Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bake by Rachel Allen


What could be better than the smell of freshly baked bread or the joy of eating warm cookies straight from the oven? From gingerbread houses and holiday delights to the warming goodness of a home baked casserole, your best friend in the kitchen Rachel Allen is bringing baking back!

According to Rachel, baking makes you stop and really enjoy your time in the kitchen. It's warming, comforting and nurturing, filling the house with wonderful welcoming smells, whether its cheese straws or calzone coming hot out the oven. In Bake Rachel has devised a collection of delicious and easy recipes including cakes and bakes, tarts and pies, quiches and casseroles, all from her brand new TV series.

Baking is not just about cakes and cookies, and Bake offers a wide range of yummy treats, both sweet and savoury. From beef and stout pie and lentil dahl to red velvet cake and Valentine's Day honey buns, the book includes ideas for all occasions from kitchen table suppers to those special celebrations. If you can master a set of weighing scales, then you have all the skills you need to bake... so get that pinny on and start baking!

I bought this book on impulse on Thursday because I needed to cheer myself up as I was truly struggling with the world's most tenacious and irritating cold. And nothing cheers me up as much as looking at recipes and pictures of food and planning menus for entertaining friends.

I am a big fan of Rachel Allen - she's funny, a good cook, very much a foodie, enthusiastic about her topics and she clearly has good fun when cooking and talking about food with her various guests on her tv show.

Right, back to the book, and less of my slavish adoration of Ms. RA!

The contents of Bake:

Sweet mouthfulls



Breads and savoury bites

Tarts and pies

Breakfast and patisserie

Baked meals

Holiday and celebration

Basic recipes and techniques

Thursday night when I got home I informed Mark that we would be baking this weekend. He looked alarmed, but then I showed him the simple recipe of what I wanted to do and he happily agreed. We invited our arty neighbour Ray around for a late lunch on Sunday - lunch was a rich stew and I baked Meredith's Zucchini Bread from the cookbook as a light starter.

I was very impressed - it came out EXACTLY the way it looks in the book which a) impressed me no end and b) had Ray declare it was the best thing he had tasted in years. I have him the rest of the cake to take with him at the end of the dinner. This is not because I was being generous but because we have more batter left for a second loaf!

The recipes are pretty fool proof and go from easy bake sweet scones to making roast mushroom and goat's cheese tartlet with sweet onion jam, to baked aubergines with tomatoes, basil and pine nuts to making the coolest ever gingerbread house!

The fact that she doesn't just concentrate on sweet bakes but also savoury ones with detailed step by step instructions, really has Bake stand out for me, amongst all my other cookbooks (and I have loads of them). What also works well is the fact that she's cleverly added a much needed extra section - the basic recipes and techniques section, which will help the slightly less advanced cooks master techniques such as making shortcrust pastry or the deceptively easy choux pastry which, once you get the hang of it, you can add to your repertoire to stun and amaze friends. The advice is commonsensical and straight forward - there is a glossary of terms which explains plainly certain words or expressions used in many cookbooks and unless you can can google them whilst cooking, you're at a loss.

I would recommend Bake for those of us who love tasty things but who may not be very assured cooks. And for those who are assured cooks, there are some recipes in there that can easily be followed to expand your repertoire. The recipes are easy to follow and use everyday ingredients you already may have in the house. It's a good all-round baking book which has some excellent feelgood recipes in it.

See the pics below for the result of my baking day today.

Unbaked Zucchini Bread

Baked zucchini bread - lovely, moist and decidedly moreish. I would like to show you pics of what it looks like sliced...but there's nothing left!
Find Rachel Allen's website here and this is the link to her UK TV Food profile where there are some excellent recipes from her newest show.

1 comment:

ediFanoB said...

Cook and bake shows are now very common on German TV.
They also aired shows like Hell's Kitchen