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Whether you've been turning out fine cakes for years, or if you only just got into Great British Bakeoff, this book has something for you. Annie Bell is a great food writer, not just of baking titles (her Gorgeous Christmas is a must-have). But this book is her most massive (literally) labour of love. (At 200 recipes and more than 320 pages, it's HUGE. That hasn't stopped me carrying it round the house for the last few day, though - reading a bit in bed, a bit on the sofa while everyone's watching telly.... It's compulsive!)

It begins with a careful and thorough introduction that talks about ingredients and utensils - setting the tone for the whole book, which is methodical and detailed. She is obviously someone who has baked almost daily her entire life, and it shows. Every recipe has permutations, suggestions and tips that suggest the 'triple-testing' described in the book's title.

But don't imagine this means the book for experts - she always encourages you to have a go.

Chapters are:
22 different recipes here, from classic shortbread, through chocolate digestives to gingerbread men, but also taking in cornflake crispies and lebkuchen. If you are a more experienced baker, you can try stem ginger and chilli biscuits, or cookies with chocolate and fennel. Bell clearly spends some of the year in France and there's a few tempting French things too - Breton gateau and Mont-St-Michel cookies.

Starting with flapjacks there are 25 recipes - lots of nuts and oats, then six kinds of brownies - millionaire's shortbread, fridge cakes, baklava.. bakewell slices... and many more. This chapter includes some flourless brownies and its worth saying that Bell has gone out of her way to test recipes for people with food allergies and has quite a number of suggestions even on the 'normal' recipes - I wouldn't be surprised if, in this huge book, it added up to more useable ideas than in a regular food allergy cookbook.

Six recipes for the kind of little French cakes you buy in patisseries. Having made a few of these lately I can safely say - please have a go! It's so great making your own and makes you feel so sophisticated... :-)

14 recipes here, including some for desperate mums of non-vegetable-eating children like Courgette and Cinammon Muffins, and Pineapple and Carrot ones too. She talks a lot about how to decorate them, the debate between traditional fairy cakes with not much cake and about a third icing, then modern muffins with all their sprinkles. Very enjoyable and lots to try.

Something else I've been getting into lately (SO EASY - why didn't anyone tell me before?) 11 recipes including classic plain meringues, chocolate almond and raspberry flavours, and then five variations on a lemon meringue pie which someone else will have to test as they make me feel sick...

14 recipes: Swiss Roll, a Victoria Sponge, a Madeira cake and a Lemon loaf, but also Marble cake, Angel cake and Coca-Cola Cake (uh-oh). The Angel cake in particular looks fascinating - no fat!

We are wading into dangerous territory now - from the Tiramisu Torte through Sachertorte to the Devil's Food Cake, none of it's going to be good for you. However, again Bell has squeezed in at least two food allergy recipes - a Free-from Chocolate Mousse Cake with no nuts, flour or dairy; and a French flourless chocolate cake. Yum.

A dozen cheesecakes, from New York to Germany via Key West and Italy. Even a white christmas one....

17 recipes. These range from the American-style fruit cakes like carrot, banana, and passion cake, to French apple cake and proper old-fashioned Dundee. For food allergies there's Free From Pretty Much Everything Cake! I want to try the Hummingbird cake which is like a carrot cake but made with pineapple and banana... mmm....

Yep, as if you couldn't find anything special enough in all of the preceding chapters :-)
Eleven cakes, from Simnel to Pumpkin pie via Black Forest Gateau and Christmas Log. Red Velvet Cake looks particularly tempting...

19 recipes, including one for mincemeat, and then Bakewell tart (there's Bakewell slices elsewhere) Swedish Mazarin, Pecan Pie, Treacle Tart, American Cherry Pie, Banoffee Pie, even the humble jam tart!

Finally, a slightly low-key odd chapter tacked on the end, containing simple homebaking. This is the one bit I could probably have lived without, but here are scones, fruitbreads, scotch pancakes and two little clafoutis (I've used her clafoutis recipe before from another book and it's top notch).

All in all this is a superb book. It certainly does live up to the title 'Bible', but has loads of personality too, avoiding being too much of a "Complete Manual". Annie Bell's careful, enthusiastic approach to baking comes through on every page. Most of the recipes are illustrated but not all, however for me I don't mind that. In fact the only complaint I could make is that I wish her publisher had printed it on cakemixture-resistant paper. I can see this book is going to get a LOT of use and I want it to last as long as possible....
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on 13 January 2013
Fabulous book: the whole premise of her recipes is that they should be practical and achievable for the home cook. She manages to do this without being patronising or repetitive: some feat when you're talking about this number of recipes aimed at this wide an audience. I speak as an experienced home baker when I say that there's plenty in this book to interest me without - I think! - there being anything that looks intimidating to the novice.

