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(article, Ashley Brodie)

I am a lover of baked goods. Whether it’s an aromatic, all-American apple pie or a basket of flaky, buttery biscuits, I can’t seem to get enough of life’s sweet and savory delicacies. But my adoration is put on pause when I think of the anxiety of baking itself. The sifting, the kneading, the exact measurements: How can you help but be intimidated? 

For all who share this trepidation, Dorie Greenspan will have you beating meringue and folding ingredients in no time. Greenspan’s plainly titled Baking: From My Home to Yours is an excellent culinary resource for both the amateur and the skilled cook. Her recipes, techniques, and ample suggestions take a smart-yet-friendly approach to the mixing bowl and rolling pin. And Baking makes for a yeasty journey through both Greenspan’s pantry and her life. 

Greenspan speaks to her readers like a grandmother handing down recipes from generations past. Often — as with her recipe for Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies — she is doing just that. Sure, these cookies resemble the typical sugar cookie, with eggs, sugar, and flour, but these are the cookies that Greenspan’s grandmother made for her every week, topping them with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. Somehow the personal details, even from someone else’s kitchen, make the simplest recipe taste a bit sweeter. Oh, and grandma always served these with warm lemon tea, too. 

But Baking isn’t just about fond memories and family recipes; it’s also about the basics, the embellishments, and the freedom to personalize just about anything. Each recipe is presented in the same fashion: a story, followed by a list of ingredients and a set of carefully crafted directions, concluding with a set of serving and storing tips, and sometimes even a “playing around” column suggesting substitutions or additions. 


h1. Featured recipes


I learned you can spend an entire day making crème brûlée by infusing the cream with different flavors: cinnamon, lavender, ginger, espresso. And why stop there? Ever wonder what the ideal baking dish is for this dessert, or the different ways to get that famous caramelized sugar crust? Or how about ideas for what to serve it with? I prefer raspberries, while Greenspan suggests nothing more than a spoon.

With nearly 300 sweet, salty, and delightful treats, plus a dessert-maker’s glossary, the James Beard Award-nominated Baking helps turn baking into less stress, more fun. No matter how simple or elegant the recipe, it’s sure to be presented in an engaging way, as if you were in Greenspan’s kitchen, her encouraging voice in your ear.

Elsewhere on Culinate: a review of the classic The Joy of Cooking and an Our Table about the emotional stress of making pie.

p(bio). Ashley Brodie* is a writer in Portland, Oregon.

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