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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Bakery Shares Their Secrets
We visited the Model Bakery on our trip to Napa 3 years ago. Since that time, we have longed for anything close to their phenomenal cinnamon rolls and sticky buns.

NYC bakeries not even close. Food Network recipes falling short one after the other.

Then we got word about their new cookbook. We preordered, and in our first weekend, made and...
Published 16 months ago by Rich

versus
66 of 90 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for Me but Maybe for You
There may be a lot to like about this cookbook, but you're going to have to squint to find out. The type face is incredibly small, so the (interesting) stories require a lot of work to get through. Even the recipes are set up as if the goal was to use as few pages as possible. The recipes use a three-column layout. The first column lists the ingredients (including metric...
Published 16 months ago by SandyCB


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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Bakery Shares Their Secrets, September 23, 2013
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This review is from: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery (Hardcover)
We visited the Model Bakery on our trip to Napa 3 years ago. Since that time, we have longed for anything close to their phenomenal cinnamon rolls and sticky buns.

NYC bakeries not even close. Food Network recipes falling short one after the other.

Then we got word about their new cookbook. We preordered, and in our first weekend, made and devoured our first batch of cinnamon rolls. They were fantastic and as good as we remember having at the bakery.

This Connecticut family is very happy and cannot wait to move on to those sticky buns.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE!!!, September 17, 2013
This review is from: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery (Hardcover)
As a former employee and local I oftentimes miss The Model Bakery and this brought a little bit of home back. I was so happy to buy this! I am the most novice of cooks but I attempted to make the famous English Muffins and they were so great! Who knew these simple ingredients made such great food!?! I can't wait to make more of the wonderful things I've missed!
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comfort baking at its finest..., October 29, 2013
This review is from: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery (Hardcover)
I haven't had the pleasure of visiting the Model Bakery (I briefly visited California for the first time last year), but I learned about their eponymous cookbook on Rick Rodgers' Facebook page (Rick is one of the book's authors; his amazing Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague is one of my favorite pastry books out of the dozens I own). I was instantly drawn in by the many classic recipes for breads, yeasted sweets (croissants, pain au chocolat, bear claws, cinnamon rolls), cakes, cookies, pies and tarts. These are simple, traditional, dependable recipes (no fancy flavorings, rare ingredients, or unusual baking equipment required!) that will be sure to delight.

With a straightforward table of contents that conveniently fits on one page, it's easy to quickly locate recipes. Each chapter ends with a helpful "how-to" section that addresses certain aspects of food science (fermentation, enzymes, wet vs. dry doughs) and practical tips and tricks that will be especially helpful to new bakers (baking one sheet of cookies at a time for best results, parchment paper instead of silicone mats for crisper cookies). A compact look at ingredients (Karen and Sarah recommend Guittard French Vanilla as their chocolate of choice, whole-fat dairy instead of reduced fat, and European-style butter with a high butterfat content) and basic equipment will start bakers off on the right foot. For instance, they point out that "the thin and shiny cookie sheets that many home bakers have encourage burned cookie bottoms." Instead, they recommend using half- and quarter-sheet pans. As a serious home baker with an arsenal of professional pans, I strongly recommend the USA Pan 6-Piece Bakeware Set from USA Pans; the pans bake evenly and include a nonstick silicone coating that allows your baked goods to slide right off. Ingredients are given in volume and metric.

I have worked with many yeast doughs for pastry over the years, but am fairly new to yeast breads. Even though I have a stand mixer, I prefer to work my doughs by hand, so I appreciate that every bread recipe also includes instructions on how to mix and knead by hand. I recently purchased an Emile Henry Flame Bread Baking Set - Black, and am looking forward to trying out some of the Model Bakery's artisan breads like the country olive pain au levain with rosemary. Their baking method involves heating an inverted ovenproof pot to 500; I think I'll take my chances with the cloche! I also loved the wild yeast grape starter; it is unlike any other starter I've seen in my many baking books. It's a bit harder to track down organic wine grapes in my neck of the woods, but it is worth the effort to do so.

