I read lots of other food blogs and they usually have great reviews or lists of their favorite cookbooks. Baked – New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito is a book I bought based on a review by David Lebovitz, one of my all-time favorite food bloggers. This cookbook has been out for a couple of years (as you can see by David’s review) but that’s just given me time to test-drive some of the recipes.
I don’t bake a ton, mostly because baked goods are hard to resist and with just two of us in the house, we’d be fatter than Jolly St. Nick if I baked often. But I’ve had the opportunity to make a few things out of this book, and I read it cover-to-cover because it’s so well-written and has great photos.
First off, this is not a beginning baker’s book. The recipes have several steps, and can sometimes call for uncommon ingredients. But if you’re up to the task, or looking for a dessert that’ll blow the socks off the office party-goers or the neighborhood bake sale, this is your go-to book. The Sour Cream Coffee Cake was a huge hit at my house over Thanksgiving, and the recipe makes a ton. I sent cake home with my mother and brother and still had enough to feed a family of four over 2 days. It’s moist and swirled with chocolate and cinnamon, and topped with a crumbly streusel-type pecan crumb. It held up well over several days and while seriously calorie-heavy, it was an awesome treat. Plus, it meant I didn’t have to be making breakfast for people on a busy cooking holiday, everyone could serve themselves.
My husband is a cake freak. When I’m on the prowl for the perfect creme brulee, he’s usually seeking the ultimate chocolate cake. This book has the nirvana of cakes – The Sweet and Salty Cake. The guys from Baked claim that this is the most-loved cake at the shop, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a bear to make – with multiple layers, salted caramel for between the layers, and a whipped caramel ganache frosting (which requires another batch of caramel-making) it took me at least 3 hours to complete this baby. My cake layers stuck to the pans, so there was a lot of “fudging” to make the cake look acceptable, but when it was done, oh my stars and garters, this was one awesome cake. Stupendously moist. A phenomenal combination of sweet and salty. I told my husband to enjoy it, because at this level of complication, I will only make it once a year.
Other favorites of ours were the Honeycomb Bars, Peanut Butter Krispy Bars, and the Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins. Yum. Those muffins are heavenly.
The book is divided into sections around cakes and cupcakes, pies and tarts, brownies and bars, cookies, etc. And just so you know it’s not just me who loves these baked goods – the brownies were featured in O Magazine as a favorite thing and on the Today show. If you’re looking for baking recipes that really shine – this is your cookbook.