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The Baker's Dozen Cookbook: Become a Better Baker with 135 Foolproof Recipes and Tried-and-True Techniques Hardcover

4.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Best known for The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, Marion Cunningham is as American as, oh, say, the Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Layer Cake in her group's latest compilation, which she introduces. Cunningham belongs to a group of bakers, calling itself the Baker's Dozen, devoted to sharing tips, talking shop and taking mouth-watering field trips to places such as the Guittard chocolate factory. Cunningham and 12 other members of the group impart just the sort of insider information to make readers feel part of an exclusive club. All the classics are covered here: cakes, custards, pies (with an excellent, comprehensive introduction to pie crusts), distinctive regional baked-fruit recipes and a chapter on cookies, with a recipe contending for "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies." The book offers clear guidance to ensure consistently impressive results in the home kitchen, particularly in the "Cakes for Family and Friends" chapter. Building on the classics, there are several trend-worthy variations: try the Five-Spice Angel Food Cake for a novelty dessert, the Blood Orange Chiffon Pie with Chocolate Crust for a dramatic update of the venerable chiffon pie or the Sherried Zucchini-Currant Tea Loaves for a more sophisticated use of surplus summer zucchini. Chapters on bread baking (including quick breads) clearly explain potential pitfalls and how to sidestep them and turn what could be an intimidating process into a stress-free experience for first-time bread bakers. The professional baking tips, detailed recipes and extensive glossaries will have readers well on their way to mastering techniques for perfect pastry. (Nov.)Forecast: The book's top names will draw attention from home bakers, many of whom have already formed informal bakers' groups of their own. Simple word of mouth will help this book's sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Amazon.com Review

Founded by cookbook author Marion Cunningham and professional baker Amy Pressman, the Baker's Dozen, a Bay Area group, helps its members bake better, sharing knowledge and solving members' baking problems. Edited by Rick Rodgers, The Baker's Dozen Cookbook, the group's first work, includes 135 enticing recipes, from Sour Cream Pound Cake and Almond and Chocolate Sandwich Cookies to breads and other nonsweet baked goods. The book's great appeal, however, lies in its lucid instructive material. New and veteran bakers alike will find this collection a true learning tool, which provides basic tutorials and more-advanced explorations into the art of baking.

