Many moons ago, when I was a child in Africa we had no access to computers and the word "Internet" had yet to reach the continent. If you wanted to "Google" something you would go to the library and look it up in one of the many heavy encyclopedias. An afternoon at the library reading was considered an entertaining activity. With only one public library in my area you can see how the librarian knew me by name.
Of course we weren't so backward that we didn't have TV. I was allowed to watch a limited amount of TV. This of course resulted in my brother and I fighting over watching cartoons every morning while we got ready for school. In the afternoons though I would have some peace as he often played after school sports. There used to be a show on during the afternoons called Takalani Sesame. It was the South African version of Sesame Street, which I would watch almost every day when I got home from school. There was always a few minutes dedicated to baking or cooking. One day they decided to run a promotion where if you wrote in to them (yes, by hand, on a piece of paper, and sent it in the mail) they would send you a free recipe book in return. I jumped at the idea and told Mum straight away. She kindly helped me write and send the letter and a few weeks later a book arrived in the mail. It wasn't a very big book but it was my first ever baking book, so of course it was perfect. Sadly over the decades and move of country it got lost along the way. I wish I still had that book today to look back on. I still remember turning the glossy pages and looking at the pretty pictures trying to decide what to bake. Cupcakes was my eventual decision. Mum helped of course. We coloured the icing blue and green and I tried desperately to pipe something that didn't look like an aquatic worm. It's fair to say that I'm still working on that.
My love of recipe books definitely comes from my childhood. I still love turning the glossy pages and looking at the pretty pictures. I still love the feel of the paper in a book. With the advancement of technology you're likely to find many iPads in modern kitchens. Come to my kitchen and you'll still find me working from recipe books or hand written recipes handed down to me from Mum. There's just something about books that I will always love.
As you can imagine, over the years I've managed to collect a fair few books. Mostly food and baking books but a few religious and health ones thrown in for good measure. When it comes to baking though, there are a select few books that I find myself constantly going back to. This is a list of said books and a brief description of it's content. Perhaps you will find it just as thrilling as I do.
Bluebells Cakery Sweet and Savoury
This is one of two books by Bluebells. You will know them as the popular Auckland bakery, mostly known for their cakes and donuts filled with whipped cream. I have both books, but I find this one to be the better of the two simply because it has more variety. Karla's recipes are mostly centered around celebrations cakes or afternoon tea treats. It's quite the delight if you're a kiwi or British, as most of these recipes are classics.
Sally's Baking Addiction
Sally is one of my most favourite baking bloggers. She's a self taught baker, much like myself, so I totally relate to her. Her recipes are super simple to follow and they are all very well written, some with notes and tips to help you along. This makes all her recipes easy to follow. this book is great for somebody who is starting off in baking and needs everything precisely laid out. The recipes are mostly American-based, so you'll find a lot of cake, pie and cookie recipes.
Possible the most adventurous book of the lot. The caker aka Jordan Rondel has her own little shop here in Auckland where she bakes and sells her cakes. Her take on baking is very different from your average baker. She never uses food coloring, fondant or processed ingredients. Everything is natural and her focus is on making good quality ingredients shine. This book is full of cakes recipes, with some cookie and desserts recipes to sweeten the deal. Some recipes have what one would consider unusual ingredients such as black pepper! It sounds strange, but so far none of her recipes have dissapointed! If you're into fruit and rustic baking, then this book is one to add to your collection.
This book is by the Canadian pastry Chef Rachel Allen. You may have seen her on TV and this book actually has it's own TV series to go with it. The book, much like the title suggests, is full of cake recipes, from tea time to celebration. It's a great book for Mum's who like to bake for their kids or friends. There's a whole section on kids cakes which is rather useful.
The Great New Zealand Baking Book
After The Great NZ Cookbook came out, it seems obvious that this one would follow. This book is choc full of recipes from famous kiwi bakers and chefs. It's full of recipes that Kiwi's love like ginger crunch, coconut ice and victoria sponge cake. There is a good mix of both sweet and savoury recipes. There is also a section of healthier treats. the book features recipes from some well know names like Megan May, Nadia Lim and Dean Brettschneider to name a few. It's the perfect book for someone who likes baking.
Technically not a baking book, neither is the next one, but definitely worth mentioning. Megan May who runs The Unbakery is truly talented when it comes to raw food. This book is full of recipes that are raw, vegan and gluten free. It may sound boring, and some recipes are time consuming but the taste is amazing! I only use this book for it's dessert section, obviously. The other recipes often call for a dehydrator which I don't have. Never the less, the dessert section is substantial and it includes her raw vegan cheesecake recipe, which is to die for. This book is perfect for those who are on a raw/vegan/healthier diet.
Nadia Lim's Fresh Start
Again, this is not a baking book. This book focuses on eating healthy and balanced meals. Along with this healthy eating are a few baking and dessert recipes too! Healthier caramel slice and lemon slice are the two that I've made the most but there are also recipes for muffins, brownies and other treats too. Definitely one to have if you're a person who like treats that are quick to make and lower in fats and sugars.