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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Currently my most favourite baking book

I have a tendency to check out books when I'm shopping at Costco. The thing is, I don't really buy bestsellers because I usually read them and don't keep them since they're interesting to read but not worthwhile keeping. So usually, I'm checking and buying recipe books.

Well prior to my 2011 New Year's resolution, I bought a book called "The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book".

How to roll cinnamon rolls or sticky rolls
I was very impressed with this book as a fairly beginner baking recipe book. Most of the ingrediants are something that I can be easily purchased at Safeway or any local grocery store. It also gives fairly good instructions and has nice how to pictures.

I like that it's a binder, so I can take out the pages that I want, especially since I do not have a large counter space to put the whole book. The problem that I've been having is that since I do not read the full recipe prior to cooking, I often miss the 2nd page and make mistakes. It would be nice if they kept a full recipe within the 1 page.

It has good pictures. Most recipes have pictures but not all of them do. Too bad.

I really liked the fact that it gives tidbits and little information of what they found to make their recipes work. For example, when making scones, typically it's known that you should lightly touch your dough so that you can maintain a nice light and fluffy scone. Well in this book, they found that by freezing the butter then grating it, it does much the same thing.

Creaming butter and sugar
Also I liked this book because it gives a list of possible substitution eg if I do not have cake flour, I can mix regular flour and cornstarch. I found this helpful because I'm not a very good "planned" baker. I just bake when I feel like it and I'm fairly lazy to go to a grocery store to buy stuff (plus there is nothing close by).

I've made their American Sandwich bread. Wow! It was soft and fluffy. Better than store bought bread (incidentally, I will post something about my bread making. I no longer buy bread). I've tried their multigrain bread. It was a hearty bread. I did not take any pictures of both these bread because I make read so often, I couldn't document it every week.

Table of contents

What I don't like:
Well, nothing is perfect, so there are a few things that I do not like about this book:
1) This book only uses 1 measurement, so sometimes, things are not easily measured this way. For example 10 tablespoon of butter is really hard to measure. Why not say 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon of butter. That is Waaayyyyy easier!

2) Just because the Test kitchen liked it, doesn't mean I like it. For example, the Test Kitchen decided that it's easier to buy sourdough starter than making your own. However, I have my own sourdough starter, so I would like to use that than buy a packet of sourdough starter. Since they decided that the packet is better, then their recipe only use that, not an alternative. So that means I won't be making any of their sourdough recipes.

3) Some recipes are a bit wordy or long or badly written. I've made a few mistakes. Partly it's my fault since I don't review the recipe but still, it would be nice to have it a little less wordy.

4) This book has lots of pictures BUT not all the recipes have pictures. So some of the recipes that I have never heard off, I don't know what they are or how they look like. So it means that when I'm making it, I'll have to read it carefully.

Bottom line.....BUY IT!!!! It's a really good book to have. Nice variety and nice tidbit for baking.

I was planning to buy other The America's Test Kitchen books but decided I had too many recipes at this point. I did check out The America's Test Kitchen magazines. For some reason, they were not as good as this book!

If you get one or already have one, please share your thoughts!!!!

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