Last time I went home, my lovely mum had a couple of presents waiting for me- at least one of them was supposed to have been saved until Christmas, but she couldn't wait that long! Since moving to university and having to cook for myself the past few years, I've discovered a new appreciation for home cooking and baking. My sister bought me Cake by Rachel Allen a couple of years ago and it's now got a lot of cocoa between the pages... I love finding new recipes online, but there's something special about having a collection of cookery books to flick through for inspiration. My collection is growing slowly but surely, and unlike the online recipes I tend to lose once I've used them, I hope these stay around for a long while to come.
The first one is the The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking (that's more of a mouthful than any of their cakes!) by Linda Collister. You've probably noticed I'm a bit of a GBBO fan and I tried out a few of the bakes from this series, so this book is ideal for keeping that going. It features some of the memorable bakes from the show, such as Norman's 'Farthing Biscuits', the eye catching 'Prinsesstarta' and Luis' 'Tropical Manchester Tart'.
There are 120 recipes included for biscuits, traybakes, breads, cakes, sweet pastry and patisserie, savoury bakes and puddings and desserts. It features contestants' signature bakes and showstoppers, as well as technical challenges. Everything (even the technicals) comes with excellent, easy to follow instructions and incredibly mouthwatering photographs. There are four entire pages at the start that are dedicated to explaining baking terms and techniques- making this perfect for anyone who is new to baking.
Also included is a page for each of this year's bakers giving a little information about each of them- Norman's was funny enough to warrant reading aloud to my sister immediately.
The combination of simple classics and impressive technical bakes makes this a perfect all-round baking book. There's no need for weird and wonderful ingredients or equipment- this is all about realistic, achievable home baking. I've yet to actually try any of these recipes out, but I've already marked out a chocolate fudge cake, a gluten-free orange cake and a Battenberg... stick around and you might see some of these appear on here!
The next one is Chocolate at Home by Will Torrent. Chocolate is definitely one of my favourite foods so this was another good choice! The photos alone make this book worth having- flicking through this is even better than scrolling through my chocolate board on Pinterest. I love the part of the start of the book that explains where chocolate comes from, how it's made and how to use it. Now I've got nothing against a block of Dairy Milk, but this book just makes me want to go out and buy lots and lots of really high quality chocolate. Will Torrent was on Sunday Brunch a few weeks ago, demonstrating the proper way to taste chocolate and appreciate its flavours- could chocolate be the new wine?!
My favourite part is probably all the recipes for truffles that sound absolutely incredible- think Earl Grey and orange marmalade, champagne, salted caramel... The trouble is, I don't have any of the moulds that are needed to produce really professional looking truffles. There are recipes for cookies and biscuits, desserts and even drinks and I'm sure that I'll be able to find something in there that I can make, but I think the recipes in this book are much more the kind that require some sort of occasion to make them, rather than to whip them up late at night to fix a chocolate craving.
If you like chocolate and want some new and clever ideas for ways to use it, this book is great. It's not overly technical, but I think it's a little bit beyond my student lifestyle/ novice cook status! Having said that, I do fancy trying out chocolate mulled wine, gingerbread hot chocolate and perhaps a chocolate, pear and ginger crumble.
So keep an eye on this blog for anything I try from either of these books, and let me know what your favourite cook books are!