Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent
This gorgeous book came out in 2016 but it’s so beautiful that it deserves a place on your baking bookshelf. Will Torrent trained under Heston Blumenthal at the age of 16 and has worked at a number of prestigious establishments in the UK, including The Fat Duck. He is an award-winning chocolatier and pâtissier whose first two books, Pâtisserie at Home and Chocolate at Home aimed to take the mystery and “fear factor” out of desserts and chocolate. In Afternoon Tea at Home, Torrent brings the elegance of the afternoon tea ritual home in a series of recipes organised by season (with a chapter for extra special recipes) that are as do-able as they are delicious. From essentials like jams, jellies, spreads and curds to sandwiches, cakes, pastries and cookies, this book has something for everyone. There’s even a selection of pre-planned menus for afternoon teas celebrating different occasions as well as a fantastic resources section at the back. Beautifully photographed, it would be just as at home on your coffee table as in your kitchen.
The Redpath Canadian Bake Book
Redpath Sugar has been a staple in kitchens across Canada for more than 160 years and this year, they released their first first full cookbook with over 200 recipes highlighting Canada’s culinary traditions. With chapters featuring Cookies, Bars & Brownies, Muffins & Breakfast Treats, Cakes & Shortcakes, Cupcakes & Other Small Cakes, Frostings, Icings & Decorating Basics, Pies, Cheesecakes & Favourite Fruit Desserts, Holidays & Special Occasions, Breads, Quick Breads & Doughnuts, Puddings, Custards & Sauces as well as Candies, this is a baking bible for all year round. There’s an excellent section at the front of the book called The Baker’s Kitchen where essential ingredients and equipment are listed. This is a book to pore over, dreaming of future treats…
BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks
If you weren’t already a member of the Stella fan club from her wonderful blog (my macaron recipe is based on hers!) and her work over on Serious Eats, you’ll definitely become a card-carrying member after even just a quick glance through this book. SAveur magazine calls BraveTart “The most groundbreaking book on baking in years,” and rightly so. Though it focuses on American desserts, non-Americans will recognise some of the classic dishes featured here, simply because of their renown. The book offers Classic American Desserts (Cookies & Candy, Cakes and Pies), Classic American Brands (Cookies & Snacks, Puddings, Breakfast Treats, Cookies & Candy Bars) and Classic American Ice Cream (including Scoops & Fountain Specials). So, those Brands? It’s recipes for things like Homemade Magic Shell, Homemade Snickers Bars,Homemade Twinkies, Animal Crackers and even Homemade Nilla Wafers. Stuff of American childhoods. The Desserts section has recipes for “basics” like No-Stress All Butter Pastry Crust, Classic Yellow Layer Cake, Red (Wine) Velvet Cake and Chocolate Chip Cookies. You’ll want to mark every recipe “to make” but along the way, you might be distracted from actually baking by the fascinating stories behind the classic recipes and Stella’s meticulously written recipes which bring the science of baking from the point of view of a professional pastry chef into your kitchen in an accessible way. Baking geeks (in the nicest possible way), this is your book. Home bakers, this is inspirational stuff. Buy this book. Watch for my full review coming in the new year!
Duchess Bake Shop
Looking to make high-end French pastries at home? Duchess Bake Shop is your book! This is an updated version of the best-selling debut cookbook from Giselle Courteau, featuring French-inspired recipes for you to make at home. Giselle is a self-taught baker who first discovered French macarons when she was teaching English in Japan around 10 years ago and became determined to figure out a way to make these at home (a familiar story over here in my household!). After experimenting with countless recipes (in a tiny toaster oven – respect!), Giselle finally found a way to replicate macarons at home. In 2009, Giselle opened Duchess Bake Shop, a French pâtisserie in Edmonton. Duchess Bake Shop, the book, features not only Giselle’s recipe for macarons, but also Croissants & Danishes, Brioche, recipes for Tea Time, Cookies, Pies, Tarts, Cakes, Pâte à Choux and Sweets, with beautiful photography (and loads of step-by-step tutorials). There are also a number of Canadian-inspired pastries and desserts and this edition of the book features the famed Bûche de Noël from the Bake Shop. There are sections on Tips & Tricks, Equipment and Ingredients too. This is a book for the baker who dreams of French pastries, interested in learning professional techniques to use at home to create bake shop worthy desserts.