There are very few ingredients required that you can't find in an average supermarket and she is very careful to confine the equipment needed (listed next to each recipe) to the minimum. The only 'specialist' kit she uses is a food processor, an electric whisk (no need to pay much for one) and, for a very few recipes in the French section, special silicone moulds, which I picked up for a few pounds each online. And as she explains in her introduction, she gave herself two firm rules: no piping bags and no yeast (both of which she thinks put many off).

I've made about 10 of these already and have plans to make most of the rest - even to the point of going through the book and buying the less usual store-cupboard ingredients. Everything I've done so far has been enthusiastically hoovered up: particular successes are the White Christmas cheesecake ("best cheesecake ever") and the Breton cake. I'm also expecting a warm reception for the Black Forest Gateau I have sitting in my fridge right now. I'm ashamed to say I ate all the madeleines (authentically humped!) before anyone else could try them.

Really, I can't recommend this book highly enough. For cakes I rate it even better than Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet, which is the highest praise I can give.
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on 8 December 2012
Though the owner of many books on baking (even before the current 'craze')' I could not resist adding this one to the collection, because I have long respected Annie Bell's cookery writing.
I am not disappointed. It is a solid, beautiful book of interesting but sensible recipes.
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on 27 October 2012
I have always liked Annie Bell's cook books and this one is no exception. I own many baking books and this one compares favourably to them. The recipes are clear and easy to follow, with the majority having pictures of the finished cake. If this makes sense, it is a very inviting book to look at and the recipes seem to call from the page "cook me".
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on 18 December 2012
Gotten my interest back in baking, the easy way and uncomplicated recipes. Easy to follow and not all ingredients are expensive
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on 8 January 2013
Bought this as a present. Very good selection of recipes, both tempting & easy to try. Would be a lovely present both for someone starting to get into baking & someone who loves it already as recipes are clear & refreshing.
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on 13 October 2014
Well - it's okay, it will never be a favourite cookery book for me. One thing I find very irritating is the fussy typography. In a recipe, what I want is to have ingredients and method set out very clearly, not to have to peer at the text trying to work out which is the essential information. For example the author's preamble notes are in bold, some illegible typeface, which immediately draws the attention. The ingredients lists are in fairly faint type in quite a small font.
I've tried one recipe and I must say, not a huge success.
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on 9 January 2013
I bought this book for Christmas. I opened it and it looks perfect. The recipes are very good, there are a lot of pictures to almost every recipe. Author tells about the history of pastries, it's very interesting and it is nice to read. Most of the recipes have addiitional tips. I am very happy with my purchase, I recommend strongly :)
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on 24 June 2015
i used multiple of these recipes from this book and all of them didn't taste nice and i thought it was my oven but when i tried in my new oven the recipes just didn't turn out right i don't know if its just me or others had this problem
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on 6 December 2012
Annie Bell's Baking Bible is absolutely full of every delicious recipe you'll ever need, as well as tons of intriguing recipes you'll never have heard of or seen before, but once tried, will never be forgotten...

It really is a baking bible, with entire chapters dedicated to cookies & biscuits and my personal favourite, the Chocolate Cakes chapter! Page after page of delicious looking, gooey, chocolate rich shall have to restrain yourself from baking everything on every page in one go...

And let's not forget, each recipe has been triple tested so you won't find yourself half way through the recipe, panicking because the recipe reads `now add a kilo of salt and 1 egg'. I've already baked two recipes from the book and both have turned out perfectly thanks to Annie's clear instructions.

What's great about it is you'll find everything from timeless, standby classics such as Victoria Sponges, to some really amazing looking French creations such as Rum Butter Macaroons and Eclairs. There's chapters on Chocolate cakes, Cookies, Cheesecakes, Tarts, Pies, Celebration Cakes, Traybakes and Bars, Muffins, Cupcakes, Meringues, Fruitcakes, Ginger Cakes, Bread and even Pancakes! I'm not entirely sure why you would need any other baking book...

Here's another little favourite part about the book; the photography. It's as much a book full of beautiful images as it is recipes, and if you're like me, 90% of the reason I buy a cook book is the photography; so I can drool over the image and imagine what it must be like to make something that looks so amazing!
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