Great British Bake Off and cookery book indexing

I spend a lot of time baking and also run another blog about my experiences, both good and bad. I also like watching the BBC series Great British Bake Off and like getting ideas for my own baking from the programmes. Recently they have looked at some of the oldest cookery books in England and recently included the book written by Richard II’s cook, usually called The Forme of Cury. It is reckoned to be England’s oldest cookery book and is kept in the John Rylands Library Medieval Collection in Manchester. Here’s a link to the index

Rather lovely isn’t it? But really, it is just a list of recipes in the book, not even in alphabetical order. All too often this is all that modern cookery books contain too, but you can get better treatment if you’re prepared to put in a bit of effort. Like baking really.  A great cookery book index gives the user a chance to find out which recipes have the ingredients they want to use. One of my favourite baking books is Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet.

If you take a look inside on the Amazon page you can find the index and see the following:

  • There’s a heading for each ingredient that lists all the recipes that contain that ingredient, for example “absinth” is found in one recipe for ‘Green fairy cakes, and “ale” is found in 11 recipes ranging from bread and rolls, to beef pies and Christmas pudding.
  • The index uses bold text for the ingredients and the recipe names, which are also given an initial capital so they stand out nicely.
  • There’s some useful cross references, for example “Cupcakes, see also muffins and fairy cakes” – subtle differences in baking methods mean that the recipes are filed in the correct place. But all cookies are filed under “biscuits” for simplicity.
  • Other cross references include some see references, for example “almond paste, see marzipan”.
  • Alternative ingredients, for example lemon marmalade in marmalade flapjacks instead of orange marmalade also get their own, non-bold entry.
  • Additional information included in the recipe introductions are also given entries, for example “kourambiedes  241” – leads to a recipe for “Orange almond butter biscuits” with the information that these are similar to the Greek cookies called kourambiedes, which are made without the orange.

Not only is the index fantastic, the recipes are great too.

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