Book Review: Bake Me Home, by Alice Arndell

cv_bake_me_homeI wanted to review this book because it was promoted as a great book for people who need to bake for kindy morning teas, and other similar last-minute baking occasions. It is great for this, but there are a few buts – for instance, anybody (possibly excepting Alice) who took a bunch of multi-coloured meringues to a shared lunch at my kindy, would probably be told off like a 4-year-old. Our teachers are renowned for their notes in lunchboxes – I haven’t yet earned one.

Moving on though, there is a lot to love about this book. The ingredients used are simple to find and easy to use. There are very handy hints for substitutions at the back of the book – one of which I had to use when I ran out of brown sugar as I was finishing baking the Apple Crumble loaf. That recipe was probably my least successful in that I had to turn the loaf tin upside down to dislodge the loaf, which neatly removed all of the crumble… The loaf itself, however, was divine. I got maybe one slice, then the kids demolished it (without permission) after kindy one day. Handy hint: don’t ever use ‘homebrand’ baking paper except as tracing paper. When it is cooked, it crumbles, so you can’t use the paper as an aid to remove the loaf from the tin.

The design and photography in the book is very elegant, and I like the fact that it is realistic. While the style is using sharper focus for the foreground, there was no neatening of edges, and nothing fanciful about it. The food speaks for itself, even the lunchbox muffins look delicious without being over-styled.

The recipes themselves are easy to follow, and almond_and_orange_anzacwhere there are a few tricky steps required, like with the Louise Cake, there are directions on where to find step-by-step instructions on the author’s website. I received a delicious wee promo pack of Anzac biscuits just before the book was launched, which the office girls’ demolished (even the one who can’t have egg – no egg in Anzac biscuits). When I made my own I think I may have mis-measured my dry ingredients. As you can see to the right, they ended up rather crumbly. Nobody minded, as again the recipe was yummy.

The tips in the back of the book are invaluable, one of the best being that if you leave a piece of bread on a cake while it is still cooling overnight, the bread will dry out but not the cake. Genius! Alice also explains the point of plain v high grade flour (one has more gluten) – I do bake frequently, but have never known the difference. Below is the tinned fruit shortcake, which I replaced plums with peaches in, to use up some tinned fruit in the fridge. It was delicious.

shortcake_bake_me_homeI can’t wait to break out some of the great recipes in this book at this terms’ shared lunch (but not the meringues) – and at the next birthday party I throw for one of the kids. The Swirly Sprinkle biscuits look divine, without being as sinful as some of the other recipes! And on the savoury end of the spectrum, the mini-hotdogs using cocktail sausages and pastry, look fancy without being difficult – just what you need when you are trying to do fifty things at once plus the cake for birthdays.

All in all, this is a well-produced, friendly to use book, which I am certain to use over and over again.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

Bake Me Home: Delicious everyday occasions
by Alice Arndell, photos by Erina Wood
Published by HarperCollins NZ
ISBN 9781775540496