The Hungry Student- Easy Baking by Charlotte Pike (Book Review)

During the summer holidays while in York shopping with my two kids I spotted another  cookery book I liked the sound of: “The Hungry Student- Easy Baking”   The front cover caught my eye with it’s distinctive pink colouring and the statement “The first baking book just for students!”

The inside front cover reads: “Be the most popular housemate ever with these supereasy recipes for cakes, bakes, cookies, breads, muffins and much more!”

It is nearly 20 years since I graduated from teacher training college with my B.Ed Honours degree. Or long ago, in the Stone Age as my kids tell me. Although I started off living on crap such as Pot Noodles, I soon learned to cook the odd things for myself and for my friends. I can remember making lasagne for about 8 of us and trying to put broccoli in it. It was still rock hard when it came out of the oven!  The rest of it was edible though.  The rest of the time I used to have veggie grills with different veg, and make bologneses and chiliis or chicken sweet and sour. This would involve a Weightwatchers cooking sauce, not being made from scratch!

I did scoff at the thought of baking though, maybe it was because when I lived in halls we had a tiny Baby Belling that had to do for everyone who lived on that whole corridor.  You had to wait your turn to cook your dinner or shove it in the bottom of the oven when no one was looking.  I did live out for one year though and that was much easier for cooking, although I didn’t really like using the cooker there as it was a gas one.  I know it sounds silly now but I had grown up with electric cookers.

 Baking was the furthest thing from my mind though I did try to bake biscuits on teaching practice with a group of Reception children.  That did not go to plan as I forgot to bring the eggs and had to dash out to the shop before school for some more.  Then the biscuits stuck to the baking tray.  So baking was certainly not on my student radar back then.  Maybe things are different now! For a start home baking has had a massive revival since my student days in the early 1990’s.

My two children are nearly 16 and 13 and are fairly keen in the kitchen.  I wasn’t as a teenager but got into it as I became a parent.  I thought if I treated them to a copy of The Hungry Student books then they would have a good repertoire of recipes they could use and wouldn’t starve.

So, back to this book.  As a student you are most probably limited in space and in equipment as well as being on a tight budget.  In the introductory pages there is a list of baking equipment that you will need but it is a very basic list as when it comes down to it, you don’t need loads and loads.  The advice given here is great, either buy cheaply from the supermarket or see if you can borrow some.  I remember doing this with pans, plates and cutlery from home, the same could be said for baking equipment.

There is also a list of the basic key ingredients that you will need for baking, such as flour.  You are advised if you want to buy things such as chocolate, then buy what you can afford.

Finally, in the introduction section you can find out about useful techniques and tips for baking.  This is especially useful if you have picked this book up for the first time as a novice baker.

The recipes are split into eight chapters: Small Bakes, Big Cakes, Loaf Cakes, Cookies, Traybakes, Breakfast Baking, Easy Breads and Desserts. Each recipe is clearly written with the entire recipe concentrated onto one page.  The ingredients are clearly marked with the baking equipment needed at the bottom of the list as well as with a useful, helpful tip. Not every recipe has a picture with it, though.

Looking through the list of recipes there is clearly something for everyone and most recipes could be tackled within an hour from start to finish (with a few exceptions of course).  It is great to see that you don’t have to go out and buy fancy decorations for the cupcakes to look good, for example.

My two children decided that they would like to have a go at a couple of the recipes while they were off school during the summer holidays.

Blueberry American Pancakes cooking for my kids' breakfast. I don't do this when I'm at work of course, too little time!
My daughter absolutely loves pancakes and enjoyed making these American Blueberry ones.

The first recipe we tried was the one my daughter had her eye on. These were the American pancakes on page 146 in the Breakfast baking chapter.  Now pancakes was something I never made at uni.  I suppose it was because they always used to stick to the pan and I couldn’t flip them. So I just didn’t bother.  Now I love making them but I don’t often make them for breakfast as I don’t have time with going out to work.  They are most definitely a holiday treat to me.  So my daughter happily made us some delicious blueberry pancakes for our breakfast.  My hubby had gone to work already so we had two each drizzled with maple syrup which was gorgeous.

My son asked if he could make these chocolate chip cookies.  They were gorgeous!
My son’s chocolate chip cookies.

 Later that week my thirteen year old son asked if he could make chocolate chip cookies.  He hasn’t made them completely on his own before. He has made brownies and shortbread but never cookies.  I suggested using one of the recipes in The Hungry Student baking book . This he was easily able to do from reading the great instructions. The only advice he asked me about was how to put the dough onto the baking tray.  He made the cookies twice as big as they were meant to be, but they looked perfect to me.  They also tasted fab to everyone who tried one.

Finallly I had a great time making a version of the Fruity Power Flapjacks on page 125 to use up some leftover dried apricots, desiccated coconut and stem ginger pieces.  I did top them with lemon flavoured melted chocolate buttons though as I was wondering what to do with them.  I did laugh about the introduction to the recipe which said “with a bit of restraint they can last you for up to a week!”  I have absolutely no willpower or restraint whatsoever when flapjacks are around!

Lemon, Ginger and Coconut Flapjacks using melted lemon chocolate buttons from The York Cocoa House on top.
Lemon, Ginger and Coconut Flapjacks 

There are lots of other recipes in this book that I would love to try.  My children are keen to try out the muffin recipes in particular.

So, to sum up.  I would definitely recommend this book to a number of audiences.  Not just to students but to teenagers who like to cook or for parents to buy hoping that their teenagers might be interested in cooking!  Also the book can appeal to those of you (of all ages!) who like to bake but don’t want to spend a fortune doing it. I for one will be going out to buy another copy/ies so that I can keep this one and my children can have their own!

If baking is not your thing then there are two more books in the series “The Hungry Student Cookbook” and “The Hungry Student Vegetarian Cookbook”.  These are also must have books which I am going to write a separate review about soon, so watch this space!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

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