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Monday, 28 March 2011

British Baking - Book Review

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I made the carrot cake

Baking books are hugely popular at the moment and the shelves in the cookbook section of the bookshop seem to be creaking with the weight of them. I'm not complaining though, being a baking fan, I adore them. When I was sent a review copy of the latest one to hit the shelves, British Baking by Oliver Peyton (Peyton & Byrne) I was hoping that there would be some new, different baking recipes to try, and there was!

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Oliver Peyton runs four bakeries in London with his three sisters, and they operate under the banner of Peyton and Byrne, named in honour of their parents Mary Byrne and Patrick Peyton. The book is not a historic book, it's more a collection of Oliver's experiences through the years and you can tell how much love has gone into the recipes.

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Grated carrots & mascarpone honey icing

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You will find all the old favourites in there, Bakewell tart, Victoria sponge, lemon meringue pie and custard tart for example, but there are plenty of hidden gems too. These include Garibaldi biscuits, Cornish saffron cake, ginger & black treacle bread, strawberry jam roly poly and marshmallow teacakes. There are over 120 mouth-watering recipes to choose from and nearly all are accompanied with glorious full page photographs.

There is a chapter on techniques & equipment - with the basic information you need to make the perfect cake or pastry. The recipe chapters cover biscuits, cakes, fairy cakes & icings, fruity cakes, tarts & pies, puddings, breakfast goods, a cup of tea & a bun, plus a chapter on special occasions. At the back of the book is a very useful section on the basics, covering pastry, jam, meringues etc.

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Honey in icing is a big fat YES!

The recipes from British Baking are nicely layed out, clearly written and easy to follow with numbered stages. I made two recipes and both turned out beautifully. The first was the 'Carrot Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Icing', on page 64. Instead of cream cheese I used mascarpone cheese for the icing (page 106), with the addition of honey it was sublime! The other recipe was the 'Lemon Curd Swiss Roll', page 84, a light and airy sponge with a rich creamy lemon curd, it was polished off in no time.

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My lemon curd swiss roll

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Served with blueberries

Easy to follow recipes makes this book perfect for both beginner and experienced bakers. It is one of those books that you can just enjoy flipping through the pages and drooling over the photographs. A must have for keen home cooks.

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The book can be bought directly from Random House, or from Amazon.

British Baking
£20.00 / Hardback, 288 pages
Publisher: Square Peg (Random House)
March 2011
ISBN: 0224086618

With thanks to Ruth Warburton at Random House

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Preserved Lemon & Tomato Salad with Capers

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I was recently sent a book called Flavours of Morocco by Ghillie Basan to review. It is the kind of book that makes you long for warm sunny days, days when you can experiment with spices and fruit in your kitchen. It is full of dishes that ooze with colour and are exotic, sensual and decorative.

The first thing that you notice when you open this book, is the vibrant colours bouncing off the pages. You almost get lost in the stunning photographs, they transport you right to the heart of Morocco, to the bustling souks and traditional kitchens. Taken by Peter Cassidy, these are some of the best photos I have seen in a cookbook.

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Flavours of Morocco is more than a cookery book, there are essays on the art of making couscous, Islam, Ramadan & bread, Berber traditions and the tagine. There are chapters on the basic recipes, kemia & salads, soups, breads & savoury pastries, tagines, k'dras & couscous, grills, pan-fries & roasts, vegetables, side dishes & preserves, and sweet snacks, desserts & drinks.

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The authentic recipes include spicy aubergine & tomato salad, roasted courgette & apple salad with oranges, classic lamb, chickpea & lentil soup with cumin, Moroccan country bread, and baked pastries with seafood. Tagine recipes include prawn tagine with saffron, ginger & fennel, chicken k'dra with chickpeas, raisins & red peppers, and Marrakchi haricot bean tagine. Many recipes use dried fruit and nuts, and there are some classic sweet treats in the last chapter - I have my eye on a fabulous looking watermelon salad with rosewater & lemon balm.

This book would be perfect for the slightly more adventurous cook, who loves cooking with deep flavours and spices. There is a little introduction with every recipe, and almost all of the ingredients can be found in British supermarkets. I chose to make a simple colourful salad, bursting with taste sensations.

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Preserved Lemon and Tomato Salad with Capers
Recipe from Flavours of Morocco by Ghillie Basan, photography by Peter Cassidy, published by Ryland Peters & Small

5-6 large tomatoes, skinned, deseeded & cut into strips
1 red onion, finely sliced
Rind of 1 preserved lemon, cut into thin strips
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon
1-2 tablespoons capers, rinsed & drained
A small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, fresh coriander & mint leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Put the prepared tomatoes, sliced red onion and preserved lemon strips into a bowl. Add the olive oil and fresh lemon juice, mix well. Season with salt and pepper and put aside until ready to serve.

Just before serving, add the capers and herbs to the tomato mixture and sprinkle the paprika over the top.

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The book can be bought directly from Ryland Peters & Small or from Amazon.

