O.k. Isa made me do it

Joined Mar 6, 2001
She says "go ahead Wendy I'd love to hear your thoughts on baking books"..............

Well, every now and then I send out a search for responses/ feed back on a baking book or several baking books I have sitting on my shelfs....calling for me to bake from them. I pick them up, study them again....search for anyone else who might own it who can give me feed back on it. No one answers... and I give up that topic for awhile. Poor books, I know they have something important to tell me, yet there they sit.

O.k. here's a breif list of books I'd love to know if anyone else owns them and if they liked it, ever worked from them, etc...

Carol Walters' "Great Cakes"

Practical Baking by Sulton

The Modern Patissier, by William Barker

The Olives Dessert table, by English, Retus and Sampson

The Complete book of Pastry Sweet & Savory, by Bernard Clayton

Cake Bakery, by Hazel Zenker

Judith Olney On Bread, by same name

Bernard Claytons New complete book of breads

Small breads, by Bernard Clayton

Glorious Chocolate, by Mary Goodbody and the editors of chocolatier mag.

Madame Chocolates Book of Divine Indulgenses, by Elaine Sherman

My thoughts on baking books, love them...probably obsessed with owning them. Just collecting them alone is a hobby. I go to flea markets and book sales everywhere with-in driving distance. My hubby has quite the eye for spotting them hidden by other wares. I can't believe I'm lucky enough to have found someone who has fun helping me find them. Book stores, well... he doesn't enjoy me searching thru them, I want everyone.

I do my best to read each one I own and learn from them. I do bake from them. I have so many I adore. You name it, I'm more then happy to talk about it. I have older books, the newest books out, professional ones to garden club types. Sometimes I run into the same recipes in several books, some not even thinnly disguised.... it's fun to see how other appreciate the same good cookin, but there not fooling me baby.

And I'm aways amazed that someone ever figured out that when you add this and that together you get a wonderful treat. If it was left up to me to invent a recipe, man would still be eating plants only.
Joined Mar 7, 2001
Practical Baking by Sultan- I use the challah recipe and the sweet rye recipe almost daily in my bakery.....He has another textbook the Pastry Chef- I have yet to find a bad recipe in this book so far everything has worked these books and author are probably the cornerstone of my bakery (gosh I hope my faith in these books works)
Joined May 3, 2002
Hate to say it but I don't own one baking book, not one, not one book on chocolate and not even one book specializing in deserts. I mean for me to start buying those books as well as my other ones(can anyone lend me a few bucks?)
And I hate to now admit that on the Pastrie chefs days off Im the one in there, Im not bad but no pastrie chef thats for sure.

Ok so what is the most important and reliable baking book out there?.
I mean when I can't afford to start a collection of baking books that is.

the one most important baking book,
and the one most important deserts book.

I have to laugh when I think of myself making all those damm chocolate garnishes for deserts, I bet if a real pastrie chef saw me they would scream.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Yureeeeka! Someone actually has one of these.....yeah. So you like William Sultan??? When I first read thru his 'Practical Baking' years ago, I was just lost, period. He talks about production factors that just left me in the dust, dough conditioners and additives, etc... I'm in the process of re-reading it right now, I'm just beginning his chapter on Cookies. This time around I understand most everything, even though I've never had the chance to work with many of the additives he mentions.

Have you ever ventured into trying those Snakelady? What about his extensive notes on "common problems"....it's like too much info. yet a good read if your lost....

I don't understand what you meant by "gosh I hope my faith in these books work"? Please explain?

Pinarello good questions, they're hard to answer because it depends upon the type of baking your called to do. I guess if I only could own 1 book, I'd want it to be huge and cover all bakery goods...so I'd pick Bo Friebergs "The Professional Pastry Chef" volume 4. It can tell you how to make practically everything in the pastry kitchen.

But if I wanted recipes that were the back bone of GOOD TASTING baking I might pick "Baking With Julia".

Myself as a professional in pastry, if I could have only 1 'Pastry book' it would be a toss up between "L' Art Des Entremets de France" by Bellouet and Perruchon and "La Patisserie De Pierre Herme". They're both brilliant books with just about every pastry recipe imaginable and the base info. for me to take their recipes into something I want to create. But both aren't really great for someone who just has a passing interest in pastry. They consist of advanced work.

HTH. I'll be interested to see which 1 one others recomend!
Joined Mar 7, 2001
I just bought my first bag of dough accelerator this week....not really sure how to use it though....As far as using the different additives I haven't done so. My having faith in these books refers to my bakery ....it has been a rough first year(November 9 2001 was my opening day) It has been a comfort being able to grab either book and find a good workable recipe. I haven't read many of his notes other than what pertains to the recipe I am working. I used these books in cooking school so even my instructors thought they were good
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Just wondering, does the bag give you details on how to use the accelerator?

