I recently added 3 new baking cookbooks to my ever-growing collection. Whenever I am in a bookstore, I always browse for new baking books, even though I have more than enough. I have 11 that focus on cookies, brownies and bars. Cakes and cupcakes - 7. Chocolate - 3. And I have 18 that are general baking cookbooks that cover a wide range of baked goods. That doesn't include the many Taste of Home magazine publications I have, some of which are specifically focused on baking, or the countless Wilton Yearbooks and other publications that I own, or the general cookbooks that include chapters on baking. Still, I am always on the hunt for a new find.
My poor family must really want to grimace when we visit Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia almost every year. If you've never been there, it's a historic farmers market that's been in existence since 1860. We love to visit Bassetts for the best ice cream in the world (banana) and many of the other food vendors. There are several bakeries, including Flying Monkey Bakery, which has been featured on Outrageous Food for their Pumpple Cakes, apple and pumpkin pies baked inside vanilla and chocolate cakes and covered in buttercream. Yes, I said pie baked inside cake. But that topic is for another time.....the reason I mentioned Reading Terminal Market is that they have a shop called the Cookbook Stall that sells nothing but cookbooks and kitchen tools. Can you imagine having to forcibly drag me away from such a place? We tend to spend only about an hour or so at the Market when we go (which has always been at lunch time, and this place gets mobbed by tourists and all the local business people on their lunch breaks), and so far, I have been good about not spending too much time there. But the next time we go I am going to give the Cookbook Stall the attention it deserves!
Anyway, two of my recent cookbooks came from Amazon and cost me nothing, as I was using up a credit and a gift certificate code I'd redeemed after earning points through Mypoints.com. These books were 101 Gourmet Cake Bites for All Occasions by Wendy Paul, and Flour; Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe by Joanne Chang. I was tempted by the Cake Bites book because I have several publications focusing on creating adorable cake pops, but nothing that really addresses coming up with creative flavor combinations for the cake pops/bites. This book fills that void and features recipes for cake bites/pops like Raspberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Chip Cookie, Cherry Cordial, Mint Brownie, and Rosemary Lavender. I think I am most intrigued by Churro, Root Beer Float, and French Toast. I can't wait to try these out. It's a good thing I work at a school full of appreciative taste testers! (Of course, my kids are usually very happy to try things, too, even though they are pretty tired of cake after all my years of teaching cake decorating classes.) This book features about 20 pages of cake bite/pop design ideas, too.
I hesitated to buy the Flour cookbook, then went ahead and added it to my shopping cart after reading a review that convinced me I would not regret purchasing it (thanks Amazon reviewer Justin S!) I've only had the book for a week but I can already tell it will fast become a favorite. I made the banana bread, even though I'd been completely satisfied with the banana bread recipe I'd been using for years. The Flour recipe stomped all over that old banana bread recipe I used to make - I plan to forever use this new recipe! I bought a big bunch of bananas at one of my last trips to the store and I'm looking forward to making it again before the end of the week. There are also recipes for Homemade Oreos, Homemade Pop Tarts, and Homemade Fig Newtons, along with recipes for croissants, doughnuts, and other treats I am looking forward to making. My only complaint is the lack of photos. All of the photos in the book are full color and full page, which is great. The downside is that there is a lot of unused white space in the book where the recipe directions end; these spots would have been perfect for photos. I'd rather have more photos of smaller sizes than have all that wasted page space.
Finally, yesterday my daughter and I made a trip to our local independent bookstore. She had some cash that was burning a hole in her wallet and wanted to look for a new WebKinz, and the bookstore has been a good source for specific WebKinz she's wanted in the past. I, of course, could not resist peeking in the bargain corner and found A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman. I glanced through it pretty quickly and convinced myself it was worth the $10 bargain price. Once home, I paged through the whole thing and determined my gut instinct had been correct. It covers the gamut from breads and rolls, pizza, scones, biscuits, muffins, cookies and biscotti, bars, cakes, pies, cheesecakes, etc. There is a recipe for raised doughnuts that hints they are almost as good as Krispy Kremes, so that will be one of the first recipes I try. You can visit Marcy's online magazine for bakers, BetterBaking.
Good thing that it's cooling down quite a bit this week here in southeastern Wisconsin, because I've got a feeling my oven is going to be in marathon mode. I'll keep you posted on how things turn out!