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Best pastry/baking cookbook?

So I just received this 40% off coupon at Border's and I really want to spend it on a pastry/baking type cook book. Does anyone have any recommendations? I've seen the older boards but they are about 3 years old which leaves out a lot of new books. I consider myself to have some experience with pastry in that I could make pies from scratch and the like but I can't make things like French macarons or anything. Thanks for any help.

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  1. My personal favorite is "Room for Dessert" by David Lebovitz with foreward by Alice Waters (Harper Collins, NY; 1999.)

    $30 when I bought it. Lebovitz was the pastry chef at Chez Panisse for 12 years. He covers Cakes, Custards and Souffles, Fruit Desserts, Sorbets, Sherbets, Ice Cream and Gelees, Cookies and Candies, Liquers and Preserves and Basics (like Tart Dough, Pie Dough and Galette Dough as well as sauces.) He has a recipe for Coconut Macaroons (p. 152 with photo!) I've never made them. But everything I have tried has turned well: Coconut Cake, Orange Almond Bread Pudding, Apple and Frangipane Galette, Summer Pudding and my personal favorite: Fresh Ginger Cake (p. 44 with photo!) He calls for four ounces of fresh ginger but over the years I've come to always use at least six ounces - or more. I love making his free form Galettes. I usually make extra dough so if there any problems rolling it out I have extra that I can use to make repairs. Nobody knows. He also has a recipe for Seville Orange Marmalade that I've wanted to tackle but can never find Seville Oranges in NYC - the local fruit suppliers here say they could get them when in season but would never be able to see enough volume to justify them placing an order.

    7 Replies
    1. re: scoopG

      Baking from my home to yours, by Dorie Greenspan

      1. re: foodie_expat

        I agree with you foodie expat. This is a wonderful book. I also think you should take a look at Marcy Goldman's newest book, a Passion for Baking. Her recipes are not as detailed as Dorie Greenspan's but I never fail with them.

        1. re: lucyis

          Baking From My Home To Yours, Damon Lee Fowler's New Southern Baking and the just out Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert. There is also Greg Parent's Baking in America that came out a few years ago that is excellent.

          1. re: Candy

            Pure Dessert is available for $9.95 at Zooba.com

      2. re: scoopG

        Manhattan Exchange (in the Chelsea Market )and Fairway have had them in season which starts sometime in January.

        1. re: scoopG

          scoopG, thank you for the pointer to this book. I purchased it and it is beautifully laid out. If the recipes are as depandable as the book is beautiful, this will be a real treat.

          1. re: dolores

            I hope you have a lot of fun with it dolores! I just used his pie dough recipe for my holiday pies and they turned out great. And his Fresh Ginger Cake? Works for breakfast food too!

        2. I wanted to chime in with a few thoughts.

          I have Dorie Greenspan's Baking book and it is pretty good -- most of the things I've made from that are quite nice. Photos galore. Contains both traditional Parisian desserts and American favorites.

          Pure Dessert is inspiring, but a bit different from most books; take a look at it before you decide. Organized by flavor. The theme is items with one pure flavor, for example, a dessert that has a pure dairy taste, or a strong citrus flavor.

          I think the King Arthur Flour Baking Companion, while not brand new, is a fairly well-rounded volume. Has an interesting few pages on how to make your pie crust about 5 different ways (medium flake, long flake, etc), if you're into that sort of thing. More homey than fancy.

          It is worth noting that New Southern Baking contains a fair bit of historical recipes; this may or may not appeal to you.

          I just read the Essential Baker, and the font was just too tiny -- but she has come up with a semi-new way of writing recipes, by listing the ingredients in one column as you move through the recipe. She groups by flavor (spices, citrus, chocolate, fruit).

          4 Replies
          1. re: brittle peanut

            Another beautiful and great book is Duguid and Alford's Home Baking. It is quite international in scope and is most excellent to read and cook from.

            1. re: Candy

              I just got this one and am really enjoying the variety. So far I've only read but that seems to be my pattern anyway. I read cookbooks with much more gusto that I cook. It's a lovely book.

              1. re: fern

                I love that book too and have made some great things out of it, including a banana bread with coconut that is very good and not too sweet (and I don't even like coconut) and a scone type thing with chocolate and cranberries.

