Sunday, 24 March 2013

'Delia's Cakes' - book review

Delia Smiths new book called simply 'Delia's Cakes' is out and riding high in the food and drink books charts at the moment. I have a few books in my collection by Delia, I quite like her work and the recipes I have tried from other books seem to work well, she's a bit of an 'all rounder' in the kitchen, but I think it was in 1988 that she last brought out a book just about cakes.

This book has such notoriety it has its own facebook page, worth a look for ideas, recipes and giveaways etc.

The book is divided by chapters into sponge cakes, loaf cakes, family cakes, little cakes (includes scones and the like), muffins, biscuits (since when has a biscuit been a cake though?), chocolate cakes, celebration cakes and dessert cakes. I liked the celebration cake chapter, some good ideas there for adults cakes. There is a section at the front about tools to use in baking and several pages on ingredients and a nod to the gluten free and egg free recipes in the book. (Dear readers please note: always good to have an egg free cake recipe to hand when out of fresh eggs at home)

The appearance of the book is very minimal and almost clinical with its mostly plain washed pastel backdrops to style the cakes; but this way the cakes do all the talking on the pages. Every recipe has a photograph alongside it, great if you are a novice or not that confident at following a recipe without one.

This carnage below isn't from Delias' book, that my kitchen in full baking cake mode.
 From this book and last weekend I tried one of the most simple cakes ever (but its my favourite) a Victoria sponge and in 'Delia's Cakes' this one has a cream cheese and passion fruit filling (see above). The recipe went really well, and without a hitch, the recipe for the cake suggested a 2 egg sponge mix but being the 'gung ho' greedy baker that I am, I doubled the mix. This gave me a very deep cake! It was a great flavour and texture and the filling was really delicious too.

'Delia's Cakes' is linked in to the Delia online cookery school. In the interests of research I had a mosey on over there, to see what the deal was. This site is quite a good resource for home bakers, it has recipes like this 'sticky prune and date cake' and simple and clear tutorials on baking (Delia provides the commentary) and its FREE!

Good things about this book are:
  • the recipes are easy to follow
  • the recipes cover both basic and traditional bakes
  • there is a good and wide range of cakes
  • according to the book cover, over 90% of the recipes can be made as gluten free
  • the photography is good
  • some of the newer and less traditional recipes look very good
All in all I liked the book, it would be a pleasing addition to anyone's recipe book shelf but for someone relatively new to baking it would tick a lot of boxes, and I think that's the market this new 'Delia's Cake' book is aimed at.

The only thing I didn't like was the biscuit chapter, nothing wrong with the recipes there from what I have seen, but in what is claimed to be a 'Cake' book it seemed a bit strange?

Some extracts from the book below...
'Delia's Cakes' is published by Hodder and Stoughton, who kindly sent me a copy to review (my thanks to them).

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review. I haven't had chance to flick through the book in the shops yet. Sounds like it could be quite a good book, I've always though Delia was a bit boring but maybe it might be worth giving a go. Just need to persuade the book fairy to buy me a copy now!

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    1. Some nice recipes in it Jen and a few unusual ones. x

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  2. Nice review Sue. I was rather taken with the book and bought myself a copy - I think it was the refreshing coolness and lack of fuss that I really liked, although I was rather taken aback at myself for buying a plain old Delia book - a first for me. I've made a couple of recipes so far. Wasn't too impressed with the biscuits thought as they spread everywhere and I can't see how hers wouldn't have done.

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  3. Forgot to say, your cake sounds spectacular, I love passionfruit and I like the sound of your really deep sponge.

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    1. Thanks Choclette, shame about the biscuits spreading, best to stick to the cake recipes!

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  4. I tried to resist this book, walking past it on the shelf for a couple of weeks, then I weakened and bought it.
    It's a beautiful book. I love the muted colours of the photos and like the fact that it is full of recipes and not moody photos of the author with good looking husband, cute child or favourite dog !!

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    1. Thanks Jean, you are spot on about the other pics that often take up pages in food books lately (more about the lifestyle than the recipes IMHO). Can't say this of Delia's as you rightly say.

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Susan x