Customer comments on this Youngstown Ohio Book
Very pleased with this purchase.
This is a lovely book with lots of information. I can see that I will be spending many hours reading and enjoying this book, plus Baking! I only purchased this book about a month ago, however, the three recipes I've made have been delicious.
The photography makes you want to start baking and not stop. There's been a lot of work put into this book and it is lovely.
I attended this class at Sur La Table and Nick Malieri was a guest baking things from this cookbook. I purchased the cookbook and have really enjoyed the recipes. Most of them are easy to make, very user friendly. This is a very nice cookbook.
Excellent Selection of Interesting Baking Projects. Buy It.
`A Baker's Tour' by noted baking author and teacher, Nick Malgieri is the answer to the question `What does a baking writer write when they have already written major books on cookies, chocolate, pastry, and `how to bake'. I suppose that like Rose Levy Beranbaum, you could write a book on bread baking, but bread doesn't seem to be Nick's main thing, so he writes a book on his favorite recipes from around the world.
Malgieri is one of the very best writers from which to learn basic techniques, especially from his book, `Nick Malgieri's Perfect Pastry', but if that is your primary objective, this book may not be the volume to buy. That is not to say that this is not an extremely well written book. Only that it is designed to present very good recipes for `favorite recipes', where the favorites are not only Nick's favorites, but I suspect that most of these could count among favorites of many people who bake.
One sign that this book is not written for pedagogical effect is the fact that recipes are not organized by similar technique, but by style and use of the final product. For example, recipes for yeasted doughs are spread across the first two chapters instead of being presented together as a basic technique.
This book is comparable to `The best short stories of 20xx' or `The Oxford Book of yyyyy'. It is a collection of recipes into which you will dip when you want something special for entertaining. It is also a great read for people who love to bake. And, it is certainly not without substantial teaching value, except that it should not be your first book on baking.
Malgieri's most important lesson in the book is that baking is an activity in which you really want to take your time, especially if you are an amateur who may be making a recipe for the first time. The next best instructional value to the book is the fact that there is a great variety of different variations on a few basic techniques. While pastry dough is pretty basic, and Malgieri does much to coach you into believing that working with pastry is not a major challenge (Note that I really believe it is a major challenge for those of us who may make a pastry crust once or twice a month.) he also shows us many different variations on the basic French pate brisee. Another major contribution to our baking praxis is his insistence on using the specified size of baking pan. Everyone stresses careful measuring, but too few baking writers stress using exactly the right baking equipment. While none of this is new to me, I did find one genuinely new piece of information on using baking powder in pastry doughs to save the work of prebaking crusts. I have seen baking soda added to pastry, but I have never until now heard the reason why. Note that many recipes include vinegar in pastry doughs and I will offer the opinion that vinegar and baking powder will cancel one another out and potentially make a mess of your dough, so don't mix the two in the same recipe.
The extensive bibliography at the back of the book makes it seem that our Nick culled these recipes from his library, but his headnotes clear this up and offer ample evidence that Malgieri literally collected these recipes, or at least the inspirations for these recipes from actual travels around the world.
A glance at the list of recipes by country amply confirms the fact that mainland Western Europe, specifically France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy are the world's `baking central' as almost half of all recipes come from these four (4) countries.
Incidental tips and pep talks are not enough to convince me to buy this kind of book. I will take the tip about baking powder in crusts to my grave, as it easily fits into all I know about pastry, so it will not be forgotten, and I don't need a copy of the book to remind me of that. On the other hand, the book has an excellent chapter on savory baking recipes and this is why I would buy this book. I would even buy the book for the single Chinese recipe for `Cha Shao Bao' (Barbecued Pork Buns). These little bundles of goodness are absolutely the most outstandingly yummy finger food I can imagine. But they require quite a bit of time and expertise to make. So, having a recipe by an expert baker for this appetizer is a real plus. Accompanying this are savory recipes for both Mexican and Argentinean empanadas, Australian sausage rolls, Japanese salty and sweet rice crackers, Italian ham and cheese filled brioche, Italian salty ring biscuits, Russian cabbage pie, Spanish fish pies, Egyptian spicy meat pies, Italian zucchini pies, Italian ham and cheese pie, French onion tart, South African curried beef tart, and Swiss cheese tart. There is even a recipe from the very difficult to find cookbook of Alice B. Toklas of hashish brownie fame.
One reason an inexperienced cook may want to put this book on the back burner is the fact that I detected a few minor lapses in the cooking instructions. Fortunately, they were in the preparation of savory ingredients rather than in the baking. There was a time when I would literally gig a book an entire star for such a lapse, but I have seen it so often in otherwise excellent books that I simply warn readers to keep their mind thoroughly engaged when following cooking instructions. I have always had success with Malgieri recipes and I go to his books first when looking for a recipe for a new preparation.
Highly recommended as reading and recipe source for the baker with some experience.