Drooling Over Baking Books

My daughter and I went to Borders tonight, ostensibly so she could buy Twilight. Actually, having discovered that my little bookstore didn’t have the baking book I wanted, I thought I’d check out the cookbook aisle at Borders and bribed Harriet to accompany me with the much-yearned-for vampire/love story.

Did I say cookbook aisle? How about four aisles. Maybe five. I was overwhelmed with the many great-looking baking books out there. Books on cakes and cookies, on artisan breads, on pies, on pastry, on basic techniques, shelf after shelf after yummy shelf. I stuck to my plan and bought what I’d gone in for — Baking Illustrated, put out by the crew at Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen. It’s full of the great information they’re known for – comparisons of different brands of corn meal, for example, and the results of extensive recipe tweaking until they’ve baked the perfect chocolate truffle tart, ciabatta or buttermilk biscuits.

As a cover line says:

Fallen cakes, crumbly cookies, soggy pie crusts. We’ve made these mistakes (and more) so you don’t have to.

I’m sure I’ve got plenty of baking mistakes in me. But one hour of browsing through Baking Illustrated’s 500-plus pages and I gave up on bookmarks. I assume that I want to make every one of its 350 recipes.

I ran into an old friend at Borders. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, see About Learning to Bake.) She looks kind of the same, but her binding has been updated. I’m sure the recipes have, too. (Plastic wrap prevented me from actually looking at this Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book.) This copy looked a zillion times cleaner than mine. But mine has that endearingly battered look, like the stuffed animal your kid has dragged around for years. I wouldn’t think of replacing her.

A chilly weekend is predicted. I think I may bake.

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3 responses to “Drooling Over Baking Books

  1. I too walk that well worn path at Border’s, Hastings and a few other booksellers. I thought I’d died and parked in Heaven a few years ago when I spotted a Half-Price Books store in San Antonio, TX. I was in their cookbook section for hours trying to decide “which ones”. My sister to you Betty Crocker cookbook is a 1951 edition of Better Homes and Gardens. It too is oiled and buttered and sauced. Although there are many cousins on the shelf with her, she is up front and centered, for an easy reach.

  2. Elizabeth Edwardsen

    Valienwon – oooh, if the books had been half price I might have been tempted to get more than one. Portland, Maine, (where I live) has Rabelais Books, a bookstore devoted to new and used cookbooks. I think I’ll go on a blog field trip and report back. One of the owners is a pastry chef, so you know any baking books would have to be good!

  3. thesisterproject

    I adore your comparison of spattered cookbook to a child’s stuffed toy that’s been dragged around. Oh yeah. I recently went to send a photocopy of my favorite chocolate cake recipe to a friend and was delighted that all the spatters and frosting smears on the original were duly copied by my scanner. You can almost taste ’em.

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