There's something almost irresistible about picking up recipe books in the supermarket for a quick flick through.
I've probably said it before, but I love growing my recipe book collection. Sure, the internet is excellent when you've got something specific in mind, but you can't beat a beautiful cookbook for a little foodie-inspiration.
My latest addition is this - Twist by Martha Collison of Great British Bake Off fame. Yes. I did need another baking book. One minute I'm buying dog treats in Waitrose, the next this beautiful book has somehow fallen into my basket... (Actually. I'm not sure I was even carrying a basket.)
What made me purchase Twist is that it really appeals to my principles of baking. I like a classic, but I like thinking about how I can change it, update it or add a little something extra.
And this is exactly what Martha's proposing in her recipes. This isn't another book rolling out the same old standard cakes. She gives a few basic recipes, then follows them up with all kinds of inventive, yet oh-so-appealing variations.
I like a good brownie, but how about salted caramel and pretzel for a little added sweet 'n' salty loveliness?
Or how about playing with a lemon drizzle? I personally love the sound of Grapefruit Drizzle Cake but my mum and sister reacted with 'yuck' - so guess who won't be getting a slice?!
What I also really like about this book is that the majority of the recipes are the kind of things I can bake at home on any old rainy afternoon. It's not all showstopper cakes that are best suited to a fancy dinner, or huge cakes that only survive a matter of hours before they are past their best. The recipes are all the kinds of thing I can pop in a cake tin and let my family munch through over a few days, no special event required.
On a similar note, I haven't spotted a single ingredient I don't recognise. Which is not so much a sign of my incredible baking knowledge, but more that these are basic, everyday items that can be found in any supermarket. No ordering off Amazon for these bakes!
What it doesn't have is loads of explanation behind the methods, ingredients and techniques, or stories behind the recipes. Which is fine - it's not what I'm looking for and it keeps the book simple and to the point, but this isn't one of those recipe books you can sit and read with a hot drink. And that's not to say there's no explanation either - even with the briefest of flick throughs I've learned about the role of gluten and how to manage it in everything from biscuits to choux pastry!
Eager to get some use from the book, I was straight into the kitchen and whipping up 'Millionaire's Flapjacks' - now that's a good baking combination! Crunchy flapjack topped with caramel and a crisp layer of chocolate - delicious.
I followed the recipe exactly in order to give the book a good testing. The instructions were clear and unambiguous, meaning I could easily follow them and snapchat at the same time. (This is the kind of fun you'll find if you follow me!) The flavours were spot on and although the flapjack layer was a little too crisp for my liking, we'll blame the oven rather than the recipe.
What I want to try next
Honestly, I could try out nearly any of these recipes - there's nothing that looks overly complicated, ludicrously expensive or questionably flavoured.
But high on my 'to-bake' list are:
- Raspberry and Pistachio Friands
- Breakfast Muffins
- Apricot, Pistachio and Honey Upside-Down Cake
- Mojito Macarons
- Turkish Delight Profiteroles
Whether you've got wall-to-wall cookbooks or are looking to start your collection with a solid baking all-rounder, Twist would be high on my recommendations!
What twists do you like to put on a classic recipe?