Even the most homey of the recipes are very special. Dorie’s favorite raisin swirl bread. Big spicy muffins from her stint as a baker in a famous New York City restaurant. French chocolate brownies (a Parisian pastry chef begged for the recipe). A dramatic black and white cake for a “wow” occasion. Pierre Hermé’s extraordinary lemon tart.
The generous helpings of background information, abundant stories, and hundreds of professional hints set Baking apart as a one-of-a-kind cookbook. And as if all of this weren’t more than enough, Dorie has appended a fascinating minibook, A Dessertmaker’s Glossary, with more than 100 entries, from why using one’s fingers is often best, to how to buy the finest butter, to how the bundt pan got its name.
In Baking with Julia (Child, of course) and Desserts by Pierre Hermé, Dorrie Greenspan gave voice to other baking experts while ensuring their recipes worked. Now, in Baking: From My Home to Yours, she steps fully onstage with a collection of 230-plus immediately attractive recipes ranging from breakfast sweets, cakes, and tarts to puddings, custards, ice creams, and crisps. This is homey, eminently doable baking that encompasses the more familiar, like sugar-topped molasses spice cookies, pecan sticky buns, and lemon tart, but also includes the temptingly original, such as Devil’s Food White-Out Cake, Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise, and Toasted Almond Scones. Her cookie selection, which offers the standout Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops, is particularly good, as is her brownie group, a mini-chapter featuring a very edible espresso cheesecake variation.
Greenspan knows her stuff, of course, but it’s her droll, anecdotal style (readers learn, for example how a chocolate cake got her fired) and her recipe-making expertise that sets the book apart. Precise descriptions of the baked goods–a pound cake, for example, is said to have a “moist, tightly knit crumb”–help readers understand baking anatomy. Equally exact, and reassuring, are her recipe guideposts–she notes, for example, that rubbing butter into the dry ingredients when making a biscuit recipe will result in “pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes, and pieces the size of everything in between.” With recipe variations and enticing color photos, the book will inspire–and inform–baking novices and experts alike. –Arthur Boehm
Recipe Excerpts from Baking: From My Home to Yours
Toasted Almond Scones