With seven cookbooks to her credit and countless articles in such noted magazines as Bon Appetit, Gourmet and Food and Wine, Carole Bloom surely is an accomplished baker and writer. In The Essential Baker, her eighth book, she shares with us her wealth of knowledge and baking skills so that we too can create fabulous cakes, pies, pastries, cookies and much more.
There are over 250 recipes in The Essential Baker along with pages of essential information on baking practices, equipment, ingredients, techniques and language – a tome of almost 650 pages. What makes this baking book unique is its organization. Rather than categorizing recipes by food type, Bloome opts for a less conventional approach and in her opinion more usable, organizing recipes by primary ingredient. She feels that there is more logic in going directly to a section that has a particular ingredient you would like to use and these sections include, Fruit and Vegetables; Spices and Herbs; Nuts and Seeds; Chocolate; Dairy Products; Coffee, Tea, Liqueurs, and Spirits.
The format is also unique. Each recipe is laid out with the ingredients in the order you will use them to the left and the steps that apply to them in the right. This is especially helpful to new bakers as it allows them to follow the instructions in a step-by-step format and prevents confusion and the possibility of mistakes. The Baking Essentials section is an excellent primer for new bakers and will give them the tools and confidence to successfully make any of the recipes in the book.
Bloome’s writing is friendly and her instructions very thorough. Take for example her instructions for the enticing (and delicious!) Dark Chocolate Madelines pictured so temptingly on the cover. Once we have successfully prepared the batter according to her clearly written instructions, she explains “transfer the batter to the liquid measuring cup, pour the batter slowly into each cavity of the madeleine molds, filling them 3/4 full. Place each madeleine pan on a baking sheet…” Logical, helpful advice often overlooked in baking books. This attention to detail, evident throughout the book, along with her troubleshooting tips and ‘adding style’ suggestions is what makes it so ideal for new bakers. And, with over 250 new recipes to add to their repertoire will also please those with plenty of skill and baking books on their shelves.
Categories - Baking, Bread, Dessert