Cakes and Bakes: Over 70 Recipes for Delicious Homemade Bakes, by Hamlyn/Octopus Publishing
(Hachette Livre, $19.99)
Cakes and Bakes is a slim, compact book that's a good bargain for the price. There are some really gorgeous, delicious recipes -- the Chocolate-Orange Brownies are divine, the Blueberry and Vanilla Loaf delectable, the Cherry Streusel Cake melt-in-your-mouth good. Some of the recipes are easier-to-make versions of posh concoctions -- I recognised the Coffee Cake with Pistachio Praline recipe as a simpler (and tastier) version of a similar cake I attempted for my father-in-law's birthday last year. There are also some interesting choices, like Moist Banana and Carrot Cake, and Chocolate, Courgette and Nut Cake, neither of which I was brave enough to try. And the old standbys are represented: Lamingtons, Victoria Sandwich, Simnel Cake, Classic Shortbread, and Hot Cross Buns are recipes every baker worth her salt should have handy.
My only gripe is that there aren't photos for every single recipe -- I like to make sure that what I've taken out of the oven vaguely resembles the photo. Other than that, this is a very useful little book.