Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers
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on December 8, 2001
Having used this book on a weekly basis for the past year, I recommend this book to bakers at all levels. The book is a multi-contributed book, with Julia Child at the helm and aptly unified by Dorie Greenspan's clear and engaging writing style.
I spent the greater part of this year working on breadmaking techniques from the artisanal bread section - while techniques take time to master, I received a remarkable education from this book. The basic white bread and focaccia recipes are simple and wonderful to make on your own.
If you're serious about baking, this book provides the basis for your advancement into any number of specialized areas: breads, pastries, cookies, cakes, even chocolate. Not only are the recipes very well selected, but the photographs are gorgeously photographed by Gentl & Hyers (who also photographed Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie & Pastry Bible), including some very nice candid shots (mise en scene/mise en place) in the kitchen. I haven't come across many other cookbooks of this calibre since.

The recipes range from the simplest Irish Soda Bread, to the most elaborate Glorious Wedding Cake. Not all recipes are as complex as the wedding cake recipe - this particular recipe contributed by Martha Stewart is one that seems oddly out of place in a cookbook. However - it is truly a great study on how tiered cakes are layered and put together, and decorated. (The wedding cake is essentially a dense almond pound cake, which can probably be scaled down to a much more manageable session)
The "soul" of this cookbook comes from the section at the beginning titled "Batters and Doughs - The Basics." If you never baked anything from the book, at least go through all 8 recipes once or twice. As the introduction notes, these are the building blocks upon which hundreds of pastry and cake recipes are based. If you can accomplish the following, you can call yourself an accomplished baker: flaky pie dough, choux paste, meringue, genoise (3 versions), brioche, puff pastry, danish pastry, croissant dough. I've recently accomplished the brioche dough, and it's become a favorite quickly, as a simple loaf or as the basis for Pecan Sticky Buns.
This book has a companion web site featuring the original television series "Baking with Julia" on PBS, complete with video clips of the bakers at work. If there was ever an opportunity to purchase all 39 episodes (with 27 bakers!) on DVD, I'd be the first on line... Bon Appetit
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on September 25, 1998
Baking basic batters and doughs is the subject that is given the combination of expert skill and knowledge acquired in the culinary arts over years of experience. If you are an individual who thrives on instant gratification and does not want to take the time to learn the basic foundation techniques of quality baking then this book may not be for you. The book covers breads, cakes, and sweet and savory pastries. The instructions have carefully been written with great detail so even the novice baker can increase his or her skill level. Recipes range from the simple galette,which by the way is excellent, to a labor intensive but glorious wedding cake.A variety of techniques ranging from beginner level to accomplished baker allows anyone interested in baking to improve their skills. I have been working on my culinary skills for 30 years and own over 100 different cookbooks. This book ranks within the top 5 of my collection. It has allowed me to fine tune many classic techniques. My Brioche, biscotti,, biscuits, danish pastry and pecan sticky buns have been elevated to rival any quality baker. Culinary professionals like Flo Braker, Nancy Silverton, Marcel Desaulniers, and Marion Cunningham are just a few of the many talented and giving individuals who contribute to make this the qulaity book that it is.Dorie Greenspan's writing skills set this book apart from others in that it is the standard from which all quality instructional cookbooks should be compared. If you want to learn how the experts bake and not have to leave your own kitchen to do it, this is the book.
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on November 7, 1997
I was just reading through the reviews of Baking with Julia, which I own and use, and I saw the person whose review appears above mine, who hates this book. But -- see, it didn't ring true to me, because I've made the cheesecake and I knew the recipe in this book isn't the one s/he quotes. So I double-checked it and I was right: there's no sweetened condensed milk in the cheesecake recipe in Baking with Julia. So I don't know what kind of axe this person has to grind. Because I really like this book. Innovation? Oh my god, there's this recipe for gingerbread that has espresso and black pepper in it. And there's a sage cake -- forget it, this isn't stuff I've found in any other baking book. My only complaint is that it's kind of hard -- like everything Julia does. You really challenge yourself every time you make anything in this book. But that's good. For me, anyway. I just wanted to add my two cents, as a member of Generation X (who can spell, I might add.
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on February 18, 2005
I am a guy with absolutely no talent at baking but always thought the art of pastry making was interesting. So, i bought all the essential tools and waited for the book(after having seen most of the shows on PBS)...when the book arrived, I started with a fairly difficult pastry ...the Dainish Braid....turned out so well and tasted so delicious that I shocked myself...keep in mind, I cant cook!!! Here is my point. With the right tools, a good guide, and a brain, anyone can do just about anything. So get the book,(its a great guide) watch the shows, and just go for it! Here are some tools that helped...Kitchenaid stand mixer, a food processor, a marble pastry board and a wooden one too, a bench scrape(you really need this for any dough), s/steel measuring cups for dry ingredients, glass for liquid, parchment paper, and a baking stone. Then just decide that nothing is going to intimidate you and start baking. There are tricks to every trade and this book shares a lot of those as a great companion book to the series.
