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