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Inspired by Bake Off? Check out these Bake off recipe books that will rouse the baker in you

Baking Books

Inspired by Bake Off? Check out these Bake off recipe books that will rouse the baker in you

Can you believe that Bake Off as we know it has come to an end? Sure it’s moving to Channel 4, and sure the blue eyed, hair gelled Paul Hollywood is still at the helm. But with no Mary Berry no longer involved and Mel and Sue stepping down, it just won’t be the same again. And whilst this year – 2016 – wasn’t the best year for talented bakers (it’s safe to say that none of the finalists were that impressive) it was still sad to see this great British institution move away from the publicly funded BBC and into the realm of Channel 4. Let’s hope they don’t sex it up too much…

But despite all this I have been thoroughly inspired by this year’s Bake Off (as I am every year to be fair), and decided I wanted to have a go baking some of the stuff on the show at home. So I’ve taken a look at some of the official Bake Off recipe books available to see if they’re any good.

Perfect Cakes & Bakes to make at Home

bake off recipe books

Perfect Cakes & Bakes from Bake Off

This gem included recipes from this years Bake Off contestants and the chefs as well as the definitions of some baking terms you might find handy

Buy on Amazon – £7.99

Prices correct at time of Publishing

It’s the recipe book from this year’s show, and it’s a monster. I assumed the recipe book would only include recipes from the show, but it includes many, many more…!
So there are 18 cake recipes including some favourites from the show, Jaffa Cakes, St Clements lemon and orange drizzle cake and a couple of mirror glaze cakes. Although it looks like they haven’t put Selassie’s raspberry mirror glaze in there which is a shame because I would have liked to try that one out (despite Paul saying it wasn’t shiny enough!)

There’s the Biscuit and Teatime Treats section which include some classics like Viennese Whirls and Lemon and poppy seed muffins. This section also contains a fair few recipes for types of biscuits I had never heard of before. If they have baked any of these in the show, then I have not been paying enough attention!   It’s quite exciting to think of the prospect of baking a biscuit I have never seen or heard of before. Maybe I can get my husband to tear out the pictures and cross out every other line of the Linzer Sables and Bhaa Bara Brith Biscuits recipes and attempt to complete my own technical challenge at home?

Great British Bake Off : Celebrations

bake off baking books

Great British Bake Off : Celebrations

Buy on Amazon – £4.99

Prices correct at time of Publishing

This recipe book focuses solely on baking things for those really special occasions. This recipe book is mostly sweet things and breads, with a very small section for savoury bakes.

This recipe book contains a handy bakers guide in the front, which explains exactly what’s required when the recipe calls for certain techniques. If you’re a regular baker this section is probably a bit unnecessary, but even so it’s nice to hear the explanations from the Bake Off experts themselves. If you’re not a regular baker, make sure you look at this section and refer to it whenever a baking term yo are unsure of is mentioned in the recipes.

I would have liked this one to have more showstoppers and centre pieces,  but instead there is quite a few basic recipes like simple biscuits and loaf cakes, and if you’re a regular baker, these aren’t really going to test you. In amongst the recipes there are some interesting breads like the Christmas Wreath and the Chocolate Babka.

The Great British Bake Off: How to turn everyday bakes into showstoppers

recipe books from bake off

How to turn everyday bakes into showstoppers

Buy on Amazon – £9.99

Prices correct at time of Publishing

This is the cookbook to get your hands on if you’re looking to create bakes that look amazing (and taste great too of course)! The bakes that really impress me on Bake Off are those that look great. This might have something to with the fact that we unfortunately can’t taste the goodies they make on the set, so the look of the cake (and the look on Paul’s face when he tastes it) is really all we have to go by!

This recipe book is really for those who have already nailed the basics of baking and want to take their presentation a bit further. The start of the book contains some tips by the professionals, and if you want your bakes to look and taste as good as the pictures in the book, you really do have to stick to these recipes by the letter and gram. There are some techniques in this recipe book that really cant be messed around with.

If you are planning on buying this cookbook, buy the hard back rather than the kindle as the recipe book contains some templates to be cut out and used for the some of the bakes like the Winter Woodland Cottage.

The Great British Bake Off Everyday: Over 100 Foolproof Bakes

bake off recipe books

The Great British Bake Off Everyday

Buy on Amazon – £17.49

Prices correct at time of Publishing

This book sort of tries to do two things at once. It works nicely as a beginner’s baking guide, but is also attempting to offer you the chance to make your usual bakes that little bit more glamorous (a bit like the showstoppers book above). There are, as the name suggests, over 100 recipes in this book which is more than enough to keep you busy. There are some recipes from the series, as well as some of Paul and Mary’s Showstoppers, some Signature Bakes and some of the Technical Challenges too. There are also recipes from some of the contestants themselves.

This recipe book doesn’t have pictures for every bake which is disappointing, especially when some of the recipes are a little complicated. I do like to compare my final bakes to recipe photos to see if I have achieved what the recipe intended, and it’s difficult to get that excited about a bake when you have no idea how it’s supposed to look. However the written instructions are clear and there are varied things on offer from cakes and puddings, to some great bread recipes. There are also some more interesting baking opportunities including the Ice Cream Shortbread and the weirdly named Spankakoptia.

The graphic representations of baking equipment with names of each item at the front of this recipe book are a little odd and unnecessary. I’m not sure if they are there to help the user know what a “juicer” , “fork” or “small saucepan” looks like(?!), or if its supposed to be some sort of modern art…in which case they really should have used the printing space for more pictures of the bakes.

