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All I Want for Christmas is A James Beard Award

Well, guess that’s a lot to ask since I have not published a book yet. I’ll ask Santa for that one next year. I don’t think I stand a chance up against Cindy Mushet’s Art and Soul of Baking, a 2009 International Association of Culinary Professionals Award Winner and nominated for the 2009 James Beard Award.

I also have a long way to go with my baking skills. If Santa is expecting top notch pastry when he stops off at my house, he better stuff my stocking with this book. I lack, shall we say, precision. Which this book offers in abundance with over 250 well-tested recipes and the information that can help novice bakers like me learn the exacting chemistry that makes pastry flaky and delicious. Hint: this is NOT using trans fats like processed baked goods.

Indeed, of all the food items most likely to contain trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients, baked goods are right up there with the dyed and sugary candy and soda category. Which is all the more reason to learn how to make these items yourself with real ingredients.

Recipes include everything imaginable from All American Apple Pie to Goat Cheese Citrus Cheesecake to breads like Cheddar Cheese Mustard Loaf and Cinnamon Current Bread, to savory dishes such as a Bleu Cheese Souffle and Pizza Crusts. All with large photos for step-by-step techniques and an entire chapter on 100 baking ingredients including different types of flour.

The book itself has as much heft as your grandmother’s fruit cake with over 400 pages and 100 photographs. Might need to get a heavy-duty stocking and be extra good the next few days.

The Art and Soul of Baking

by Sur La Table , Cindy Mushet

Publisher: Andrews McMeel (review copy provided by publisher)
Page Count: 464 pp