Favorite Baking Books
It’s that time of the year, folks, when everyone’s thoughts turn to baking. Coincidentally it’s when the new crop of baking books are released, just in time for the sweet surge. This has been a pretty interesting year for cookbooks as the trends seem to be returning to books geared towards home bakers and cooks. Thankfully in my opinion.
Although some of these books were written by pastry chefs, all are geared towards the home cook. I’ve been making notes in each of them which desserts I plan to try in the upcoming months and I hope to share them with you as well.
The long-awaited book from pastry chef Elizabeth Falkner, Demolition Desserts show how this very talented San Francisco baker breaks down classic desserts, and reconstructions them into whimsical, yet sophisticated presentations.
Although at first glance these look complicated, I envision many of these recipes being adaptable and great on their own. Tapioca with Concord Grapes is one winning combination I’m eyeing.
But there’s also simple Citizen Cake bakery classics: Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sticky Toffee Cupcakes, and puffy marshmallows which get dipped in a thin layer of dark chocolate at her bakery. If you’re not afraid to tackle some projects in the kitchen—and many recipes aren’t all that complicated—Elizabeth’s book is a wild, wacky ride through the world of modern baking.
When Alice Medrich releases a new book, it’s always a special event. And I’ve never made a recipe of hers that didn’t go instantly into my ‘winner’ category.
In her just-released book, Pure Dessert, Alice delves deeply into a new approach to desserts: making things simple by focusing on the ingredients rather than complicated techniques and fussy recipes.
The White Chocolate Soufflé Cakes will give their darker cousins a run for their money, and I can’t wait for spring to pull a warm Cherry and Kirsch Gratin out of my oven. But no matter what season, there’s plenty of cookies and cakes.
Next on my list?
Salted Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies—bien sûr!
Does the world need another Italian cookbook?
After devouring Dolce Italiano, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. I haven’t seen such a comprehensive book featuring the best of Italian baking in a long, long time. Written with great care by Gina DePalma, who’s been the pastry chef at Babbo since it opened, there’s pages of recipes I can’t wait to try.
Happily, cornmeal finds its way into many of Gina’s desserts, everything from Biscotti di Polenta e Sesamo to a buttery crust cradling a rich chocolate filling, otherwise known as Crostada di Cioccolato e Polenta. I was fortunate enough to meet Gina last fall when her book came out. But if you’re not as lucky, Gina’s recipes can come to you.
Dolce Italiano was named one of Amazon’s Top Ten Cookbooks of the 2007 and is a new classic.
There are some dangerous recipes here, guys. No doubt about it—Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey is the book of the year for anyone with a serious sweet tooth.
As the name of the book implies, these are desserts that celebrate richness. And you’ll find cakes and cupcakes drenched in caramel, bars like All-Grown Up ‘Smores, and Outrageously Thick Spanish Hot Chocolate with Churros (homemade!) That recipe may give the thick Parisian chocolate chaud a run for its money.
I love the photographs, which celebrate all the textures found in these mostly all-American desserts, especially the Banana Bread Pudding with Hot Fudge and Toasted Walnuts. I can only imagine being drenched in the same dreamy hot fudge that’s being poured over the whole she-bang. If you like your desserts rich, sinful, and close to being over-the-top (and perhaps a bit over), you can stop looking—this nifty book is for you.
If you haven’t gotten David’s latest book, you ought to have your head examined. The Perfect Scoop has gotten the world churning on it’s ice cream-slicked axis. This extraordinary achievement by the very kind and handsome and talented….
..oh, wait…what the heck?…hey, that’s my book!
Geez, sorry. I got a bit carried away there….
If you know someone who’s interesting in churning out batches and batches of yummy ice creams and other frozen desserts, or even some home topping and sauces, paired with a brand-new ice cream freezer, it does make a swell holiday gift. I know that’s what everyone on my list is getting this year. But only the ones who’ve been nice; not the naughty ones.
And you know who you are…
The Art of Simple Cooking by Alice Waters
Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman
Meat by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Mediterranean Summer by David Shalleck
Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
What To Eat With What You Drink by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
The Amateur Gourmet by Adam Roberts
Chocolate & Vanilla by Gale Gand