The sections on yeasted sweets, breakfast favorites, cakes and cookies were familiar territory for me; I own close to 40 baking books alone, so I am always excited to find new versions of classics. I LOVED the soda bread; moist and fruity (I added the optional currants and caraway seeds), this was addictive and so easy to make. Their take on bear claws was also a bit different than other versions I've made (this one has coconut and cake crumbs in the filling in addition to the almond paste). I was also thrilled to see schnecken dough featured.

From the cake section, I tried the lemon pound cake (baked in my Nordic Ware Lemon Loaf pans for a pretty presentation) and the pumpkin gingerbread cake (baked in Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Pumpkin Patch Pan). I also had to try making the chocolate rads after hearing so much about them; the first batch I made as large as directed (and they are HUGE, easily a good six or seven inches across, see photo), then made the rest of the dough in "normal" sized cookies for easier storage and freezing. There's a pound of melted chocolate in the dough and 2 cups of chocolate chips for only 12 cookies, so any diehard chocoholics in your life may have finally met their match! I found that even after chilling the dough for longer than recommended, it was still messy to work with as far as slicing; I might try placing it in the freezer next time to firm it up a bit more.

The lack of diagrams and step-by-step photos (particularly for laminated doughs) may make this a little challenging for novice home bakers, but the many tips and hints offer practical insights that I haven't seen in my many other baking books. I loved some of the old-fashioned touches like the berries and cream cake (you have the option of using white or buttermilk cake), coconut cake, and their unique take on lemon squares: instead of making a separate lemon curd, you make a filling that is poured directly into the prebaked crust and baked until set, making it much quicker than other recipes I've tried. I also discovered some new European favorites like the gateau Basque, a double-crust almond tart filled with cherries and pastry cream.

Verdict: "The Model Bakery" is a wonderful reference for classic artisan breads, yeasted sweets and cookies, brownies and cakes (including a homemade two-tiered wedding cake for the truly ambitious) that is accessible by bakers of all skill levels. The many stories add a personal feel, and this is comfort baking at its finest.

(Review copy courtesy of the Model Bakery - thank you Karen and Sarah!)
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great recipes and great stories, September 28, 2013
By 
Mark W. Conley (Memphis, Tennessee) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery (Hardcover)
This is a unique cookbook that not only provides easy to follow recipes, even for making the grape yeast based sourdough starter, but it also tells the story of the bakers. It reads like a novel or autobiography. I especially enjoyed the story about the massive ovens and learning how to use them. I have been baking their version of artisan bread since we visited their Oxbow Market location last May and it is the best. Lots of tips in the cookbook about proper technique, finding and using the ingredients and managing the baking process from start to finish. Only worry is what this will do to my waistline! Wonderful book!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best English Muffins Ever, November 4, 2013
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This review is from: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery (Hardcover)
Great book. I have made the english muffins and they were so easy and very delicious. Also made the red velvet cupcakes. Very moist and delicious too. I am going to try the macaroon cookies with almond paste next week for some house guests. The recipes are very easy to follow and I couldn't have been happier with the results. Buy this book, you won't be disappointed.
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66 of 90 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for Me but Maybe for You, October 1, 2013
This review is from: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery (Hardcover)
There may be a lot to like about this cookbook, but you're going to have to squint to find out. The type face is incredibly small, so the (interesting) stories require a lot of work to get through. Even the recipes are set up as if the goal was to use as few pages as possible. The recipes use a three-column layout. The first column lists the ingredients (including metric measurements) in the tiny typeface, The only concession to readability is making the type bold. The layout means that each step is paragraph length. Forget about laying the book on the counter and glancing over at it -- only the sharpest eyes will be able to accomplish this feat. I can only guess that their goal was to keep recipes to one page, but at what cost?

