Cookbook Reviews

I have a slight addiction--I love cookbooks. I love looking through them, staring at the beautiful pictures, marking the best recipes to try. I especially love displaying them on my shelf. I take great pride in my cookbooks and try to take great care of them. But I also have a confession—I don’t use most of them. They’re merely a collection to display, much like my collection of Littlest Pet Shop animals. (I worked in a toy store for 7 years. Don’t judge.) I bought most of them on a whim (and a sale), but once I got them home, I realized they weren’t as great as I had hoped. Now that I work at a bookstore, I’m surrounded by hundreds of cookbooks, taunting me with their pretty pictures relentlessly from their shelves, just feet behind me. I’ve had to instill some discipline (or a lot...) in myself not to go crazy and buy everything I see. I can’t afford to spend $20-40 on a book that’ll just sit on my shelf unused! And at this point, I’m sure none of us really can. With so many choices (and who knew there were so many choices!), how do you know if you’re really getting your money’s worth? That’s where I come in. I’m going to attempt to help you weed through the bad, and find those books that are the cream of the crop!

Click on the cover to read the review!

Each week or so (I hope), I’ll sit down with a cookbook, pick it apart, and tell you all about it. Each review will feature a rating scale from 1 to 5 cupcakes, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. I’ll rate each book on several criteria: presentation, illustrations, depth of information, practicality, value, permanent library, gift giving, and an overall rating.

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

Presentation: How is the book laid out? Is it written in a clear, concise manner? Is it easy to use and understand? How does it look overall?

Illustrations: Are there pictures or photos? How many? Are they good pictures? In books, as well as blogs, you eat with your eyes. The pictures have to sell it for me to want to make it. Are the pictures of the finished product appetizing? Are the pictures of the process informative?

Depth of Information: Does it give good information to help me enhance and improve my baking? Is it merely a list of ingredients and directions, or does it tell me why I’m doing certain things? Is it comprehensive, or limited in concepts? It may be a book completely about cupcakes or cookies, but are there a variety of different techniques used within the book? A variety of recipes to master?

Practicality: Is this something everyone can use, or is it targeting a specific crowd? Is it something to refer to often (a go-to guide), or something that will sit on a shelf as a collector’s item?

Value: Is it worth the price the publisher suggests? Would I pay full price for it? Am I going to get my money’s worth from it with years of use?

Permanent Library: Is this something I would own? Is it worthy to sit on my shelves? Is it something I will refer to again and again?

Gift Giving: Would I give this away as a gift to a friend?

Overall: How do I feel about the book as a whole? Is it something I fell in love with? Or something I wanted to throw away?

I will also be taking the level of difficulty in the recipes into consideration. Is the book written for beginning bakers-- those that only bake on weekends or for birthday parties? Are the recipes and ideas for bakers of an average skill level—those who are comfortable baking regularly and have acquired a bit more skill, but are still learning with each batch baked (I consider myself to be part of this category), or for more serious bakers—those who are on the level of professionals?

I’ll also feature recipes that I feel to be Stand-Out Recipes. These are recipes that sound amazingly good to me. They’re the recipes that make me excited to bake them.

As I do more reviews, I'll link all the pages here, making this the main page to check out all my reviews, so keep stopping back to see what's next!

Have a cookbook you love? Hated? Want to see what I think about it? Leave me the title in a comment, or send me an email at the.mistress [at] bustybaker [dot] com and let me know which cookbook you want to see!
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How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Oooh I can't wait to read your review of the book. I might get it, but I can't decide yet! :D

Ingrid said...

I have that cookbook....pre-ordered it. I have to admit to really liking it though I haven't tried a recipe yet.

Btw, if it helps you feel better about your coolection of cookbooks....I have a flour to ceiling bookcase in my kitchen that is FILLED with cookbooks. I'm afraid to count but I think I might be pushing 200! I hope not!

Danae - The Busty Baker said...

I'll give you a little taste of my thoughts on it. I'm in love.

Ingrid- Holy cow. I only have a top shelf of a bookcase that's threatening to fall off as I walk by.. 200?? Do you use them all?? I can't even imagine trying to remember what book I found which recipe in! Let alone trying to FIND it!

Kiesha Jenkins-Duffy said...

"More from Magnolia" of course! I can lend it to you if you'd like. I like to preach the gospel!

Ingrid said...

Okay, I admit I have a problem. :( I don't think I have quite 200. I'm probably closer to 175 than 200. I use them but not all the time. More often than not I turn to them after I've seen one of the recipes online that looks good and it turns out it came from a cookbook that I have.

Btw, did you notice my typo? I put flour instead of floor! LOL. I'm such a dope!

Danae - The Busty Baker said...

Ingrid - lol I didn't even notice! Guess we have too much baking on the brain!

Tia said...

lol you obv. love martha as much as i do :)
love ur site!!!

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