Baking Bread, James Morton

bake off recipe books

Baking Bread, James Morton

Buy on Amazon – £13.60

Prices correct at time of Publishing

Many of you will remember James Morton from the 2012 series of the Great British Bake Off. He didn’t win, but was a good contestant who particularly loved baking bread. After the series ended James released this book all about baking bread and it is a good place to start if you are learning how to bake bread. Where some baking books offer up a list of recipes, James has given you plenty of insight into HOW to bake bread. This book is fairly unique as baking books go, it gives you plenty of advice to help you along the way as opposed to just listing a bunch of recipes.

It’s nice to have some scientific explanations of what’s really going on when you are baking bread…perhaps it’s because James is a medical student that he felt it necessary to include some science. I think if you’re going to be successful baking bread it’s really important to understand the purpose of each stage of the process, otherwise you will never really understand why you’re bread hasn’t come out the way you wanted. James covers in detail some process that get overlooked in many bread baking books including using starter aids, proofing, kneading, and something I have struggled with – knowing when you’re dough is proved enough to put in the oven.
The foreword is nice and fun too and the book is beautiful to look at with some great images to inspire you to give the recipes a go.

This recipe book offers simple instructions to help beginner’s try their hand at a variety of simple breads, and also has some tips to help those with less time on their hands to bake (which is all of us!), to incorporate more baking into your schedule, like proofing your dough overnight in the oven. You could have a go at making focaccia, doughnuts, pretzels, sourdough bread and other simple bakes.

The book is aimed at beginners and is a good book if you are starting out, but I would say this is not the book for you if you’re after very precise recipes. Occasionally there aren’t exact measurements for the ingredients, and James used phrases like “… I don’t measure, as its a too much of a faff”, and sometimes baking times and oven temperatures are left out. However – if you’re willing to persevere without precise instructions and instead listen to the advice that James gives about judging the dough and the bake by touch, smell and sound; you will end up with a better understanding of bread baking and will be better prepared to move on to more complicated bakes.

John Whaite Bakes: Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood

bake off recipe books

Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood

Buy on Amazon – £16.00

Prices correct at time of Publishing

Here is another recipe book from another ex Bake Off contestant. However, this time it is John Whaite, a former winner on the show, who actually beat James above for the crown. This book is a little cheesy, it is broken up into moods as opposed to how your usual cook books are laid out, which is a bit of a gimmick, but its got A LOT of recipes inside. The recipe book is also laid out nicely, and the pages are colourful which makes it nice to use. The chapters include ‘Deepest Darkest Desires’, ‘Calming A Bag Of Nerves’ and ‘Happy Hour’. There are some really great recipes in here and whilst they aren’t massively out of the ordinary, John does like to offer interesting ingredients to offer your bakes a little pizazz.

There’s some general recommendations in the recipe book about the ingredients John likes to use, as well as a couple of baking tips like knowing when your cake is done, and knowing when your dough has has enough kneading. There is also the “Armoury section” where John gives you some of his ideas on how to make baking…like using disposable piping bags. Recipes that stood out for me included the Pear, Walnut & Marzipan Crumble Tart, Chocolate & Cassis Cake and the oddly paired but delicious Apricot & Pecan Herb Loaf. The book has some lovely pictures and whilst some recipes may seem a bit long, do not be put off. This is in part due to the larger font, which actually works nicely and makes the book easier to use.

This is another recipe book that is a bit lacking in pictures of what the bakes are supposed to look like. The pictures that are included are lovely, and make you want to have a go at baking those recipes, so it’s a shame there’s not at least one image for each bake. I am skeptical when there is a lack of images in recipe books like these as I suspect the author has never attempted the recipe they are sharing, or if they have – their bake came out looking a bit crap and so they never bothered with a photo.

John’s book has some lovely anecdotes in it which give the book a bit of character that some modern cook books seem to have. It is just a shame John didn’t include the story of how he nearly got into a fight with Paul Hollywood off camera after Paul called his Chelsea buns ‘bland’.

The Boy Who Bakes, Edd Kimber

bake off recipe books

The Boy Who Bakes

Plenty of desserts and sweet bakes

Buy on Amazon – £13.99.00

Prices correct at time of Publishing

Now it’s time to look at The Boy Who Bakes by the first ever winner of the Great British Bake Off, Edd Kimber. Edd won the first series of the show back in 2010 and in this book he shows off some lovely baking recipes that I do find myself going back fairly often. Edd’s blog, The Boy Who Bakes, is fantastic. I often find myself heading there for inspiration, and thankfully his charming character and love for baking shine through in the book too, as he writes a nice little introduction for each recipe. There’s a section in the book which is essentially a list of the basic baking equipment you’re going to need to make the recipes in the book which is quite handy and the book includes some traditional recipes in here as well as some nice twists on classic bakes.

If you’re looking for a baking book with some breads and other savory bakes, don’t buy this book, as you will be very disappointed. This book only has sweet recipes and desserts, and its apparent that the man is obsessed with chocolate, as half of the recipes in this book have some chocolate in.

This is not a pure baking book as the title suggests, so the name of this cookbook is a bit misleading. Non baking stuff includes  ice cream sundae, pannacotta, chocolate mousse amongst other things, but as Edd clearly has a sweet tooth, it kind of makes sense that these dessert type recipies are included.

Whilst the recipes all sound, just from their names alone, amazing, the book is still easy to follow for beginner bakers. It is also nice that there are no wild and hard to get hold of ingredients. And despite this, each bake comes out wonderful. The Rose and Raspberry Macarons recipe is perfect for a first attempt at french macaroons and the Pear Tartare Tatin is lovely.

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