22 Sep 2014

Bake : The Essential Companion

Despite not trying all the recipes inside, I still love cookbooks with all my heart and I have three simple reasons why..

First of all, from an aesthetical perspective, cookbooks look great on book shelfs - most of them are thick, big and hard-covered. They look good standing in a row, piled up high horizontally and even lying on a coffee table by itself. Growing up, I never see myself having a collection of books that will be worth buying a shelf for (I only read comics back then) until I stumbled upon the wonderful world of cooking and cookbooks, everything changed ever since. Did you know that when I went back to Indonesia for good after 3 years of studying in Melbourne, almost half of my baggage weight capacity was filled with cookbooks?

Secondly, they are visually breathtaking - who can resist a close up picture of a sliced layered cake or sizzling bacon? Visual is everything for me, it makes the reading experience more exciting especially when it comes to food-related writings. For cookbooks, photographs capture the imagination of the readers of what the food looks like. Sometimes cooking requires hands on instructions where words are not enough and when real interactions cannot be made, I think photographs help on so many different levels. 

Lastly, cookbooks can be useful for a long time and can have a huge sentimental value. They are the kind of books that ideally will and should be passed by generation to generation. I have heard and read so many blogs that are talking about how the writers are now using their grandma’s Julia Child’s ‘The Art of French Cooking’ cookbook all these years as their bible of French cooking (including from the movie, Julie & Julia). My mom and grandma don’t have cookbook collection but they do tons of clippings of recipes from those old women magazines, which are pretty fun and practical. I know this sounds too early but I want to be that old lady who passes down her cookbooks to her children and grand children. 

So I am excited to share this newest addition to my cookbook collection! 

It’s called
 ‘Bake : The Essential Companion’ by Alison Thompson. 

Alison Thompson is a baking guru with 3 successful cookbooks and an array of experiences in restaurants and cake business field and she is currently the head pastry chef of the beautiful Stones of the Yarra Valley. She followed her passion and became a qualified chef at the age of 21. She wrote that her love for baking started since she was a little girl and this book is the extension of her childhood-version of cookbooks (a lot of tapping, collecting and probably clipping together recipes). Her determination in following her passion is admirable and somehow makes me question my own life determination too. 

I got this book from Periplus website, which is the biggest online bookstore in Indonesia that sells variety of different imported and local books. Was very pleased with the fast on-time delivery. Also, the book came with a sturdy thick cardboard packaging, making sure that the book was protected during delivery. Thumbs up for Periplus !

I believe that I got a copy of the book in Periplus Edition, published by Tuttle. The difference between Periplus and the
original edition can be seen from its cover (Periplus edition got close up pastry for its cover while the original one has the title written in typography style) but I’m pretty sure that the content is exactly the same. The book has 265 pages full of recipes and they are divided into an impressive 10 chapters. Each chapter focuses on certain baked goods categories such as breads, pastries, cakes and even gluten free baking. For those who are new to baking, the first 18 pages will be your saving grace because it contains basic information on kitchen equipment and how to use them, measurement guide, temperature guide and basic baking techniques. It has a short and sweet introduction from the writer herself but the overall cookbook is pretty straightforward. The language is simple everyday English with a perfectly spaced and good font size choice (pardon my annoying attention to details). 

The pictures are naturally styled, well lit and detail oriented. There are no fancy overly styled food pictures here, I can say that their pictures are honest and have a rustic-homemade feel. Because of how simple the pictures are, somehow it gives me the confidence that I too can bake like that at home without burning my house down. One of the fun things about the pictures is that most of them are shot from up close, showing all the textures, colors and details of the food. I am a sucker for details. I love seeing the hollow holes on ciabattas, specs of vanilla seeds on a yellow moist buttery cakes, pillowy sexy swirls of whipped cream, an sexy sectional cut of layered cakes, crumbs and other small things. 

Although the sweet recipes are obviously more dominant in this book, the savoury dishes are also covered and they look so good that my mouth starts to water when I see them. I’m a huge fan of meat pies and sausage rolls and the book has some variations of them so I am beyond happy! 

I went a little overboard with my page markers and now the book is filled with them and you can see it from the photos clearly. Can’t decide which recipe should I try first but I’m ecstatic because I have a few solid ones that I will surely post about in the near future so stay tuned !

While waiting, don't hesitate to buy the book here:  Periplus Online
They got a sweet 42% discount on the book so grab em' fast!

Please excuse my feet, I like to read cookbooks on my bed.

See ya on my next post!!

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