Flavours of Morocco
by Ghillie Basan, photography by Peter Cassidy
£16.99 / Hardback, 160 pages, 200 colour photographs
Publisher: Ryland Peters & Small
March 2011
ISBN 13: 9781849750868

With thanks to Sarah at Ryland Peters & Small

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Five Minute Bread - Yes, Really!

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My crusty baguette

If the thought of making a loaf of bread terrifies you, then I come bearing good news! Five Minute Bread is a book that promises to get us making bread in just five minutes, with no need for a bread machine and no kneading involved!

It's true! I tested it out for myself - and if I can make a fabulous loaf using this method, then you can too! The method is quick and simple. You start by making a high-moisture dough which can be stored in the fridge for 7-10 days. After the rising period, you cut off a piece of dough, shape and rest it before baking in a very hot oven, using water to generate steam.

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Mixing the dough just takes a minute or so

Five Minute Bread (which has sold over 150,000 copies in America) is by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, and aims to revolutionise home bread baking. They have devised a basic recipe, which can be adapted to make a variety of different loaves, but they don't stop there. The authors have gone on to create dough recipes for peasant loaves, flatbreads & pizzas, enriched breads and even pastries using the same technique.

It's worth reading the first couple of chapters carefully, as these explain the method, the ingredients in detail and the equipment you need. There is also a very helpful section called 'tips and techniques' that explains how to get the best out of your five minute bread baking experience.

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Take a piece of your dough and shape

So how did my own bread turn out?
I followed the recipe exactly (not something I'm known for doing) mixing enough dough to make four 450g/1lb loaves, I used a mixer with a large glass bowl but you can use a wooden spoon to mix if you prefer. It took just a minute or so until the flour, yeast, salt and water was combined. The bowl was covered and the dough left to rise. After a few hours I cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough and followed the procedure to shape and rest it. The rest of the dough went into the fridge for the next day. The oven needs to be really hot and it's preferable to bake the bread on a pizza stone. I was a little concerned after shaping the dough that it wouldn't rise up into a lovely boule shape. It looked rather flat and wet. Actually it didn't rise that much, and I was even more nervous when I slashed the top as I didn't want to flatten it even more.

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My bread ready for baking

Something magical happened during the baking, because my flat circle of dough had risen into a beautiful boule, with a wonderful brown chewy crust and a soft interior texture. The taste of the loaf was really good, although I would probably cut back on the salt a little next time. I do need to have another go with the basic recipe, as the air holes in the bread could have been better distributed, mine were all at the top of the loaf.

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From dough to boule!

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Friends and family won't believe you made this crusty bread at home!

I can't wait to try some of the other breads. Five Minute Bread has some fabulous recipes, including lavash, fougasse, panettone, chocolate bread, brioche and many more. Apart from interesting and different bread recipes, there are also recipes utilising the bread you make, Tuscan Bread Salad and Portuguese Fish Stew for example.

My only disappointment with the book is that there are no photos to show you what the end results should look like. It would be good to see some pictures of the different shapes of the bread - there are little drawings on some pages but they don't illustrate the recipes, which is a shame. However, the authors have a great website, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, where you will find gorgeous photos and videos of the bread making techniques, which complements the book beautifully!

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Inside Five Minute Bread
- a must-have book for anyone interested in bread making

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The book can be bought directly from Ebury Publishing, Random House or from Amazon.

Five Minute Bread
£14.00 / Hardback, 256 pages
Publisher: Ebury Press
January 2011
ISBN-13: 9780091938949

With thanks to Lora at Ebury Press

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Baked & Delicious Magazine

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I was recently sent a copy of a new magazine called Baked & Delicious to read and review. As well as scrumptious recipes, the fortnightly magazine comes with bakeware that you can collect to make popular recipes with.

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All the recipes in the magazine are accompanied with full colour photographs, and some recipes also have step by step photographs. The magazine is divided into seven sections for easy reference and accessibility, including classic cakes, celebration cakes, breads & savouries, patisserie & fancy cakes, and better baking. The pages are well laid out - with a coloured panel for the ingredient list, baking times and equipment needed. The recipe instructions are numbered and there are cook's tips, plus variations, for some of the recipes.

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The first issue has 8 recipes, including macarons, Mediterranean tartlets and a Dundee cake. There is a feature on how to make choux pastry and there's also a vanilla cupcake recipe so you can use the 6 silicone cupcake cases that come with this issue. Issue 2 comes with a free silicone brush and spatula, issue 3 has a free silicone loaf pan.

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You get 6 of these silicone cupcake cases with the first issue

You can subscribe by going to the Baked & Delicious website. You will also receive 4 free gifts with your subscription, which are: a binder to hold the magazine collection, a cake slice, a set of three cake tins and a set of electronic kitchen scales. Baked & Delicious is available from March 2011.

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I made the vanilla cupcakes recipe using the free silicone cases

With thanks to Aaron from Neoco

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.