              2. re: Candy

                I adore this book! I managed to get a cheap used copy after coveting it for a long time. It's kind of a funky book but looking at it is inspiring. I have made that coconut banana bread and I actually wasn't crazy about it, but my mother liked it.

            2. I particularly like Baking Illustrated (as well as the entire line of Cooks Illustrated books).

              1. My faves:
                King Arthur Baking and Whole Grain Baking
                Cooks Illustrated Baking
                Cooking with Stars and Classic Stars Desserts( titles???,both by Luchetti recipes from the restaurant..detailed, seasonal recipes)
                Pie and Pastry Bible
                Maidia Haetter's CHocolate Desset book...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Bunnyfood

                  Thirds on the two King Arthur Flour books. Best baking cookbooks I've ever used.

                2. I like the Dorie Greenspan book a lot. I have made several of the recipes, all have been very good to excellent. The pear tart I made at Thanksgiving disappeared in seconds and received raves from everyone. Her "playing around" sidebars are a nice touch and the pictures are pure food porn.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jwolf

                    Dorie is my new hero-her recipes are making me the queen of baking at work but the bad thing is, now I have to keep producing goodies for my fans and my wasteline is not happy!

                  2. i am a professional pastry chef and the books i reach for the most are:

                    Baking & Pastry: the Art and Craft by the CIA
                    The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg
                    The Last Course by Claudia Fleming
                    Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme
                    The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle
                    Chez Panisse Desserts (this may be out of print)

                    these are the books i use most often for recipes and inspiration for plated desserts and their components.

                    for baking in general i like: Baking with Julia: Julia Child, The King Arthur Flour Baking Handbook, and Tartine (bakery) cookbook

                    for cakes: The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum & Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri

                    on my wishlist: Demolition Desserts by Elizabeth Faulkner, Death by Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers, and i can't remember the name but the new Italian one that just came out by the pastry chef at Mario Battali's place Babbo

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: tastycakes

                      Would that be :
                      Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma

                      I notice you list The Last Course. I think that one is hard to come by or expensive.

                      I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. Previously people on these boards were putting it right with Dori Greenspan's book.

                      1. re: tastycakes

                        I want to second the CIA text, plus Bo Friberg's books as well as Nick Malgeri's tomes.

                        The King Arthur book's (regular and whole wheat) are the standard for baking.

                        Shirley Corriher and McGhee are required reading if you want to understand the science and chemistry.

                        I love Wayne Gisslen's professional baking text

                        I like Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax for family baking.

                        1. re: Kelli2006

                          I agree whole heartedly re: Shirley and Harry...Knowing is half the battle(wait, I think that's from a GI Joe cartoon). Cookwise is solid. The book is worth adding to any collection.

                      2. Make sure you comparison shop before plunking down money. Check online resources and try to review the book prior to purchasing. Even with the discount, Borders can still be more expensive or merely break even with Amazon, tax not included.

                        As far as recommendations go, I would include:

                        Desserts By the Yard
                        The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle
                        Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate

                        1. Thanks everyone for you help. I actually didn't end up getting anything since I realized that I didn't have any money. But I have placed all these books on a list and hinted to my parents as something to consider for Christmas.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: digkv

                            Try checking a bunch of them out of the library and see how you like them. If you like any of them more than a little, then you can buy those ones.

                          2. Mine is In The Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: fmed

                              I have the Sweet Kitchen but haven't made anything from it as of yet. Can you recommend a few items? Thanks!

                              1. re: gabby29

                                I have made the Traditional Lemon Bundt Cake, the Guava Cheesecake with Cashew Ginger Crust , the Caramelized Parsnip Layer Cake, and a few of the cookie recipes. The recipes were all well-tested.

                                1. re: fmed

                                  I have just tried a new one that I may just have to add to my loaded cook book shelf. It is Great Coffee Cakes, sticky buns and More, by Carole Walter. I made the sticky buns referred to in the title and they were beyond delicious. Her recipes are detailed and thorough but not difficult to follow. There are some photos but this is not a coffee table book. It's a real baker's guide.

                            2. I just want to say that I received "Dolce Italiano" for Christmas and I want to make every single recipe. I made the pine nut brittle as soon as we were finished unwrapping presents. I also like the King Arthur baking book, "Stars Desserts" and Rose Levy Berenbaum's books ("Cake Bible," "Pie Bible.")