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Jan 20, 2011 03:35 AM

Overlooked Baking Books?

The evil people at Kitchen Arts & Letters have just published a blog entry (Matt's Post) about three overlooked baking books.
Sweets by Patty Pinner
Bread Science by Emily Beuhler
Baking Artisan Bread by Ciril Hitz

Anyone familiar with these three?

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  1. I've looked at the Bread Science book, well worth it for a bread baker's library. I saw it, of all places, at my local library branch last year, read it, and set it aside for a possible future purchase, not yet accomplished. I can only think someone bought it or it was a gift, couldn't use it, and donated it to NYC library system. I had never heard of it before the library sighting. It was well illustrated. A chemistry background or at least a HS chem course, although not totally needed, is helpful for reading this book, but I thought it was pretty easy to read and understand, without any chemistry in my background. The author has a PhD in chemistry, IIRC.

    I wouldn't call it a starter bread baking book, but it's certainly a good addition to a library. Because it's science based, like Shirley Corriher's Bakewise, it has fermentation and flour protein explanations that other bread books don't contain in depth or at all. Even Reinhart.

    I think Bread Science was overlooked because it was published by a independent publishing house. I betcha it's a bit cheaper to order from TwoBlue than to purchase from K A& L.

    The other two books I'm not familiar with, although I know Ciril Hitz is the head baking instructor at J & W (my nephew's girlfriend currently attends J & W.) He was not there when I attended, 100 years ago.

    I was quite surprised when Bread Science was listed in the K A & L blog. Good call.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Same price from twoblue, with shipping, as K A & L, in store, always worth a a trip there though!

      1. re: HillJ

        You've inspired me to delve more into this one.

        I really liked the frozen coconut milk dessert I made.

        Everything in this book has an asian twist -- just a little or a lot.

        1. re: HillJ

          i just discovered this book while doing a local library search for South Indian Sweets cookbooks (NOT). After going through a copy tonight, I ordered it from amazon. FINALLY someone who experiments with green tea powder, coconut powder, and many more unusual things. I am psyched! but i must say, i have been really surprised and disappointed in the miniscule interest in these types of sweets- that i have seen on CH. I've done a number of asian dessert related posts, w/ very little comment.sigh. didn't you find his technique fascinating w/ the cake decorated w/ green tea cake dots (pg.68)? I love creative artistry and problem solving like that!!

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            LOL, you're enthusiasm is jumping out! It's a lovely little book and I know of two bloggers who have literally gone page by page thru it with great result. A friend turned me onto Sweet Spot some time ago because I was bored by the lack of experimentation and needed a guidepost myself. You're going to love this book, opinionatedchef. I tried suggesting it to several CH's on the Home Cooking know how that goes enjoy!

            1. re: HillJ

              j, might you remember the links to those blogs?thnx so much.Btw, if you ever want to discuss 'the unusual', contact me by my member pg. It would be fun to share.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                Do You Know The Muffin Man blog ( is the current blog working thru Sweet Spot but you'll need to flip thru the archives a bit. One example:

                I'll check to see if the other one is still running. If so, I'll post here.

                Also visit the authors blog (Pichet Ong) for even more recipes both savory and sweet.

                Thank you for invite to share, much appreciated.

                1. re: HillJ

                  this is great; th you. i shall proceed to explore these!

            2. re: opinionatedchef

              The Sweet Spot was Dessert Cookbook of the Month here on the HC board a few years ago. You might enjoy checking out reviews/reports of the recipes. This thread has links to the reporting threads:

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Yes, I provided The Sweet Spot recommendation (as well as the blog I shared with you opinionatedchef) to CH member oakjoan among others back then. The read was fun and fascinating. I only wished more people had participated.

                Thank you for digging it out of the archives, Caitlin. Maybe your input will inspire more people to give The Sweet Spot a try.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  thnx much caitlin; sweet of you.:-)
                  i will defnitely read it all.

                2. re: opinionatedchef

                  South Indian Sweets cookbooks (NOT).


                  Over the weekend I was so focused on The Sweet Spot with you and others I didn't ask you about this comment. Are you looking for a guide on S. Indian sweets?


                  This blogger has several sweets included within her recipe archive that take beginners step by step. Naturally, it's the technique that challenges! Example:

                  1. re: HillJ

                    This is my absolute fav Indian sweet. So many ways to prepare carrot halwa.

