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Cookbook Review: The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Must-Read: The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

"The best food doesn't have to be challenging in its preparation, but should recall our fondest food memories," Melissa Murphy writes in The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. That pretty much sums up the philosophy of this cookbook ($17.82), penned by the brainchild of Brooklyn's popular Sweet Melissa Patisseries. Here, the French Culinary Institute-trained pastry chef reveals the secrets behind the refined, yet homespun, baked treats that the bakery's known for. Was the tome a sweet success? Find out when you read more.

Pros:

  • The recipes in the book, like the one for strawberry shortcake, are thoroughly thought-out. They're written in prose that's easy to follow, with specific details that ensure a successful outcome.
  • The book includes plenty of traditional favorites, like lemon bars and pound cake.
  • More seasoned bakers will appreciate contemporary variations on classics, like gingerbread made with Guinness, cocoa powder, and a dash of hot white pepper.
  • Instructions for every dessert are shared with a loving recollection or nostalgic story, adding to each recipe's cachet.

Cons:

  • The book is heavy on text, and very short on pictures.
  • Virtually all recipes involve multiple steps, and require a significant amount of time.

Recipes: There's a section on dessert in the morning, and it's filled with breakfast pastry ideas. In addition, many of the recipes are passed down from family. Some offerings:

  • Chocolate Piecrust
  • Fluffy Coconut Cake With Passion Fruit Frosting
  • Double Crusted Caramel Apple Pie
  • Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream

Imagery: Virtually none. Of the book's 231 pages, only eight comprise color photos.

Overall Rating: If you're only interested in cookbooks that have pictures, then this one's not for you. But if you can move past the lack of imagery, you'll find a treasure chest of recipes that will delight any baking fiend.

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