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Book Review: Rose’s Baking Basics

October/November 2018 Issue
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Rose’s Baking Basics: 100 Essential Recipes, with More Than 600 Step-by-Step Photos
By Rose Levy Beranbaum
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; $35)

Like most bakers, I value precision. So I appreciate the detail that Rose Levy Beranbaum incorporates into her recipes. If you’re a Beranbaum fan, I suspect you’ve come to expect it, too. Nearly every ingredient in every recipe of her new book, Rose’s Baking Basics, includes measurements in both volume and weight (in grams—again, precision). To top it off, where germane, recipes also include gram weights for the quantity of batter or dough, which is super handy if you want to portion things equally to create cake layers, muffins, or cookies that are the same size. (Why don’t more baking books do this?) This attention to detail extends to the book’s more than 600 step-by-step photographs, too, depicting how to make biscuit dough, say, or to shape a loaf of bread.

The recipes at first glance look like a collection of tried-and-true treats and techniques, but look closer, and you’ll discover many fun twists. For instance, it doesn’t get more classic than chocolate chip cookies; yet Rose’s Chocolate Chip Cookies has an ingredient tweak—golden syrup—that produces beautifully brown, wonderfully chewy results. Likewise, her Fudgy Pudgy Brownies contain—surprise—
melted white chocolate, which gives the bars a divinely creamy texture.

My favorite discovery in the book isn’t even a recipe. It’s a technique for lining a tart pan with dough. I love tarts, but I always manage to mangle the buttery dough a bit trying to get it into the fluted, sharp-edged pan. Then I tried Beranbaum’s technique. What a game changer! I liked her method so much the first time I attempted it that I immediately made a second batch of dough and lined another pan to confirm that her technique was indeed that clever. It was. Fortunately, Beranbaum’s new book has four tart recipes. I’m looking forward to trying them all.

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