Do you have a novice baker on your holiday list this year? Or would you like to inspire someone in your life to become a baker. Below you’ll find a list of books that I have found extremely helpful in my baking journey and the reasons why.
Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
This book is basically my baking Bible. It was one of the first really comprehensive baking books I ever owned and I use it a lot– you can tell from the stained pages and how it just flips open to the Pate Brisee page as soon as you pull it off the shelf. There’s a reason Martha is known as a domestic goddess. Even if you don’t follow all of her painstaking details, you’ll still end up with an incredible product. Highlights include the aforementioned Pate Brisee (all-butter pie crust) and her Devil’s Food Cake.
The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook
This is the newest entrant to my Essential List of Baking Books. I received this one just last year and it has quickly risen to be one of my favorites. It’s a great cookbook because the recipes range from incredibly easy no-cook desserts (Cookie Dough Truffles) to incredibly involved (Chocolate Cookie/Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches), so it’s a great book to grow with as you expand your baking skills. Everything I’ve made (and I’ve made a LOT) has turned out spectacularly and people have loved everything. Did I mention Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Pops? Well, I am now. They’ll change your life, I swear.
More from Magnolia
Yup, it’s that Magnolia– the bakery in New York City (and now locations around the world) made famous by either “Sex and the City” or “Lazy Sunday”, depending on which you watch. There is a recipe for their famous cupcakes, but I am more interested in all the other delights in this cookbook, the recipes for which have NEVER failed me. This is one of those rare cookbooks that just clicks with me and I hope it clicks for others as well. This cookbook gave me my favorite baked good to both make and eat– the Iced Ginger Cookie. (For the record, my favorite thing to just make is Lemon Meringue Cupcakes). Surprisingly, I don’t have the same love for the first Magnolia Bakery cookbook. For some reason, it’s just not as good as the follow-up.
Good Housekeeping Great Baking
This is one of those cookbooks that’s just a great cookbook to have laying around. It’ll cover all the basics and you can get as fancy as you want. If you just want to make easy cookies, they’re in there. If you want to get crazy and make a Paris-Brest, it’s in there too. It’s a no-nonsense, no-frills kind of book and won’t intimidate new bakers. While it may lack a bit of personality, it’s a kitchen workhorse.
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
If nothing else, this book looks impressive. It’s a giant cookbook from the most scientific of bakers, America’s Test Kitchen. These guys break everything down and explain the whys and hows of baking. Their cinnamon roll recipe is one of my absolute favorites and I love how many pictures are in this book.
If you’re interested in giving the gift that keeps on giving, I highly recommend both the Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country magazine subscriptions. These magazines are focused more on cooking than baking, but they’re incredibly informative, fun magazines to read and the desserts recipes that are included are usually pretty wonderful.
If the new baker in your life doesn’t have room for all these beautiful, beautiful books, I’m happy to report that Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook and More from Magnolia are all available as Kindle e-books through Amazon.com. You don’t need a Kindle to read the e-book versions; all you need is a tablet that can download the Kindle app! Both Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country are also available as e-magazine subscriptions via the iTunes store.
Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!