Cookbook Review

Cookbook Review: Quinntessential Baking

Frances Quinn was the winner of the 4th series (or 2nd season, here in the United States) of The Great British Bake Off  in 2013. On the show, Quinn stood out from her fellow competitors through her creative sense of style and design that imbued all of her recipes. In one early challenge, she was inspired by how classic bread sticks look like fireplace matches, so she flavored them with ginger, dipped them in chocolate, and tucked her bread/matchsticks away in an over-sized match box. In another challenge that required the contestants to bake a Victorian sandwich cake, she used a baking tin to make her cake in the shape of sandwich bread, making clever use of fondant as a parchment sandwich bag. Quinn’s aesthetic sense of design found its way into every challenge and into her new cookbook, Quinntessential Baking.

The cookbook is ingeniously separated by recipe where each basic recipe, like Vanilla Cake, is given a makeover only Frances Quinn could produce: a fanciful take on the classic Strawberry Shortcake, Wimbledon-inspired cupcakes, and Fish and Chips cupcakes, to name a few. I was especially impressed by her chapter devoted to Tiffin, a brownie-like cake that contains chopped chocolate, crunchy treats, and other creative add-ins. Quinn uses the basic idea of a Tiffin cake and transforms it into cake pops, seed cakes, and a Malted Milk and Cookies Tiffin.

As I was flipping through the cookbook, I had to stop at the Coffee Shot ‘Cup’ Cakes recipe. This was it. This would be the first thing I made from her cookbook. Baked in paper coffee cups and adorned with whipped mascarpone, the treats are  the perfect coffee cup doppelgangers – they certainly impressed me and my lucky coworkers! Quinn’s treats are high-style and high-substance, with every ingredient well thought out. Below, a sprinkle of cocoa or a dusting of cinnamon add to the flavor, appearance, and overall design of the ‘Cup’ Cakes.

One note for any baker in the United States: Quinn’s recipes are based on traditional English measurements and temperatures, so expect to break out your kitchen scale and Google some Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion.

Frances Quinn’s Quinntessential Baking is an absolute joy to read and peruse as you debate what treat you and some friends (or you and your children) might want to tackle this weekend. I would highly recommend this book for any cookbook lover or any baker for it truly represents the Quinntessence of whimsical, joyful baking.

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