I’m always so excited when I get to do my holiday roundup of best baking cookbooks of 2015, partly because I finally have an excuse to sit down and go through the cookbooks piling up on my shelf! I may not have enough time during the rest of the year – or ever – to read all the cookbooks I want, but when it’s roundup time I can happily devote several guilt-free hours perusing tome after time. Following are my picks for very favorite books of 2015 – it’s a wonderfully varied and eclectic bunch this year!
Pierre Hermé Macarons: The Ultimate Recipes from the Master Pâtissier: I already mentioned this book in my gift guide but I can’t not mention it here; it’s the perfect lead-off to the roundup. Any new cookbook from the Picasso of Pastry is always reason for excitement: this newest tome is a lavishly photographed celebration of some of his most famous macarons, including his Fetish and Jardin collections. Another cookbook on his macarons came out a couple years back, but this appears to be a new set of recipes for his more recent flavors; I’ll do a comparison in the near future. In any case, a must-have for any lover of macarons!
Let Them Eat Cake: I’ve become a big fan of Gesine Bullock-Prado’s cookbooks – they’re full of fun, well-written recipes, and they’re beautifully designed as well. In her third book, Gesine tackles the popular baking requests for gluten free, vegan, and healthier desserts. What I love about her approach is that she presents the original recipe first, say for chocolate cake, and then gives specific directions on how to modify the recipe to make it vegan, gluten free, or healthier. This wonderfully organized approach demystifies special-diet baking and makes it feel like you’re using “real” recipes, just tweaked for specific needs. A fantastic new resource.
Food52 Baking: The super popular food website creates a collection of modern riffs on classic baking staples. These are simple recipes that, in the words of the authors, don’t require special equipment or exotic ingredients, but are still different enough to inspire home bakers into kitchen. Try the Cardamon Currant Snickerdoodles or the Brown Butter Cupcake Brownies. A great gift for the casual home baker, but even experienced bakers will find plenty of inspiration in this book.
Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries – I’m a baking geek so I love Alton Brown, America’s Test Kitchen, and any other resources that try to demystify baking and create rules to understand how it works. Making Dough does a great job of breaking down dough, with ratios and diagrams to explain why different doughs act the way they do and how to make them successfully. Dough is one of those things that sends newbie bakers into a panic and can continue to confound even experience ones; this book is a welcome guide to make dough just a little less frustrating.
Chocolate Chip Sweets:Who can say no to a chocolate chip cookie? Tracey Zabar, who wrote One Sweet Cookie, a compilation of cookie recipes from celebrated pastry chefs, returns with a new collection of sweet recipes featuring chocolate chips. The recipes span from Daniel Boulud’s Chocolate Chip Madeleines to Sherry Yard’s Raspberry Chocolate Souffle, a wide range of cookies, cakes, tarts, spoon desserts, and breads. For the chocolate chip lover in your family.
Theo Chocolate: Recipes & Sweet Secrets from Seattle’s Favorite Chocolate Maker:It seems like every artisan chocolate maker is coming out with a cookbook; Theo Chocolate’s book stands out as a solid collection of original and intriguing recipes as well as an absorbing look into the company. The first few chapters chronicle the founding of Theo Chocolate and their bean-to-bar manufacturing process; the rest of the book include recipes for dishes like Honey and Saffron Chicken with Cocoa Nib Couscous and Chocolate Chili Churros. I’m really impressed with the range of recipes, savory and sweet – there’s definitely more than just chocolate cake and brownies here. A very worthy addition to your cookbook shelf.
Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook: I love breakfast food – whenever I go out for brunch I can never decide between savory or sweet, eggs Benedict or French toast. Famed chef Sarabeth Levine creates a fabulously enticing set of recipes for breakfast, encompassing everything from fruit to pancakes to scones, from eggs to frittatas to quiches. With over 130 recipes, you’ll have breakfast ideas for a long time. I want to make everything in here first. Definitely one of my favorites of the year.
Sweet Middle East: I love that several cookbooks exploring pastry tradition of other cultures have also come out this year. Sweet Middle East is an exceedingly tasty, in-depth exploration of Middle Eastern desserts. Anissa Helou is a chef and culinary researcher, and she gives some fascinating background for these recipes and useful information on Middle Eastern ingredients like mastic and mahlah. Some of the recipes look familiar like baklava and fig ice cream, while others like Bread of the Seraglio and Algerian crepes, are totally new. A lovely culinary journey.
Scandinavian Baking: Another cookbook covering international baking traditions, this time Scandinavian baking. This hefty tome is one of the most gorgeous cookbooks I’ve seen this year, with the numerous photographs all capturing that pure, clear Nordic light. This book is billed as a modern reference on Scandinavian baking, and I’m sold: the recipes cover simple cakes and cookies and continue on through Danish pastries and breads, and even savory crisp breads and sandwiches. There is an entire section on Christmas baking, which is perfect as I always think of Scandinavia when I think of old world Christmas traditions. I’m in love with this book and will be exploring it for months to come.
Do you have a favorite cookbook of the year? (By the way, I can’t end this roundup without mentioning my own book Lollipop Love one last time – it’s a great stocking stuffer!) Happy reading and baking!
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