The Great British Bake Off: Big Book of Baking

People buy the GGBO books for a variety of reasons. There are profiles of the bakers featured in the 2014 competition, some of their specialist bakes, and usually the technical challenges. I noticed that a couple of the technical challenges weren't included, so to make doubly sure you get what you want, I've listed them all here.

The technical challenges for each week of the 2014 GGBO are:

Cake: cherry cake
Biscuits: Florentines
Bread: ciabatta
Desserts: tiramisu cake
Pies and tarts: mini pear pies (not included)
European cakes: dobbos torte
Pastry: Breton kouign amann
Advanced dough: Croation povatica
Patisserie: German schichttorte (not included)
Final: perfect sponge, caramel, choux pastry as petit four

The book is broken down into:
  • A baker's guide 
  • Biscuits and tray-bakes (pecan shorties; Enwezor's pumpkin and sunflower biscuits; fudge brownies...) 
  • Breads (cheddar and mustard loaf; Irish brace; Jordan's rye and spelt load; banana bread...) 
  • Cakes (Martha's dark chocolate and almond liquor savarin; Claire's miniature chocolate & cherry cakes...) 
  • Sweet pastry and patisserie (choux caramel puffs; snowball meringues, Kate's rhubarb & custard tart with almond...) 
  • Savoury bakes (salmon coublibiac; port and redcurrant charlotte; little crab soufflés; tapenade twists...) 
  • Puddings and desserts (hot white chocolate sponge puddings; Richard's Black Forest chocolate fondants...) 

It's not the best book in the series, but if you're a committed GBBO fan, there are enough of the challenges, and enough of the signature dishes to make it worth your while.

You can get your copy here:

The MEATliquor Chronicles... by Yuanni Papoutsis and Scott Collins

By far one of the most original cookbooks in my collection. The recipes are easy to follow, and straight forward. The book is so much more than a cookbook though - it's a journal which documents the beginning of Meat Liquor through it's various incarnations, to the beast it is now. There are lots of photographs of the crew, little vignettes, there's a whole conversation about queuing, refereed by Stefan Chomka... In fact, maybe that's why I like it so much? It feels like my twitter stream, full of the opinionated and food obsessed people I love...

I've listed some of the recipes at the bottom, but I can't imagine you've found your way to this book without knowing who Meat Liquor are. If you do, yes, my darlings - you're going to love it! But, just in case you're not familiar with their work, and you aren't sure what you're getting yourself into, here's a little snippet to whet your appetitie:

'Surely your gospels and all they represent, must live in the air?' a layperson said to the MEATdaddy. 'Because the qualities you celebrate in this place are around us at all times - they're enlightenments, decisions, forces that resist herding into cathedrals like this. I mean, didn't the mobile gospels prove more apt, in that the wagon exposed itself to a greater volume of what we seek? Wasn't it better that diverse peoples from all around came at the wagon's appearance, rather than to one unmoving place?' [... SOME TIME LATER...] 'If all I carry into the cathedral is an intangible value, and if it consumes my whole purpose in going there, then I become intangible too, for the purposes of argument. And as an intangible, I need go nowhere, because the value I represent can be argued in my absence."

The MEATdaddy took a moment to adjust his robes, examining the well-worn sole of a sandal. 'Except for one thing,' he said: 'a burger and a cocktail are tangible.'

'Ah, but then...'

'Do you want a f****ing burger or not?'

'I mean..."

'F*** off then, there's a queue forming.'


'We don't serve intangibles.'

Some of the recipes:
Layover Chili
The Dead Elvis
Greek Lemon Chicken
Salt Cod, Cream and Potato Pie
London Lamb Chops

There are also lots and lots of cocktails:
Diesel and Honey
Blood and Dust
Donkey Punch
Morning Glory
Corpse Revivers (3)
The Negroni
The New Cross Negroni...

I think you get the message...

Want your own copy of this hilarity?

Plenty More... by Yattam Ottolenghi

Mr Ottolenghi has three cookbooks in the top 20 on amazon - no mean feat!! Why is he so popular? Can one person be a zeitgeist in their own right? If they can, then he is... The recipes are clean, full of flavour, use a variety of ingredients, and more importantly for me at the moment, don't rely on mountains of meat... If we're going to encourage people to eat a broader variety of food, we have to make it flipping delicious!

The book is broken down into:
  • Tossed (tomato and pomegranate salad; raw beetroot and herb salad; crunchy root vegetables...)
  • Steamed (miso vegetables and rice, with black sesame dressing; lemon and curry leaf rice ...)
  • Blanched (seaweed, ginger and carrot salad; soba noodles with quick-pickled mushrooms...)
  • Simmered (tagliatelle with walnuts and lemon; fregola and artichoke pilaff...)
  • Braised (fennel with capers and olives; mushrooms, garlic and shallots with lemon ricotta...)
  • Grilled (butternut tataki and udon noodle salad; courgette baba ganoush, marrow with tomato and feta...)
  • Roasted (squash with cardamon and nigella seeds; honey roasted carrots with tahini yoghurt...)
  • Fried (polenta crisps with avocado and yoghurt; seared girlies with black glutinous rice...)
  • Mashed (crushed puy lentils with tahini and cumin; cannelloni bean puree with pickled mushrooms and pita croutons...)
  • Cracked (membrillo and stilton quiche; corn and spring onion pancakes; spicy scrambled eggs...)
  • Baked (stuffed peppers with fondant swede and goat's cheese; winter saffron gratin; baked artichoke and pearled spelt salad...)
  • Sweetened (baked rhubarb with sweet labneh; quince poached in pomegranate juice; fig and goat's cheese tart...)

A great book, one which is staying in my kitchen, and not being shelved in the library - I can think of no nicer way to eat my 5-a-day...

