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on 30 June 2017
I have spent the last few days reading, yes, reading this book. It is amusing and informative. I have placed so many post its on pages where I want to try the recipe, the book looks like a hedgehog. The recipes look delicious and instructions are very clear. All American, yet French, the cakes and cookies are full of my favorite ingredients, nuts, seeds, fruit and chocolate. Several ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt recipes seem easy and a perfect complement to cakes or poached fruits. I can't wait to start cooking. David Lebovitz could be my friend for life.
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on 7 June 2017
Love it
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on 16 December 2011
David Lebovitz certainly will have you Ready for Dessert with this masterful compilation volume of over 170 recipes for cakes, cobblers, cookies, custards and more.

This book is weighty, full of detailed advice and the wit we've come to expect from David's blog. Not all recipes are accompanied by photos but you feel so guided by his expert advice you can have every faith each dessert or biscuit will turn out just right.

Things I'm dying to try are: pumpkin cheesecake with pecan crust and whiskey caramel topping, orange cardamom flan and peppery chocolate-cherry biscotti. His style is an appealing fusion of sturdy American baking classics with French patisserie delicacy of detail and flavour.

There are some recipes reproduced from earlier David books although I understand these are difficult to buy or out of print. Ready for Dessert also has many new recipes so there's something for all fans but especially those coming from his blog who've not bought any of his books before.
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on 22 April 2010
This is altogether a more serious book than David's lighthearted and amusing "The Sweet Life in Paris" or his Paris blog.

The emphasis here reflects David's interest in iced and cold desserts as the most lenghty chapter is Frozen Desserts(32 recipes) with every conceivable flavour of ice-cream,sorbet, sherbet and so on. What's more they creep into every chapter, a couple of semifreddi have even managed to sneak into the cake section. Personally, I'm not into iced creations; I prefer to buy them ready-made. So most of the recipes are wasted from my point of view.

However, the book was redeemed for me by the chapter on Cakes (17 here). I love nothing better than a cup of tea and a piece of my own-make cake every afternoon. I have marked plenty that I want to make: Fresh Ginger Cake, Irish Coffee Cupcakes, Banana Cake with Mocha Frosting and Salted Candied Peanuts(might miss these out, bit too much gilding of the lily for my taste), Bahamian Rum Cake for starters.

There is an excellent glossary of ingredients and equipment, the recipes are very clearly set out and they really work.

However, unless like me you are happy with just the Cakes or are a big fan of iced desserts or a collector of David Lebovitz's books I suggest you consider whether this book is something you will like before you buy it.
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on 6 July 2011
I come from the school of thought that says rock bands shouldn't release their Greatest Hits album until their career is complete. Likewise, chefs should restrain themselves from re-releasing their favorite recipes until their career enters a culminating phase. That said, David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes will be excused since some of his previous books are no longer in print, and his greatest hits truly are classics worth reprinting.

Quite frankly, when this book's release was announced I was surprised. Lebovitz seems to have left the hustle of the big kitchen for a quiet life in Paris where he writes and offers culinary tours. He already had a string of successful and widely lauded cookbooks, some of which have become standards on many a baker's shelf. And his blog fanbase has grown steadily, suggesting a comfortable ex-pat existence in the City of Love. I've always viewed Lebovitz as a modern-day Julia Child. Proven creds, strong training, and a wit that wraps his recipes like taut butcher's twine. But his books aren't so far out of print that they aren't accessible. Even so, this was an opportunity for him to hone and update a few recipes and re-present them with gorgeous photography and a new lens - the lens of a wising elder.

David Lebovitz spent thirteen years in the Chez Panisse kitchen learning and teaching the craft of using local and seasonal ingredients in pastry. He is mostly field trained with some academic background, but has worked in a handful of San Francisco kitchens making a name for himself and his employers.

The reviews of this latest book have been largely favorable. Condé Nast Traveler called the book the "dessert genius David Lebovitz's opus." The Washington Post claimed "Lebovitz is solidly among the pantheon of modern bakers."

