This book was sent to me by the publisher at no cost.
Anneka Manning promises that I will “learn to bake brilliantly, step by step,” so that’s a rather exciting thought. I’ve been baking for years, but I am always interested in new recipes, and of course there are some things that just elude me (darn you sponge cake). So: lessons AND recipes!
Firstly: it’s a lovely looking book, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I appreciate that in a recipe book. It’s hefty (275-odd pages) at nearly A4 size, so I’m mighty glad I have a cookbook stand. The pages themselves are well laid out; mot recipes have a picture (which, I’m not completely a must-have-pictures girl, but it definitely adds something to the look of it), and the recipes are clearly laid out and so far, easy to follow. There are some ‘Baker’s tips’ on a few pages some of which seem obvious, others – well, I’ve made a few springform tin cakes, and it had never occurred to me to put the baking paper OVER the base and THEN clamp the sides in. I think this is a case of ‘dumb smart person’. So if nothing else I’ve learned that.
The first thing I’ve made is the Rhubarb Sour Cream Crumble Cake, which is in the ‘measure and beat’ section. Again, didn’t think I’d learn anything here, but um, I think I usually put the dry ingredients in before the wet but not consciously… so that’s an excellent pointer. And I’ve started picking up on the idea of room-temperature eggs, so this was yet another reminder about that. Guess I have to plan my baking a bit further in advance than I have tended in the past.
I made this because a friend gave me a pile of rhubarb sticks (whoo!), and we had people coming over for dinner. The cake batter itself turned out beautifully and I am once again glad I have a stand mixer, because it makes multitasking a reality. For some reason my crumble did not crumble, but turned into dough – perhaps too little flour? the butter was straight from the fridge but it was a fairly warm day, so that may have been a problem. At any rater I have dotted it over the top and spread it out a bit; it cooked fine and tasted perfectly nice.
Verdict in the end was very positive. We ended up with a bit left over but I think that was because our guests were being too polite to have extras.