My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.
by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day
I have to admit that design-wise, I found the beginning pages of this book a little too busy. Something in the description had drawn me to the book and I soon found myself looking at beautiful full color plates and a nicely laid out Table of Contents, which promised many wonderful things to come.
I think what really attracted me to the book was that it brought to mind a lady who worked part time at a place I used to work, who always brought in trays of cakes or tarts on a Monday. The quality of these baked goods was superb and I got the impression that she might have been a retired baker, just doing an easy, part time job to keep active. With this in mind, I had to smile while reading the introduction where the authors express how food can bring fond memories and associations. Apart from the pleasant memory, I've always wished that I could bake like that.
I soon began to learn the secrets of great baking. In the chapter called The Craft of Scratch Baking, the book explained such simple things as why it's important to have ingredients at the right temperature. Who among us hasn't ignored the recipe instructions to have eggs at room temperature and just thrown them in straight from the fridge? I now know why it's important. I also now know how to get them to the right temperature quickly. The Physics of baking is actually rather fascinating!
The book then covers details about weighing and measuring that most of us should have learned in home economics class, but may not have given enough attention, and then it's on to the recipes!
The recipes are based on American methods, so dry ingredients are measured by volume. European bakers need to be aware that an American cup is equivalent to 8 fluid ounces, but measuring teaspoons and tablespoons are the same.
Basic buttermilk biscuits, variations and healthier wheat biscuits are followed by interesting variations on old themes like Eggnog French Toast. Many old favorites are included and even some crafty stuff to do, even a decoration made with marshmallows added to keep things interesting!
Then we are treated to cakes, even a spice cake with butterscotch icing. Things get very interesting indeed for us cake lovers. We move on to pies and tarts. I've wanted forever to find a good recipe for Banoffee pie! It's here. The Butterscotch Pie is another I will definitely have to try! The secrets to both shortcut and extra special pie crusts are definitely worthwhile.
We go on with breads, crackers, party cakes, savory pies and cobblers, pizza, and of course cookies and brownies. Ideas for a supper club are given as well as instructions on how to boil an egg to make it look perfect for deviled eggs. Jams, syrups, marmalades and pickles also make an appearance and there's even a variation on Honey.
There weren't as many variations on recipes as I might have expected to see in a bakery, but overall a good book to master some of the secrets to really good baking and perhaps discover your own variations once you've got the techniques down.