Founded by cookbook author Marion Cunningham and professional baker Amy Pressman, the Baker's Dozen, a Bay Area group, helps its members bake better, sharing knowledge and solving members' baking problems. Edited by Rick Rodgers, The Baker's Dozen Cookbook
, the group's first work, includes 135 enticing recipes, from Sour Cream Pound Cake and Almond and Chocolate Sandwich Cookies to breads and other nonsweet baked goods. The book's great appeal, however, lies in its lucid instructive material. New and veteran bakers alike will find this collection a true learning tool, which provides basic tutorials and more-advanced explorations into the art of baking.
The recipes come with a pedigree. Readers can thus enjoy baking-book expert Flo Braker's Triple Chocolate Cake and Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Cake, "Italian baker" Carol Field's Italian Whole Wheat Bread, and Chez Panisse pastry chef Lindsey Shere's Warm Pear Tart and Simple Nectarine Gallete. Other outstanding recipes include Julia Cookenboo's Pistachio-Golden Raisin Biscotti, Fran Gage's Spicy Cornmeal Crackers, and Rochelle Huppin-Fleck's Blood Orange Chiffon Pie with Chocolate Crumb Crust. In addition to insightful notes that accompany every recipe, the book offers definitive ingredient and equipment glossaries (chocolate is particularly well treated here), a detailed cake-basics section (batter-mixing for all cake types as well as other techniques are explored in depth), and color photos that depict the mouthwatering sweets in all their glory. The group has done its work well--this is one of the best baking books to appear in recent years. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Best known for The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, Marion Cunningham is as American as, oh, say, the Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Layer Cake in her group's latest compilation, which she introduces. Cunningham belongs to a group of bakers, calling itself the Baker's Dozen, devoted to sharing tips, talking shop and taking mouth-watering field trips to places such as the Guittard chocolate factory. Cunningham and 12 other members of the group impart just the sort of insider information to make readers feel part of an exclusive club. All the classics are covered here: cakes, custards, pies (with an excellent, comprehensive introduction to pie crusts), distinctive regional baked-fruit recipes and a chapter on cookies, with a recipe contending for "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies." The book offers clear guidance to ensure consistently impressive results in the home kitchen, particularly in the "Cakes for Family and Friends" chapter. Building on the classics, there are several trend-worthy variations: try the Five-Spice Angel Food Cake for a novelty dessert, the Blood Orange Chiffon Pie with Chocolate Crust for a dramatic update of the venerable chiffon pie or the Sherried Zucchini-Currant Tea Loaves for a more sophisticated use of surplus summer zucchini. Chapters on bread baking (including quick breads) clearly explain potential pitfalls and how to sidestep them and turn what could be an intimidating process into a stress-free experience for first-time bread bakers. The professional baking tips, detailed recipes and extensive glossaries will have readers well on their way to mastering techniques for perfect pastry. (Nov.)Forecast: The book's top names will draw attention from home bakers, many of whom have already formed informal bakers' groups of their own. Simple word of mouth will help this book's sales.
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