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The Art & Soul of Baking Hardcover – October 21, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Veteran pastry chef Mushet puts her decades of experience to work in this dense, informative baking guide from Seattle-based gourmet cookware retailer Sur La Table (thankfully light on advertorials), opening with a comprehensive overview of crucial equipment and a 30 page guide to pantry stocking (butter, flour and sugar get three pages each, chocolate gets five). Covering all aspects of the baking spectrum, Mushet gives yeast-based breads, quick breads, cookies and bars, layered pastries and other specialties their turn, doing admirable work with standards like pizza dough and dinner rolls, as well as trendier riffs like pesto rolls and rustic olive and thyme bread that give cooks room to stretch in each category. Mushet's invaluable lessons in ensuring oven accuracy, incorporating butter into dough for layered pastries (with step-by-step photos) and the causes of falling soufflés will get novices up to speed, and experts ready to tackle Mushet's compelling cheesecake batter-in-a-food-processor technique will find her inventive hors d'oeuvre Stilton Cheesecake with Port-Braised Pears a big hit at the next cocktail party. Those already comfortable with baking will get the most out of the book's 250 recipes, but there are plenty of dishes well within the reach of those new to Crème Brulee and lemon bar construction, making this a great volume to learn and grow with.
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From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Malgieri is director of the baking program at New York's Institute of Culinary Education and author of numerous other cookbooks, including How To Bake, in many ways the predecessor of this ambitious new title. He begins with an introduction to ingredients, equipment, and techniques and follows with eight recipe chapters. Chapter introductions provide helpful general tips on the various techniques involved, and recipe headnotes offer more specific information. Despite the subtitle, streamlined techniques do not seem to be a major focus, as many recipes rely on classic, time-tested methods. The recipes, many shown in color photographs, include both traditional favorites like Date Walnut Bread and more contemporary creations such as Smoked Salmon Mille-Feuilles, with ethnic specialties from a wide range of cuisines. For most baking collections.Mushet, a talented pastry chef, cooking teacher, and author of the excellent Desserts: Mediterranean Flavors, California Style, presents the latest book from the Sur La Table team, following Things Cooks Love. Like Malgieri's book, it covers both sweet and savory baking, but it includes far more information. Two lengthy introductory chapters cover techniques, equipment, and ingredients, and dozens of sidebars on "Tips for Success" and "What the Pros Know" offer further helpful insider advice. Recipes range from basics such as Quick Puff Pastry and Classic Sugar Cookies to unusual and appealing treats like Malted Milk Chocolate Tart; most of them include make-ahead information, and many also have variations. There are striking color photographs throughout, as well as step-by-step technique photos. Mushet's style is engaging and never intimidating. Essential.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; First Edition first Printing edition (October 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0740773348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0740773341
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.7 x 10.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Cindy Mushet has been a pastry chef and culinary instructor for nearly 20 years, beginning her career at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. She has since headed pastry kitchens in restaurants and bakeries from Napa to San Diego and has taught professional training courses at Le Cordon Bleu, the Culinary Institute of America, and the New School of Cooking, among others. She has also taught hundreds of recreational classes across the country.

For five years she wrote and published the highly regarded Baking With the American Harvest, a quarterly baking journal with subscribers nationwide and was a contributing writer to The Joy of Cooking, The Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies, and The Baker's Dozen Cookbook. Cindy's recipes and articles have been featured in magazines and newspapers across the country, including Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking, Gourmet, Country Home, and The New York Times. In addition, her recipes were among the few to be chosen for The Best American Recipe books.

Cindy lives in Los Angeles, where she is a patisserie chef-instructor in Le Cordon Bleu program at the California School of Culinary Arts, and she consults regularly with restaurants and bakeries on menu development and staff training. Cindy is a regular guest on KCRW's Good Food radio show. She has been a spokeswoman for the American Butter Institute and a guest chef at food conferences across the country.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Toni VINE VOICE on December 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If it would have been possible to wish a "10 Star" rating on this tome of baking, it would have been done. Trying to figure where to start to describe this giant gastronomic baking tool is the second wish I had, because there is so much packed into this, it isn't possible to include everything within its covers.