Paul Hollywood: A Baker’s Life
If you’re a fan of The Great British Bake-Off, you’ll recognise Paul Hollywood’s name as one of the judges. But you might not know that he’s written six cookbooks too! Of A Baker’s Life, Paul says: “This new book is really special to me as it gives me a chance to share with you the bakers, chefs and experiences that have inspired me over the years.” Indeed, the book offers recipes ranging “from childhood bakes to five-star excellence” with chapters on Nostalgic Bakes (recipes from Hollywood’s childhood), Beginner’s Bread (offering wisdom from his year’s spent as an apprentice baker), Five-Star Baking (offering recipes and secrets gleaned from time spent in high-end hotel pastry kitchens), Bakes of the World (with recipes inspired by Hollywood’s travels), Showstopping Pies, Puds & Cakes (the Bake Off years) and Celebrations (special occasion treats). Just as appealing as Hollywood’s well-written, easy-to-read recipes and the beautiful photography, though, are the stories in this book. Hollywood’s lived an interesting life and this is a fabulous look at the path to his celebrity today. If I say I enjoyed the stories nearly more than the recipes, that’s a compliment. I love a good chapter introduction and headnote!
Sweet by Helen Goh and Yotam Ottolenghi
You might already know Yotam Ottolenghi from his previous cookbooks or restaurants in the UK. But did you know that, although you might be more familiar with his savoury and/ or vegetarian dishes, Ottolenghi started his career as a pastry chef? In Sweet, Ottolenghi shares a collection of over 100 recipes for sweets, baked goods, and confections, written with Helen Goh (a Melbourne-born pastry chef) – recipes that feature the creative flavour profiles and ingredients you might recognize from other Ottolenghi cookbooks. With chapters on Cookies & Biscuits, Mini-Cakes (my favourite!), Cakes, Cheesecakes, Tarts & Pies, Desserts and Confectionary and a section on Baker’s Tips and Notes (with lots of tips through the book about make-ahead items for some of the multi-step recipes), this book covers a wide range of sweets with recipes for any occasion. Beautifully photographed, it’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the tastebuds. If you’re looking for a book for someone who loves baking and experimenting with more complex recipes, this is what you’re after. If you own the other Ottolenghi cookbooks and you love baking, you definitely need this 🙂 Watch for my full review coming in the new year!
The Baker’s Box (Eggs, Maple Syrup, Buttermilk, Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Butter) by Short Stack Editions
Short Stack Editions is a series of small-format, single-subject cookbook booklets by America’s top culinary talents. Each edition offers “ingenious new ways to cook our favorite ingredients” and contains 20 to 25 recipes (both sweet to savory for all meals of the day). Launched in 2013, Short Stack Editions published its first three volumes through the success of a Kickstarter campaign and currently publish six titles every year. The booklets are adorable (great covers, to start with!), practical and affordable. This Baker’s Box contains volumes on Eggs, Maple Syrup, Buttermilk, Brown Sugar, Chocolate and Butter – so, everything a baker loves to work with! These are a great stocking stuffer (or if you prefer, you can buy individual volumes or other bundles too)
So, which one of these will you be buying or giving this holiday season?
Disclosure: I received review copies of A Baker’s Life, Duchess Bake Shop, The Redpath Canadian Bake Book, Afternoon Tea at Home and The Baker’s Box from the publishers. I purchased Brave Tart and Sweet myself. I was not asked to write about these books, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions my own.
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