Bake the Book: Desserts for Every Season


[Photograph: Pernille Pedersen]

Seasons have a way of sneaking up on you. But just as the leaves inevitably change, so do our palates. Some of us wait all year for that first slice of pumpkin pie, while others cross their fingers, hoping for watermelon to finally ripen. Chef Jenny McCoy makes room for every sweet craving in her first book, Desserts for Every Season.

To say the book is gorgeous is an understatement. But beauty is nothing without brains, and this book packs serious smarts. The seasonal, fruit-forward focus and elegant photography are reminiscent of Nigel Slater's "Ripe", but the authoritative, yet encouraging tone is all her own. The educative nature of the text is no accident: Chef McCoy is a pastry arts instructor at the New York Institute of Culinary Education. Previously, she ran the pastry kitchens at top restaurants in Chicago and New York. She explains the why and how behind the rules of baking, making the laws of pastry understandable, manipulatable things, rather than feared canon. Her confidence is inspiring, and her trust in the home baker is as motivating as it is rare.

That confidence, combined with her varied experience, make for some solid recipes. They may be adorned with girly curlicues and illustrated cross-sections of fruit, but Desserts for Every Season is a heavyweight. Consider yourself lucky the book is divided into seasons, otherwise you'd be spoilt for choice. There are ice pops, roulades, pies, cakes, and breads, all delivered in a way that embolden the home cook.

As autumn is upon us, we are heralding the change of seasons and honoring Desserts For Every Season with four fall recipes. The first is a Pear-Cranberry Strudel, inspired by a trip to Vienna. Next, Buckwheat Honey Ice Cream, which contains the chill of winter and the molasses-like bite of buckwheat honey. There's Concord Grape and Rosemary Foccacia, that bakes the sweet fruit into toothsome bread dough. And lastly, Pumpkin-Milk Chocolate Pie with a Gingersnap Crust, a combination of flavor both logical and divine.

Win A Copy!

Thanks to the generous folks over at Rizzoli Books, we are giving away five (5) copies of Desserts for Every Season to give away this week. All you have to do is tell us your favorite season and its best dessert in the comments below.