I am absolutely honoured to be able to review this book, and I mean that from the depth of my heart! At 60 years young, I've been baking since I could stand upright in my Gran's kitchen and learned all the secrets she learned as a professional pastry chef during the last century. Still, there is ALWAYS room to learn more things and I say, "Bring it On" regarding any new technique or tip!
Not for one second would I hesitate gifting this book to someone who truly is passionate about baking. Even for the beginner, such as a Bridal Shower Gift, it would win over the Bride-To-Be. You know that old adage: "Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover"? Well, judge away! The cover is split into a soft salmon top, a mid-section featuring mouth watering desserts, and a soft teal bottom. From the second that you open the book, it is an artistic delight to view! Blank pages are in mouth-watering salmon, pistachio, and sugared violet colours. Other division pages are reminiscent of Easter Egg patterns with delightful squiggles and dots and waves. If you never baked an item from this book but wanted to "pretend" you did, it would be a delightful addition to your coffee table, but Oh!, what a waste that would be! NOTE: there is NO slipcover to protect the cover, so if having a tidy book is very important to you, plan ahead and use a protective shield for the book or use that old paper bag to make a cover to protect it!!!
For the very beginner baker, Dan guides you through the basics: What is the difference in flours? What does butter, lard, oil do? Yeast, sugars, etc., are all broken down and explained HOW they work. For a baking nerd such as myself, this is hard-core bedtime reading!!!! And, unlike the one reviewer who was sorely disappointed that the measurements are in U.S. Cups, I must admit I went "Yahoo!", since it bugs the bajeezus out of me to weigh things! (it's just what you're used to doing, I guess). So, if it is of MASSIVE IMPORTANCE to you to weigh ingredients, please move along. You will NOT like this book!
The book has a Table of Contents and then a heading for each chapter such as BREADS; CAKES; SMALL THINGS (muffins, brownies, scones and such); COOKIES & CRACKERS; DOUGHNUTS, BATTERS,AND BABAS; SUGAR-SUGAR (sweeties or candy as the U.S. calls them); DESSERTS....and then the oddest of surprise chapters: SUPPER. Say what??? Supper? In a Sweetie Book? But, Man nor Woman can live by Sweeties alone, so this chapter takes on the more savory side of baking with savory pies and tarts. WHO in their proper mind wouldn't want to dive into a Chicken & Leek Pie? Or a Spiced Eggplant and Lentil Pie? How about a Pork & Parsnip Pie or a tasty Leek, Smoked Haddock & Lancashire Cheese Pie? Oh My Goodness; Dan sure knows how to tempt me!!!!
The photos are superior and the styling is gorgeous! There is a randomness to their order: sometimes there's a photo every other page, and other times, it's 5-6 pages before there are any photos. Be aware: there are NO "How to Make Photos"! If that is important to you, you'll need another book. But, the photos of the finished products such as Lemon Meringue Sundae or Classic Strawberry Pavlova clearly show you how to finish off the end result.
It took me well over 3 hours of reading the book to decide on the 1st recipe that I wanted to try. But first, I had to wipe the tears of "LOL" out of my eyes, because of Dan's wit! His opening blurb on CAKE is, "I truly believe that life is improved with cake. Cake soothes and charms all but the stoniest of attitudes, and brings a shine to the eyes of even the grumpiest children." The recipe I tried first had me rolling in the kitchen! Regarding the "Carrot, Orange, and Pistachio Cake", Dan wrote: "This is just a little more difficult than the easy carrot cake--a big American-Style layer cake with Arabic bits. Imagine Pamela Anderson as a plantinum-blonde Scheherazade." <what a hoot! His humour is sprinkled like powdered sugar throughout the pages, making the learning and baking process that much more fun. The cake turned out flawless and was devoured in one evening by my family of 5, with nary a crumb or leftover! What an endorsement for this book!
Most recipes use "plain ol' stuff" that you'd have in a baking pantry, with the exception (for me) of Sunflower Oil, which I never used. Some of the more exotic recipes (like the cake, above) used Tahini or Pomegranate Syrup but that's a small price to pay for a unique taste. He certainly offers you a plethora of recipes to choose from with NO exotic ingredients!
Since e-readers came along, I've stopped buying cookbooks, sorry to say. I have literally over 1,000+ cookbooks that I've collected the past 50 years of my life and they take up two walls in the dining room, making for beautiful art. But, there's a time and a place when you must say "Enough is Enough" to the paper books, and I've been only downloading my cookbooks, as of late.
THIS.BOOK.IS.THE.EXCEPTION!!!! Truly, this cookbook is a Work of Art with the colour palatte that was chosen and a Working Cookbook for the Passinate Baker. I have two of those types of friends in my life (Artistic Bakers), so they are absolutely going to be slipped a HARD COPY of this book for their upcoming birthdays! This is a book you bend the rules for, to own in all it's glorious 3-D dimensions.
Thank you, Dan Lepard, for writing it and Thank You, amazon vine, for allowing me to test drive it and fall in love with it!