The recipes come with a pedigree. Readers can thus enjoy baking-book expert Flo Braker's Triple Chocolate Cake and Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Cake, "Italian baker" Carol Field's Italian Whole Wheat Bread, and Chez Panisse pastry chef Lindsey Shere's Warm Pear Tart and Simple Nectarine Gallete. Other outstanding recipes include Julia Cookenboo's Pistachio-Golden Raisin Biscotti, Fran Gage's Spicy Cornmeal Crackers, and Rochelle Huppin-Fleck's Blood Orange Chiffon Pie with Chocolate Crumb Crust. In addition to insightful notes that accompany every recipe, the book offers definitive ingredient and equipment glossaries (chocolate is particularly well treated here), a detailed cake-basics section (batter-mixing for all cake types as well as other techniques are explored in depth), and color photos that depict the mouthwatering sweets in all their glory. The group has done its work well--this is one of the best baking books to appear in recent years. --Arthur Boehm --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; 1 edition
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0001HYMB0
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,831,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rosemary on November 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Over ten years ago, a group of bakers in California gathered to share information and recipes. The group includes an excellent selection of cooks including Flo Baker, Marion Cunningham, Alice Medrich, and Carolyn Beth Weil but is now part of a group that's 400+ members.
Besides including a fine selection of recipes, there are also sections which discuss ingredients in detail and specific techniques. For instance, the Fresh Ginger-Spice Cookies includes a reference that will tell you how professional chefs form the dough logs that don't contain air bubbles. Following the recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie there are two pages of information about meringue.
I've made several of the recipes and they've all been excellent.
Some cookbooks includes lots or pretty pictures and not a lot of content. This is not one of them. While there are some lovely pictures in this book (like the Chocolate Raspberry Cake), some of the pictures are to show you things that would be hard to explain in text (the different stages of beating egg whites). If the choice was between more pictures or more recipes/information, then I believe they made the right choice.
This would be an excellent book for anyone who's really serious about baking -- either a new baker just starting or an experienced baker who wants to expand their knowledge.
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Format: Hardcover
Many cookbooks about baking have words like "bible" or "complete" in them. Yet, none really deserve the term. They are never complete nor correct enough to warrant the title. This book, however, has earned the rights to these words. It originally started out as a club for professional bakers to solve their common baking problems that metastasized into this baking cookbook. It features many highly respected names such as Flo Braker, John Phillip Carroll, Marion Cunningham, Carol Field, Fran Gage, and Alice Medrich. The whole thing is edited by Rick Rodgers.
I have often heard people, including many respected food writers, lament that there ought to be a comprehensive book about baking that covers all of the important aspects and types of recipes and techniques. Well, here it is. It delves into such arcana as: the differences between genoise, sponge cake, chiffon cake, and angel food cake; the proper way to measure flour (in fact, different chapters use different methods, so read the recipes carefully and follow them to the letter; similar comments apply to which rolling pin or what kind of flour to use); and 4 different recipes for pie dough using either lard, cream cheese, shortening, or butter. The same applies to the chapter on tarts. It starts out with 5 recipes for crusts (pate brisee, pate sablee, pate sucree, tartlet dough, and quick puff pastry), and the subsequent recipes for tarts start with one of one of the crusts. The chapter on yeast breads is especially noteworthy.
Each chapter is written by a different person, and functions as a self contained primer on a particular subject. Each subject is treated systematically and thoroughly. In fact, each chapter could be published on its own as reference work on its subject.
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Format: Hardcover
I am so pleased with this book. Even if you never baked a thing from the book, you would learn a lot about the hows and whys of baking just by reading it.
The first recipe I tried, around Christmas, was for Lemon Stars, a beautiful-looking cookie with a wonderful lemon flavor. The Chocolate-Hazelnut Meringue Cookies were outstanding--my son and I wolfed them down shamelessly. Lemon-Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies were excellent, and we are enjoying the Raisin-Bran Muffins. I have also made the Buttermilk Currant Scones (flawless) and the White Sandwich Bread (texture was perfect).
In short, this is an outstanding collection packed with excellent advice.
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Format: Hardcover
Did you ever think you followed a recipe to the letter only to find that your souffle had fallen or the texture of your cookies were more Betty Rubble than Betty Crocker? Well, this book is all about preventing those little baking mishaps. As unromantic as it may sound, baking is as much science as it is art (maybe more). The writers of this book are keenly aware if this and are not at all protective of the type of information that is key to successful baking. For example, in the Sour Cream Poundcake recipe there's a footnote that explains to the reader how the baking soda in the recipe neutralizes the acid in the sour cream and produces carbon dioxide for leavening. Information like this helps prevent baking disasters (like the assumption that leavening agents are interchangable)by cluing the reader into the chemistry that is at play.
For me, baking is a journey and on that journey I accept the risk that the road will be sprinkled with failures (some at my own hand and others at the hand of inaccurate recipes). If there were more books like this, I could cut the risk factor by half and "let them eat cake" a little more often.
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Format: Hardcover
I was looking for a book that gave me information on how foods react to each other and why. This book does that and more. I particularly enjoy the first section. It calls itself a glossary but should be renamed encyclopedia. Everything from what percentage of chocolate liquor makes bittersweet chocolate bittersweet to what situtations baking soda is prefered over powder and why. The preface sections of each chapter are also filled with a ton of information that I have never seen in any of my other books. The section on high altitude cooking is also probably the most in depth published. To top off the interesting information are recipes that so far have not failed. I have made several of the cakes and they have been delicious and beautiful. There are only two things that would make this book better: pictures and weight. Even if there was a very tiny picture of each of the recipes it would be nice to be able to see it. Early on in the book they talk about how measuring by weight is so much better but most of the recipes are not by weight. How hard would it have been to put both cups and weight in each recipe. This book combined with "The Professional Pastry Chef" by Bo Friberg gives a pretty thorough decription of what you need to know to bake.
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