Here is a public service warning: If you are already feeling conscious about your weight and perhaps are trying to avoid lovely cakes, biscuits and other baked goods turned away now!
Do we have a treat for you! No, not an edible one. Well it might be, but that is not recommended. Put simply here is a wonderful book. Buy it. Read it. Cook from it. Enjoy the results. End of review.
Unfortunately YUM's editor insists on a little more text... so here goes. This is a luxurious yet practical book looking at baking that encourages you to have a go and make your own delicious cakes and biscuits which could grace any café, restaurant or store. The author has done a great job in pulling together this book, taking recipes from their own collection and from some of the best bakeries in the United States as well as a few acclaimed baking blogs for good measure.
Backed by some really nice, mouth-watering photographs of the finished product, this book does help set the standard for similar items of its genre. It is not a cheap and cheerful listing of many recipes (nothing wrong with that, each has their own merits) but this is an engaging, inspirational, trusting book that actively encourages you to get your hands dirty and get busy in the kitchen.
As the author says in the book's introduction in response to the question Why Bake? "... this book is about homemade goodness, made with lots of love" and "... the best part of baking is the process. From stirring the batter to pulling the finished cake out of the oven to taking the first bite of your sweet creation, baking brings friends and family together."
From the beginning the reader is given a lot of hints and tips that might seem obvious to some, but they can inspire a "light bulb" moment to the uninitiated and really make a positive difference to the overall baking experience and results. Then a basic primer about key tools that will help the cook and a look at ingredients and then it is straight to the recipes.
The recipes are surrounded by full-colour photographs which are close to being indecent due to their sheer "come and taste me" vision. After drawing you in (as if you need persuading) you see the recipe which is cleanly and simply laid out, split between an introduction, ingredients list, instructions and various hints and tips. All measurements are given in both metric and imperial which is a great thing to find from an American publisher.
The only gripe is a common one. Please put at least an approximation of how long the recipe might take to prepare and to cook in a CLEAR and PROMINENT standout position. It really can make a difference when speed browsing for some last-minute ideas.
Recipes are filed in sections - breakfast, breads, cookies and bars, cakes and cupcakes, pies and tarts and custards and soufflés. Each section has its own mini-index and at the end of the book there is also a great comprehensive index so you can navigate your way around this book in many ways.
It is true, there is not a shortage of bakery-related cookery books and it often takes a specific one to "gel" with the reader. This one, in any case, manages to hit many targets, being both suitable for the nervous beginner, inspiring for the confident amateur and even maybe a reference for the accomplished pro as well. It inspires as well as informs. Many books can do one or the other. Not all manage to do both, especially with such aplomb.
YUM reviewed the eBook version of this so we don't know if the physical book is even more luxurious and tempting. It is strange what a bit of paper and binding can do... now, where is that local bookstore...