Cookbook Review: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Published in 2008 by Stewart, Tabori & Chang
ISBN: 978-1-58479-721-0
List Price: $29.95

Rating(1 = Worst,
5 = Best)
Depth of InformationPracticality
ValuePermanent Library
Gift GivingLevel of DifficultyAverage

Item #483 on my list of things to do if I ever make it to New York City: Visit Baked, the bakery in Red Hook. I’m going to have to spend an entire month or more in NYC, if I ever get there, just to do all the things I want to do, but hitting up Baked is definitely going to be one of them. I have no idea how they taste, but just by looking through their cookbook, I’m already hooked. It all looks so tasty! And they can’t be all that bad if they were featured in Oprah’s magazine, O, making the list of her favorite things with their Baked Brownie. But if you’re not one of the masses that take Oprah’s word as gospel, maybe the accolades of America’s Test Kitchen, the Today show, or my own beloved Martha Stewart will help dispel any skepticism.

If they hadn’t shared the story behind opening their bakery in a storefront church in an industrialized section of Brooklyn, I totally would have assumed that Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito were baking up tasty treats in some wooded area of upstate New York or something. With the 70s retro look of the book and its penchant for deer, squirrels, wood grain, and vintage food styling, it simply screams “cabin in the woods” to me. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s got a certain charm to it that I totally love. (It even inspired me to go out and buy new backgrounds for my own pictures!) It gives the book a unique feel to it—a lot less of the feminine vibe you get with other books. No pink swirly frosting here. Just beautiful Lemon Meringue Tarts sitting on a tree stump, or a rogue garden gnome checking out the amazing Red Hot Velvet Cake. It’s probably one of the better presentations I’ve seen in a cookbook lately! And the little stick figure demo drawings on some of the recipes? Completely adorable.

Broken down into 7 categories (Breakfast, Cakes and Cupcakes, Pies and Tarts, Brownies and Bars, Cookies, Chocolates/Candies/Confections, and Drinks) there’s something for everyone to bake—or not bake. Enjoy an Espresso Martini while someone else bakes! Even though they’ve garnered a lot of praise for the bakery, and made the rounds to all the major media outlets promote the book, it has a very unpretentious and very laid back feel to it. (They’ve got stick figures! How much more unpretentious could you get?) The recipes are no different. They are straightforward and don’t really require any special ingredients that the local grocery store wouldn’t stock. The recipes even stick with the retro idea. Most are updated takes on old classics, such as the Grasshopper Cake, Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie, or the Classic Diner-Style Chocolate Pie. Some are even based on classic candies and drinks like the Root Beer Bundt Cake, the Red Hot Velvet Cake, the Milk Chocolate Malt Ball Cake, or the Coconut Snowball Cupcakes. (Which is why I'm not really sure what "New Frontiers" they're referring to in their title.. A lot look like rediscovered frontiers to me.. But whatever!) None of the techniques seem to be more than an average baker can handle. Each recipe also has a “Baked Note” in the sidebar giving tips and substitutions for the recipes.

At $29.95, it’s a decent value. You’d pay that much or more for almost any hardcover cookbook, and this one’s got quite an assortment of goodies to make. From breakfast to dessert to cocktails, you’ve got plenty to choose from here! I’m definitely going to have to buy this one for myself because I really enjoy it. And it would make a great gift for those manly bakers who cringe at cookbooks full of pastel swirls. Definitely check this one out if you get a chance!

Stand Out Recipes:
  • Chipotle Cheddar Biscuits
  • Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl
  • Sweet and Salty Cake
  • Root Beer Bundt Cake
  • Butterscotch Pudding Tarts
  • The Baked Brownie
  • Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
  • Chocolate Stout Milkshake

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Erin said...

I just bought this book too... I love it. The Baked Brownies really as amazing as everyone says, you must make them.

Ingrid said...

I've baked (ha-ha) from that one. So far so good! Thanks for the review.

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

I've been in love with this book since I got it for Christmas. My only complaint is that some of the instructions are not as detailed as they need to be. Novice bakers may have a hard time know how long to mix something or cook something on the stove. Other than that, it's easily one of my top 5 favorite baking books! :D

Heavenly Housewife said...

I am so glad you have reviewed this book. I was thinking of ordering it. Problem is these days i have to be really selective cause I have started to amass way too many books. I will tell you one book i am dying to get though Martha Stewart Cupcakes book. i LOVE her!!!!!

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