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Book review – The Fabulous Baker Brothers

05 April 2012 by
Book review – The Fabulous Baker Brothers

The Fabulous Baker Brothers By Tom and Henry Herbert
Headline Publishing Group, £20
ISBN 978-0-7553-6365-0

The Fabulous Baker Brothers is a boy's cookery book, written by two big boys, Tom and Henry Herbert. The brothers' great-grandmother was a baker's daughter in the late 1900s who married Thomas Herbert, a blacksmith in the Cotswold village of Down Ampney.

After Herbert found himself out of business as a result of a mercenary landowner bringing in his own farrier, the couple were helped out by a passing tradesman who was looking to set up a new bakery. Provided with the necessary yeast and flour, the Herberts were soon in business as bakers.

It was their son, David - Tom and Henry's grandfather - who launched the family's first bakery in 1920. It may have moved a couple of times, but Hobbs House Bakery continues to operate today in Chipping Sodbury, with a butchery next door. A year ago, the Hobbs House Bistro opened in Nailsworth as the third element of the Herbert empire.

Both fifth generation bakers, Tom and Henry well and truly have bread in their genes. Tom, who has been named Young Baker of the Year in the past, aims to "do for bread what Rick Stein has done for fish", while Henry, a graduate from Westminster Catering College and former head chef of the award-winning pub the Coach & Horses in Clerkenwell, London, is now a butcher who spends his time reviving old recipes and has a mission to help restore Britain's food culture.

Written to accompany the recent Channel 4 television series, the book is full of hearty recipes such as the combine harvester loaf (seeded, oaty, spelt loaf) or the smoking squirrel cob (smoky cob loaf with cobnuts and elderberries), Scotch eggs, slider burgers (made with chuck steak), beef wellington and ‘get out of trouble' chocolate cake, which is quick, light and versatile. There is certainly nothing prissy about these dishes.

The chapters cover the basics of baking - incorporating ingredients, techniques and kit required - and lots of bread recipes. Alongside traditional recipes, such as potted shrimp and roast chicken, are more modern recipes for sourdough and soda bread. The concluding chapter called Things Men Like to Make offers the likes of cassoulet, and steamed date and walnut pudding.

This book would make a great gift for any aspiring chef as the recipes are straightforward and easy to follow. Supported by great imagery by Chris Terry, The Fabulous Baker Brothers is also perfect for providing inspiration for pubs serving seriously good grub.

If you like this, you'll love these:Short and Sweet Dan Lepard
â-The Hairy Bikers' Big Book of Baking Si King & Dave Myers
â-Bread Revolution Duncan Glendinning and Patrick Ryan

By Lisa Jenkins

E-mail your comments to Lisa Jenkins here.

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