You can buy it here:

Food for Thought, by Alan Murchison

Author's Bio: 
Alan has worked in a number of world-class restaurants, including Inverlochy Castle, Claridges, Nobu, L’ortolan and Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons.  His restaurants La Bécasse in Ludlow and L'ortolan in Shinfield both have Michelin stars, and made Alan the only chef with more than one Michelin starred restaurant outside London.  He's also appeared on a number of television shows, including The Great British Menu, Hairy Bikers and Market Kitchen.  

The book is divided into the following sections:

The Start  |  The Journey  |  Starters  |  Mains  | Cheeses  |  Desserts, and Basics

The Concept: 

Without doubt this is my favourite cook book at the moment. It's been siting on my desk for a month, where others have been dumped by the side of the bookcase.  Ironically Alan had a great deal of trouble getting this book published, and ended up publishing it himself.  This makes the resulting book even more remarkable, because the dishes are fabulous and the pictures make you want to get yourself straight to his restaurants.

There are a number of quotations alongside beautiful shots of the countryside.  The photographer Mark Law, get's his own section - Julia Charles, the nutritionist gets a section - favoured suppliers get a section...  This book is a celebration of Alan's journey, and the people who have helped him along the way.

Recipes are well laid out, and Alan offers tips on the preparation of the dish.  He also notes where dishes can be pared down to produce an easier home version of a restaurant dish.

Favourites include pressed tomato terrine, tomato jelly, Picadon goat's cheese and Bloody Mary sorbet / the most beautiful Bouillabaisse I've ever seen / and wild strawberry marshmallow, iced vanilla parfait & scented strawberry puree.

The cheese section includes pairings for accompaniments, and offers wine suggestions.  It's such a refreshing change for cheese to be included in the menu structure.  Astonishingly there are 233 basic recipes, which include everything from chutneys to accompany the cheese, vinaigrette's, a liquorice sauce, espuma recipes, stock, confit, jelly, ice-cream and everything in-between.  It's an incredibly detailed selection, but more to the point, it's an act of incredible generosity on the part of Alan.

Who's going to read it? 

This book is really a book to inspire cooks - I can't recommend it enough.

You can buy Alan's book on Amazon: 

Couture Chocolate by William Curley

Author's Bio:

William has worked in many illustrious kitchens, including Gleneagles, La Tante Claire (and Pierre writes the forward for the book), in Le Manoir aux Quat' Saison, L'Esperance, and The Savoy.  At The Savoy he met his wife Suzue, and together they have gone on to win numerous awards, including the Pastry Chef of the Year, British Dessert of the Year and four Best British Chocolatier accolades.

They have two established chocolate shops, one with a chocolate making school downstairs.

The book is broken down into:

An Approach to Chocolate   |  Chocolate Essentials | Truffles  |  Couture Chocolates  | Bars & Bites |  Bouchees  |  Cakes and Biscuits  |  Patisserie  |  Ice Cream, Sauces & Drinks

The Concept:

This book aims to teach both newcomers to chocolate making, and advances amateur chocolate makers, providing inspiration, tips, unusual ingredients and refreshing combinations.  William also shares some of his most popular recipes from the shop, and from chocolate competitions, showing how to achieve the best results.
I have several chocolate books, but I think this is my current favourite.  William breaks everything down into step by step guides, showing you exactly how to achieve good results for tempering your chocolate (without a tempering machine).  William then shows you how to combine various ingredients into hand-made chocolates, moulded chocolates, bars, lollipops, even cakes, brioche, macaron and drinks.  The book is clear, and most interesting from my point of view, actually makes you consider different flavour combinations for yourself.  Perhaps I'm just at this stage of my chocolate making, but I found my mind wandering off into all manner of flavour variations.  If you're an experience chocolate maker, I can't imagine it changing your technique management much, but I think it's worth seeing his flavour combinations first hand.  William also does show layering techniques, which I don't think is covered in as much detail in some of my other chocolate books.

Overall, it would make a very good first chocolate book, and is certainly worth considering for those who already own a few books.

You can buy William's book from Amazon >

Good Things to Eat, by Lucas Hollweg

Author's Bio:

Lucas was a food editor and features journalist, and now writes a food column in the Sunday Times Style Magazine.  His articles feature easy to make dishes, which combine the freshest of ingredients in a laid back style.

The book is divided into the following sections:

Berries and Cherries  |  Birds  |  Cakes  |  Chops  | Fennel  |  Figs  |  Fish  |  Gratins  |  Ice cream and sorbet  |  Mussels, squid and other creatures  | Peaches and plums  |  Pies and tarts  |  Pudding  | Risotto  |  Roasts  |  Spaghetti  |  Stew  |  Summer salads  |  Summer Soup  |  Things on toast  |  Winter salads  |  Winter soup  |  A word about booze  | Bits and pieces

Bryn's Kitchen: 5 Brilliant Ways to Cook 20 Great Ingredients, by Bryn Williams

Authors's Bio: 
Bryn comes from Denbigh in North Wales, where he grew up shooting and fishing, and working in a local bakery. His cooking career is impressive:   In 1997 he began work under Marco Pierre White at The Criterion, went on to work under Michel Roux at Le Gavroche for three years, was senior-sous at The Orrery for four years and then moved to open Galvin at Windows with Chris Galvin, before opening Odette's for Vince Power in 2006. Bryn is now the Chef Patron of Odette's in Primrose Hill, taking over the property in the autumn of 2008.

The book is divided into the following sections:

Beetroot  |  Mushrooms  |  Potatoes  |  Crab  |  Scallops  |  Salmon  |  Sole  | Mackerel |  Chicken  |  Lamb  |  Pork  |  Game  |  Apples  |  Berries  |  Chocolate  | Cream  |  Baking  |  Bread  |  Preserves