Fans of The Great British Bake Off love Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith and their encyclopedic knowledge of all things baking, and with their new cookbooks, “Bake: My best ever recipes for the classics” by Paul Hollywood and “Bliss on Toast” by Prue Leith, we can join in on the baking and fill our homes with aromas of the delicious treats contained in the pages of these books.
“Bake” is not filled with many, many recipes, only Paul Hollywood’s favorites. There are six chapters: Cakes, Cookies and Scones, Breads and Flatbreads, Pizzas and Doughnuts, Pastry and Pies, and Desserts. In these pages are the recipes meticulously organized, with a paragraph about the recipe and Paul’s comments, then ingredients and the recipe to follow. There are also incredibly lovely photographs on each page. For those of us used to watching the baking on the show as it happens, the photographs help to follow the recipes as we see how Paul does it. Here we see Paul making “The Ultimate Focaccia.” Making a focaccia was one of the technical challenges a few seasons back, and here we can see how Paul sets about it.
It’s the next best thing to watching a YouTube video about it. Some recipes we’ve seen on the show, like the iced finger buns. Some I don’t remember seeing but sound delicious like the cheese crackers. (I made these with gluten-free flour and they turned out scrumptious!) I haven’t baked bread in decades, but I faithfully followed the recipe for the sandwich bread. My 80-year-old husband and my six-year-old grandson each devoured his loaf with relish. Whatever you decide to begin with, this is a cookbook that will remain in a place of honor on your shelf, and the recipes will be the ones you rely on over and over.
In “Bliss on Toast,” Prue Leith explains that “This little book comes out of a long habit of eating something on toast on Sunday nights in front of the TV.” She explains that some of the recipes are simple, but during the Covid pandemic, she experimented with some more sophisticated combinations as well. All, she says, are easy to make. All, we can be sure, will be delicious. As she points out, some of the treats don’t even require a recipe; just look at the picture and the description. None of the recipes must be followed exactly, as ingredients may be substituted depending on what’s in the pantry. This little book includes vegan and vegetarian options, and even desserts on toast, although it’s more like desserts on waffles or pudding or cake.
The illustrations are carefully created and beautiful in their simplicity. Bright colors and plates showing the small toast treats make each new “blissful treat” one that you will find worth creating. Leith makes it clear that there’s nothing wrong with using pre-made sauces and pastes, but she also includes instructions on making a hollandaise sauce, tomato sauce, and a katsu curry sauce for those who want it homemade. There’s also instruction for making flatbreads and waffles. She explains how to poach an egg, and in a recipe that calls for cashew pesto, she says that you will have extra, but can freeze it or use it on risotto or pasta. The tips, shown underneath each recipe, are almost as important as the actual recipe, replete with words of advice and often, how to make the recipe vegan.
Please note: This review is based on the advance review copy of “Bliss on Toast” and the final hardcover “Bake” provided by Bloomsbury, the publisher, for review purposes.