At just shy of 300 pages with 170 recipes covering cakes, pies, custards, frozen desserts, cookies and basics, this could serve as a base reference book. Again I compare it to Baking with Julia as a potential standard for any home baker. In my recipe testing I focused in on the three recipes held out as Lebovitz's favorites: Fresh Ginger Cake, Champagne Gelée with Citrus, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. Each turned out just as expected with fresh, bold, but not flashy flavors. Each was easily doable for bakers of any level. And each was thoroughly enjoyed by my guests. I appreciated Lebovitz's inclusion of metric measures, in addition to the clunky cups and teaspoons. This little perk elevates the function of the book to one that allows professional chefs to use it as well. Yet this book is not without flaws.

The photography is from the award winning Maren Caruso. The photos are bright, vibrant and truly capture the texture of each dessert. The cover photo alone is enough to make me want to lick the page with the luscious chocolate cascading over the moist cake layers. But I want more. I confess, I always want more photos. And I recognize that photos are more expensive for the printers to produce, but it seems that the more complicated recipes are also the ones lacking pictures in this book. I also wanted more pictures of Lebovitz and his life in Paris since his life is as much of an interest to his fans as is his cooking.

And that critique carries forward into my second criticism, which is the lack of personality in the book. I was baffled by the number of reviews who talk about Lebovitz and his personality and character, as I saw so little of this in Ready for Dessert that I was disappointed. It is difficult to write a review in a vacuum and, with Lebovitz, his fans follow his blog and have read his memoir, The Sweet Life in Paris, so they may feel like they know Lebovitz fairly well. As someone who certainly knows Lebovitz, but wouldn't count himself as an ardent fan, I knew enough about his personality to say that it is only modestly included in the book. I felt at times as if he didn't want to take the time to give us an anecdote because you could find it in his other books. That paucity means that this is a cookbook, nothing more, nothing less. Don't expect the fun, wit, and adventure of his memoir. Simply expect a recipe with a brief introduction and a tip or two.

My final criticism is the lack of freshness. Here's a man who has defined his career by fresh ingredients, and his recipes feel... well, stale. The recipes are diverse in their breadth, and solid in their performance, but nothing that will prove to be exciting or unique. Having followed his blog from a distance I know that he has some innovative and exciting recipes and techniques, but for some reason they didn't make it into this book. The omitted recipe that is part of my regular repertoire is his super fast French Pastry Dough which (with my adaptation of his adaptation) allows me to have a pastry shell made and baked in less than 15 minutes. Ready for Dessert sticks to the safe classics, and with those the reader won't be disappointed.

Beyond those criticisms, Ready for Dessert is a solid book. Home bakers of all levels will appreciate the simple and sure recipes, while advanced bakers will take the foundations and whisk in their own personality. And just as many great musicians continue their careers after a Greatest Hits album, so too will David Lebovitz. His age too young, and his talents too great to stop now. I'll be waiting to see what greatness is yet to come, and in this meantime, Ready for Dessert will get nestled into an already crowded bookshelf.
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on 25 October 2014
A fabulous book by a chef whose recipes and advice I trust. Its a fair price for a beautifully produced hardback; there is a lack of photographs for each dish, but that's a minor irritation and more photos would have raised the price of the book.
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on 13 March 2015
My favorite Lebovitz recipe, an orange, almond cake is not in the book; and there are too many frozen desserts. I don't own, nor want to own an ice cream maker.
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on 27 October 2012
I really like the book,recipes are delicious! easy to understand and most of the ingridients are easy to find.The book doesn't have much picture,i always prefer recipe books with pictures in it.
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on 3 March 2013
One of the most amazing books for dessert! Full of creative recipies with defferent kinds of dessert, e.g. ice cream, cakes, flans, etc. Absolutely in love with this book!
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on 15 September 2013
Dave's greatest hits essentially, every single recipe I have tried from this has worked successfully first time out. Worth buying for the ginger cake alone.
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