              2. I had my eye on "Baking Artisan Bread" but couldn;t justify the purchase because I already have tons of excellent bread baking books. In addition, there are apparently a whole lot of errors in the book, but the author has recently posted corrections for most of them on his website.

                1. I looked at the Hitz book in the Strand and didn't buy it even at half price which might tell you something. Reinhart is pretty much the be-all and the end-all of that for me.
                  The "Swedish Breads and Pastries" I just got also has lots of interesting recipes and preferments, wild yeasts, etc play a big part. Oddly enough most of the bread recipes I've read in it so far are Austrian, French, or Swiss, I think I've only seen one that was ID'd as Swedish (makes one wonder, but the Austrian and Swiss recipes are entirely new to me (exciting exciting).
                  I haven't seen the others on the list.
                  My nominee for best overlooked baking book is Marion Cunningham's "Fannie Farmer Baking Book", every recipe I've tried (a lot) works and what they produce is great. Techniques are described in very clear language and in depth. It's a great book.

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: buttertart

                    buttertart, I just got that Marion Cunningham book (a discard in GREAT condition) from the library for 50 cents!! I'm so glad to hear you like this book this much - I'm looking forward to baking out of it. What are some of your favs from this book?

                    I love Reinhart's books too, have all of them and don't see the need to purchase any more bread books. (I have tons of others as well & they don't get used enough as it is.)

                    As a matter of fact I'm making a big pot of potato, leek and roasted red pepper soup for dinner tonite and serving Reinhart's biscuits from "Artisan Bread Every Day" to go with it. I LOVE those biscuits!!!

                    1. re: flourgirl

                      The brownies are v good (not Nick M good but good), the pie section is what I check whenever I want to make a pie, Helen Gufstafson's shortbread is my standard, as are her madeleines, and I made the melimakarona only once but remember them fondly. Really everything that appeals to you you will love, I'm sure.

                    2. re: buttertart

                      That "Swedish breads and Pastries" is a MUST if you are a serious bread baker. I read it through and feel as if I've attended a master class. The recipes are almost all very appealling. There's even a recipe for a Smorkage (butter cake), something I last had when I was a kid living around the corner from a Danish bakery and dream about - pastry base, Danish dough rolled up with almond and raisin cream filling, cut into slices and put around the pastry circle, then vanilla cream piped into the buns, then baked and iced. Must make. Sort of a Scandinavian gateau St-Honoré.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Thank you for mentioning the Cunningham book. I received it as a gift about 2.5 decades ago. It was well used and falling apart--I fixed it with duct tape and often went to my cookbook collection, looking for the book with the silver-taped spine. I told my friend about this (she originally gave this to me as a gift)--she wound up getting me a first edition on Ebay, so now I have a "clean" copy. The Almond Rusks recipe is my go-to for almond biscotti. The Linzer Bar Cookies are one of my dad's favorites, so I have to bring them when I visit at the holidays. Really, I don't think I've ever made a bad recipe in this book. Not as "sexy" as some contemporary titles, but a great comprehensive book for both the beginner and the well seasoned baker.

                        ETA--It was NEW when I first got it. My friend didn't give me a falling apart book, but I used it so much (and read it at night like a novel!) that it eventually split.

                        1. re: nofunlatte

                          Mmmm, linzer bar cookies. Sound very good. Must check those out.

                          1. re: nofunlatte

                            Mine is beat up too. It really is a wonderful book. Marion Cunningham is one of the greats of 20th C food and deserves to be better known than she is. (She is unfortunately very ill now.)

                            1. re: buttertart

                              I love her book "The Breakfast Book."

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Threads like this are dangerous for me. I just ended up with yet another cookbook on the way. The Supper Book. (Ah, what the heck, it was $2.45 on Amazon + shipping.)

                              1. re: buttertart

                                Marion Cunningham is a treasure. I'm sorry to hear that she's ill.

                          2. They're rarities outside Canada, but any of the late Edna Staebler's books--based largely on Ontario Old Order Mennonite recipes--are solid gold. Worth looking for.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Kagemusha

                              Couldn't agree more Kagemusha, Edna's recipes are wonderful. I LOVE her blueberry pie and, the great cookie war story is a legend! For those not familiar w the latter, enjoy the read:


                              and the full recipe here: