I wanted to love this book. Okay, that might make things sound worse than they are. But that's honestly the feeling I am left with. I wanted to love this book, but ultimately, I don't.
It's not a horrible cookbook. But would I recommend it to someone else? Not if they aren't an experienced baker willing to test and adjust a lot of these recipes.
About Edd Kimber, a.k.a. The Boy Who Bakes
If you're not familiar with Edd, check out his social media pages (@theboywhobakes). He is very active on Instagram and has huge following and I admit, I am part of it (that's why I actually purchased this book). Edd came to fame as the first ever winner of The Great British Bake Off. He's since made a name for himself in the baking world having authored a few recipe books already. He's also a contributor for Olive magazine.
Edd is originally from Bradford, West Yorkshire, which is one of the reasons I feel a pull to him. Bradford is where my husband is from and where I lived for 2 years while in the UK. It's.... an experience... to live in Bradford, and anyone who's lived there knows what I mean.
Before this book came out, I'd actually tried a few of Edd's recipes which can be found sprinkled around the web. One I enjoyed very much was his version of Nanaimo Bars, a classic Canadian dessert, but with a holiday twist: peppermint! So I didn't really think twice when I heard this book was coming out. I even pre-ordered it. Something I'd never done for a cook book before.
But now, I'm sad to say, I'm left a little undecided as to where I stand with this book.
One Tin Bakes. Oh what's in a name.
The idea behind this book is that all the recipes can be baked in a 9" x 13" pan.
Sounds great! Pretty much everyone has one of those pans, if not two. And if you don't have one, knowing that you only need to purchase one pan to get through a hundred recipes or so can be very appealing. I guess for this reason, I thought this book would be perfect for pretty much any level of baking experience, but my overall experience so far lets me think that most amateur bakers might be a little overwhelmed by some of the more complex recipes, and underwhelmed by the easier ones.
So far, based on the recipes I have tried, I can say that although they should work for a 9" x 13" pan, they do not. The ratios of batter to pan are often off. When comparing final results to those in the photos it becomes obvious that different pan sizes were used to get the right look.
Although I think it is a great idea to have a thread that unites all the recipes in a book, in this case the fact that you can use one piece of bakeware, some of these are not well adapted and researched, and other's are just a stretch for making them in this sort of pan.
Too much, just too much...
I also mentioned you get over 100 recipes in this book. Honestly, I now know that this is a concern for me. Any author trying to cram so many recipes into a book is either using "filler" - i.e. less than perfect recipes to make it feel complete - or using one basic recipe over and over again and simply providing different versions. This book is guilty of both.
There are many recipes which use the same basic dough recipe so you're really just playing around with variations. I honestly don't mind books that do this. But present them as they truly are - variations and not stand alone recipes. I wouldn't mind it if on one page the basic dough recipe was given, and then on the subsequent pages a series of variations was presented. That would make sense. But in this particular book, you might have a recipe on one page that asks you to go use instructions on a recipe a few pages down, only to come back to the first recipe to complete your work. I honestly was confused.
I've also come to the conclusion that many recipes are guilty of another thing I'm not a huge fan of - sugar for the sake of sugar, butter for the sake of butter. There is one recipe that still leaves me perplexed as to why anyone would add so much butter to a filling when the other ingredients are already providing all the necessary fats to make it a success. Why Edd, why? Other recipes have simply left me cringing at how terribly sweet they are.
It just don't fit!
Lastly, I'm not quite sure I understand the actual physical format of this book. Which honestly, is not something I thought I would ever include in a book review, but I have to mention it. This book is on the smaller side which means that the font used for each recipe is annoyingly small. They've also made an effort to keep each recipe to one page so that the photographs can use up a whole page to themselves. Don't get me wrong, they are beautiful photos. But this book feels like it's battling against Instagram rather than serving it's purpose of sharing with us the recipes. The lack of space is obvious because, as I mentioned before, some recipes use instructions featured on other pages as there is no way all the ingredients and instructions would've fit on a single page. If the recipes didn't fit, why not simply use a more "standard" book size to allow them the space they needed? The paper is also extremely rigid and binding too tig
ht making it impossible to keep this book open while you're following a recipe.
I also just don't like how it sits on my bookshelf. There I said it!
I feel bad for being so hard on this book but I truly thought it would be the perfect staple for any kitchen bookshelf and I am sad to say it is not. Out of curiosity I had a quick look online for other reviews and unsurprisingly I am not the only experienced baker complaining that most of the recipes do not work.
