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The Great British Bake Off Christmas by Lizzie Kamenetzky

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up here >>

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Andrea Gordon

I received this beautifully illustrated book with joy and couldn’t wait to try some of the easy-to-follow recipes. The Apple and Pear crumble slices worked perfectly and looked as good as the illustration. Always a good sign. However, there was no ‘portion warning’ on the Cinnamon and Raspberry Whirl Wreath. It was huge when risen, and needed a longer working space than any working top in my semi-detached kitchen allows. The recipe didn’t suggest it would feed the 5,000... Next time, I’ll use half-quantities.

Lots of recipes to tempt vegetarians or pescatarians through the holiday season; Caramelised Onion and Stilton Tart and Beetroot, Watercress and Goat’s Cheese Tart are just two. However, check recipe contents before you shop. Not all are stock store-cupboard items. And would somebody please tell me what ‘cornichons’ are? This is not a book for anyone watching their waist-line. True it’s the season of over-indulgence and most of the super-luxury recipes for yummy treats like Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cream Profiteroles, use copious quantities of butter, sugar, cream and chocolate. There are several handy ideas for interesting use of left-overs, too, such as Creamy Turkey and Tarragon Cobbler and Paul’s Hand-Raised Boxing Day Pie.

Highly recommended as a lovely early Christmas present to impress guests or to offer your Christmas host. Enjoy, and keep weight watching in reserve as a New Year Resolution.

Diane Mitchell

I was very impressed with the appearance and layout of this book, the recipes were clearly explained and the photographs of the dishes completed the picture. I had been looking for a different Christmas cake recipe for a change this year so I am going to make Mary's classic Christmas cake. As we have meat, fish and veggie eating guests over Xmas I am particularly looking forward to trying out the beef and beer pie, the salmon wellington and the caramelised onion and stilton tart. If they taste as good as they look I should have some very satisfied guests.

Gerard Irwin

Being recently retired, and therefore an “apprentice cook”, I am always looking for new ideas and cooking tips. GBBO Christmas is a little treasury of interesting, delicious recipes for the Christmas season – some small, some large, some easy, some less so, but all appetising and well explained.

It’s still six weeks to Christmas so some recipes will have to wait; but the smoked salmon soufflé omelette was just too tempting. A simple, tasty dish well within the reach of a new cook, and the results won me complements all round. Why was I afraid of soufflés?

My weakness at Christmastide is nibbles and this book contains lots of ideas for tasty little morsels, sweet and savoury, both for parties and for visitors. I wonder if family and friends will leave any for me?

I can’t wait to try out some of the after Christmas dishes when I eventually regain control of the kitchen. But be warned! This is not a book for dieters; cream, butter and eggs are very much in evidence. Come the New Year less fattening ingredients will have to be tried in preparation for next summer’s cruise.

Sally McNally

This book is visually very appealing, enticing you to try out numerous recipes, and knowing the people and series behind it gives the reader confidence in the recipes. The recipes are clear and easy to follow. However, on trying out my first recipe from the book I was sorely disappointed with the results; as soon as my eyes alighted on the recipe I felt excited about it being delicious and wanted to bake it straightaway, but sadly it did not live up to expectations. By comparison to the usual version of this cake that I make, it was a poor texture, it didn't cook through in the time indicated, and my oven is usually very reliable, and the end product didn't look as appetising as the version in the book. I decided not to be too despondent though and test out a savoury recipe instead, and this time had much more success with the final outcome, appetising to look at and very, very tasty. So my verdict: if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, this book is definitely worth testing out.

Sue Delaney

This delicious cake is one of the easiest to make using the "all in one" method. The chocolate ganache is not the usual hard chocolate topping for a Tunis cake but once decorated with the marzipan holly leaves and berries it looked good.

I can thoroughly recommend this cake, as can my guests who were very impressed with the way it looked and commented on its lightness yet full bodied taste.

Why not try this as an alternative to a heavy fruit cake over the Festive Season, it's so quick to make, I know that I shall be making another!

Muriel Hall

What a lovely book! It looks great, with clear print and photos showing food that you can’t wait to cook and eat. It is well laid out with sections dealing with gifts, planning for Christmas and New Year, and cooking on the actual days themselves. It makes a welcome change to being told each year only how to cook the perfect turkey and Brussel sprouts!

It covers everything you need to know for Christmas cooking: cakes and biscuits, dinners and suppers, parties and gifts. I especially liked the sections on food to cook and freeze before the big days, and the culinary presents that could be made.

There are a variety of recipes, including those for vegetarians. The ingredients and instructions are clear and concise, and easy to follow. I am especially looking forward to baking the frangipane mince pies, which as the book says “elevates these humble mince pies to showpieces”.

It is too late to receive this book as a present on Christmas Day. You want it by October so that you can plan and prepare for the holidays; so ideal for a birthday towards the end of the year or just buy it for yourself.

Yvonne Hunter

  • Provides everyone with the guidance and opportunity to produce food of the quality expected of successful chefs / bakers and impress friends and family with their cooking / baking skills
  • Excellent range of food to tantalise all tastes - savoury and sweet and all ages
  • Very useful to have menus to make complete meals and snacks all in one book
  • Great to have alternative suggestions to make the menus slightly different or to suit specific tastes
  • Tips are really helpful in reducing the possibilities of ‘disasters’
  • Thinking ahead is useful for saving time and money
  • Book is well presented, well-illustrated and easily readable – great book to dip in and out of
  • Ingredients are easily sourced and within a ‘sensible’ price range

Valerie Morgan

Attractive cover, good size for handling, reasonably priced.

