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Baking Hardcover – September 29, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; First Edition edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580089917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580089913
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 1.3 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This workhorse of a guidebook (a sequel title to Cooking by the James Beard–winning author), is a worthy baking school between covers. Jam-packed with instructional photos accompanying a carefully created modular approach that aims to teach you to think like a baker, the work features over 300 recipes, mostly classics based in the French tradition. The five chapters—Cakes; Pies, Tarts and Pastries; Cookies; Breads, Quick Breads, and Bread-based Desserts; and Custards, Soufflés, Fruit Curds and Mousses—include a comprehensive overview, sidebars on techniques and recipes designed to teach techniques that can be used in more than the recipe listed. While you won't find innovative recipes, all the basics are here—classic puff pastry dough, sheet cakes, chocolate chip cookies, baguettes—along with classic, fanciful treats such as frangipane tart, madeleines, Grand Marnier soufflés and chocolate croissants. While not glamorous, this is a comprehensive title. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* A two-time James Beard award winner provides a viable candidate for his third award. Peterson, author of Cooking (2007) and Sauces (2008), long considered the chefs’ go-to, now tackles all things baking—with 300 recipes and 2,000 photographs. He admits that the art was not a first or natural love and, at the same time, he admires its precision and end results of a product that pleases. Yet not one page even hints at this attitude; instead, every page provides a gem: a tip for success, a non-fail recipe, or a series of sequential photographs highlighting the best how-to. Divided into five sections (“Cakes,” “Pies/Tarts,” “Cookies,” “Breads,” and “Custards/Mousses”), the book includes plenty of informed narrative (for instance, there are really only six types of basic cakes) and, in shaded areas, details with the right stuff to ensure sweet endings, such as the use of stabilized whipped cream versus regular, the best way to beat a quantity of whole eggs, and how to unseize a chocolate mixture. Blending the science of ingredient combinations and temperatures with the art of baking is truly his forte, from which anyone, novice or pro, can profitably benefit. Encore! --Barbara Jacobs

More About the Author

James Peterson is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author, photographer, and cooking teacher who started his career as a restaurant cook in Paris in the 1970s. He is the author of fifteen titles, including "Sauces," his first book and a 1991 James Beard Cookbook of the Year winner, and "Cooking," a 2008 James Beard Award winner. He has been one of the country's preeminent cooking instructors for more than 20 years and currently teaches at the Institute of Culinary Education (formerly Peter Kump's) in New York. He is revered within the industry and highly regarded as a professional resource. James Peterson cooks, writes, and photographs from Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

The photographs are clear and the recipes are easy to follow.
James M. Coffey
I began as a novice baker, and this book has taken my baking to the next level.
The more recipes we try from this book, the more we rave about it.
J. James

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

192 of 205 people found the following review helpful By MsFancyPantz on November 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I got this book and was very eager to jump right in - this would be 5 stars based on the photos, tips, and several of the recipes (the Devil's food cake is the BEST I've made, it was simply perfect). BUT I've found several typos, 1st one is professional buttercream on page 45 - 1 1/2 cups of butter is not 1 1/4 pounds of butter. So the 1st time I made this I grabbed 3 sticks of butter and was confused on why my buttercream was gooey and did not set up, and I thought the mistake was in my soft-ball sugar which is the hard part, when it turns out I just didn't have enough butter. There are also a few instances of incorrect page numbers when referencing side bars. I have only made a few things so far but but if you use this book just be forewarned of the poor editing and lack of recipe testing prior to mass release.

Lastly, the only way to really make sure your measurements are correct is to weigh your dry ingredients, especially flour, so I am actually disappointed that there aren't more weights vs. volume and that I had to spend time doing math. I hate math.

UPDATE: I just downgraded this review, baking times are super wrong (I made the cinnamon rolls - after spending almost 6 hours making the dough, it said to bake them for 40 minutes. They were inedible... so dry and hard from cooking that long I wanted to cry and throw this book away.) I've given a few other recipes a try but for the most part this book is sadly full of fail due to not running anything through a test kitchen prior to print. James Peterson might be talented, but his editors are not.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Corgi Lover on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased James Peterson's brand new humongous tome on BAKING a few days ago. It is wonderfully illustrated and clear in its instructions. It's got me thinking I can do far more baking-wise than I've ever attempted before because the processes are so clearly broken down in steps. (Which reminds me of something often attributed to Julia Child: There are no such things as difficult recipes. Some just have more steps.)

The one complaint I have about the book - and to me it's a substantial one - none of the measurements for the recipes are by weight. I believe this is a big mistake when so many recent baking books (including this one) talk about the precision of baking. There can be a meaningful lack of accuracy when doing measurements solely by volume.

To finish on the positive, I am eager to start working my way through all Peterson's recipes and increasing my baking vocabulary and technique. There's a huge amount to learn here and it all looks delicious!
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Cookbook Gal VINE VOICE on October 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
James Peterson has produced yet another outstanding cookbook. He focuses on technique, first and foremost, and the recipes are accompanied by numerous color photos, sometimes more than a dozen.

There are helpful tips throughout the book, such as "judging the amounts of frosting, glaze, and simple syrup needed for layer cakes," "reconstituting congealed buttercream," or "making brown butter." The cakes are elegant, sophisticated, and Peterson provides instructions and photos to decorate them professionally, such as making a caramel cage to top a torte. He has extensive info on how to construct cakes, from ensuring that a cake rises properly, wrapping cakes with chocolate strips, to filling and stacking.

The book is divided into the following main chapters (after a couple intro chapters with fundamental info), and since there are over 350 recipes in the book, I'll list a few of each:

Cakes - sponge cakes, almond flour sponge cake, pound cakes, buttercreams, mousselines, carrot cakes, frostings, making rolled fondant, assembling square and round cakes, decorating cakes with flowers or a gelatin mirror.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Alex Wilson on March 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is by far the most disappointing recipe book I own. So far I have tried 12 recipes, some of them I've tried twice or more. Generally, I've encountered extremely inaccurate baking times, grossly underestimated proofing and rising times, bizarre textures and consistences of intermediate stages of recipes, and unusual looking final products. As others have stated, the lack of weight measurements, and sudden and intermitten use of them, is frustrating and confusing. Below I've highlighted specific instances where this book has failed in the kitchen:

Both Madeline recipes burned to a crisp far before the 20 min baking time stated in the book. I checked my oven temperature with two thermometers because I thought it had to be me. It wasn't the oven, it's the recipe. I looked through several of my other baking books and all of them stated an 8-10 maximum baking time, less than half the time stated in this book. When I went "off the book" the Madelines were not burnt but they did lack flavor (Orange zest instead of lemon zest, really?)

The Bread Stick recipe should be relabeled "how to throw away ingredients." The dough was stiff and took extreme effort to work. My kitchen aid even struggled to work this dough. And, it took more than double the stated time to rise (total of 12hrs!). I bake bread 3-4 times a week. My yeast was not the problem. Worse still, the Bread Stick recipe lists the ingredients by volume measurement; that is until you reach the "4 ounces of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated." I suppose one could buy 4 ounces and grate it, but what if you already have a large amount of grated cheese at home? Fortunately, I have a scale so I wasn't bothered.
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