Friday, August 23, 2013

Better Homes and Gardens Baking Cook Book

Doesn't this peach tart look yummy? You too can make one. The recipe for this came from the newest Better Homes and Gardens Baking that is being published in October 2013. You can preorder it now.

Here is the review that I posted on Amazon for this great book. This book is the most exciting new cookbook from Better Homes and Gardens that I have seen in a long time.

I was so disappointed that my advanced reading copy of this book only had the black and white pictures as there are lots of photos in this book, one for every recipe. Usually when sent a cookbook to review it is the final version. Because I was seeing the black and white photo copy, I did notice spots where writing was set against a gray background. I don’t know how this will play out in the final version, but if you have trouble with your eyes, you might want to check on this before buying the final version.

That technical bit about the construction of the book out of the way, we can now go on to the ‘meat’ of the book. The book begins with baking techniques that are supposedly good for both novices and kitchen pros. While the recipes are easy enough for a novice baker to make, the instructions at the front of the book aren’t the best or most thorough in my opinion. They are however a decent enough review for someone who hasn’t been baking for awhile. For baking equipment they showed the usual pans but didn’t bring up the latest silicon ware that is so popular at the stores. Perhaps they found, as I did, that silicon baking ware isn’t all it is cracked up to be and so it was left out purposefully. If it wasn’t deliberate however, they should have mentioned it as currently you can purchase all sorts of baking ‘pans’ made with that material. My other bone of contention with them was when they got to butter. There was no mention made nor do I recall seeing any item using margarine. While apparently some items absolutely have to have butter and not margarine when making them, good quality margarine is a reliable substitute. In over 40 years of baking, including winning blue ribbons at the fair for my baking, I have never used butter in any baked good. The item that I made out of the book I used margarine in instead of butter and it tasted great. Butter is much costlier than margarine as well, so on that point alone, margarine should have been mentioned.

I have always liked Better Homes and Gardens Cookbooks and had their earlier version of their baking book so was a bit nervous that I would get a repeat of the same recipes. Not so! I was very presently surprised at the many recipes that I wanted to make as I went through the book. BHG is bringing out another cookbook at the same time as this one called Comfort Foods . While I didn’t get to review that book, I think with the baking book that was their theme as well. Besides the usual culprits of white bread, chocolate chip cookies and apple pies, there were fruit crisps, fruit crumbles, all sorts of baked deserts and yummy things. For many of the recipes they gave master recipes and then how to change the recipe to make one or more other flavors. And for some they gave ways to make smaller versions of the recipe. Most of all though, this book brought back many ‘old time’ desserts with modern variations, I also didn’t see the need to run out to the store for ingredients as long as you have a well stocked normal kitchen.

I made one of the recipes, a fresh peach tart (our area is having a wonderful peach crop at this moment for the first time in several years). Other than the peaches that I had to buy, I had everything on had to make this yummy treat and yummy it was! It called for almond slices at the top which I did include, but as much as I like almonds, they gave a strange feeling to the bites of soft peaches and pie dough. I will leave them out next time I make it. The recipe was easy to follow, hubby who doesn’t like peaches said the dough was excellent and the flavors good but because of the peach factor he would leave the rest of the tart to me. For those like me that have great difficulty, rolling out two pie rounds, one to fit in the pie plate and one to cover and then figure out how to make it cover nice and neatly, making a tart is the perfect answer. With only one piece of dough, there was no need to have it look perfect as that gave it a rustic appearance. I will be using this cookbook again!