Lately I've been aware of owning a couple of books that talked about additives/enhancers, etc... Now I'd like to learn more about them. Basicly since eating Crispy Creme doughnuts....because they just don't seem "all natural", I'm certain they must be using some sort of dough relaxer.... .

Just curious: Why did you choose to try the dough accelerator as your first venture into additives?
Joined Mar 7, 2001
My sales rep convinced me to try it but really my bread doughs are rising just fast enough today I was processing about 80 pounds of dough into 6 ounce mini breads by hand and it was all I could do to keep up with the bread.....that was just the start of the day I just finished 20 -8 inch square cakes all decorated differently for a restaurant to give out as Best Wishes cakes this is one way to practice my piping skills. Wendy I haven't looked at the bag yet but as I understand it I can start scaling the dough right away with out waiting for the punching down and raising part...It will probably sit in the corner until I have an emergency and need dough right away...I have the name of a baker who uses this product and my sales rep said I should talk to him about it....one of these days when I have the time
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Wow, it sounds like your bakery is flurishing. So, your doing a fair amount of bread daily? Do you retard in the cooler or freeze any doughs?

Personally, I'd love to get into artisianal breads.....one day I will.

Kimmie, wow........it's always amazing to me how you and Isa find all these great links............thanks, I'm going to go and look around too.
Joined Mar 6, 2001
I read thru his chapter on cookies last night. I'm not sure what I think. He uses 1/2 shortening or all shortening and a combo of bread flour and cake flour....and lots of macaroon paste.

Have you baked any of his cookies Snakelady? Do you like them?

I'm not against shortening, there are many cookies that taste great with it. But I'm not sure I see his point of combining flours....when he's done it seems like he's winding up with a gluten level like an ap. flour. No?

If he did write about this I missed it, but I wish he had addressed using macaroon paste vs. almond paste. I know there is a cost difference and that's why many places use the macaroon paste. But I've never used the macaroon paste, and I would like to know how it differs in taste and handling???
Joined Feb 21, 2001
Depending on what dough conditioner you have it's usually scaled into the dough on a percentage basis like any other ingredient. The stuff we used in school was used up to 2%. There's a formula in the New International Confectioner for speeding up fermentation by increasing the yeast using the rising time as a variable. I don't like using conditioners but then I have the luxury of planning ahead. And if I'm asked for rolls or something that the kitchen needed yesterday, it's a minimum of three hours.
Joined Jan 15, 2001
Hi Wendy. I'm shocked I don't own any of those books----and I have a bunch of them. I have to admit that when I buy baking books, I'm influenced by the "look" and layout. It bugs me when there are hardly any pictures. As of the moment, I can'tlist the books I own since they're packed(we're moving). But I rely a lot on Professional Baking, 3rd edition and other books like Baking with Julia, Joy of Cooking and Mrs. Fields. Most of my personal cookie recipes were developed using non-pro books(Better Homes and Gardens Cookie Classics is great). One of my monthly habits is going to Barnes and Noble and going through their sale area---sometimes they do have great baking books available for $5.00. Just last month I picked up that cookie book I mentioned and some other book called "Streetfood" plus Carol Walters Pies & Tarts.
Joined Mar 7, 2001
I have only used the bread, quick breads, muffins, sweet dough, yeast raised donut dough, not any of the cookie recipes....I myself am using only butter in my cookies, I know that shortening won't spread as much but I really like the flavor of butter. I haven't used macaroon paste in anything I have used almond paste to make a frangipane filling, I have baked off the frangipane in discs to use inbetween layers of cakes I haven't tried it in cookies though...
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Wow Angry, your already packed.....I hope you won't be gone for long!! (Did I ever tell you about the book sale I go to? It's sponsered by a library in a very exclusive part of town, once a year. They sell the greatest books for a couple dollars, it's such a gas to go to!! They just had it, I must have bought 25/30 books and magazines for $70.00)

You brought up a book I don't have, Better Homes and gardens "Cookie Classics", I can't even picture it, hum.....Oh joy, something to search for with a good recomendation!
I buy their christmas cookie magazines every year, in fact I just bought this years edition....and their "simply perfect Holiday Baking" magazine too. Do you ever work from those? ..... any similar recipes I could make note of??

A the same time I also bought a re-print of a old cookie book my Mom used to work out of. I was really supprised to see it on the shelf. In fact I wanted the book so much (and Mom doesn't want to part with it) that I photo copied her whole book (wasn't cheap). How's that for nuts, HA! It's Betty Crockers "Cooky Book". Kind of a blast from the past.

Oh wait, is that cookie book (BH&G) the one with christmas cookie photos on one side and year round ones on the other?

Do you own any other books by Carol Walters, Angry? Do you have an opinion of her work (trust her)? Have you ever looked thru Rose Levy B's pie book? I just finished reading that, I'd like to compare Ms. Walters to that (next visit to B & N).

