8.20.2009

Cookbook Review: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook by Martha Stewart
Published November 2005 by Clarkson Potter
ISBN: 9780307236722
List Price: $40.00
416pp

Rating(1 = Worst,
5 = Best)
PresentationIllustrations
Depth of InformationPracticality
ValuePermanent Library
Gift GivingLevel of DifficultyBeginning to Average
Overall





Martha Stewart's Baking HandbookIf you’ve even so much as glanced at any of my previous posts, you may have noticed I have an almost unhealthy obsession with Martha Stewart. Practically everything I do has some reference or relation to Martha. It started first with her show, but virtually exploded when I got her Baking Handbook for Christmas from Dani and Kelli. From the moment I laid hands on it, I felt its awesome power. (Okay, not really. But I was really excited about it.) I knew if I used it wisely, great things would come from it. What I didn’t realize was that in time, it would grow to become my Baking Bible.

When I received the Baking Handbook as a gift, I was still a baby in the baking world. My experience was limited to helping my mom bake chocolate chip cookies, where butter was melted in the microwave, then thrown into a bowl with all the other ingredients at the same time, beaten up with a hand mixer, and dropped with a spoon onto what is actually a griddle rather than a cookie sheet. There was no creaming butter and sugar together. No sifting flour. Heck, there wasn’t even accurate measuring of ingredients! No fancy stand mixers or cookie scoops. In other words, we knew practically nothing about the science of baking. It was only months before the holidays that my mom and I got hooked on watching Martha’s daytime show. I was absolutely fascinated by it. With Martha’s guidance, we started actually cooking real meals, not something from a box, and attempting to master the art of baking (along with a whole lot of crafting). It was a huge deal the day my mom brought home our KitchenAid stand mixer. It was the ugliest color on earth—lemon lime—but she got a great deal on it, so who cares! (And a funny side note: the cashier at the store didn’t understand that the sticker on the box that said Lemon Lime meant that was the color. She thought the mixer itself was somehow scented.) When Christmas rolled around, and Dani and Kelli (who will henceforth be known simply as The Girls. Or individually, Girl 1 for Dani and Girl 2 for Kelli.) gave me the Handbook as a gift, it only fueled the fire of my new obsession. I set off to learn everything I could about baking, from the Domestic Goddess herself.

From identifying general baking equipment and giving instructions on basic techniques, to more refined advice for certain types of baking, such as making pastries, the Baking Handbook hones in on the essential information and passes it along in an unobtrusive way. It is perfect for the beginning baker, and even the average baker can learn something from its helpful tips. Going back through it now, I’ve spotted things I didn’t know that could be helpful down the line, like adding a drop of lemon juice to the sugar water when making caramel to keep from having to brush down the sides. Also, with pictures of just about every recipe, if not all (I’m not really going through all 200 to make sure), it’s hard not to drool on the pages as you’re flipping through. Even if you don’t end up using it often (which you will), its gorgeous photography makes it a beautiful book to simply display.

At $40.00, it’s a higher end cookbook, but let me tell you, it’s well worth the investment. There are 200 fantastic recipes in here that are worth every penny. It’s a book I’d definitely suggest to anyone starting out with an interest in becoming a better baker. The recipes are well written and come out fantastic almost every time. I've only made about 10 things so far (*Gasp*! I could have sworn it was more than that! I've still got a lot of work to do!), but all of them have come out pretty well. I have not been let down by anything in this book yet. When you’re just starting out in baking, successful recipes = confident bakers, and Martha’s book helped me learn the fundamental techniques I needed to grow as a baker. Without Martha, you wouldn’t even be reading this review, because there would be no Busty Baker! I don’t think there is a baking cookbook out there right now that I would recommend any more highly than I do this book. Please check it out!

Stand Out Recipes: (This was next to impossible to pick out just a handful of recipes for this list!)
  • Cut Out Sugar Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
  • Devil’s Food Cake with Mint-Chocolate Ganache
  • Summer Fruit Tart with Lavender Syrup
  • Honey Whole Wheat Bread
  • Sugar Buns
  • Profiteroles
  • Lemon-Blueberry Napoleons
  • Spicy Cheese Biscuits
  • Brown Sugar Pound Cake


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2 comments:

Hope said...

Ugh, I want this cookbook. It's perfect for starting my baking empire!

Ingrid said...

That's funny that you just reviewed this cookbook as just yesterday I pulled it off my bookcase to re-read!
~ingrid

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