I’m a bit weary of TV cookery programmes but I do admit to being a fan of The Great British Bake Off. It’s all so gentle and low-key with the charming Mary Berry and her side-kick Paul Hollywood and although it follows the usual formula of eliminating some poor competitor every week, it’s not as humiliating as some. And Sue Perkins makes me laugh.
The programme has also confirmed that baking goes wrong for everyone, not just me. I thought I was rubbish at it until I watched this programme but to my relief their mixtures curdled, their cakes failed to rise, and their meringues wept sugar just like mine. So I’ll be there with them through the toughest ‘bakes’ and may even have a go myself now I’ve been given a copy of the book to go with the series.
This latest book, The Great British Bake Off is subtitled How to turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers. Each chapter starts with a basic recipe, a sponge for instance, and then progresses in stages to more elaborate cakes like the Mocha Marbled Loaf, classed as ‘Easy’ then to chocolate covered Chess Cake that ‘Takes a Little Time’ through to the ‘Showstopper’ Champagne Heart Cake, baking heights I can only fantasise about.
The ‘Technical Challenges’ and ‘Signature Bakes’ have been written by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, the rest by a friend and colleague in the Guild of Food Writers, Linda Collister. She’s a talented and meticulous baker and has a raft of books to her name so you can be certain that between the three of them these recipes really work. I daren’t think how much time and skill it took to bake and prepare the ‘Showstopper’ bakes.
I did like the snowy gingerbread house with a difficulty rating of ‘Needs a Little Skill’. When I made one a few Christmases ago, never mind the skill factor, I also needed a lorry load of icing sugar paste to stick the whole wobbly edifice together. It didn’t look as elegant as the one in this book but you can get away with murder with a bag of Smarties and some drippy icing sugar snow. Can’t wait to see the contestants have a go at that one.