As hard as it was to pick the first book to review, I couldn’t resist one of my newer additions to the collection – The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (UK Edition).
Friday had a hint of autumn in the air so it seemed like a perfect day to do some baking. As it turned out I only made one recipe on Friday so continued baking yesterday which wasn’t as much fun – baking (literally both the cake and myself) in 30 degree weather isn’t such a good decision. Thankfully the results of both days more than made up for it!
The hummingbird bakery was opened in Portobello Road, London, in 2004 by Tarek Malouf and is home to the most delicious cupcakes, cakes, pies, brownies, bars, muffins and cookies. This book is a beautiful insight into the bakery and includes the recipes of all of the delicious baking they have to offer.
The cookbook is one of those rare books I have where I want to make every single recipe in it! I’ll admit I’m not much of a baker although I am trying to do more baking and have realised the only way to become good at it is to keep practising!! What a disaster – lots of fresh baking in the house!
I started on Friday with the hazelnut and chocolate cupcakes. Since I have such a sweet-tooth just now I couldn’t resist a recipe that included Nutella in it. I followed the recipe for the cakes exactly (a rarity for me!) and baked them for the suggested 20 minutes, which turned out to be perfect - the sponges were light and airy and as described in the recipe, bounced back slightly when touched. I thought it might be a bit of a pain hollowing out the centre of the cakes to fill with the Nutella but it was easy using a teaspoon and took no time at all. Perhaps my only comment would be that some of the cakes crumbled and fell apart a little when I did it - and I was being gentle! After filling the cakes with a spoonful of Nutella (I didn’t bother to measure the Nutella out at this point, I just put as much as I could fit in each little centre) I topped them with the hazelnut and chocolate frosting. Despite icing them what I considered to be generously, I still had a lot of icing left over – probably almost half, and that was after adding a little extra to each cake. The end result was delicious – a light and moist chocolate sponge with a gooey Nutella centre and a not too sweet frosting, finished with a welcome crunch of hazelnuts. I have to say with the Nutella in the centre, I definitely didn’t need the additional frosting and in future would probably make only half of the suggested quantity.
Saturday was on to the blueberry cake – perfect for this time of year when there is a glut of fresh, local blueberries available. Again I followed the recipe exactly for making the sponge however I had to bake the cake for 20 minutes longer than the suggested 40. It was worth the extra wait however, as I ended up with a beautifully moist and light sponge cake studded with popped blueberries. As with the hazelnut and chocolate cupcakes I did have some extra icing left over, however you definitely do need to double the recipe for this one and after cutting the cake, I perhaps could have been a little less stingy with the icing! Served with a cup of tea this cake was absolutely delicious and would be perfect for feeding to a crowd.
Having already made the vanilla cupcakes in the past (with great success) and now the hazelnut and chocolate cupcakes and the large blueberry cake, I would without any hesitation make all three recipes again (and indeed plan to!), they will just have to wait as there are too many other recipes I want to try first. My sights are set on making the lavender cupcakes; Brooklyn blackout cake; lemon bars; banana loaf; pecan pie; rocky road bars……..the list goes on!
With easy-to-follow recipes and beautiful photography this book is a must buy for any budding baker, the only problem will be deciding what to make first!