32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 1999
There are certain cookbooks that become favorites because they help you to learn and master particular techniques and apply them creatively. Some cookbooks have a narrow focus that allow you to train and discipline your palate. Still others collect culinary ideas that broaden the range of your imagination and experience. The Italian Baker does all of these, with an inscrutable and irreplaceable added ingredient: love. The aura of joy, affection, generosity and goodwill that pervades the book make this one volume I would want on my cookbook shelf even if the recipes weren't so wonderful. As we each cook in our own homes, mysteriously connected by someone else'e recipes and musings on food and eating, I feel that just having Carol's benevolent spirit in my kitchen is a boon. For anyone that enjoys Italian flavors, this book is a desert island selection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2013
Every recipe I have tried from this brilliant book has worked. But that is not its only strength! Meticulously researched, presented with no photographs - but simple line drawings where needed, instructions for mixing by hand, mixer, and food processor, with traditional recipes beautifully modified for non-Italian shopping - this book is a model for all baking books. Each chapter commences with a description of how the subject matter fits into Italian life, its history, and general hints on how to approach making the various breads, pizzas, focaccias, cakes, pastries, and biscuits. Each recipe generally has a personal note from the author detailing where she found this item and how to enjoy it best. The recipe instructions are simple to follow, being divided where appropriate into cutting, filling and shaping, rising, and baking sections, for example. Several recipes also include variations on the main recipe.
I have several baking books, and have thrown out more than I have kept. So, my description of this as the best baking book ever written is not a decision taken lightly!
Please note that this review applies to the original edition. There is a revised edition with colour photographs and claimed revisions for more modern ingredients. Personally, I find the original more than adequate and find colour photographs pointless. Therefore, I cannot comment on the revised edition.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 1997
There is a gold mine of information here -- not only does
Ms. Field include recipes, but also references to the
various regional types of Italian baking and customs.
Anyone who is afraid of baking from scratch should
include this on his or her launch pad of basic guides,
because although not every recipe is simple, the
instructions for creating these culinary treats are!
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 13 March 2002
I love this book.From my 40 baking books i have,this is the one i love most.From ciabatta to panettone,from pandoro to amor polenta....is like traveling around Itali,so many recipes and all of them so easy to follow.A 10 out of 10.Love baking? Just buy it.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2010
I love Italian breads such as focaccia and ciabatta but always felt that the shop-bought variety probably hardly resembles the authentic stuff. So I bought a second hand copy of Carol Field's Italian Baker and made my own. All I can say is, it was definitely worth it. I always thought ciabatta was a very difficult bread to make because it is so wet, but since I made it using this book I have not bought a ciabatta from a shop for about 3 years and never will!
Carol Field divides her book into the following chapters:
BAKING BASICS (discussion of ingredients, equipment and method)
REGIONAL AND RUSTIC BREADS (includes olive oil bread, saltless tuscan bread, dark tuscan bread, Genzano bread, Merano rye, Sicilian bread, and lots more. My favourites in this chapter are the Como bread with a lovely crispy crust, olive rolls, Terni bread, and the ciabatta.)
NEW BREADS (includes vegetable and herbs breads, as well as various-grain breads. The tomato bread is awesome as is the cheese bread. Marvellous chapter!)
USING LEFTOVER BREADS (savoury dishes and desserts)
CELEBRATION BREADS (a lovely selection of sweet breads with various additions such as nuts, fruit peel, dried fruit, spices)
ROLLS AND BREADSTICKS
PIZZA AND FOCACCIA
ELEGANT BREADS (sweet and savoury croissants, turnovers, tarts, strudels, appetizers)
TARTS AND PIES
I definitely recommend Carol Field's book as it is a massive collection of every recipe you might ever need, for every occasion, whether it is a nice baguette to go with pasta, a rye bread for sandwiches, a pizza for the family, a cake for Christmas, or just quick cookies after work when you don't have much time. I love the variety and wide range of ingredients used, and the breads and cakes all turn out fantastic. You will never want to buy bread or cakes after trying the recipes in Italian Baker. It is American, but fear not, grams are used throughout if you find the cup measures too intimidating!
on 1 December 2014
This is an excellent book. Not glossy and full of photos, just good, down-to-earth recipes covering every bread imaginable out of that magnificent country. The author is from the USA and, yes, that means a lot of measurements are in cups but UK buyers should not be dissuaded because at least dry goods are given an equivalent weight in grammes and the resulting breads and baked goods are well worth the effort. Highly recommended to keen bakers.