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The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook Hardcover – Apr 1 2009
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About the Author
Tarek Malouf opened the first Hummingbird Bakery in London’s Portobello Road in 2004. When he was growing up, his favorite treats were always American desserts and cupcakes, and he later wanted to open a bakery in London that specialized in these treats. A second branch opened in South Kensington in 2004 and a third opened in Soho in December 2009.
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Top Customer Reviews
It also has some savory recipes, cookies and cakes, but the breadth of those is limited.
There are also no detailed instructions on baking basics, like using room temperature butter and eggs. For this, I would recommend the "Magnolia Bakery Cookbook", but that one has only one or two cupcake recipes.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
There have been a number of mixed reviews about this book - in fact, there're quite a few negative ones that almost put me off trying to make anything from the recipes. I really wanted to know if this book was worth anything so I decided to prove it to myself. I am a decent baker; that is to say, I taught myself to cook and bake on a regular basis (often with good success!) but have no real culinary skills or knowledge. However, I do spend enough time in the kitchen to notice that the methods for doing various things in this book is quite different from most recipes that are commonly used. For example, the methods for mixing the cake mixture in Vanilla Cupcakes provide that you first combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and a bit of milk in one bowl; and some eggs, milk and vanilla extract in the other. Once thoroughly incorporated, the book tells you to mix the two together. Now, most recipes would ask you to first beat the egg and sugar in one bowl, add the milk and vanilla, follow by the dry ingredients. But I decided to stick closely to the recipes provided - using whatever amount of ingredients (which may seem "ridiculous" to many people) that the book suggests, and have my fingers crossed. The results? Well, the cupcake recipes (vanilla, chocolate and the velvet cupcakes) that I've attempted so far have turned out pretty good! They're all very tasty and do not appear to be "dry" or "inedible" in any way. My guess is that for those of you who are rather experienced would question the validity of the recipes and so instead of sticking to the book, would be tempted to do "what they think is best" - which is probably why there're more experienced bakers complaining about their various failures, etc. So my advice is for you to turn blind eyes and ears and just follow the recipes to the letter, even though your experience and "instinct" are telling you otherwise!
***The book itself is simply beautiful. It is well laid-out, divided into several sections like cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, etc. The recipes include: the basic vanilla/chocolate cupcakes, lemon cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, strawberry cheesecake cupcakes, lavender cupcakes, hazelnut and chocolate cupcakes, coconut and pineapple cupcakes, banana and chocolate cupcakes, pumpkin cupcakes, marshmallow cupcakes, ginger cupcakes, hummingbird cake, carrot cake, brooklyn blackout cake, coffee cake, blueberry cake, spiced pound cake, banana bread, nutty apple loaf lemon loaf, New York cheesecake, icebox banana cheesecake, lemon meringue pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, mississippi mud pie, apple pie, brownies, muesli bars, rocky road bars, ham and mushroom muffins, spinach and cheese muffins, blueberry muffins, banana and cinnamon muffins, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, white chocolate and pecan cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and gingerbread men. The photographs are all stunning, you get to see exactly what your cakes should look like.***
However, I must say that since I own over 200 books on cakes, cookies, ice cream and desserts, this book doesn't give you a very wide range of recipes - hence why I've given it 4 stars. The book is quite thin and it does have "enough" to keep you entertained for a while, but I prefer to have more choices so I usually have several books on very specific subjects. For example, if you're looking for a good book on cookies, I'd recommend "Martha Steward's Cookies", "The Good Cookie" and "Great Cookies"; for cakes, I'd recommend "Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book" and "Southern Cakes"; for cupcakes, I'd recommend "Cupcake Heaven", "The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake" and "Cupcakes: Luscious Bakeshop Favorites"; for general baking/desserts "Desserts by the Yard", "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts", "Jim Fobel's Old-fashioned Baking Book"; for ice cream "Ices", "The Ultimate Book of Ice Cream", "The Perfect Scoops"; and for chocolate, I'd recommend "The Essence of Chocolate" and "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts".
Overall, if you're truly passionate about cakes and are NOT looking for "healthy" cakes (whatever that means!), you'll love this book. It'll be a great addition to your cook book collection, although I wouldn't say that this will be the ONLY book you'll need, because the book just simply doesn't offer enough varieties in the long-run. I've also been to the bakeries in London and I am happy to announce that my most recent batch did taste rather closely similar to the "real" things! I can assure you that this book will give you some great ideas and the pictures will be able to keep you coming back to the book time and time again!
P.S. I've also noticed that a few people have been comparing this book with Magnolia Bakery Book. I own all of them (2 by Magnolia, 2 by Buttercup Bakeshop and The Hummingbird Bakery) - and I'd NEVER pick the Buttercup Bakeshop over the other two. In fact, The Hummingbird bakery book actually contains MORE cupcakes recipes than those Magnolia books! It should also be noted that none of these books offer "healthy" goodies! Have fun baking!
As a keen home baker I first read through the methods and thought, "Well, I can make them better than that..." and do you know what? I couldn't. I overcomplicated my first attempt at Lemon cupcakes, changing quantities, changing methods, and they ended in disaster.
Since then, I've followed each recipe to the letter and triumphed every time.
In suggesting you follow each recipe "to the letter", I would also recommend you do your best to overlook the amount of sugar in the cake bases - it looks like a lot, but the finished cakes are moist and most definatly not over-sweet. I know, as i've made most of them!
I would stress, however, that the cakes in here are most definatly `sometimes' foods. Ideal for afternoon teas or other special occasions where you want to impress your guests with something that sounds home-made, but looks and tastes store-bought (in a good way).
I can't help thinking, also, that the recipes are so simple they would probably be great for kids to get involved with also.
170C = 338F
180C = 356F
190C = 374F
200C = 392F
220C = 428F
It's a lovely book, really well photographed and provides recipes for cupcakes, ring cakes (typically the type of cakes I would normally bake in a loaf), more luxurious layer cakes, cheesecakes and some nice biscuits and brownie ideas. However, there is not much variety in each of these areas, and I would have liked to have seen more of their recipes in it.
I have seen the criticisms and I was concerned when I first baked something from the book. However, if you buy this book, you just have to follow the recipes TO THE LETTER, no matter how wierd the quantities, or how unusual the mixture looks before you spoon it into the cases/tins(it is often runnier than you would normally expect). The trick is to ensure you have everything right - the oven temperature exactly as stated in the book, the quantities, tin sizes, no overmixing, and everything done in the order and in the method described. The Hummingbird Bakery website makes a great deal of this. I have made some of the cupcakes, rocky road and browines from the book and so long as I stuck to the instructions like glue (despite what my brain and eyes were telling me), they were all absolutely fine.