The photography is lovely, and many of the recipes look delicious, but there are some quirks that give me pause.

The oddest bit for me is their insistence that you use fine sea salt in their recipes because "some palates" can detect additives in table salt. I guess these "palates" must not be the people they mention who are surprised at the espresso present in some of the chocolate recipes. Sorry, but espresso doesn't hide. Those of us who love chocolate but hate coffee have learned to be wary of any deep chocolate dessert served in any trendy restaurant.

Their recipes for cakes are for 8" three-layer cakes, with the single exception of a carrot cake recipe, a type of cake they explain is much better as a two-layer cake. I suspect most home cooks do not want to regularly produce three-layer cakes, especially when they have to store them. (My cake keeper is much better with two-layer cakes. Ironically, I do own three 8" pans so I can make one of my favorite recipes ... a carrot cake!) Those who only bake cakes for special occasions may be happy with a tall cake, but it's not what I would prefer.

They explain that streusel pies are easier for them to prepare commercially, and I can see their logic, but when this translates into zero recipes for two-crust pies, I am disappointed. I'm not running a bakery, and I am not a big streusel fan. I'm also not a fan of the current trend of muffins so sweet they could be called cupcakes, but if you are, you will probably be delighted with their recipes, some of which call for creaming sugar and butter.

I collect cookbooks, and one thing I've learned to look for is recipes that specify ingredients straight from the package. I have a wonderful pumpkin bread recipe that I've not been able to duplicate once I could no longer buy pumpkin in 16-oz cans. They specify 15-oz cans of pumpkin in several recipes; I wish they had given a more reproducible measurement.

Coffee and streusel loving cooks with great vision may well like this book much more than I do. You know who you are.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yum!, October 24, 2013
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This review is from: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery (Hardcover)
I'm working my way through this fabulous cook book so far every recipe is perfect.But I might add, there are a lot of rising times for most of these baked bread recipes and you will need to be home to do this, this is not something that you can do on a weeknight.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MODEL for all cookbooks, February 4, 2014
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This review is from: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery (Hardcover)
I read and collect cookbooks. I like the beauty and style of books that Rick Rodgers collaborates on. That alone made me want to buy this book. I have only tried one of the recipes so far. The cookies turned out PERFECTLY. This isn't as easy as it sounds. It is the result of listing and using precise weights for precise ingredients as done in this book. A recipe is not accurate nor can be easily duplicated if measuring is not done by weight. I would only wish that liquids were also by weight. (LISTEN UP COOKBOOK AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS). I plan to go through this book testing for recipes to use in my summer bakery and I am sure all will be as successful. Thank you Model Bakery.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best cookie recipes ever, May 6, 2014
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This review is from: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery (Hardcover)
I'm a chef, and one of my jobs was baking cookies many moons ago. I am a bit of a skeptic regarding cookie recipes. Too hard, too soft, not enough flavor etc
Have tried 4 cookie recipes so far and each a winner. They form a bigger cookie than I generally do (1/4c scoop) but everyone who's tasted loves them. Soft without being wet, and crisp outside but not dry or hard. Lovely.
I also tried the biscuit recipe and also liked, though a bit sweet for my taste.
I'll try the cookies smaller and perhaps[s cut down the sugar a bit next biscuit making day but I'm sold on this cookbook and looking forward to trying a few more recipes soon.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love love love the Model Bakery's food!, July 25, 2014
By 
Sarah Sue (St. Helena, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery (Hardcover)
Live nearby and go there often--really good food! I'm particularly fond of their breads (all are great) but will keep buying those instead of making them at home since that's so convenient for me. The Ginger Molasses cookies are chewy and fabulous and I haven't found a recipe anywhere else that competes with theirs! The book is illustrated to make your mouth water! And it's chatty--I enjoy reading the comments about each recipe, as well as the history of the bakery.
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The Model Bakery Cookbook: 75 Favorite Recipes from the Beloved Napa Valley Bakery
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