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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 25 August 2010
This is the one! The holy grail I have searched for all my baking life.

I have an absolute passion for British baking(and eating)and until now my longings have remained unsatisfied. I have wanted a book which has clear, well-written authentic recipes that work; recipes that haven't been dubbed-up with additional, non-traditional ingredients, recipes that are part of the great British baking heritage but equally are enjoyable today- without reflecting yesterday's tastes - using dripping or lard in cakes for example. Julie Duff's Cakes Traditional and Modern has a firm place on my shelf but a great many of her recipes fall into that category and are of mainly historical interest.

This is a lovely collection of the very best of British baking, sweet and savoury. It runs the gamut from pies, bread, biscuits, tarts and flans to cakes. All the homely foundation stones of our rich traditions are here: Scones, Crumpets, Shortbread, Madeira cake, Cornish saffron buns, Bacon and Egg Tart, Cornish Pasties and Beefsteak and Kidney Pie among many others.

Alongside these are some unusual regional specialities such as Stargazey Pie, Westmoreland Tart, Cornish Clotted Cream Cake. As the book accompanies the BBC series the Great British Bake-off there are winning recipes from the contestants too.

The book itself is impressively heavy which conributes to it's authoritative sense and has lovely photos of each bake.

This is such a winner I haven't had it out of my hands since it arrived. I look forward to many happy years of baking it's yummy, moreish treats.
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on 18 August 2010
I bought this book at the weekend as a gift for my Mum, who loves baking. But I started reading it and was so taken by the wonderful recipes and mouthwatering pictures that I've actually started baking from it myself! The results so far are as good looking as the book so I'm delighted. It's so refreshing to have a picture with every recipe and very interesting that the authors have gone to the trouble of explaining the provenance of the different recipes. I'm ordering a copy for my Mum when I've finished writing this. If you love baking or would like to learn how, I'd really recommend it.
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on 17 August 2010
My love of British baking started early on when as a teenager I was lucky enough to spend some holidays in England for the first time. Cornwall it was and I discovered the delights of cream teas with clotted cream and wonderful scones as well as apple pies with custard or rich gorgeous ice cream. Very exotic at the time for a French teenager and whenever someone cracked a joke about how bad English food was, I would defend it with all my heart going on and on about how wonderful your cakes (and your fish and chips to that matter) were. My communication skills developing little by little I then went on to meet real people some of whom were kind enough to give me their recipes for more and more British and Irish baking treats which I avidly collected and tried over the years. A recipe is so much better when it is passed on by a real person...
I saw this book at a bookstore last week-end and although I already have quite a few baking books, I just couldn't resist buying it. What is to be found here is a great collection of traditional recipes we have all tried or heard of one day or another, a lot of techniques and useful hints to succeed in our baking but above it all a lot of recipes (about a third?) which have been passed on by real people with their personal little tweaks and tricks. Absolutely wonderful! I really feel like I have extended my network of baking friends and treasured recipes. There are so many great ideas I can't wait to try here that I am all excited like a teenager again.
The instructions to make the cakes are precise and detailed, we made a 'Death by Chocolate' cake and chocolate shortcake this week-end -we did not have the ingredients for anything more daring unfortunately- and they were delicious, perfect texture too, all finished by Monday... I just hope the other recipes will turn out just as well and will try to update this review as I/we make more...
The book also features savoury recipes which look enticing but sorry to say, I have a sweet tooth and what really gave me a buzz was the fascinating choice of interesting sweet recipes on offer here.
Now the proof of the pudding is in the eating and having watched the first episode of the programme tonight, I know what I am going to bake next week-end...

Update 1: Jasminder's parrot cake was great (I think it was called tropical hummingbird cake in the programme or something like that)and the apple pie with cheddar crust surprising but very tasty, love this book !
Update 2: I watched the series after buying the book and it is true that people who watched the programme on BBC2 might regret that all the recipes from the contestants are not included here but in spite of that it really is a wonderful book of baking and as one reviewer mentioned, maybe some contestants were not too keen on sharing their recipes, who knows?
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on 16 September 2010
Overall a lovely book; and the photos are bound to inspire you to get baking.

There is a good selection of recipes, some familiar, some regional variations that were new to me. Each recipe has a photo, so you can see what you are aiming for - one recipe and one photo per page. Great. Clear instructions are given (if a little longwinded) - but helpful, especially if you are unfamiliar with things like making pastry, as there are some "how to" sections.

The book is split into seven main chapters (following the format of the programme, more or less: Biscuits and teatime treats, Bread, Tarts and Flans, Pies, Cakes, Puddings, Fancy Pastries).

However, I was disappointed that there were only a few recipes from the programme - out of a total of 126 recipes, only 15 are from the show. I was also hoping that Paul Hollywood's "ultimate" scone recipe might feature, or some of Mary Berry's cake recipes, but the recipes included are not attributed to them, nor do they appear to be what was baked on the show (though I have since discovered you can find some of these recipes on the bbc website). For a book of "British" baking I am not sure why things such as brownies and bagels are included, when other classics are omitted ? But other than this, it is an excellent book, with lots of new and classic recipes.
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on 30 August 2010
This is the very first book of baking that has enticed me to part with my money.
The recipes are classic and whilst flicking through it in the shop, brought back many wonderful memories of baking with my great grandmother when I was a small child. Recipes such as rock cakes and jam thumb prints have personal resonance for me and they are laid out on the pages in such a fabulous picture one side and recipe other side fashion that begs you to make them yourself.

