Ready … get set … BAKE!
How better to introduce the season’s best baking books than with the starting signal from “The Great British Baking Show” on PBS?
Two books have links to the delightfully civil baking contest. Two others would make great gifts for beginning bakers with ambition, while yet another gives cookies a master’s effort and respect.
The bread craze has ebbed, but still gets a worthy nod, while Scandinavian interests are served.
Here we go!
“Baking With Mary Berry,” by Mary Berry (DK, $19.95). Berry was a British baking icon long before she became a judge on TGBBS warning bakers about “soggy bottoms.” This book is unexpectedly accessible, each of the 100-some recipes on a single page. Many tips on technique and a chapter on British favorites make this a simple pleasure.
“Pâtisserie Made Simple,” by Edd Kimber (Kyle, $24.95). Kimber was the first “Baking Show” winner and has since written three cookbooks. His latest volume breaks down often intimidating French pastry, and even then some creations require multiple recipes. But Kimber writes clearly, with helpful adjectives and “how this feels” clues. Ingredients are by weight and volume.
“Payard Cookies,” by François Payard (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30). Payard is renowned for pastries, but knows the power of a well-made cookie. With 100 recipes, he addresses tuiles, sables, madeleines, macarons, filled cookies and more. A classic reference work of taste, technique and great photos. Ingredients are by weight and volume.
“Food52 Baking,” by the editors of Food52 (Penguin Random House, $22.99). Another cookbook from the respected reader-driven food website founded by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the subtitle pretty much sells itself: “66 Sensational Treats You Can Pull Off in a Snap.” Many have the whiff of generations, yet still feel contemporary. Cardamom Currant Snickerdoodles? Yup. Ingredients are by weight and volume.
“Baking With the Brass Sisters,” by Marilynne and Sheila Brass (St. Martin’s, $29.99). The new collection by the Brass sisters celebrates immigrant food that we now call American baking. Classic, comforting recipes epitomize memories of Grandma. (Or perhaps Great-Grandma by now.) In any case, the recipe for Mother Carleton’s Black Walnut Bundt Cake is here.
“Sourdough,” by Sarah Owens (Roost, $35). Sourdough has a new champion with some unusual moves. Owens’ starter begins with a weeklong process of making a yeast water of honey and raisins. The resulting mixture finds its way into Candied Citrus Shortbread, Blue Corn and Caramelized Onion Loaf, Cranberry and Poppy Semolina Bread. So much more, and so intriguing. Measures are by weight only, which may be a consideration.
“Scandinavian Baking,” by Trine Hahnemann (Quadrille, $35). Hahnemann, a Nordic baking master, has 100 authentic recipes, but happily gives some a wise twist. Breads are hearty and grainy; spelt is a favorite flour. Fruits pop up everywhere. Yet even when they are a bit experimental, these recipes ring true.