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Baking cookbooks

I want to learn to bake breads, pies, cakes, etc. Would you chowhounds suggest a cookbook or two that will teach me? I cook all the time, and well; I just have never had an interest in baking until now. Oh, and my nine year old daughter wants to learn with me. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

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  1. I can't believe I am saying this because I'm not a fan, but Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook is very good. It's the only book of hers I have and normally I avoid her stuff (she has the habit of putting her mug everywhere) but I have to concede that it's a great primer. It strikes the right balance between the rudimentary elements for a beginner and having a few unusual/more advanced recipes so that you will continue to use it. Lots of pictures, lots of explanation of equipment. A section on each of the main baking catergories (the ones you list above). And unlike the Rose Levy Berenbaum or Nick Malgieri (who both have good books too) it's not overwhelmingly comprehensive -- by that I mean each section has a handful of good recipes that you will most likely tackle, not everything and the kitchen sink of recipes.

    Also, it has a recent publishing date. Check it out from the library.

    1. Martha Stewart's Baking book is very comprehensive, and the recipes span the simple to complex. It would be a great book to start and grow with.

      It's also worthwhile to perhaps get a web subscription to Cook's Illustrated. They have a full online database of recipes that you can access, and many of their recipes include links to diagrams that help you with techniques, such as patting pastry dough in the pan.

      I loved cooking with my aunt when I was growing up! Good luck!

      1. Nick Malgieri's How to Bake cookbook is great...another chowhound gave it to me in a moving-related cookbook purge, and I'm grateful to have it in my collection (thanks, SarahC). It covers the waterfront from savory to sweet, and it is instructional without being pedantic or overly fussy. Technique is emphasized, but attention is also paid to taste as well. Cakes, cookies, tarts, pate de choux, puff pastry, breads/pizza, muffins, quickbreads, etc.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Hungry Celeste

          I second that suggestion. The Beranbaum books are wonderful but I think for a beginner they can be a bit intimidating.

          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            For all-purpose baking (fancy and simple) Malgieri's How to Bake is one of my favorites too.

            But you can also find some great recipes (and technique tips) in general-purpose cookbooks like CI's The New Best Recipe, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything and even the Joy of Cooking.

          2. Have to agree with the recs for Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, but I do love Martha! As Amanda said, the recipes range from very easy to complicated, so it's a good one to have if you are learning to bake. The Chocolate Brownie Cookies are my favorite thing I've tried so far! Many of the cookies in this cookbook made into my Cookie of the Month Club that I was sending to people a while back!

            1. "Fearless Baking" by Elinor Klivans is a great one to start with. It only deals with desserts though, not breads.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chimayo Joe

                I wholeheartedly agree with this suggestion. She has very clear instructions and everything I have made from the book has been at least very good. Some of my favorites include the whoopie pies and the rolling pin almond cake. It might be hard to find, but ecookbooks (off the epicurious page) should have it (and probably for a discount).