So it's been less than a year since season three of the Great British Bake Off ended and the winner announce - an all male final and, whilst he was the underdog in the race for the finishing line, Whaite pulled it out of the bag with moments to spare. I knew it wouldn't be long until we saw Whaite's first book hit the shelf and he didn't disappoint. 'John Whaite Bakes: Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood' is the first of many books to come from season three winner of GBBO - confirmed by the fact that Whaite has already announced to the press that he is already working on his second book whilst studying as a pâtissier.
First impressions of the book were good: a high quality book in terms of composition and layout. Titles are bold (so you are unlikely to overlook the recipe you are looking for) and very modern - different to most cookbooks on the shelves right now. I really like the feel of the high quality, matte paper - it shows you're getting good value for money and that they really thought not just of the recipes inside but in a holistic sense also. The book is broken down into several chapters and - although they are not the most useful chapter titles in the world (they don't necessarily indicate a type of bake, i.e. biscuits, cakes, or breads) but, when read in the context of each chapter's introduction (a small insight into Whaite's life in a sort of biography-like style), they make perfect sense. One downside to the layout can be found in the index, which I often use in all my books to pinpoint a recipes I am looking for. In this particular book the index text is a little on the small side so it is difficult to quickly find a recipe by its ingredients. I know one should not be in a rush when cooking or baking but nobody wants to spend forever sifting through pages to find a recipe and not everyone's eyesight is twenty-twenty so it would have been nice if the text in the index had been maybe one or two sizes larger - a small criticism, I know.
'John Whaite Bakes' contains a wide variety of recipes for people of all skill levels and walks of life; whether you like breads or tarts, fancy or homely, your needs are catered for in this book - there's even a section on flavoured syrups and curds. What's more, the book even has a cocktail recipe section - a welcome change from the tradition cookbooks I've bought/read. As I've already mentioned, the book contains both homely, rustic recipes and fancy, stylish recipes (perfect for dinner parties) and so will fit in with whatever style of baking you have in mind for the occasion. For a first book, Whaite has certainly outdone himself in maintaining the the high quality of books being produced by Great British Bake Off winners (and finalists) and, for that, I applaud him.
One point I'd like to bring up is measurements: I really like how Whaite has included measurements for the amount of mix some of the recipes (namely, pastry, custards, etc.) produce for when you're using them in conjunction with other recipes in the book - a nice touch. My only issue with measurements is that the book begins by indicating that it may go on to use both imperial and metric units of measurement but it is a little bit of a let down on that side as it is only tins and moulds which are stipulated in both metric and imperial. It would have been nice for ingredients to be given in both as not everyone is like me, using metric ninety-five per cent of the time - people do still use imperial measurements, you know! Aside from that, however, there has gone a lot of consideration into the book and I really like that.
So, aside from the small text size in the index, the lack of imperial measurements for ingredients, and the lack of a marker ribbon, I would have to say that this is another GBBO success story. Whaite clearly has a passion for baking which is mirrored in his well-thought-out book - his passion for patisserie clearly showing through the book - and, so, I would recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed the 'Bake Off' in the past or any of its former contestants' books; it is, indeed, another GBBO success and I wish Whaite all the best with his further advancement in the culinary world and with his next book which is already in the process of construction.
I picked up my copy of 'John Whaite Bakes: Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood' on offer at £10 in WHSmiths the day it was released but you should be able to get it on offer in selected supermarkets and bookshops.
Happy baking everyone!