The most anticipated cookbook of the year had its U.S. publishing date in October and, rightfully so, became an instant hit. Yotam Ottolenghi, known for the savory and vegetarian dishes we loved in Jerusalem and Plenty, actually started as a pastry chef. Together with his long-time collaborator Helen Goh he has created nothing short of a love letter to desserts, with the name so fitting and inviting that you can’t help but pick up this book the minute you see it. Sweet (Ten Speed, $35) is a celebration of everything sweet, from cookies and biscuits to cakes and pies, there’s something here for everyone’s taste. The recipes are clear and guide you through the whole process with helpful tips and tricks. Special attention was given to ensuring that all the ingredients can easily be found and used. But make no mistake: everything is Ottolenghi-fied – there’s a boldness to it, some unpredictable ingredient, like a rose petal, star anise or orange blossom—and the results are just marvelous. And the photos, oh my, just look at the Frozen Espresso Parfait! When I got my copy of the book I spent an hour just looking at the photos, they are the feast for the eyes!
Jim Lahey is known for his revolutionary “no-knead” breads—slow-rising with natural leavening, baked in a very hot oven in a covered pot—which result in crackling, crusty loaves with a tender, airy interior. They are at the center of his recipes in The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook (W.W. Norton, $35), written with his wife, Maya Joseph. At the Bakery, he complements the breads with breakfast and lunch dishes, “Italian-ish,” with one or two ingredients being the stars. There are chapters on the masterful breads, pizzas, morning pastries; slow-cooking and roasting; and delicious sandwiches and condiments (quick pickles, and fermented “original mustard” and hot pepper sauce). The sequential, how-to photos are very helpful—you will never get lost in the mixing, rising, folding, and assembling. And basic recipes can make a variety of breads. For example, the brioche can turn into buns, a chocolate-swirl loaf, or bomboloni (doughnuts). Finally, in the dolci section, bake a beautiful panetonne (did you know you hang a freshly-baked one upside down to keep it from collapsing?). I’ve already made the olive-oil cake with orange zest (delicious!); I’m already feeding my starters—in short, I’ve never been so excited to begin baking!
In the mold of his award-winning and bestselling How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman’s newest print companion for home cooks is loaded with over 2,000 recipes that encompass every culinary category and cater to every skill set. How to Bake Everything (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35) is the essential cookbook for food lovers. From the most straightforward and classic of cookies to pastry recipes that may be new even to accomplished bakers, Bittman is all-inclusive, giving cooks the delicious, the tempting, the sinful. Recipes for sweet, decadent, and even savory provisions are staged and organized to be not only accessible to the home baker, but, simply, possible. Illustrated instructions help users practice and master various techniques, while tips for frosting, rolling, shaping, kneading, and drizzling will make your finished product the star of your next obligation, er, potluck. Keep this fabulous compendium for yourself to avoid being outshined, or gift it to multiply your chances for devouring luxurious treats.