August 26, 2014
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Since when did every cookie on the plate have to be just like the next? Or each layer of cake exactly the same height? Each piecrust an impeccable work of art and encircled by stunningly perfect pastry leaves? To the uninitiated, all that fastidious, spotless baking is intimidating, not to mention exhausting. The Messy Baker celebrates baking as it happens in the real world—sweet, messy, fun, not always gorgeous, but a way to show love. Which doesn’t make it any less delicious; to the contrary, Charmian Christie’s flavor combinations rise far above the ordinary. Why have a raspberry galette when you can enjoy a raspberry-rhubarb galette with drippy, unctuous walnut frangipane? Or how about a Brie and walnut whiskey tart? It’s all yours without the rigid perfectionism or complicated instructions of other gourmet cookbooks.
Christie’s warm, irreverent voice brings the fun back into baking at a time when home cooks—pulled from pillar to post by jobs and errands—need to have fun. The Messy Baker is a full-service book that not only guides the reader through simple, delicious recipes but is also there to help out when things go wrong. For anyone who gave in frustration when that cake collapsed or the frosting smeared, Christie’s practical advice is here to rescue even the worst disaster and inspire the baker to try the next recipe.
There are so many things to love about Charmian Christie's The Messy Baker. A fantastic introduction full of everything one would need to get their kitchen - and themselves - ready for baking, a fun - and logical - recipe organization ('Pastry,' "Flaky,' 'Dippable,' etc), incredibly appetizing and appealing photographs, not to mention those recipes.
|my Blueberry Lime Cornmeal Muffins - |
not as pretty as in the book but not
'messy' either - & so good, too!
With everything from Double-Stuff Uber-Oreo Cookies to Mushroom, Leek and Gruyere Tart to Either Way Marinara Sauce to Blueberry Lime Cornmeal Muffins, the recipes are not only fantastically varied (sweet, savory, cookies, muffins, sauces, sugars) and unique, but delicious, as well. The recipes are laid out well, a blocked off introduction followed by a very clean presentation of the ingredients, on the left, next to the ordered directions, on the right. The ingredient list is well spaced, so you're sure not to miss things and having it right next to the directions is helpful.
What sets The Messy Baker apart from most cookbooks - even those with yummy food and good photography, is its 'The Basics' and appendix sections. It is chock full of helpful information for the novice baker (and likely all but the most expert, as well): From what you need in your kitchen, what you may like to have, and what to get once you're really cooking . . . or baking to how to adjust cake pan size, what works as a substitute - and what doesn't to how to know if your baking soda is good (think science fair volcano, only way scaled down) to how to measure honey.
Whether you need to know what to do if you only have confectioner's (powdered sugar) when the recipe calls for granulated or what to do if you need room temperature eggs but not don't have the time, The Messy Baker has the answer.
One of my first surprises, is also one of the things I like best about this book. While the title contains the word, 'baker,' and the cover features brownies, this is not only a cookies, cakes, pies cookbook. Yes, there are cookies, muffins, and a chocolate torte, there are also recipes for pizza, waffles, the above mentioned marina sauce, for vanilla sugar, and even roasted cauliflower.
The recipes, on their own, would make a very desirable and worth owning cookbook, but with the information, substitutions, explanations, tips, etc also offered, The Messy Baker is a cookbook fro anyone who wants to start baking, who's looking for new recipes and/or anyone who wants a quick reference around the kitchen.
a big thank you to the publisher for my advance copy through NetGalley, for this honest review