I'm also supprised that you listed "the Joy of Cooking". SOOOOO many people REALLY like that book......and I can't believe I don't own that one either. Do you bake out of it or just cook from it?

The women that owned the little bakery I worked at temp. loved Better Homes & Gardens red & white checked book, that's like a note book spiral. I wonder if they have any of the same recipes you like. I have one around the house that's my husbands cookbook from his Mother. He has many memories that 'Mom' made this or that from that book... and for b-day's I'll make him something from that book (it always delights him).

Snakelady, how do you bake off frangipane as a seperate layer? Rings?? I've never heard of doing that before, cool. Glissens' doughnut section did look good to me. Oh wait, you said you worked from his other book more. Hum, I don't have that either....

That little bakery I was at used macaroon filling just the same as you would almond paste....I didn't get a chance to play with it, but I sort of think it might be a decent sub. for the money. Speaking of which I got a free brocure from American Almond company with recipes...they had a couple that looked pretty good!
Joined May 11, 2001
I have Carole Walter's Great Cakes and the recipes work. I recently made the Rosy Tomato Nut Torte from that book and it was excellent: not too sweet, moist, light and fun for the shock factor. I brought it to work and nobody could believe there's such a thing as a tomato cake. I'll check what else I've made from there when I get home.
Joined May 11, 2001
Back to Great Cakes. I love this book for its simplicity. It's the best book to have when you find yourself with a couple of hours free and need to bake. This book has more homespun sensibilities than RLB's Cake Bible. The recipes are for those cakes that you make for family and close friends or for yourself when you aren't too worried about appearance but want something fast and tastes great. The cakes do look good, but the big wow factors are the texture and flavour. This review also works for her pie book although I've only borrowed that from the library. I own and love RLB books, but sometimes they're too fussy and scientific for daily home baking.

Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads is one of the first baking books I ever bought and it's the one that taught me to bake bread (other than sourdough which I only learned since catching the Kyle bug). It's a book of recipes rather than technique and there are lots of recipes. I think I've tried 25% of the recipes and I don't recall any major failures although the loaves I now make are much better than any of those I made in my teens. That's likely due to experience and learning over the years what good bread is supposed to taste and feel like. I'll have to try a recipe or two from this book again.


Joined Apr 4, 2000
Thank you for that great list Wendy. I'm almost embarrassed to say I do not have any books on your list, I just can’t believe this... There is something missing in my bookcase.

I'll have to go through it in a virtual bookstore and see what comes up. I am intrigued by a few of your choices. Madame Chocolates has grab my attention. I'm dying to find a great book on candy and chocolate making.

I can understand the call of the cookbook. It's one I hear often. While in the hospital I kept telling myself as soon as I'm out I'm spend some of my gift certificates for a new cookbook. I can't wait to get to the store. Maybe tomorrow I'll have enough strength.

While writing this I'm trying to figure out what are my favourite books. Not an easy question to answer. The newest one is always my new favourite. Every book is there for purpose that's what makes it so hard to choose favourites. I'll have to thin about this very carefully...
Joined Mar 6, 2001
Isa, I'm sorry to read you've been in the hospital! I hope your much better now....?

Madame Chocolate is the nick name of a women who wrote a column in a Chicago area paper. Her book is about all chocolate desserts. I haven't made anything from it yet, but my Mother told me it was a good book.....

Can you reccomend any specific recipes from "Great Cakes" Risa?Thanks
Joined Feb 4, 2001

I was surprised that Bill Barkers book made it to the States. I use it quite a bit as it mirrors my study at college. It's a little out of fashion now and the organising by recipe number can be a drag but I bet every one of those recipes was tested hundreds of times in his job. It's sad to note that he died shortly after retiring and writing the book.

Joined Aug 11, 2000
I've got Geisles, Pro 4 and don't use them AT ALL.
Hermes is super, interesting inside out puff pastry.
Love Regan Daily's "In the Sweet Kitchen"
Joy of cooking gives me basics I can then adulterate.
Cooking with Julia is not used much.
Flo Braker's either.
But I have about 4 or 5 of Maida Heatters...YES!!!
I use Wolfgang Pucks dessert recipes from an early book
L'Enotre pastries is terribly used and abused...the ice cream one looks new.
I use a home ec cake and candy book from the 50's for my homey baking.
Bernard Clayton's is ok, pastry one.
I like Nestle's chocolate chip book.
I sold my Rose Levy Berenbaum books.....just did not work for me at all...nothing!bleck.
Got about 100 chocolate pastry cookbooks...and interestingly enough there are five that are perpetually housed in my kitchen.
Maida Heatter's Cookie Book
Joy of Cooking
In the Sweet Kitchen
L'Enotre's Pastry
Wolfgang Puck's New French Cooking
Guess that means their my favs.

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