Many recipe pictures clear and look appealing others seem irrelevant.

Liked the idea of the different coloured print, red for title and description.

Lighter print for methods very difficult to read in certain lights, especially whilst trying to cook, also noticed by friends who looked at the book.

Symbol indicating possibility of freezing would be useful.

Some methods were very long and over detailed with unnecessary words used. I understand that not everyone has a good basic knowledge of food preparation but it could also put them off as looking too complicated, can also happen if list of ingredients long and have to be bought.

All recipes should have oven temperatures, size and preparation of tins etc. at the top of instructions so you are prepared, often people do not read all the method before they start. Some recipes it is hidden in detailed method.

The tips given are useful but if going to be over the page may be better at beginning of recipe.

I tried Ham and Parsley Sauce Pie and blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Tart halving the quantity in both.

Different, enjoyed them and they were easy to follow.

Rowena Hensman

This book will provide fabulous food right through the Christmas festivities.

It has very attractive, tempting illustrations, I would have preferred half page ones so each recipe could be illustrated. I liked the chronological content and the layout of each recipe is clear and easy to follow. It will be much used in our house over Christmas.

As I am helping on a Christmas Fayre cake stall the recipes I tried were:

  • Lebkuchen Stars may be small but they pack a punch of full on Christmas flavours! Well worth having to stock up your spice cupboard. 
  • Stained Glass Tree Biscuits will it work? Yes it does and great to do with children, mind you the rolling pin was a bit battered after the fight with the sweets! These are very attractive and the texture and flavour improves on keeping. 
  • St. Stephen’s Day Muffins This meant having to have Christmas pudding to have some leftovers, husband thought Christmas had arrived early! These keep all the Christmas flavours alive but are nice and light in texture, much better than a solid lump of pudding lurking in the fridge.

Pamela Smith

This very attractive book contains lots of recipes from both Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood but no photographs of the two of them, making it look and feel refreshingly like a proper cookbook rather than a celebrity spin-off. It does feature some past contestants and winners from ‘Bake Off’ in jolly festive settings, with their ideas for all sorts of eatables – not only baking, but also main courses and party buffet food. There are traditional recipes such as Mary’s classic Christmas cake and Yule log, and Paul’s mince pies, but plenty of new ideas too, many of them simple but really delicious, such as ‘Apple and Pear Crumble Slices’ – described as ‘somewhere between a crumble and a cake’. It’s a treat to have a new cookbook which is a pleasure to look at and read, quite apart from providing such clear, practical and achievable recipes.

Catherine Wolff

This is a festive Christmas feast in a book and would make an ideal gift for any home cook.

There are easy to follow recipes for all sorts of dishes, from those using leftovers such as ham pasta, to a luxurious classic Christmas cake. I love the idea of the charming nativity gingerbread figures which my grandchildren would love.

There is a tempting recipe for baked ham which we are going to try this year.

The book is thoughtfully presented with the ingredients and method on a single page and evocative, mouth-watering photographs to tempt you.

We have just made the apple and pear crumble cake and delicious warm, spicy aromas filled the kitchen, bringing hints of cozy winter nights to come.

Whilst you may not want to make every dish in the book, there is something for all the different periods of the Christmas season, ranging from decorative advent calendar biscuits to magnificent centrepieces such as beef Wellington. I will be using this book each Christmas from now on.

Mary Ames

Initially I thought: “not more Christmas cake and pudding recipes to add to the many”, but in fact there is a wide variety of recipes.

Firstly I made Stilton and Bacon Muffins. These were very tasty, but lacked a subtle appearance, so perhaps not party food as suggested, but more suitable for a picnic.

Next I chose the Sticky Clementine and Star Anise Drizzle Loaf. My husband, a lover of cake, gave an enthusiastic endorsement to this. It was delicious.

I followed that with Seedy Flatbreads for Cheese. The mixture was too moist and too seedy, even for me, not baking well. Disappointing as I had high hopes of these.

Finally I made Lebkuchen Stars and these were a resounding success and I’ll be making plenty of them in the run-up to Christmas.

The recipes are easy to follow but fan oven temperatures are not given. The book has superb photographs although the less familiar couronne and panforte are not illustrated, yet doughnuts and pizza are!

A useful cookery book with some tips for advance preparation - helpful at a busy time – and I‘ll be trying more of the recipes.

Peter Siddons

We have already bought three copies of this super book to give to our closest friends at Xmas.

It really does provide something new in what is an area which has many varied and numerous publications.

The recipes in general are interesting and different with some new angles on old favourites, but thankfully does not spend pages on the traditional Turkey and Trimmings for Xmas lunch recipe. Instead it offers some genuine alternatives for Xmas Eve and the day itself. The Venison Pie is already made and frozen and will feature at our celebrations.

This is a book which can be used all year and of particular value is the Come On Over chapter, which features recipes for those large gatherings that we all get involved with. Also the chapter Days in Between details some innovative answers as to what to do with the leftovers and the like.

As a tester we made the Beetroot, Watercress and Goats Cheese Tart and it was delicious, so good in fact that another two were frozen for later.

All in all, a great Xmas book, which will be useful and used all the year round. Hope the Viking Cruises chefs dip into it !

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