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As other reviewers have said, this volume is one of the most frequently consulted books in my library of over 250 cookbooks. I began baking from it just because it was my latest book on baking. Then, I began toing to it when the results of baking recipies found in other books did not pan out as well as I expected. It was also directly responsible for my acquiring a heavy duty KitchenAid stand mixer, although I was able to quite successfully do recipes involving some heavy duty dough even without the mixer. But, the mixer did make it easier.
One of the primary lessons I learned from my comparing recipes in this book to other books is that these recipes are fully up to professional bakers' standards. No dumbing down here. My best evidence is when I tried making cinnamon buns using two other recipies and the results were simply inferior to what one could buy from Entenmens at the supermarket I then made the same product using the Child recipe and I produced definitely superior results.
Please be aware that these recipes were not developed by Julia Child and Julia Child did not write the book. This does not detract from the quality of the book, just the quality of the credit. The writer, Dorrie Greenspan, has done several other books on baking, all with a very high quality. Julia's collaborators, all major talents in baking, include such stars as Nick Malgieri, do nothing but increase the value of the volume.
This book is at it's best as an introduction to all the different types of baking for a person who has time to deal with the finer points of baking things like artisnal breads and sticky buns. Yes, a stand mixer is recommended.
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on September 16, 2007
I have had this book since it first came out. This is, by far, the baking bible for those of us who adore to bake on weekends. Recipes I continually come back to are the Vanilla Pound Cake, which I often make for neighbors at Christmas. And the unbelieveable blueberry muffins which are worth the price of the book!!! Boca Negra, the flourless chocolate cake is to die for, along with Sunny Side Up Apricot pastry. Enormous popovers which I still love to watch on the PBS show where Julia speaks of honey dripping down to her elbows.

Yes the receipes are sometimes time consuming---this is not a quick bake approach. Where else can you learn from the top pastry chefs and pay thousands for cooking school? The photos are increadible, the book has a nice size and receipes, while detailed, are easy to follow. Enjoy!
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on April 30, 1998
I've been baking as a hobby for a number of years, and this book is one of the best, clearest guides to *technique* I've ever used. That's technique -- not recipes. When this book first came out, some reviewers noted that certain of the recipes didn't work out quite right when tested, and I must say I've found the same thing. The pages of my copy of this book are covered with scribbled notes about changes I've made in the recipes -- though I must say that most of the recipes I've had to change are the bread recipes, not the dessert ones. My notes for her "Country Bread" (the version of Pain de Campagne that *doesn't* require air-borne yeast) say things like "weird color, floury, boring flavor" and recommend adding a tablespoon of cider vinegar among other things. But when it comes to TECHNIQUE, nothing and nobody beats Julia! If you've ever wanted to know the real way to make croissants and brioche, or you're insane enough to want to make your own puff pastry, this book is indispensible. And even if you have to test and play around with the recipes before you are confident with them, that's how you learn, and that's what inspires you to come up with variations and ideas of your own. I recommend this book highly to bakers of intermediate skill and above. It wouldn't be perfect for beginners simply because you have to do so much experimentation on your own.
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on June 9, 2005
I've had this book for about 2 years, but I never made anything from it because it seemed like so many of the recipes needed a heavy duty mixer. Well, I finally bought one and decided it was time to dust this book off and see what's inside. What a great surprise! This book is wonderful. Everything I've made has been the best of that item that I've ever made. The instructions are very detailed and it's clearly the real deal. I made the bagels for the first time last weekend and my mom, who was visiting, said they were the best bagels she'd ever tasted. (I've made other bagels before, but none can stand up to these.) Unfortunately, you really do need a heavy duty mixer for many of the recipes, so if you don't have one this book might turn you off. I also wound up buying a stone for my oven. It's not required, but they're inexpensive and the taste difference is noticable. The recipes also have pages of details on how to make each item. I have to say I feel like I'm getting an education. If you are serious about making homemade bread and other baked goods, this book belongs in your baking library.
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on February 6, 1997
Great recipes and great teaching. Some recipes are classics, such as croissants, which require mastering certain techniques. These techniques are well explained and bakers are very much encouraged to experiment, and try again
if the results aren't perfect. Some recipes, like the galette, are lifesavers --they can be made in just a few minutes and are instantly wonderful and successful. The glossary explains various baking terms extremely clearly,
and the photos do an excellent job of illustrating. It might even be possible to have never baked a yeast bread before and be successful with this book, no small feat in my eyes.
Of course, if you are looking for bread machine-type breads, or for low-fat croissant recipes, this book will not meet
your needs. But if you want to learn how to bake a wide variety of sophisticated and simple breads, make different types of crusts and doughs, pastries and other baked items, this is really an excellent choice.
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on January 1, 2002
While those of us who have a bookcase of cookbooks know that other Julia Child books have necessary information (such as measurements), those who wanted a comprehensive cookbook should not rely on this book alone. However, with that said, this book has some of the most creative, tasty baked products I have seen. The Tourte Milanaise is my particular favorite. It says to serve it room temperature or cold but I would recommend cutting it and then warming it again. The cheese and tarragon in the eggs comes out when warm and you miss it when it is chilled. What a delight though. I recommend this book for anyone who loves to bake and anyone who loves Julia Child!
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