"Baking for Dummies" (Hungry Minds, 2002, $19.99), part of the "For Dummies" series for beginners, demystifies the technical aspects of baking and attempts to bring old-fashioned techniques to nonbakers in the 21st century.
Reading this book takes time and commitment. Author Emily Nolan, baking expert and pastry chef, reminds readers to prepare, prepare, prepare before lifting a spatula to bake cakes, cookies, muffins, breads or other desserts.
She begins by explaining all ingredients needed to stock the baking pantry and moves on to describe essential baking equipment, basic baking terms and how to store baked goods and to give information on leaveners and fat.
To break up the voluminous information, each chapter begins with a humorous cartoon of culinary disasters. Oh, and the 334-page book offers 100 recipes, each with calories, fat content, cholesterol, carbohydrate and protein per serving.
Nolan does a nice job of highlighting timesavers, reminders, tips and "technical stuff" through graphics next to the pertinent text of the recipe. The timesaver is shown as a clock, and a tip is depicted as a bull's-eye.
For example, in the Light and Fluffy Yellow Cake recipe, the author offers this tip: "If you find your cakes continually come out with domed centers, decrease the flour in your cake recipe by 1/4 cup and spread the batter from the center to the sides of the pan. Domed centers are caused by thick batters cooking the edges first, allowing the centers to continue to rise higher than the sides."
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