Publisher: Murdoch Books
Date Published: 2008
‘Baking: A Commonsense Guide’ is the next book in Murdoch’s commonsense series and was published ten years after its predecessor ‘Cooking: A Commonsense Guide’. Given how much I – A) suck at baking (despite my prowess at other cooking), and B) loved the first book – I snapped this up immediately.
‘Baking: A Commonsense Guide’ includes cakes, muffins, breads, pastry and even pizza – basically anything that involves an oven and flour. In each section the classic recipes are included as well as new discoveries – for instance in the cake section there are sponges, chocolate cakes and lamingtons; but there is also more unusual and modern recipes such as zesty olive oil cake and raspberry and cardamom cake with honey syrup. I was very impressed by the range in the savoury recipes, including imaginative uses of puff pastry and many combinations I had never seen before.
The recipe directions are easy to follow and refrain from waffling on. The real value in ‘Baking’ is in the extras – the hints, tips and ‘What Went Wrong’ pages. The glossary is very in depth. Reading these pages will make the hard things change to simple. For instance, I didn’t know that a metal spoon should be used when mixing eggs with other ingredients or that a static oven, rather than fan forced, is preferential. These little aspects turned out to be the crucial difference between the life and death of my cake! ‘Baking’ is brilliant because of its methodical nature. Everything you could possibly ask has been answered concisely (in other words, the moment you pull the cake out and go ‘what the feck happened here?!’ will be answered and hopefully solved next time).
Though the cover photograph is a poor choice and less than inspiring, the other photography inside has been modernised from the previous book (considering it has been a decade between). The images are tasteful and free of uber pretention (see Donna Hay for an example of the opposite).
The recent epidemic of bakeries being shit-house will make this book invaluable for anyone who would like to enjoy a good spongecake or scone (do you find yourself buying lamingtons only to end up with stale sponge, fake cream and crappy jam?). Though this book is aimed at beginners, all levels of cookery skill have been catered for with the myriad of recipes. This book should have a welcome place on any cookery shelf.
♥♥♥♥♥ – 5/5