Though many of the flavor combinations and ideas Edd wanted to explore in this book are worthy, I think he should have kept the content to at least half and taken more time to perfect all the recipes. As it stands, they need too much adjusting, tweaking and trying - all things the author and his team should have perfected before publication.
I thought this review wouldn't be complete with a few notes on each recipe I tried, so you can find more below.
Do you own One Tin Bakes? What were your thoughts? I'd love to hear more :)
More on specific recipes....
Espresso Cacao Nib Morning Buns
This was the first recipe I tried. I was excited to hear about a recipe paying homage the traditional treat from San Francisco. I've learned about so many top notch bakers and bakeries sprouting from San Francisco that I actually can't wait to be able to travel again and visit this city and explore the baking scene.
This recipe was a little overly complex for my liking and at the end I wasn't exactly sure why I was baking these in a 9" x 13" pan. The coffee flavor really didn't come through in this recipe and as someone who loves coffee, I want to taste it! Edd also attempts to swap out the traditional croissant pastry for brioche in an attempt to make them less faffy - not everyone enjoys laminating dough - but in the end, you're putting in just as
much work and the result is just not as good.
Raspberry Cheesecake Streusel Squares
I honestly felt like every Edd Kimber follower on Instagram was trying out this recipe shortly after the book launched as I saw so many posts about it. This recipe is one of the more straightforward ones and I love raspberry anything so if there's a recipe I had to make, this was at the top of my list.
I've made a note that I don't think it works for a 9" x 13" pan because once you've filled the bottom of the pan with enough of the streusel to get a nice base layer, then you're barely left with enough to sprinkle on top. The recipe is also very sweet and I don't think you actually need to put any sugar whatsoever in the cheesecake layer. I will try this recipe again in a 9" x 9" pan and adjusting the cheesecake layer, maybe cutting everything down to 2/3 and omitting sugar.
Where to start with this one... *sigh*
I actually love chocolate and hazelnut, I mean, who doesn't? So I thought this would be the dreamiest version of a blondie ever. They were good, but could've been way better with some simple tweaks.
The amount of notes I made for modifying this recipe we're seriously just too much.
Once again, the recipe won't work in a 9" x 13" pan (how many times have I said that now???). I used a 7" x 11" pan because I wanted there to have a nice height to them and it worked. I also think a 9" x 9" pan would've been spot on.
The recipe offers you both weight measures in grams and cups measures so if you don't have a kitchen scale, you should technically be okay. Technically. But not really, because some measures are only given in cups (???). I decided to stick to the cups measure for this one because the 2nd ingredient called for 365g brown sugar - that sounded immense to me - or 1 2/3 cup - which seemed more reasonable. The cup measure, when weighed out came to 280g of sugar. Hello!!! Why do I pay for a recipe book if this is the type of mistake in there?
To me, the most important ingredient in this recipe is clearly the hazelnuts. The ingredients list says you'll need 200g. I had a full jar and I could only get 140g so that's what I opted for. And it was more than enough. Note that hazelnuts are actually quite expensive and I didn't appreciate using so many in one single recipe. I was also sad to see that the hazelnut flavor didn't come through in the end. I strongly feel the nuts should be toasted to help bring out the oils and flavors to shine through the brown butter batter and compete with the chocolate. And the chocolate is another bit that annoyed me. Because it was suggested that you sprinkle some on top at the end before baking. I think using something like Nutella and creating a swirl on the surface of these blondies would have 1) made them look fancier and 2) added more to that chocolate + hazelnut flavor profile.
Chocolate Tahini Babka Buns
This recipe was an epic fail for me the first time I tried it so I was determined to make it again. I don't think my failure it was entirely the book's fault, but it did lack some detail or precision to make it a success.
I didn't appreciate that the instructions said to use the ingredients on this page, but the instructions on another page. It just felt lazy.
Then for the chocolate tahini filling, it said to use 100g of chocolate, 100g butter and 100g of tahini. I don't know what the butter is doing here except adding a ton of fat and making the filling way too runny. I would leave it out completely. The tahini and chocolate together are enough filling and can easily be spread across the dough.
I made the mistake of taking the dough out before my filling was actually ready. This meant the dough was way too warm and soft by the time I tried to cut it into the 12 rolls and pop them into the pan for proofing. It also resulted in over proofing so the filling, which I thought was too runny, didn't stay between the layers. My bad! When they came out of the oven, I tried pouring the final syrup over top but it just went straight through all the gaps and didn't stick to the surface.
Will try again and provide an update!