As the year comes to an end, it's natural to pause and reflect. Though so much can happen in twelve months, the cream usually rises to the top, and the best experiences make themselves known. Consider these books the cream of the Bake the Book crop—each one is a pleasure to page through, a delight to cook from, and comes with its own engaging story.
Desserts for Every Season
Quite possibly my favorite cookbook of the year, chef Jenny McCoy's Desserts for Every Season is a winner in every category. It's beautiful to start—there are illustrations of fruit reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts, and elegant script hugs stunning photos of seasonal desserts. For brains, there's the infectious confidence found in chef McCoy's words, urging the home cook to take chances and make mistakes in the kitchen. A cookbook like this that motivates and inspires is deserving of the highest praise.
Hoosier Mama Book of Pie
Everything you could possibly want to know about proper pie making is covered in The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie. No facet of the process is too humble for discussion; the merits of salt in the crust is given as much thought as the best way to combine butter and flour. But above all, the pies within are truly excellent. If you've ever wanted to learn the right way to crimp a pie, or how to make lattice work actually work, this is the book for you.
Seriously Bitter Sweet
Alice Medrich, grande dame of all things chocolate, tops herself with Seriously Bitter Sweet, a revised version of the previously published Bittersweet. Exhaustively researched, yet elegantly presented, the recipes within come complete with notes on chocolate subsitutions, so you can learn the ins and outs of using all percentages of chocolate. I personally enjoyed finding out that darker does not always = better.
Comprehensive cookbooks are a hell of a thing when you get them right. Enter Bakeless Sweets, from The Kitchn editor Faith Durand. Every form of dessert you can imagine is covered within, except that none of them need the oven. This book was a godsend during the dog days of summer for its unbelievably refreshing flavors and smart, simple recipes. I still get a craving for Salted Caramel Risotto now and again.
La Boulange Bakery
For its use of photos to illustrate recipe steps, and its whimsical, yet approachable take on cafe cooking, La Boulange Bakery made an impression. It's a celebration of the recipes that made Pascal Rigo's San Francisco cafes so successful. There's something special about being able to learn the secrets behind beloved desserts, and that's what La Boulange Bakery is all about.
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