Book a Break to Bake

Posted on:

Get ready..., set..., BAKE! October is full of fun things to do and celebrate. The first big one is Halloween: my favorite time of year! October also signifies - at least in my family - the start of the holiday season and, with it, baking! October is National Cookbook Month, but October also hosts National Baking Week (14th through 20th). 

As a fun combination, I thought I would feature all the cookbooks (that I could find) that are by the hosts and contestants of the Great British Baking Show (AKA the Great British Bake Off). This show is my comfort show. Whenever I am having a bad day, putting this one on the TV and curling up on the couch never fails to make me feel better. The contestants are so kind and supportive of each other, it’s hard to continue feeling sad or sorry for myself with all the positivity. 

And it never fails; every time I watch it, I always come out thinking I can bake anything. This feeling is usually followed by weeks of spectacularly failed attempts at bread making (where I valiantly but unsuccessfully try to start my own yeast) and overdone experimental shortbread cookies (biscuits). To be fair, the orange zest ones turned out to be edible…the coffee extract ones, not so much.

Want a taste of the Halloween spirit? Try The Wicked Baker: Cakes and Treats to Die For by Helena Garcia (Season 10). She was one of my favorites, and her cookbook has lots of fun, spooky treats to kick off the Halloween season! For instance, her “Bat Scones with Buried Alive Syrup” (p. 71) are simple but sound deliciously sweet. And her “Maple Bat Cookies” (p. 87) and her “Vampire Macarons” (p. 97)  are adorably cute! You almost don’t want to eat them...almost. 

Are you more into cooking than actually baking? Mary Berry’s got you covered in her cookbook Cooking With Mary Berry. Both her “Butternut Squash Soup” (p. 40) and her “Chicken Noodle Soup” (p. 43) look like warm and inviting dishes perfect for the fall season. Her “Boeuf Bourguignon” (p. 94) and “Hungarian Goulash” (p. 103) make delicious-looking savory comfort dishes perfect for cooler weather. For a bit of both worlds--baking and cooking--Nadiya Hussain’s (season 6) cookbook Nadiya’s Everyday Baking includes baked desserts, pastries, and everyday meal dishes. Or you can try Giuseppe's Italian Bakes: Over 60 Classic Cakes, Desserts & Savoury BakesGuisseppe was season twelve’s winner and one of my all-time favorite contestants. 

Want to bake a cake? Try The New Way to Cake by Benjamina Ebuehi (season 4) mixes a lot of unconventional flavors together. For example, her “Plumb and Black Pepper Cake” (p. 45) and her “Apple Cake with Sage Caramel” (p. 14) sound both unusual and delicious. And for breathtakingly beautiful and delicious cakes that could rival the professionals, try Rahul Mandal’s (season 9 winner)  book Showstopping Cakes. Not only does he include the recipes for the cakes (like his “Carrot, Orange, Ginger, Pecan Cake” p. 101), but also recipes, tips, and techniques on how to make edible decorations, pairing flavors, making icing, ganaches, and glazes, as well as many other important baking know-hows. 

Want to recreate the classics from the master himself? Pick up Paul Hollywood’s cookbook Bake: My Best Ever Recipes for the Classics. His recipes for blueberry muffins (p. 46) and chocolate fudge cake (p. 34) take these staples from good to great. 

For out-of-this-world cute and creative baking recipes, try Kim-Joy’s (season 9) Baking With Kim-Joy and Christmas with Kim-Joy are full of adorable-looking snacks and treats. Her “Whale Underwater Cake” (BWKJ p. 56) is a masterpiece, and her palm-sized “Sourdough Turtle Bread” (CWKJ p. 70) are a bite-sized taste of adorableness. Kim-Joy was another one of my favorite contestants to watch. Though her stuff was always fun and whimsical, the skill and attention to fine detailing were always incredible, and if the judges are to be trusted, they were tasty to boot. 

Finally, for some Instagram-worthy pieces without the pressure of perfection, look for Lottie Bedlow’s (season 11) Baking Imperfect: Crush, Whip and Spread It Like Nobody’s Watching and for Bake Yourself Happy: 50 Delicious Recipes to Bring You Joy by Steph Blackwell (season 10). As you flip through these recipes you will see visually pleasing recipes that might not be perfect in presentation, but they still look great. It’s important to remember that trying and baking new things is supposed to be fun and a bit (or maybe more than a bit) messy. 

As an amateur baker, I probably have more failures under my belt than I do successes (just look at my fuzzy yeast, my flat bread loaves, my slightly bitter peach mini pies, and my gross coffee biscuits). But I have also had many successes: my annual orange zest gingerbread cookies, the cinnamon apple hand pies I made at Thanksgiving, and the endless strawberry shortcakes with homemade whipped cream.  And even some of my successes aren’t perfect (looking at you, blackberry cobbler with the slightly underbaked center), and my first attempt at whipped cream was just a little bit thin. 

And so, this October, you can guarantee that I am going to check out at least one of these fun and inspiring cookbooks to give some of these recipes a go. I might try to make a cake with some lumpy-looking meringue ghosts, some bat-shaped cookies with some crispy edges, or maybe even some pastel coffin cakes to share with the library staff. 

For cookbooks that aren’t related to British cooking competitions, check out our cooking neighborhood here at the library. There are so many options that there has to be something there to interest everyone. 

Want to learn more about cooking cultures around the world? Stop by our website to check out our new cooking database called AtoZ World Food by World Trade Press! To get started, you can do a search or simply click on the country of your interest.

Featured Items

Post Author