The Best of Baking

Recipes from celebrity chefs, accessible guides for beginners, adorable baked goods sure to make your mouth water; here are this month's top food and cooking titles 

redstarAnsel, Dominique. Everyone Can Bake: Simple Recipes To Master and Mix. S. & S. Apr. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781501194719. $37.50. COOKING
Acclaimed pastry and cronut chef Ansel (Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes) presents a fun, well-organized, and slyly titled collection. Eschewing the skill-based organization of his first pastry book, Ansel instead tempts bakers of all levels to learn "the building blocks of baking: "go-to recipes for bases, fillings, and finishes that can be creatively varied, combined, and assembled to produce delicious desserts with professional flair. A simple vanilla pound cake recipe, for instance, is easily transformed into a lemon or ginger pound cake ("Bases"); is optionally elevated with curd, gelée, or mousse ("Fillings"); and is delicately completed with fruit, streusel, glaze, or Chantilly cream ("Finishings"). Mouthwatering photographs of adventurous recipe combinations help further stir readers’ imaginations.
VERDICT A delightful and inspiring cookbook that guides bakers of all levels through the mix-and-match mentality of experienced pastry chefs. Highly recommended for established fans of Ansel and creative recipe construction.—Robin Chin Roemer, Univ. of Washington Lib., Seattle

redstarCurl, Jami. Baking Gold: How To Bake (Almost) Everything with 3 Doughs, 2 Batters, and 1 Magic Mix. Ten Speed: Crown. Feb. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9781984856654. $25. COOKING
In Curl’s (Candy Is Magic) new book, the author offers a streamlined yet fun approach to baking and ways to make the process easier and less stressful. Included are recipes for three doughs, two batters, and a "magic mix" that are starters to making other recipes in the book that are easily customized. The author gives advice on tools and ingredients, along with tips that will help to re-create the recipes with ease. Home bakers will enjoy a variety of treats, such as gooey cinnamon swirls, sweet cherry crumble bars, peanut butter brownies, and peach blackberry crisp. Curl also provides savory recipes such as goat cheese and pesto tarts and aged cheddar and pear tarts. Included is a chapter on ideas for sharing your creations by having a cookie party or making a batch of the magic mix in a jar with a recipe attached.
VERDICT Great for beginning to intermediate bakers, and a perfect addition to all culinary collections.—Holly Skir, Broward Cty. Lib., FL

Morten, James. Super Sourdough: The Foolproof Guide to Making World-Class Bread at Home. Quadrille. Feb. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9781787134652. $32.50. COOKING
In his fifth book, Great British Baking Show finalist Morton ( Brilliant Bread) honors those who taught him about sourdough by communicating their collective knowledge to a wider audience. Morton joyfully addresses readers as equals, making him a relatable teacher. For beginners, he includes ten tenets of sourdough, explains vocabulary, and reiterates basics in 40-plus text-heavy recipes for buns, loaves, and more. With humility, honesty, and wit, Morton admits his bakes sometimes fail and includes a sincere message of encouragement, suggesting readers respect each loaf’s uniqueness and continue to bake after disappointments. Well-designed and illustrated, the book includes a helpful troubleshooting section as well as real-life tips for more successful starters, scheduling baking around busy lives, par-baking, and bread-related dietary matters. For advanced bakers, the book discusses rheology and home milling. Measurements are in grams.
VERDICT Morton’s enthusiasm and knowledge about sourdough are undeniable and his candid voice speaking to home bakers is refreshing. Recommended for new and experienced bakers alike.—Bonnie Poquette, Milwaukee

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