This is not a flimsy book but rather a stunning hardback with luxuriously thick pages. The front slipcover is lovely with its retro charm but underneath the slipcover is the most gorgeous union flag design in gingham and floral sprig patterns. It really is beautiful and fits in fabulously with the most counrty of kitchens and with the new modern nostalgic take on the union flag that seems to be appearing everywhere from cushions to cookers. Whilst I know that the recipes inside are the primary function of a cookbook it is great to find a book that can sit on my shelf in the kitchen that does not have a 'celebrity' chef gawping off of it or super glossy garish colours but that is my own personal preference and given the delightful recipes inside I would have bought this book anyway.

The Great British Book of Baking is filled to the brim with handy passages on how to make the basics be it in the processor or by hand and articles that go into depth about the history of baking which made this a great,informative and enjoyable read.These factors plus the picture to recipe layout have made this into a book that my ten year old has many a time picked up and read parts of just for the sake of it. Also my five and three year old children can easily pick out a recipe that they would like to help me make.

We are not an always baking kind of household, this book has taken us from twice a month to twice a week simply because we all love it. The clear and concise recipes mean that my eldest is more than capable of whipping up some treats alongside me whilst I do the savouries and takes me back to when I used to bake with my great gran.
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on 22 September 2010
Considering the references to the programme on the cover I was very disappointed that a great many of the well received recipes from the competition were not included. There are very few and not necessarily the best of those we have seen. To be frank you would get more from the programme's website and the blogs from some of the contestants.Might as well download these and put into a folder.
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on 21 January 2011
I'm a relatively new baker, but I'm fairly competent now and thought that I'd get this book as a compendium of ambition - which it certainly is! It has a wonderful selection of cakes and buns and tarts and... well, everything. As other reviewers have already said, there aren't many contributions from the show this book is based on, but I'm not too fussed about that. It still serves as an excellent encyclopedia of eye-candy with excellent layout and detailed instructions.

However, given that my mum taught me most of what I know, I really dislike the fact that the measurements are only given in metric, not pounds and ounces (it's so much easier to look for the 2oz line than the fiddly, cramped little 50g lines or whatever). But hey, that can be easily rectified with a bit of nifty mental arithmetic.

Unfortunately, the biggest problem I've had with this book is that some of the recipes don't seem to have been tested very well. I made the treacle tart with the pastry they recommended and ended up with easily double the amount of pastry, but not quite enough filling. The lemon meringue pie doesn't have a clear oven time given for the last blast in the oven it gets for the meringue (I went for Gas 4, but who knows?). As I said at the beginning, I'm still fairly inexperienced so this can be really challenging when only realise half way through that something in the recipe isn't quite right. There's been nothing disastrous so far, but for new cooks it can be a bit nerve wracking. On the other hand, it does mean that I'm getting more confident in my own skills of recognising where something might need altering, which is something of a silver lining.

Either way, I've started using this book for an ideas guide and then double check the recipes online before I start. Others have been fine! Just... be cautious. I'd still recommend this volume because of its pictures, descriptions and the volume of traditional British bakes held within, all collected in one easily-referenced place.
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on 11 September 2010
It's a great book, but with one major drawback ... it doesn't include the best recipes from the show, e.g. several mouth-watering recipes shown on TV are missing from the book, like the peach and blueberry boy-bait. This is a major failing.
Just as bad, if you go to the BBC site, there are no recipes either. Come on you guys at the BEEB, get your rocks off, give us the recipes, and do what the TV show says it intends: get us cooking!
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on 17 September 2010
I have a fair collection of recipe books and this is now my favourite - it has a variety of wonderful recipes, very informative with lots of handy tips and has fabulous photos - so we know what our finished result should look like!
So far so good, infact my own scones were maybe a bit of competititon!!..haha. In the few days since my book was delivered I've tried a good number of the receipes - I've never been tempted to do this as eagerly by a recipe book before.
I've been so far pleasantly surprised also with the results when putting aside my own favourite recipies to try the ones in the book for things like the scones,carrot cake, coffee cake etc.

I really enjoyed the tv series and pleased to see some of the wonderful recipes included but was slightly concerned before purchase by another review which expressed disappointment at not all of the recipes being included - the variety of other great recipes far outweighs this for me and I'm so glad I wasn't put off.
I will definately be purchasing more copies as gifts at a great price too.... Happy baking!
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on 8 September 2010
In the past I have tried countless recipes in search of the perfect home-baked scone, but none was ever quite right. Good Housekeeping, Nigella, Rachel, Delia and even the National Trust have all failed me where The Great British Book of Baking has scored a nicely raised, light, fluffy, failsafe ten out of ten. My search is over. I have found my scone nirvana right here on page 72. Still warm from the oven, they were so good I had to make a second batch on Sunday as, between just the two of us, we scoffed the entire first batch. For me, that scone recipe is worth the cover price alone but this book has so much more to recommend it. I love its perky design with clearly laid-out recipes, all nicely photographed, interspersed with photographic highlights from a pasty-scoffing, carb-lover's tour of Britain. As well as being clear and concise, what is really great about the recipe writing is that the method for both machine and hand baking is given. Note to Nigella: not everyone owns a pricey KitchenAid. I now have a long list of recipes for cakey treats to bake my way through: Eccles Cakes are next, followed by Maids of Honour, then Mark's Sticky Marmalade Tea Loaf and culminating, no doubt, in one very big Fat Rascal.
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