Ready, set, BAKE!

If you’re like me, you’re waiting patiently for PBS to air another season of The Great British Baking Show (or The Great British Bake Off as it is known across the pond). And if you’re like me, you’re baking your way through the wait. The show has inspired me to venture out of my baking comfort zone, exploring the shelves of the Iowa City Public Library for new and interesting recipes to try. The library even has a number of cookbooks by your favorite Bake Off personalities. So, on your mark, get set, bake!

Perhaps the best place to start is a baking book by one of the show’s judges. Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake acts as a primer on technique. The recipes here are pretty detailed, offering the how and why to each type of baking. This book is pretty bread heavy, so if you are interested in perfecting that sourdough loaf or attempting a fougasse, this book is for you. Also try his British Baking cookbook.

maryberry For a sweeter side of baking, try Baking with Mary Berry or her Baking Bible. From cakes to scones to cookies to puddings, Berry offers recipes for everyday baking and special occasions. Mary is the “British Queen of Baking” so you’ll find all the recipes you need to pull off the perfect tea, including Devon scones, the Victoria sandwich cake, and tart au citron.

Several Bake Off contestants have come out with some interesting baking books. Ruby Tandoh’s Crumb aims to provide a relaxed, practical guide to baking. Ruby offers some interesting twists to old favorites, but the recipes are unintimidating. I greatly enjoyed baking some of her pound cakes, including the sour cream Madeira and orange and white chocolate cakes.

cardamom The Cardamom Trail by Chetna Makan brings the flavors of India to some Western favorites, but there are also wonderful Indian recipes as well. If you want to expand the flavor profiles in your baking, Makan’s recipes call for saffron, fennel, coriander, fenugreek, and tamarind. Use these spices to make buckwheat potato pakora and lemon challah with coconut paneer.

Intrigued by the beautiful pastries of French bakeries but afraid to try baking them yourself? Edd Kimber’s Patisserie Made Simple is here to help. He breaks down and simplifies the recipes for croissants and éclairs. With Kimber’s book, you can bake to impress.

baking We also have The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking and, if you want to challenge yourself, The Great British Bake Off: How to Turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers. Both books contain recipes from the show, including the technical challenges. They also contain helpful tips on baking basics and styling step-by-step instructions.

From pies to cookies, from cakes to breads, the Iowa City Public Library has a number of baking books to help you create your own showstopper. Find these and other great cookbooks at


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