I have a confession ... one of my other (probably many) vices is an addiction to magazines. Sometimes, the glossier and shinier the better. I first saw 'Love Baking' in store a just after Christmas and, clocking the £7.99 cover price, immediately put it back on the shelf. My logic was telling me that you can get 'proper' baking books for less than that on Amazon, and in comparison it just didn't seem worth it. I guess I can be quite cynical about things, too, and suspected it may be a bit of a rip off.
I was then out and about a few weekends ago, and saw it again. This time I decided to take the plunge and fork out what is a not inconsiderable sum to feed my curiosity.
Having had a look at the curent edition, which focusses on Valentines Day, I then also saw the first edition still available in Hobbycraft, and bought that too, in order to get a better feel for the magazine and whether it is overall worth getting.
It is bi-monthly, so evening out the cost it works out about £4 a month - the same as many other home/food glossies. Both the Christmas and Valentines magazines appear to run to 64 pages, so whether that's actually good value in comparison, I'm not sure. They each came with a 'free' gift. The Valentine's edition is touted as being worth 'over' £12.50 - for that you got two plastic heart shaped cutters, a cookie gift box, 12 cupcake wrappers and a large cupcake gift box. Looking at these I think £12.50 is probably over inflated for them. Still, I'm a sucker for a free gift.
What about the content? There are a number of articles and the usual page of giveaways and another of product reviews. There is a feature on six cupcakeries from around the country, which was nice to see. There is also a page looking at cakes taken from home baking blogs, including some of my favourites such as the Caked Crusader, the more than occasional baker, and American Cupcake in London. The Valentines edition contains 25 recipes, 19 of which are taken from 12 various books (mini reviews of some of the books then form the content for the 'Baker's Bookshelf' feature - which seems a bit repetitive to me). They included a few of the 'Bake Me I'm Yours ...' series, Love Bakery book, Pop Bakery book and Gwyneth Paltrow's 'Notes from my Kitchen Table'. A number of them I already owned, so nothing new there. The six other recipes appeared to be formulated by the magazine, and seemed things I may want to try, so that was good.
I was interested to see how much the recipes would be the same as the version in the relevant book, so I checked one taken from 'Step-by-Step Baking' by Caroline Bretherton, the Vanilla Cupcakes 'masterclass'. It's basically a direct repeat.
Looking back then at the Christmas edition, it was essentially the same format and some of the featured books were the same, with the obvious emphasis on festive baking.
I suppose the big question is whether I would buy it again. I guess I would, as there is enough there, and structured in a themed way (eg Christmas, Valentines, and the next one is Easter) in collecting recipes together to hold my interest. There are also some helpful hints and tips. However, I think if you were in the position of already owning a lot of the books they draw recipes from, you may feel that it's a bit of a waste of money.
If you've tried it yourself, let me know what you think. The next edition, featuring Easter recipes, is out on 22 February.