Sur La Table is a long-respected and well-known center of sincere kitchen ware. Part of their evolution has been to have cooking/baking classes as well as accompanying books that their faithful customers have asked for over the years. This book is absolutely one of their best yet.

Having met Chef Cindy Mushet on her Sur La Table baking/promotional tour, she is the real deal. Very simple, very honest, very practical and very ready to share anything that has to do with baking. Hence, the perfect pairing of chef and company.

If I had to wrap up everything she taught that night into a nutshell, its that you HAVE to measure everything as the recipe states, using the appropriate measuring tools for solids and liquids. Having said that, all the recipes have all their ingredients measured. Having tried that concept on a couple of the recipes already, everything has been 100% perfect. For a budding chef and/or beginner, guess-timates don't seem to work because that will inevitably lead to some failure, but with Cindy, its "measure, measure, measure". Roger that.

The book contains 454 solid, heavy pages of knowledge about everything, and along with the recipes, are the steps needed for that category of foodstuffs. The photography of Maren Caruso is superb, and it helps convey that which Cindy can express in words.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Sienne on December 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As others have noted, this is a truly beautiful book that does justice to the content. There is generally enough information that a relative novice can feel comfortable putting together the recipes. There is a "however..." In some cases, details are omitted. There is sufficient information in the pie crust instructions, for example, to blind bake a pie shell. If you have to fully bake the shell, neither the general or specific crust recipes indicate how long the shell needs to be in the oven.While a small oversight, for a pie crust, there's just no way to test to see if the shell is done.

One clear strength of this book and one which sets it apart from many others, is the level of instruction. The detailed information about ingredients, even the basics like types of flour, sweeteners, etc. is very helpful.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Lizzie on October 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This beautiful cookbook is amazing. It is just packed with great information. It is 440 pages full of tips, instruction, gorgeous photographs and fabulous recipes. This cookbook covers everything from the basics to information even experienced bakers will find of use. The information and instruction is presented in a very non-intimidating, approachable way. This cookbook covers yeast and quick breads, pastries, pies, cookies, cakes, tarts, fruit desserts, custards and puddings, plus souffles, cheesecakes and more. Each section begins with helpful information about ingredients followed by techniques and instruction. The recipes include time saving tips called "getting ahead" and storage tips. The recipes are all followed by possible variations. I am not a novice baker but not a pro either. I feel this cookbook will give me the skills needed to tackle even the most ambitious baking project as well as the more basic baking. This cookbook is truly empowering!
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. Janssen on December 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I like this book for what it is; a good generic baking book with lots of tips coupled with a number of good recipes spanning many categories. It's strong on technique and tips, but perhaps a little lacking in the breadth of the included recipes. I think it's aimed to be part instructional and part inspirational, and perhaps marketed for the intermediate baker. If you aspire to move on from Betty Crocker, this would be a good place to start. However, it suffers in a couple areas that potential purchasers should be aware of.

Any book covering such a broad swath is going to be challenged by bakers that may be looking for more in specific categories, and so it is with this effort. Each section covers specific dessert types as you might expect, but the purchaser looking for an expansive selection of, let's say, layer cakes is going to find a section limited to just 12 basic cakes, only about a third of which are layer cakes. There are short sections on how to alter the recipes, but the selection offered in this major category is pretty limited at best and disappointing in a 450+ page magna opus. They do better in the pies and tarts categories, but in the end you can't get away from the fact that this is a pretty generic book. While Sur La Table doesn't present it as anything but, I suspect a great many purchasers will assume it offers more focus on jaw dropping desserts than it actually does. Additionally, many of the individual selections refer back to a "master recipe" rather than give the complete instructions. While this may save a few pages of paper it tends to hide the actual complexity and time needed for a given dessert. Again, it just seems to be an odd choice to make in a large comprehensive book and only complicates the task at hand.
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