting though that the photos which are in the book are very enticing.

However, overall some stunning bakes which are guaranteed to impress.

You can find The Great British Bake Off Showstoppers book on Amazon.

Some creations I have made from this book:


 The Birthday Cake Book by Fiona Cairns

Star Rating:





This is my first book review and I thought I'd start off with a great cake book... Fiona Cairns The Birthday Cake Book. If you're not familiar Fiona made the Royal wedding cake no less! If you own any of her other books, this is quite different in some ways and I would go so far as to say...a lot better!

The book is literally full of great ideas which are fun and original. There are no themes or chapters as such...just great cakes. You may have seen Fiona's Teapot Cake which seems to be extremely popular at the moment...the method for the teapot cake is included in the book.

Other ideas include a vegetable plot spiced apple cake, playing card traybake, a piggy bank and a coconut and chocolate striped cake. The recipes and ideas are a mix of novelty celebration cakes but there are also recipes for other cakes which would be suitable for a special occasion but without the novelty factor...this is useful as you might just want a nice cake for your granny's birthday etc. It is maybe worth noting that one or two of the decorating ideas might benefit from a little bit of technical experience...but definitely doable!

I read somewhere the other day that on average people will make just 3 recipes from each cookbook they own. It's therefore probably a good sign that I've already made 4 from this book...and I've got more on the list. I would say this is one of the best baking books I've purchased in a while!

You can find The Birthday Cake Book on Amazon.

Some creations I've made from this book:

Alice's Teapot Cake

Apple & Cider Wigwam Cake

Lime & Vodka Russian Doll Cakes

Butterscotch and Hazelnut Wisp Cake

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