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Better Baking: Wholesome Ingredients, Delicious Desserts Hardcover – September 27, 2016
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From the Publisher
School-Party Sheet Cake from Better Baking
Makes one 9-by-13-inch cake (no nuts)
When I bring treats to my girls’ school parties, I don’t want them to be mortified by their mom’s weird food—nor do I want to turn their classmates into hyperactive rascals with empty calories. That means some- thing that looks familiar but tastes better than the original. Enter this easy sheet cake. Zucchini keeps the cocoa–chocolate chip cake extra-moist, and sweet potato swirls into a frosting as creamy as that canned stuff, with far more flavor (and no added sugar). Dark chocolate—semisweet or a lower-percentage bittersweet—makes the cake luxurious and sophisticated enough for adults. Kids may ask about the bits of green zucchini in the cake. I’m not a believer in sneaking in veggies, so I tell them. Even if they balk, they still gobble up the cake once they take a bite or hear their friends raving. Party on!
1. To make the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Coat a 9-by-13-by-2-inch cake pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray. If you’re using a metal pan, line the bottom and sides with foil or parchment paper and spray again.
2. Set a box grater on some paper towels and grate the zucchini on the large holes. Spread it out on the paper towels, top with more paper towels, and press gently to remove excess moisture.
3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk the sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a medium bowl until very smooth. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk, gradually drawing in the dry ingredients, just until smooth. Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips with a silicone spatula until evenly incorporated. Spread the batter in an even layer in the prepared pan.
4. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back a little when lightly pressed with a fingertip, 45 to 50 minutes.
5. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.
6. Meanwhile, make the frosting: Bring the sweet potato puree to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is at room temperature and the consistency of canned frosting. It should hold soft peaks when you lift the spatula from the pan but not be stiff. Spread the frosting all over the top of the cake, creating swoops and swirls.
- Use unsweetened pure canned sweet potato puree; it’s usually stocked near the canned pumpkin. Freshly cooked and pureed sweet potato is too granular and thick.
- Chocolate with a cacao content between 55 and 60% makes the frosting perfectly sweet and smooth.
- A glass or ceramic dish is nice for a sheet cake. Bake the cake in the greased dish, cool completely, and frost. You can cut it into pieces right in the dish. I have a Pyrex dish that comes with a stiff plastic lid, making it simple to tote to parties at school or a friend’s house.
- If you plan to cut your cake ahead and place the pieces on a serving platter, use a metal pan. Generally I prefer straight-sided metal cake pans, which produce clean edges. Line the bottom and sides with foil or parchment paper and grease the foil or paper. Once the cake has cooled completely, lift it out using the foil, then frost and cut it. To get perfect slices, you can freeze the frosted cake until firm before slicing, then bring it to room temperature before serving.
- 1 pound (453 g) zucchini (about 4 small), trimmed
- 2½ cups (360 g) white whole wheat flour
- ½ cup (48 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups (312 g) sugar
- 1 cup (245 g) buttermilk, at room temperature
- ½ cup (112 g) grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (180 g) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 (15-ounce; 425-g) can pure sweet potato puree
- 10 ounces (283 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (1 2/3 cups)
An Epicurious Fall 2016 Pick
Named one of the best fall cookbooks of 2016 by The New York Times
"It’s hard to find a dependable baking cookbook, but look no further. Baking expert Genevieve Ko brings you flawless recipes that use modern, healthful ingredients." — RealSimple.com
“Genevieve Ko has cracked the code: She’s found a way to make beloved sweets good and good for us. Ever wonder what your favorite cookie, cake or muffin would be like with less sugar? No eggs? Different oils? Healthful flours? Nuts? Grains? Ko’s got the smart answers.” — Dorie Greenspan, author, Baking: From My Home to Yours and Dorie’s Cookies
“A sign of a great baking book for me is when I pick it up and immediately want to start baking from it. Better Baking is not only full of inspiring recipes but also gorgeous photos and numerous helpful hints on how to bake with more wholesome ingredients. Kudos to Genevieve for sharing recipes that will make all of us better bakers.” — Joanne Chang, Pastry Chef/Co-Owner, Flour Bakery+Cafe
