Oh, I did enjoy this cookbook, lots of pictures, a great variety of recipes and easy instructions.
Jane Hornby believes that everyone can bake if they follow a good recipe and are shown how. There are step-by-step instructions with photographs to make sure you know what you’re doing along the way. It’s recommended that you read the whole recipe through before starting – very handy as some of the instructions seemed a bit off to me. In the first recipe I tried (Linzer Cookies) you are told to pre-heat the oven at Step One and then you have to make the cookies, rest the dough for half an hour and then roll and cut them before they go into the oven, far too long to be pre-heating for, and the recipe also states that you need 1 egg when you only need the yolk. Little niggles however for a very tasty recipe.
There are some great hints and tips about how to adjust recipes or adapt them to suit your fancy. It’s a really simple book to read, with a clear easy-read font. Due to the amount of photographs the recipes do split over several pages so keep someone nearby to turn the pages for you. The photography and styling of the book is gorgeous – clear and instructive through the prep stages with beautiful shots of the finished products.
Some of the ingredients are a little more difficult to find but there are often substitution options. There is also a full list of equipment at the front of the book so that you can see what you might need before you get started. The originality of How to Bake comes from the concept along with a nice balance found between old-fashioned favourites and unique treats. It would have been nice to see more savoury bakes in it, perhaps we will get a Volume 2 for that? Fingers crossed. There is a wide range of difficulties with everything from quick scones to complex tarts. It’s great fun to flick through and see the recipes progress even if you’re not baking from it.
My favourite recipes were the Caramel and Walnut Coffee Cake, the Linzer Cookies and the Upside-Down Fruit Cake.
Hornby writes with the clarity of a teacher and the passion of an enthusiast. Buy this book as a gift for people who love baking, ask for it on your Christmas list, or just buy it for yourself because it’s gorgeous.