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Have You Ever Devoted a Sunday Afternoon to baking bread only to turn out loaves that are misshapen and dense? Or struggled over piecrust, ending up with a dry and crumbly dough that was impossible to roll out? We have. And that's why we've tested and retested hundreds of recipes to give you the guidance and the confidence to make everything from the perfect zucchini bread -- one that your neighbors will actually want to eat -- to light and flaky croissants that are (almost) as good as what you will find on the streets of Paris. Packed with 350 recipes and 500 illustrations, Baking Illustrated brings you inside America's Test Kitchen, where the test cooks and editors have exhaustively examined every ingredient, technique, and piece of equipment that is critical to your baking success. Have you wondered how long you can keep that can of baking powder in your cabinet or what brand of chocolate will yield the best brownies or flourless chocolate cake? Or puzzled over the key to making pizza crust that is thin and crisp or cookies that bake evenly? The editors at Cook's Illustrated have pulled back the curtain on the seemingly complex world of baking to give you the answers to these and thousands of other questions.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I am surprised by the number of recipes that have mis-printed ingredient lists (compared to the regular ATK Books they appeared in) or just plain don't work very well. A disappointment. ( )
  jwcooper3 | Nov 15, 2009 |
This is my husband's favorite baking book-- he uses it all the time and I love the results. He has found a few likely errors and has corrected them in the margins. I wish there were more pictures. He likes that the reasons for certain ingredients and techniques are explained (and alterative, less satisfying ones as well). Very scientific experiemental approach to baking (he is a scientist). ( )
  technodiabla | Oct 27, 2009 |
Our daily bread
"Cook's Illustrated" Magazine has a hard-to-beat concept. The editors delve into the science behind the food to learn the reasons why one ingredient or technique works while another doesn't. They take the recipes apart, testing each step and tweaking it until it produces the best possible results. It's hard to come away from one of their recipes without learning a little something about food science.


"Baking Illustrated: The Practical Kitchen Companion for the Home Baker," by the editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine (Cook's Illustrated, $35), is their latest cookbook. Much in the style of Rose Levy Beranbaum's fabulous "Bread Bible," which came out late last year, this book attempts to be your one-stop shop for baking information. It offers 350 recipes covering everything from baguettes and brioche to hot fudge pudding cake and triple-chocolate brownies.

The sheer size of the book (500+ pages) can be daunting, and those who like big colorful photos showing what each recipe looks like will be disappointed. The book instead features elegant illustrations with each recipe, and color photos of some recipes in a separate section.

You'll want to be sure and read the sometimes lengthy introduction to each recipe, which explains what the recipe creators were aiming for and how adjusting different ingredients or techniques affected their results. I baked the book's banana bread recipe twice, and the first time, it was a little tough. The intro to the recipe flat-out told me not to stir it that much, and the second loaf was better. This recipe won't replace my long-time banana bread recipe — it's not as sweet as my family prefers — but it was easier to cut and didn't crumble as mine does. It earned a spot in my make-again box for those times when I want a slightly different banana bread.

Since I'd found I had a number of almost-empty bags of baking chips in my pantry, I decided to bake the book's Seven Layer Bars, which require a cup of chocolate chips and a half-cup each of white chocolate and butterscotch chips. The book offered a brilliant tip for crushing the graham crackers for the bars' crust, suggesting putting crackers in a Ziploc and pounding them with a rolling pin. Worked like a charm, and I've since used this technique for crushing ingredients in other recipes as well.

The bars, the book says, "come together like magic," and so they did. This incredibly simple recipe took me just minutes to make, and the gooey-sweet bars disappeared in just minutes from my office treat table.

I also took on the book's croissant recipe, which editor Christopher Kimball declared was the most challenging recipe to develop. It was a bit challenging to make, too, especially on a worknight — the dough needs to be chilled again and again for hours at a time. Yet even when I forgot about the dough overnight, it miraculously recovered.

The resulting croissants took a lot of time, a lot of butter, but were light, buttery and flaky, as croissants should be. I had hoped to use them in a recipe for croissant bread pudding, but they were so good that my husband kept sneaking them until only two remained.

This recipe is definitely going in my make-again box — but next time, I think I'll tackle it on the weekend.

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4421395/
  GaelFC | Nov 3, 2006 |
I love this book! My wife may be the cook, but I my friends am the baker, largely in part to the simplicity and user-friendliness of this book. The recipes are wide and varied with everything from bread, to croissants, to sweets, there is something for everyone. Plus, the pictures help too. I continue to amaze myself with the stuff I can actually bake with this book! Bon Appetit! ( )
  WordsinProgress | Sep 6, 2006 |
Another brilliant book by the editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine. I recommend any book in this series, because the authors set out to create a perfect this-or-that, and they detail what worked & what didn't -- invaluable if you are the sort of cook who wants to fiddle with recipes you already know. Or, if you just want to get down to business, you can ignore the text and just follow their reipes to make perfect quickbreads, pies, cake, pastries and cookies. ( )
  beau.p.laurence | Jul 23, 2006 |
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Have You Ever Devoted a Sunday Afternoon to baking bread only to turn out loaves that are misshapen and dense? Or struggled over piecrust, ending up with a dry and crumbly dough that was impossible to roll out? We have. And that's why we've tested and retested hundreds of recipes to give you the guidance and the confidence to make everything from the perfect zucchini bread -- one that your neighbors will actually want to eat -- to light and flaky croissants that are (almost) as good as what you will find on the streets of Paris. Packed with 350 recipes and 500 illustrations, Baking Illustrated brings you inside America's Test Kitchen, where the test cooks and editors have exhaustively examined every ingredient, technique, and piece of equipment that is critical to your baking success. Have you wondered how long you can keep that can of baking powder in your cabinet or what brand of chocolate will yield the best brownies or flourless chocolate cake? Or puzzled over the key to making pizza crust that is thin and crisp or cookies that bake evenly? The editors at Cook's Illustrated have pulled back the curtain on the seemingly complex world of baking to give you the answers to these and thousands of other questions.

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