>Anyone Can Bake

>

My first review!

Title: Better Homes and Gardens® Anyone Can Bake – Step by step recipes just for you
Edited by: Tricia Laning

Date of Publication: 2009

Brief description: This cookbook from the Better Homes and Gardens Publishers is a fantastic guide to baking. I was amazed at the number of recipes and variations on most recipes. Additionally there is so much how-to information squeezed into every beautiful page. I think even seasoned bakers would get something from this book even though its target audience is the novice to intermediate home baker. The beginning of the book contains a “basics” chapter which is followed by the recipes. The recipes are broken down into the following sections: Oven Fresh Cookies, Beyond Square Bars and Brownies, Irresistible Cakes, Everyday Snack Cakes and Cupcakes, Luscious Cheesecakes and Shortcakes, Anytime Desserts, Perfect Pies and Tarts, Pastry Shop Specialties, Quick-As-Can-Be Muffins and Breads, Scrumptious Scones and Biscuits and (finally) Your Daily Breads. The index includes not only a list of the recipes but conversion charts.
Amount and quality of pictures: Packed with pictures of the final products (Sour Cream Pumpkin Cheesecake on pg 193), as well as many step-by-step snapshots along the baking process (cheesecake baking basics on pg 188). All pictures are in color and the photographs are really sharp.
Ease of recipes: The recipes are actually organized throughout each section into three skill levels so there are many beginner recipes as well as more challenging projects. Recipes start out as easy as Chocolate Chip Cookies (pg 75) and become as advanced as Chocolate-Peppermint Fantasy Cake (pg 140).
Common ingredients or exotic: Being a BHG book, there are very few exotic ingredients that home cooks would be hard pressed to find.
Nutritional information included: Good or bad each recipe list the nutritional information including calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbs, fiber and protein. You’ll have to decide if you really want to know how many calories are in that Upside Down Peach Caramel Crunch Cake (pg 155).
Ease of use (format): Those folks at BHG really thought about this one. The book is about 375 full color pages and is in my favorite format – SPIRAL BOUND! The book lies flat for easy reading. Additionally, there is an “Ask Mom” box at the bottom of most pages to direct the cook where they can find technical information that was explained in the “Intro to Baking” chapter. For example, in the “Ask Mom” box for the Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce (pg 215) you will find out the answer to “What is evaporated milk” because the recipe calls for evaporated milk. How clever! What I really found useful was after the basic recipe, such as the recipe on pg 124 for Fudgy Brownies; there was a two page spread of examples of “kicked up” brownies. Did I really just write kicked up?… This format would be really helpful for novice bakers who are still experimenting with flavor combinations.

Tools, Tricks, Techniques: This book is great for beginners and for those who didn’t have a grandmother to teach them how to bake. The chapter “Intro to Baking” is filled with primers on baking tools and their uses, the description and use of all kinds of ingredients such as different flours, nuts, spices, fruits, sugars and savory ingredients. Pretty much every technique you need to know from measuring dry ingredients to making caramel is in here.

Recipe I can’t wait to try: There were too many in this book to just pick one so I’m picking three – Pistachio Biscotti (pg 89), Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread (pg 100) and Key Lime Cheesecake Bars (pg 186).
Recipe I would never try: It was hard to find an unappetizing recipe in the whole book but I think I’ll skip Rhubarb and Spice Snacking Cake (pg 166).
The final word: I wrote this review, as I will many, from a library copy of the book. I’ve already ordered one from Amazon and I can’t wait until it gets here!
Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 Five out of Five Smiles!
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