Summer vacation’s over, so it’s time to get down to business. Baking business, that is. While last year was prevalent with home baking handbooks (in the vein of Baking: From My Home to Yours and Tartine), this year has more niche, sophisticated books. I can’t wait to see these books by the baking super stars.
Warning: with the exception of the first title, I haven’t actually seen these books, so these selections may be skewed.
Chocolate’s first lady is back after four years on hiatus, but this time, she’s giving chocolate a back seat. Pure Dessert devotes each chapter to an artisan ingredient, such as dairy, sugar, grains/nuts/seeds, herbs/spices/flowers, wine, fruit and last but not least, chocolate. These recipes are pared down to the essentials. There’s no frosting or other hullabaloo, just interesting flavor combinations like kamut pound cake and sesame brittle ice cream.
Alice Medrich previously wrote the books on chocolate, including Cocolat, Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts and Bittersweet. She’s tied with Alton Brown for being my biggest culinary inspiration. I’ve made a gazillion of her things, like low-fat chocolate mousse truffles and chocolate-hazelnut cake, with great success.
Release date: Sept. 5.
Ever since I made bagels from the James Beard and IACP award-winning cookbook, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, I’ve been a fan of Peter Reinhart. His new book promises the same artisan type loaves, but with whole grains.
While I was a recipe tester for the book, he was an excellent teacher, even over e-mail. He walked the testers through growing wild yeast with nothing more than flour, water and pineapple juice. Even though I wouldn’t feed some of my early loaves to my enemies, Peter kept encouraging us to continue. After a year of keeping my wild yeast starter, I gave up on it and killed “the beast.” It was a hassle feeding it every couple of days and using the excess for muffins and crumpets.
Luckily by then, Peter developed recipes that used packaged yeast. The final recipes I tested – the 100% whole wheat challah and potato rosemary – were good for whole wheat breads but not as good as white flour breads.
Release date: Aug.
I don’t know of a more inviting cookbook name than Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. If you’re like me and adore caramel and chocolate sauce, this book looks good. Chocolate caramel-pecan souffle cake, cinnamon-donut bread pudding and double-crumble hot apple pies sound like guilty pleasures.
Release date: Aug. 6.
Mario Batali’s Babbo cookbook had some interesting recipes, like olive oil gelato. Now there’s an entire cookbook devoted to Babbo’s desserts in Dolce Italiano. If you think Italian desserts are just dried out sponge cakes, Gina De Palma shares recipes for sesame-white corn biscotti and Greek yogurt cheesecake with pine nut brittle.
Release date: Oct. 15.
The desserts at Citizen Cake are like traditionalist meets rebel. There’s rocky road cupcakes, passion fruit mousse fillings, and cakes that are carved like geometrical shapes. If you can’t make it to San Francisco, you can make these desserts at home, thanks to Elizabeth Falkner’s Demolition Desserts. She was named Bon Appétit’s Pastry Chef of the Year in 2006 and was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s pastry chef of the year in 2005.
Release date: Oct.
The holidays Life wouldn’t be complete without chocolate. Although there are a million chocolate books out there, they never get old. Marcel Desaulniers, Mr. “Death By Chocolate,” shares holiday desserts in I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas. Honestly, why can’t chocolate sour cream crumb cake and chocolate-peanut butter ice cream sandwiches be year round?
Release date: Oct. 1.
Sherry Yard, the pastry chef at Spago in Beverly Hills, has probably fed every major celebrity. Whereas her first cookbook, The Secrets of Baking, was a tutorial on master recipes and their variations (ie how to make a ganache and turn it into truffles, hot chocolate and frosting), Desserts by the Yard features sweets that Sherry makes for the stars. There’s even a recipe for Bill Clinton’s favorite oatmeal raisin cookies. Hmm, I wonder what Paris eats.
Release date: Nov. 1.
Carole Walter has written an award-winning series of other “great” cookbooks, including Great Cakes, Great Cookies and Great Pies & Tarts. I felt uncomfortable around her when I assisted in one of her classes, but in all fairness, her recipes are inventive, fool-proof and delicious. Maybe Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More will end my search for the perfect babka.
Release date: Oct. 16.