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Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays, and Informal Celebrations Hardcover – October 7, 2014
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Baked Occasions is exactly what it sounds like: a baking book dedicated to turning out holiday desserts. It is arranged by month instead of by category such as cookies or cakes. Some of the holidays are expected: Italian Christmas Cookie Cake on Christmas or Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake with Milk Chocolate Glaze on Valentines Day. Others are a blast and clearly illustrate the authors' sense of fun (as well as why I keep buying their books), such as: a Coconut Bundt Cake with a Dark Chocolate and Coconut Filling to celebrate Dolly Parton's birthday (January 19th, if you're curious) or Derby Cookies to celebrate the Kentucky Derby.
The book begins with the typical "user's manual" introduction: what pans and implements will be used in the recipes and what main ingredients will be most used. I particularly enjoy the anecdotes at the beginning of each recipe. It's always fun to find out where the authors get their inspiration and pick up tidbits about perfecting each recipe. The recipes are well-written and give ingredients by both weight and volume. There are a few unusual ingredients (such as a purple yam powder and some gel colorings that are all available on Amazon). I think this is a book for the moderate level baker. Many of the recipes call for several components to make a finished dessert.The photography is beautiful, mostly focusing on the finished dish instead of relying on the current artsy fad of showing a cream covered whisk or a dirty pan. I applaud the authors for a book as beautiful as it is useful.
The only reason that I am deducting a star is that in this particular book, I felt the authors were reaching a wee bit far in order to produce a recipe in some places. As another reviewer noted, there is no way that I am ever going to construct a giant "cake" out of rice krispies. Cake would be better in every instance. There were a couple of other recipes in the book that didn't look to be anything special, such as the popcorn balls and an icebox cake. I also found that the index needed further work. The index states the giant rice krispy cake is on pages 161-163, but it is actually on pages 181-183. I don't think there are other errors because these guys generally produce great work, but I think it's important to note.
Those minor criticisms aside, I truly enjoy this book. The Toffee Coffee Cake Surprise was a real hit in my house--any cake with a ribbon of yummy through the middle is a winner in my book. Next up is the blood orange tiramisu! If you are new to Baked books and don't know whether to buy one, skip this one and get one of the earlier ones. If you already own a Baked book, then the answer is yes, you want this book too!