Three Quarters of a Baker's Dozen
The Dessert Bible
by Christopher Kimball
Little, Brown & Co., 399 pp., $29.95 (paper)
Cook's Illustrated founder Kimball has written a baking book very much in the style of the magazine he's known for, which is to say it offers recipes that have been tested repeatedly with each ingredient and technique carefully scrutinized. The author reports on each possible permutation of a recipe in often exhaustive detail, sometimes providing charts with the various recipe-testing results. (It's occurred to me more than once that the Cook's Illustrated folks are afflicted with obsessive/compulsive disorders and the text of this book tends to reinforce that idea.) However, there is plenty of good baking science here and, after all, what is baking but applied chemistry with delicious results? If you're a Cook's fan and share Mr. Kimball's tastes or are just enchanted by the whys and hows of each recipe, this is the bible for you.