Gift Ideas for the Holidays: Baking Books

I find that most people who love cake decorating also love to bake. One thing that I find baking enthusiasts universally love are books on baking. Whether they’re books of recipes, books that teach certain baking techniques, or simply books with pictures of beautiful culinary creations, people who like to bake can’t get enough of them. These books can be invaluable resources and generally have an amazingly long shelf life — many of my friends who love to bake and cook still go through books that they bought 30 – 40 years ago! So what can be a better holiday gift for a fellow amateur baker than a book on baking? Here are some books that you might consider buying your friends and family for the holidays:

1. Bouchon Bakery(Artisan, list $50.00, 400 pages) by renowned chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller, not only features a collection of recipes (all written with a delightfully personal touch), but tons of fascinating stories and beautiful pictures. Most of the recipes are for food available at the Bouchon Bakeries located throughout the United States. You’ll learn how to make their signature scones, cookies, muffins, and more. Bouchon Bakery is intended for everyone — from the beginner to the expert. The book is $32.85.

2. The best-selling book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking(Thomas Dunne Books, list $29.99, 400 pages) by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, shows you, as the title suggests, how to create high-quality artisan bread by spending only five minutes a day making it. No kneading is required, and you won’t need to use a bread machine — the process is surprisingly simple and easy to follow. There’s also a ton of information about choosing the right ingredients and equipment, and the differences between the varieties of different artisan bread. The authors are both experts at their craft and have been making their own bread for years. The book costs $22.58.

3. Martha Stewart’s Cakes: Our First-Ever Book of Bundts, Loaves, Layers, Coffee Cakes, and more(Clarkson Potter, list $24.99, 352 pages) by the Editors of Martha Stewart Living, features 150 recipes of a variety of different desserts. Each recipe is accompanied with beautiful color photos. Read step-by-step instructions on how to make your favorite desserts, learn new decorating techniques, and find out which ingredients and equipment are best to use when baking. The book is $16.56.

4. Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe(Chronicle Books, list $35.00, 320 pages) by Joanne Chang and Christie Matheson, teaches you how to make all sorts of the different sweets that can be found at the world-famous Flour Bakery in Boston. You can find recipes for classic currant scones, brioche au chocolat, and homemade pop tarts, among other delicious treats. There are over 125 recipes and included are a host of expert baking tips from renowned baker Joanne Chang. There’s also an extensive section covering which ingredients and equipments Joanne recommends using. The book costs $25.44.

New and Noteworthy Books

Buddy Valastro delivers another book, Family Celebrations with the Cake Boss: Recipes for Get-Togethers Throughout the Year(Atria Books, list $30.00, 336 pages) sharing with us his family recipes for each special occasion. The book features a menu for each family celebration, complete with recipes and pictures. Check out Amazon for a preview of the book.

Are you interested in the fundamentals of French pastry? The Art of French Pastry(Knopf, list $40.00, 432 pages) debuts on December 3, 2013. Pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer starts at the basics, teaching you the science of how the ingredients work. You will learn how to make brioche, beignets, napoleans, cream puffs, elephant ears and much more.

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