Book review: The Baking Pocket Bible by Amy Lane
The Baking Pocket Bible by Amy Lane (published by Pocket Bibles) is a very good place to begin. It's a little bigger than most pockets, which means it can fit in a whole lot of good stuff. There are recipes, facts, trivia and lots of useful hints and tips to get your baking away without a care.
What's it about? The blurb on the back of the book promises that the book is 'The perfect pocket companion to all your baking questions'. So it's set itself a quite major task there, but when you take a glimpse at the contents you'll see it offers enough baking know-how that the blurb is probably right.
The basic philosophy is stated very well in Amy's first lines "Anyone can bake. No, really, they can." and this book really does give you that confidence. Amy's voice comes across as friendly, passionate about what she does and never patronising. An encouraging way to begin a bible.
The book is divided into chapters that cover all aspects of baking. There is so much in there for such a little book!
We're taken through a brief history of baking (with a little baking science, a nod to the likes of Nigella and Mrs Beeton, and a fact about Chaucer thrown in); on to essential equipment and baking terms (I now know 'bain marie' means), and then time to get stuck into the recipes (starting with most important of all baking - cakes).
Recipewise we're totally spoiled: cakes, cupcakes, bread, biscuits and cookies, traditional baking (heavenly hot cross buns ahoy!), comfort baking (hello apple pie!), pastries, baking for celebrations, Christmas recipes, baking with children (as helpers, not as ingredients) and baking for folks with allergies. Phew!
It rounds off with some excellent decoration ideas and then some troubleshooting tips for when things don't quite go to plan. All in all I can't really see what might be missing, and after eating all that who needs more?
What else is there? The book is peppered with amusing little Pocket Tips and Pocket Facts. They can be anything from removing the berries from Christmas Holly before decorating with the leaves, to the origin of the Bakewell Tart. It breaks up the recipes and techniques very nicely, and you're learning all the time.
Craft type? The Baking Pocket Bible is an excellent beginners book, but I wouldn't rule it out for old hands at baking either. There are tips in there that even the most brilliant baker might well have missed out on.
It's a neat little book for a friend who is thinking about getting their bake on, or for someone you suspect might make you lovely cakes in gratitude. A perfect little pocket bible for folks with a desire to get their fingers floury. Love it.
[Images © Amy Lane]