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Baking books

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I'm looking for recommendations on a good basic home baking book. It would be a gift for my girlfriend who cooks well, but is not the most technical cook. For that reason, the book would have to cover the basics as well as hopefully also being pretty comprehensive or at least wide-ranging. I have seen a number of books in stores that seem to fit my criteria, but I was hoping that someone out there would have actually used a good book. Thanks in advance.

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  1. I am a fairly novice baker, and I am having tremendous success with Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.

    This book is comprehensive in that it covers both savory and sweet baked goods. Lots of great pictures, detailed and clear instruction.

    I also like Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan for many of the same reasons.

    Good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. re: marthadumptruck

      Martha's Baking Handbook is great. It would be a nice gift.

    2. My specialty is cookies so my baking cookbooks are pretty much targeted ... but just wanted to observe that I've found Dorie to be a more reliable author than Martha ... she seems to test her recipes pretty thoroughly.

      Maida Heatter is the queen of baking and the queen of cookies and a really fabulous cookbook author. She has a few savory recipes, but mostly sweet. She has detailed introductory information, and very detailed instructions that allow you to do exactly what she does if you want to. She also gets her hands on lots of secret recipes ...

      She has an all-chocolate baking book, and more than one all-cookie book. I can't say enough good things about Maida ...

      1 Reply
      1. re: foiegras

        ditto - and I have found that her stuff tastes great to an american tongue which is important in motivating you to cook more.

        Im about to get her books out for my christmas baking.

      2. Nick Malgiere's How to Bake is great. Very approachable and the recipes work. A lot of people swear by Martha but I have found so many of her recipes just don't work that I avoid her stuff like the plague.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Candy

          I second this. I also have Baking with Julia, which is a lovely book, but I find the recipes a bit too involved for novice and occasional bakers. How to Bake is easy to follow and have more approachable recipes imho.

        2. Baking with Julia - Julia Child - can't beat it!

          1. I like the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion--a big range of recipes, and confidence-inspiring results.

            1. What about the Fannie Farmer baking book? My friend's mom uses it and always makes fantastic desserts. I guess it is a little old school, but it works. You can probably find a really cheap paperback copy somewhere.

              1. I'd second this. I've had a copy of this for years and I use it far more often than my Maida Heatter.

                1. I have most of the books mentioned above and I would agree that it is really hard to go wrong with Maida Heatter's books. She has one book called "Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts" which is available from Barnes and Noble's used and out of print category and is still around in some stores. A great book.

                  I have also like Dorie Greenspan's new book "Baking from my home to yours" available with up to 40 percent off.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ptrefler

                    Good point--some of Maida's books are out of print, though there's a new cookie book that has recipes from about three that are out of print. I think I have a pretty complete set now--I've gotten the OOP ones from antique malls. There's always eBay if you're in a hurry :)

                  2. I love the Cooks Illustrated Baking book. Pretty thorough with very helpful explanations and recipe breakdowns. Even though the book does not feature too many color pictures, this is the first place I go to if I'm looking to bake a 'classic' baked good. Highly, highly recommend it.

                    1. The two baking books I've seen mentioned a lot around the blogosphere lately are "Baking" by Dorrie Greenspan and the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book.

                      I personally enjoy the Cook's Illustrated "Baking Illustrated" book.