title: Mary Berry's Baking Bible
author: Mary Berry
A hardback (seems it only comes in hardback) recipe book featuring "over 250 classic recipes" for cakes and other baked things taken from a range of Mary Berry's previous myriad of publications.
The book is divided into 4 sections consisting of conversion tables, an introduction and techniques section, 19 chapters of the recipes themselves (which I'll list in a minute), and a section on cake decorations.
Conversion tables are provided for weights, measurements, volume and oven temperatures.
Introduction and techniques
Mary provides advice on baking equipment (including a pretty comprehensive list of "cake tins for keen bakers"), lining tins, baking terminology, ingredients and baking tips.
Chapters on classic cakes like this cappuccino cake...
and this battenburg...
... fruit and nut cakes, spiced cakes, chocolate cakes, cupcakes and other small bakes, celebration cakes, special cakes like these chocolatines...
... traybakes and flapjacks, biscuits and cookies, fancy biscuits, shortbreads and bars, baking for children, tarts and pastries, breads like this Foccacia with onion and balsamic topping...
... fruit breads, buns and scones, hot puddings and pies like this bread and butter pudding...
... souffles and meringues, and cheesecakes.
All the standards are included like carrot cake, coffee and walnut, brandy snaps, swiss rolls, brownies, LMP, banoffi pie, cheese straws, and christmas cake. Photographs are provided for about a quarter of the recipes.
A relatively brief section covering different types of icings, almond paste and various chocolate decorations.
My first impression
Well, this is probably more like a second impression as it's the second time I've had this book out of the library now, but I've only made 3 things from it so perhaps it's more like first-and-a-half.
The text on the back of the book says "The only baking book you will ever need" and really it's not that wrong. The range of recipes is very comprehensive, and they are clearly explained and organised. The photographs are full page and not over-styled (as you can see above) but the book is clearly designed to be used rather than sit on a coffee table, so the photos provide occasional interest rather than overwhelm the text.
Things I particularly like:
- the oven temperature conversion chart includes fan oven settings
- the christmas cake recipe provides a table of ingredients weights for 8 different tin sizes
- a lot of the recipes have additional information such as variations and how not to worry when the mixture looks a bit dodgy(!)
- breads and puddings are included (this could have so easily become a just-cakes book)
Things I didn't like:
- Mary puts mixed peel in her seed cake (heresy!)
- she doesn't tell me why my scones never rise as much as they should
- there's no recipe for christmas pudding (I'm rather surprised that it got left out)
So basically, hardly anything to get really annoyed about.
I've made three recipes from the book. I've already posted about the Lemon Meringue Pie, but I've also made the cupcakes, and the Austrian curd cheesecake.
I found that the cupcakes came out rather small (but that might have been due to paper cases that were too big) and there was too much icing for me (but I only like a smear's worth); if you wanted the sort of cupcake where there was as much icing as cake you'd have little to complain about.
The cheesecake, I made with ricotta because I couldn't find any flippin' curd cheese (double grumble!) and I wasn't very happy with it, but I must say that it was solely due to the ricotta, which I like neither the texture or the flavour of (which therefore begs the question why did I make the thing in the first place? Probably answer: sheer desperation to bake (I get like that sometimes)). Everyone else liked it, so clearly it was just me.
I think my next cake will be the cappuccino cake - it looks exactly my kind of thing. And the traybakes call to me as well (but that is probably because I spent too much time reading hand-me-down Women's Own magazines when I was little).
Anyway, the long and the short of it is this: buy this book, you won't regret it. I find books in bookshops over here are severely over-priced so it's on my Amazon list for when I have enough to qualify for free postage. Until then I will hang on to this library copy for as long as I can.