Sunday, November 12, 2017

HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN Review: Soulful Baker by Julie Jones

Title: Soulful Baker: From highly creative fruit tarts and pies to chocolate, desserts and weekend brunch
Author: Julie Jones
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 21st 2017
Source: Netgalley

Book Description:

Julie bakes with love. It's her secret ingredient." Pierre Koffmann

From apple rose and plum and frangipane tarts, to lemon madeleines and muddle cake, trampoline bread and grissini to chocolate ganache, delizia di limone to banana, pecan, and chocolate muffins and fluffy pancakes, this incredible bake book has all the recipes you need to create something beautiful, imaginative and impressive. Whether you're making pies or cakes, bread or brunch, this stunning book is full of recipes that bakes that feeds your soul as well as your stomach.
Baking became a form of therapy for Julie Jones when her mother, who taught her to bake, was diagnosed with dementia. They began baking together again, and Julie started her Instagram account as a way to document this precious time and now her delicious recipes are available for the first time as a sumptuous cookbook that would make an inspired addition to any kitchen bookshelf!
Learn to cook crafted, beautifully styled pies, tarts, cakes and bakes, but be sure to cook with Julie's secret ingredient – love.

Across the 175+, heavily illustrated pages, you’ll find chapters on:

Fruit Tarts and Pies, containing recipes like apple rose tart and plum and frangipane tart, plus pastry decoration techniques
Cakes, Bakes and Treats, with dipped lemon madeleines and muddle cake, as well as tips for getting cream fillings right every time
Bread and Yeasted Dough, with trampoline bread and grissini
Chocolate, including a stunning triple chocolate celebration cake and chocolate ganache
Desserts, with delizia di limone and a meringue sharing nest wreath
Weekend Breakfast and Brunch, with banana, pecan, and chocolate muffins and fluffy pancakes



I was drawn into this book immediately. Between the gorgeous cover and the delicious sounding recipes that are included in the blurb, plus the fact that the holidays are rapidly approaching, I was happy to jump into it. Overall it was worth flipping through, but not a must-have book for me.

The book is divided into sections by the type of baking, including: fruit tarts and pies, cakes bakes and treats, bread and yeasted dough, chocolate, desserts, and weekend breakfast and brunch. This is a pretty standard and efficient way to collect recipes, and makes it easy to find what you're looking for.

I'll start off with what I liked best about this book. The photography is fantastic. There are a LOT of photos in this book, which I love. I'm a big fan of cookbooks that have photos with every recipe, and in this regard Soulful Baker delivers. And the photos that are included are very beautifully done, it's like looking at works of art. Delicious, chocolaty works of art. The decorations that the author does are stunning. While there are a lot of base recipes and recipes for things such as frostings, there are also decoration techniques in here such as crystallized flowers. These things are absolutely lovely to look at.

There are also a lot of really warm, touching stories included about her family, namely her mother and her children. It's clear that the author has a connection to baking, and takes great care in making the desserts she makes as stunning as she does.

But there were some not so nice parts too. As I mentioned, there's a lot of decoration techniques in here. The variety is great, but so is the complication level. Personally, most of these things are not things I would make on any given day. They are things I would toil over in order to impress my fiance's family or a special guest. This is definitely not a beginner's book on baking.

When not talking about her family or mother, the tone gets a little less warm, and a bit more snobby. I know that's a weird thing to say about a cookbook, but there's a lot of things that, because of the tone, come off as humble-braggy. "When I cooked for X or Y chef" or "When I got married in Italy..." Neither of these things alone is a bad thing- Italy is beautiful and it's awesome that she got to work with such great chefs, genuinely! But it just doesn't read quite right.

The formatting isn't great either, when it comes to the recipes. The ingredient lists and steps become very clunky, very quickly. Apparently this book is British. Instead of sticking with one set of terms or another, both are included. What I mean is that it will say "clingfilm (plastic wrap)", "baking tin (pan)" and biscuit (cookie). I know I'm an American but... I could have figured this out. And if it needs to be included, put a glossary or something in the back just in case. Adding multiple terms for the same thing made everything bulkier and longer.

Anywho, with that out of the way, complex or not there are a ton of recipes in this book that sound absolutely mouthwatering. Some of the things that I most look forward to making attempting include the Strawberry Firework Tart with Candied Pistachios and Chocolate Flowers, Grape & Thyme Focaccia, and White Chocolate Crème Brûlée Tart.

All in all this book is beautiful, but not for the casual baker. It's a great gift for those who are dedicated to baking, or for those who just love to look at beautiful food.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.


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