“Here are short cuts to simplify, tips to prevent disasters, and amazing, delicious recipes, many with whole grains, seeds, and nuts. Whole-grain wedding cookies better than the original — every recipe you want to try right now!" — Shirley Corriher, author, BakeWise
"Better Baking is pure joy. Do yourself a favor: Run home and make the Double-Date Sticky Toffee Pudding Cakes." — Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito, co-owners, Baked
“An instant classic with wholesome, diverse ingredients that will leave you feeling great about what you've just baked.” — Art Smith, chef, Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine
“A beautiful and thoughtful master class on how to bake your cake and eat it too.” — Carla Hall, Co-host, The Chew and owner, Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen
“The best baking book I have seen in many years.” — Sarabeth Levine, author, owner, Sarabeth’s Kitchen and author, Sarabeth’s Bakery
“Ingenious recasting of favorite recipes.” —Entertainment Weekly
"Don’t be put off by the word ‘wholesome.' It’s true she cuts back on butter and refined sugar; it’s true you’ll find whole-grain flours and a plentiful use of nuts and seeds, but she handles these alterations with the wisdom and integrity of a great baker; and the results are scrumptious by any standards.” —The New York Times Book Review
"Motivated to update classics with more alternative flours and less sugar, Ko has created some of the most innovative flavor combinations you’ll find in a baking book, such as Fennel and Currant Corn Bread; Buckwheat Almond Apple Cake; Toasted Walnut and Grape Clafoutis; Chestnut Kisses.” —Washington Post
About the Author
Top customer reviews
1) The book starts out with informative tips on the type of flours (she’s also categorized the grains by gluten content!), nuts and seeds, ingredient substitution, and equipment. I also love that with each topic/ chapter, it gives you specific tips on how to perfect the end result.
2) The recipe instructions are easy to follow and the ingredients aren’t difficult to find. But like all cookbooks, some ingredients may be seasonal. The carrot cake was a success and super moist!
3) Another bonus is the HUGE variety of recipes to choose from. It doesn’t just cover cookies, cakes, tarts, and muffins. It also has cracker recipes (crisps and thins) ,- (both which I’m excited to try for my next charcuterie plate), granola, and other desserts such as mochi, candied nuts, and baklava!
4) I enjoy reading cookbooks and appreciate it even more when the author puts stories or facts about the recipe. It makes the recipe and the book more lively and colorful. She also informs you, on certain recipes, which ones you can make ahead of time and more importantly, how long you can store it for.
The tips and information the author gives is what makes this a great cookbook as it teaches you on how to be a better baker, make a dessert where you’re not afraid to eat it because you know it’s made with better and healthier ingredients, and the versatility on baked delicious goods. I highly recommend this book.
I was a little intimidated by the NYT, Epicurious great reviews since I'm not a fancy cook. But I've been non-stop baking since this book arrived last week. My favorite so far has been the Pumpkin Olive Oil Brown Sugar Bundt Cake. So moist, perfect sweetness level and best thing, you'd never know that it was with no dairy and whole wheat. I then ventured onto Flourless Blueberry Muffin, gluten and dairy free. Again so delicious. My family has gobbled up all the latest baked goods. After having a good half dozen Mocha Chip Cookies, my eight year old said "just make the cookie part". My son lives on chocolate, so to hear him say that told me that even with healthy ingredients picky eaters will still enjoy these recipes. I've also made the Carrot Cake for a family gathering and it was a huge hit. My in laws were fighting to take home the leftover cake slice!
Each recipe is filled with great tips and personal antidotes that makes you feel like you're baking with a friend. Photography is absolutely beautiful. Almost every recipe has a photo. I wish though that every recipe had a picture. Ms. Ko is great at explaining why certain flours were used, or how she was able to achieve particular textures and tastes with different ingredients. She also has suggestions on which brands to use for some of the ingredients, which is quite handy since I'm all about researching best products.
I can't wait to bake more and I'm sure my friends and family can't wait either. Get this book people, or find a friend who has it (like me) to bake some of these deliciousness for you!