This last series was compelling stuff – the steely blue-eyed Paul Hollywood playing attractive silver fox bad cop to twinkly eyed kind Mary Berry’s good cop, they were a duo made in TV heaven. Let’s not forget Mary’s rocking wardrobe that seemed to have ramped up a notch this year.
The contestants were well cast… Brendan being my particular favourite to loathe – SO smug! And James my favourite to love with his untainted enthusiasm and chaos. I was however rooting for John by the final show as he really brought it all home in the end.
So down to business, the official books by Linda Collister to go with the series – there are three to choose from that you might be contemplating buying a baking enthusiast for Christmas.
1. The Great British Bake Off: How To Bake
I personally was a bit non-plussed by this book and it’s kind of old news with two newer books to choose from.
2. The Great British Bake Off: How To Turn Everyday Bakes Into Showstoppers
This is for confident cooks hoping to recreate some of the spectacular bakes in the last series - if you want to make an impact with your baking this is definitely for you!
3. The Great British Bake Off: Learn To Bake, which i’ve decided to review here in full as I think it’s got a wide appeal in terms of Christmas present potential:
Who is it for?
It’s aimed at the beginner – very much a step-by-step approach to learning how to make the basics right from the beginning. It doesn’t assume any knowledge at all so is perfect for those new to baking or perhaps someone who’s not very kitchen confident. This could be adults or children from about 8 years old up.
Easy to follow
Ingredients, equipment and baking terms are all clearly explained at the front of the book, which makes an excellent reference point if you’re truly starting from scratch.
The chapters are organised clearly with a page of troubleshooting tips at the beginning of each in a bid to prevent those common baking mishaps that can easily put beginners off heading back into the kitchen.
The chapters included in the book:
- Cupcakes & Little Bakes
The recipes themselves are super clear and easy to follow, as you’d expect in a book like this.
There are enough prettily styled pictures to make it a pleasant book to leaf through for inspiration. It has a very BBC Good Food Magazine vibe to it – vintage crockery, wooden chopping boards and outdoor backdrops with children running around.
There are also some extremely helpful step-by-step photographs explaining processes like icing finger buns, kneading dough and plaiting a loaf – which I think are essential for anyone tackling a new recipe for the first time.
It’s billed as 80 easy recipes for all the family so it’s definitely one of those books that anyone can get involved with young or old. From humble jam tarts perfect for little hands, to sophisticated lemon souffles to serve at a grown up dinner party – there genuinely is something for everyone in terms of skill and taste.
Most likely to cook
Honeycomb Crunchies are a delicious looking refrigerater cake that would be ideal for gifting this Christmas in a pretty tin.
Soft Pretzels would be fun to try – and would be a good lunchbox filler for the boys to make a change from sandwiches and rolls.
Least likely to cook
All the recipes look pretty good and crowd pleasing, so nothing i’d make a point to avoid.
Would you buy it for a friend?
This is firmly on my list for giving as a gift this Christmas. My adorable 8-year-old niece will love working through these recipes with my enthusiastic kitchen fiend of a brother. Also my father-in-law has really got into cooking since he retired and has been leafing through the review copy with great interest
Rating out of 10
9 – I think this book certainly achieves what it sets out to do. It gives new bakers with their L plates still on, the tools to get stuck in to some serious baking by introducing all the basic techniques in a simple and straightforward way. From cakes to pastry, puddings to biscuits, it’s all in there waiting to be mastered.
The Great British Bake Off Learn To Bake is published in hardback by BBC Books, priced £18.99
Thanks for my review copy!