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Paula Peck's Cookbooks.

I am, gasp, culling my cookbooks to make more room. (The pile of books shoulder high in a corner has shamed me into it!) I have two Paula Peck books - The Art of Fine Baking and The Art of Good Cooking. I'm pretty sure I've not used them - probably picked them up second hand. Has anyone used either/think I should hold on to them?


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  1. No, no, no! Whatever you do, do NOT bequeath "The Art of Fine Baking." Although Rose Levy Berenbaum, Flo Braker, Carole Walter, and many, many other great bakers are more popular today, Paula Peck was a cornerstone. I recently replaced my falling apart paperback with a hardbound I found at a library sale because it's a book I refer to again and again. It's not just recipes, it's how to think about baking. Can't speak to The Art of Good Cooking. Don't know it. But The Art of Fine Baking either is or should be on a list of all-time great cookbooks.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      It's funny, I was going to recommend unloading Paula Peck's baking book. But JoanN's post reminded me of how, as a beginning baker, this book really inspired me. In many ways, this book was a cornerstone and paved the way for the excellent baking books by the authors mentioned above and many others. So I have to agree that it is a keeper.

      Barbara Kafka's Food for Friends continues to inspire me. This is one of the books that really taught me about entertaining graciously and not being afraid to express ones personal style through cooking. Some of Kafka's ideas will seem very eccentric, but there are many good recipes in there and lots of helpful advice.

      1. re: btnfood

        Damn, you two aren't helping with the culling. I'll have to take another look today - I have two Martha Stewarts that I'm thinking of getting rid of too, as well as Miami Spice - I'll photocopy a couple of recipes first, including the Key Lime Bundt Cake.

        1. re: MMRuth

          I might be willing to take Miami Spice off your hands. Once upon a time, when I hadd the brain cells to be more organized, I would write down the name of the cookbook when I copied out a recipe. A few days ago I pulled all my Cuban recipes in anticipation of arranging a Cuban dinner for a fundraiser and noticed that nearly all the Cuban recipes I regularly use came from that book. Alas, my library does not have it. So...let me know if you still want to get rid of it.

      2. re: JoanN

        I too have multiple copies of the baking book - a hardcover I use and some paperbacks I lend out or give away. Among other things, it has the best brownie recipe ever. absolutely foolproof, quick, and good.

      3. NO! Hold on to Paula Peck's cookbooks! She only wrote two that I know of. She was a truly gifted cook who anticipated so many trends in food and cooking that were inspired and innovated back in the 60's. I treasure my falling apart copies, especially my Dell 75 cents Art of Fine Baking paperback held together with scotch tape - I've never made better brownies than hers. She was a serious baker who approached learning and developing technique rigorously. Read her description of learning to make croissants!

        3 Replies
        1. re: georgemocha

          Thanks for the tips on recipes to try - now that I'm getting the hang of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, I'm thinking of trying to do more complicated baking - and croissants are on the list.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Won't be much help either. Moved twice over last 7 years, donated 20 boxes of cookbooks. B Kafka's Food for Friends still remains.

          2. re: georgemocha

            Yes, her brownies recipe is absolute the best, the most delicious to end all Brownies recipes. Hers is the only one that uses six eggs, giving the final product with such rich and luxurious taste. I made it again and again for myself and my loved ones to rave reviews, each time when I credited Paula Peck as the creator of the recipe, I will invariably get the same response: "Who"? Never mind, those in the know will only nod approvingly.

          3. Keep the Paula Peck's. I grew up with them and still read thru them frequently

            1. Sorry, somehow I hit the wrong key and was cut off. At any rate, two incredible Paula Peck recipes you might try are Heavenly Chocolate Cubes, p 184, and Orange Slices, p 85. Baking with a difference!

              1. MMRuth, Paula Peck's The Art of Fine Baking is hard to get now, I think (I could be wrong) and is VERY good. Her genoise is the ur-genoise, I think. Contemplate before disposing of. Or, if you must, please bequeath/sell to me? My mom won't give me her copy... :->

                1 Reply
                1. re: linengirl

                  As of right now, there are 34 copies on amazon ranging from $.50 to $80. Ive had both of these books for ages but haven't thought of them for a long time. Looks like I'll have to revisit the baking book. :)

                2. Whatever you do, do not get rid of The Art of Fine Baking. Yes, mine is completely tattered and put together with scotch tape but I keep going back to it. When I studied baking with the late John Clancy, he credited Paula Peck as his inspiration. His Danish pastry recipe and variety of shapes are out of Paula's book. Paula Peck's tart pastry recipes are the richest as she incorporated cooked egg yolks as one of the secret ingredients. This book is a keeper. I am not familiar with the other book. Sorry. I think you should keep both.

                  1. Icing on the "do not get rid of that book" cake sentiment here, and please don't. Paula Peck's The Art... was the first real baking book with any exceptional skill and credentials I ever bought, it's a serious work of baking art. I've gone through two copies, for various reasons; am on number three. It's a must have and a keeper.

                    1. Although I'm late to the party, I'll add my voice to the chorus of "do not get rid of that book" replies. The Art of Fine Baking has been my go-to baking book for almost 40 years. I think it's a timeless classic. Her recipe for brownies is the best I've ever used. I also have The Art of Good Cooking. And I'm still using it after all these years.

                      Her granddaughter has a blog devoted to Paula. Apparently Paula was working on a new book when she passed away. Megan inherited her grandmother's papers and is sharing some of those unpublished recipes on her blog.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: MsZin

                        Based on this thread I bought a copy of this book for $1.99. I see striking similarities in her brownie recipe to similar recipes by Alice Medrich. I am looking forward to baking from this book. Thanks

                        1. re: MsZin

                          I put The Art of Baking in my Amazon.com cart... MsZin, do you a link to the blog?

                          1. re: herby

                            Yes, please...MsZin...share the link to Paula's granddaughter's blog!