I fell in love with this book long before it arrived in South Africa and when I saw a few of the spreads. It was love at first sight. As an extremely keen baker, I am always on the look out for exceptional baking books and have been so disappointed in the past with ones claiming to be the best- ever or the complete – book etc. In reality there is no such thing.

Annie Bell is an award wining food writer, and in this book she tries to fit in all her favourite tried and tested recipes. For the sake of longevity, the collection focuses on a lot of classics, but also includes many fashionable baking treats, and a few not-so fashionable ones that she loves.

The exquisite food styling and photography caught my attention first. Thoroughly modern in the look and feel, it is simple, clean and shot on a very neutral colour palette, allowing the food to completely shine and stand out on the page. It has an edge to it which I find hugely inspiring.

The book is broken into 12 chapters with over 200 triple tested recipes to choose from:

  • cookies and biscuits
  • traybakes and bars
  • the French Quarter
  • muffins, cupcakes and fairy cakes
  • meringues
  • sponge cakes
  • chocolate cakes
  • cheesecakes
  • fruit cakes and ginger cakes
  • celebration cakes
  • tarts and pies
  • easy breads and pancakes

Anyone who dedicates a whole chapter to chocolate cakes certainly gets my vote.

This is a book that I will use for the rest of my life and peruse regularly for inspiration in my own work.

At the beginning of the book there is an introduction and an overview about the ingredients used in the book. She writes about equipment, the art of decoration and flavourings. Her writing style is easy to read and the recipes seem accessible to beginner and advanced bakers alike, and I found it very difficult to choose the fist recipe to bake from it. Since I have recently been on an apple vibe and had a lot around, I chose her deep blackberry and apple streusel and adapted it slightly using blueberries.

This is a little preview of what the book looks like.

The book is distributed by Jacana in South Africa and you will find it in all good book shops for around R300.


  1. Beautiful book. Love that the recipes are triple tested!

  2. Sam

    A pleasure Alicia, I cant wait to bake something else from it

  3. I love this book. It ticks so many boxes for me. Strangely enough the one thing that annoys me is that the UK cover isn’t like the fabulous images inside, whereas your SA copy has a lovely cover image. A mere detail!

  4. Sam

    HI Gloria, I wonder why the have different covers?

  5. Kathleen

    Greetings from Flanders, Sam – and thank you for this review.
    Do you happen to have Annie Bell’s “Gorgeous Cakes” as well ? I wonder how they compare. From some other review I’ve read (may have been Amazon’s) it appears that at least one recipe in this new book is exactly the same as the in the older one cofee/walnut). I don’t mind too much as long as not too many recipies are just copies… I own the “Gorgeous Cakes” and must say I’m not overly enthusiastic about it, but am still tempted to try this one…

  6. Sam

    Hi Kathleen, I have not read(or seen) Gorgeous Cakes, so can’t comment on the repetition of recipes. Perhaps flip through the Bible in a bookshop and see.

  7. Kathleen

    Thanks, Sam. As I live in a Dutch speaking country this is not so easy to do, but I’ll in in London not so long from now, so I’ll have a look there then. Thanks for your time, anyway.

  8. Sam

    Ah yes, I should have been paying more attention. I will look out for the book and let you know, but London is probably best, as Annie Bell is big news in the UK.

  9. kathleen

    it’s a big world…. Please don’t bother on my behalf ! I just asked on the off chance.

  10. I bought this book after reading your blog and have recently been baking her Polenta Cake – absolutely fabulous! I do it slightly differently – beating the butter and sugar first, and then adding in dry ingredients with the eggs – and it is fabulously light. Thank you!

  11. Sam

    I’m glad you enjoy the book as much as I do Candy 🙂

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