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The Great British Cake Off is illustrated by Harriet Popham, published by Harper Collins and is from my personal collection. I was extremely excited about the prospect of this book as soon as I found out about its publication and had to wait weeks until its publishing date to see what it was going to be like. I saw a few photos of inside and was really disappointed but after managing to find it reduced a few days after launch, I decided to give it a go and I’m SO glad I did as the images I saw weren’t representative of the contents at all! Get your apron on, oven pre-heating and let’s head into the Great British Bake Off tent and see if this book is a recipe for success. Without further ado – on your marks, get set, colour! Get yourself ready for a truly cake-tastic review!
This book is paperback, 25cm square (the same size as JB and MM’s books) and contains 96 pages of beautiful cake-y illustrations. The best thing about these cakes? They’re calorie free so you can colour to your heart’s content and not worry about gaining those extra pounds, you might even lose a few as you become so engrossed in colouring that you forget to have your teatime snack. The pages are printed double-sided and the spine is glue-bound meaning a little of each image is lost into the spine but this does improve as the spine loosens up with use. The images are mostly single pages but a few double-page spreads are included too. The majority of the images are baked goods including cakes, cupcakes, tiered cakes, macarons, and page upon page of novelty cakes. Interspersed with these, are images of oven gloves, baking equipment, kitchen scenes and tea party spreads, many of which are very Cath Kidston-esque. The images also include many of the bakes featured through the series of the much-loved tv show The Great British Bake Off, including tarte tatin, croquembouche, gingerbread sculptures, Charlotte Royale, Kransekake, Schittorte, Swedish Princess cake, Povitica, battenberg and many more (if you remember all of those and already know what they all look like then you’re a true die-hard Bake Off fan, congratulations, you get a Special Commendation – Just like Paul in series 6 got for his Lion bread)! The paper is bright white, fairly thick and very lightly textured, I checked my water-based fineliners and fibre-tips and they rarely bled through but did heavily shadow so this book is definitely one to be kept for pencils (also, the black ink transfers under pressure so pop a protective sheet behind your work or pressing too hard will leave you with design transfer on the pages behind). However, don’t despair, the image content is so well-suited to pencils that you won’t mind not being able to use your pens because it really calls for pastel shades and you can get practising your blending, shading and highlighting skills to make your tempered chocolate have the perfect shine and your pieces of fruit looking really juicy. Settle yourself down with a cup of tea and a slice of cake (purely for research purposes of course), get your icing-coloured pencils out and start decorating those cupcakes and macarons.
In terms of mental health, I personally found this book fantastic! If you like cakes then this book has to be on your must-have list. It’s sure to cheer you up and improve your mood because the cakes are so beautiful and it might even inspire your baking (if you like to bake). I found the book really calming and very distracting, there are so many little details that you notice each time you flick through the pages allowing you to become totally absorbed and I really noticed my worries melting away as I coloured my lovely three-tiered cake. The images are fairly detailed and intricate and are all drawn in a thin or medium thickness line so you need fairly good, but not perfect, vision and fine motor control. You need a fairly good level of concentration in order to stay within the lines, focus on the recipe fully, get your measurements right and be able to colour the images to the best of your ability, but this is great because it means your symptoms can take a back seat and you can just enjoy colouring some deliciousness. Twelve of the images have small written hints telling you what some of the more obscure bakes are and suggesting you pipe the frosting in your favourite colours or asking what flavour sponges you might concoct. I’m not a fan of written hints in books because I don’t like having text on the page as I find it detracts a little from the finished look of the page, however, I do make an exception for this book because the cake-naming is actually really useful for those cakes that you’d have no idea what they were without the text.
There are certainly some technical challenges and some that you can truly colour into your own signature bake and more still that will hopefully become showstoppers! This book is sure to make you hungry and get you hunting through your recipe books for inspiration and to make tasty treats to snack on when you need a break from colouring. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves cake, baking, or the Great British Bake Off because this really is the ultimate book for cake-lovers, it completely transports you back to the Bake Off tent!
If you get a copy of this book then be sure to avoid Mel wearing your tuille as bracelets and Sue accidentally elbowing your English muffins. Keep your colouring area a disaster-free zone and for goodness’ sake, colour slowly so that nothing needs to be discarded and we can all avoid another episode of “bin-gate”, I’m still not sure I’m over the trauma of the Baked Alaska challenge! You can take your finished pages and offer them up on the Gingham Altar for Mary and Paul to poke, prod, and almost certainly tell you it’s under-blended or over-shaded, but perhaps, if you’re lucky enough, you might just get crowned Star Colourer for the week and receive the coveted handshake from Paul – we can all dream can’t we?! This book truly offers you a way to have your cake, and eat it! Happy Colouring and Happy Baking – I’d love to see your attempts at either activity over on my Facebook page which can be found here.
If you’d like to purchase a copy then head below:
Amazon UK – The Great British Cake Off
Book Depository Worldwide – http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Great-British-Cake-off-Harriet-Popham/9780008159535/?a_aid=colouringitmom
The image below was coloured using Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils which are the crème de la crème of the pencil world and I would highly recommend them for this book. If you’re on a tighter budget then I would also highly recommend the Marco Raffine coloured pencils which you can read my review of here.