Everything but the Elves

The Top 3 baking books on the market this holiday season

Baking Books

The Top 3 baking books on the market this holiday season are great teaching tools from some of the country's top baking experts. Any of these three hefty volumes would make a great gift for any aspiring or accomplished bakers on your gift list.

Everything but the Elves

BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking

by Shirley O. Corriher

Scribner, 532 pp., $40

International celebrity chefs and culinary experts all turn to Atlanta-based food scientist Shirley Corriher when they need advice and explanations about the science behind what happens in the kitchen. Now, so can we. As she did a few years back in the seminal CookWise, Corriher once again makes her invaluable culinary expertise available to the home cook and baker. She dispenses a lifetime of baking wisdom through a compendium of wonderfully accessible recipes, each designed to illustrate a useful baking principle. Baking from this book is somewhat akin to having the most knowledgeable grandmother imaginable at your side in the kitchen. It's a must-have addition to the culinary library of any serious baker.

Everything but the Elves

The Modern Baker: Time-Saving Techniques for Breads, Tarts, Pies, Cakes, and Cookies

by Nick Malgieri

DK Publishing, 320 pp., $35

Nick Malgieri is one of the most respected baking instructors in the country, and his yearly sold-out classes at Central Market Cooking School attest to his enthusiastic Texas following. His newest book offers 150 baking recipes that demonstrate time-saving baking techniques and render delicious results every time. As much as I admire Malgieri and appreciate his foolproof recipes (try the butter­scotch scones, the instant sandwich bread, or the chocolate caramel pecan tarts, and you'll see what I mean), there is one glaring technical problem with this otherwise wonderful book: The person who chose the very tiny type font for the ingredients lists should be beaten with a rolling pin!

Everything but the Elves

The Art & Soul of Baking

by Cindy Mushet

Andrews McMeel, 453 pp., $40

Seattle-based culinary retailer Sur la Table has been delighting home cooks and chefs since 1972 with an eclectic selection of cookware, gifts, and gadgets. Within the past couple of years, it's expanded the brand to include a line of in-house cookbooks. This hefty and encyclopedic volume, written by accomplished West Coast pastry chef and baking instructor Cindy Mushet, is thorough, well-organized, and well-illustrated. Most recipes appear with helpful tips about "what the pros know," and there are often suggestions for modifying recipes to the baker's personal taste.

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