The Search

January 15, 2009

So, since I have no job and classes haven’t started back up yet I’ve spent quite a bit of time these past couple of days researching cookbooks. I’m trying to find the perfect one to cook my way through. Here are some of the criteria in no particular order:

1. Just desserts – a lot of baking cookbooks have sections for breads and savory tarts and pastries. Although these look tasty, I really want something that’s all sweets.

2. It can’t be a one type of dessert cookbook. Although I am strongly tempted by cookbooks devoted exclusively to cakes, cookies, or cupcakes I really want to broaden my baking skills so I want a cookbook with a little diversity.

3. I’m not looking for the basics. I want something that has some classic desserts but also some new twists and fun flavor combinations. As you all know, I am an America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated fanatic. It was all I could do to not buy one of their dessert cookbooks but I passed. I’m trying something new here, branching out.

4. Although I want the desserts to be interesting, I don’t want them to be interesting just for interesting’s sake. I was seriously considering a cookbook called Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. Although this met criterion 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8 this one almost lost me on number 4 with one recipe – Red Hot Red Velvet Cake. It sounds good – sexy name and all that but come on people – a red velvet cake with cinnamon frosting and topped with red hots. Maybe it would be tasty but there are some things that you do not mess with. Anyhow, if Baked didn’t lose me here, it lost me on number 5.

5. This cookbook should not try to impress me with hoity-toity fancy ingredients. Although the recipe for Green Tea Fortune Cookie Cupcakes from Baked was almost the sole reason I chose it I am not about to go out and by 24 fortune cookies, high quality white chocolate, and matcha green tea powder just to make some cupcakes. I’m a firm believer fancier is not always deliciouser. Some of the best desserts I’ve ever had were messy, deconstructed, and full of simple pantry basics. Baked was all about some blah-blah-blah cacao and so on.

6. I’m looking for something easy on the eyes – in particular I would like it to be cute but I would settle for pretty. I know, it’s shallow, but I will be staring at this thing quite often so I want to be entertained as I look at it. So, while it doesn’t have to be filled with pictures it ideally would have a colorful layout.

7. It should not be too long. Well, this was an initial criteria but I might have to just let this one go. Most of the ones I really like would be far too long to cook my way all the way through. But still, I’m not looking at those really thick anthology type cookbooks. We’re shootin’ for small. I’ve been particularly drawn to cookbooks published by small bakeries.

8. It can’t break the bank. Ideally, I’m looking for something that has a low list price or something cheap I can get used on Amazon or elsewhere.

So, I’m going back out today to peruse some more cookbooks. It’s a nice excuse to get out of the house. Even so, at the moment I have it narrowed down to two:

31v0ckn6ejl_sl500_aa180_Buttercup Bakes at Home meets 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8. It’s close on 6 but not quite there. 51yrikacral_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_aa240_sh20_ou01_

Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey meets 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8. Although it fulfilles fewer criterion than the other, it is so strong on number 6 that it is currently in the lead. Most of the hoity-toity ingredients were various types of liquor that we don’t have on hand and I would not be likely to purchase just for one recipe. But, since it’s so long I wouldn’t mind having to skip a few. I’ll have to do that in any cookbook I get since I don’t always have the necessary equipment such as an ice-cream maker or a silpat.

My tentative plan is to get started by next week. Once classes start and I get a job (oh, please pray I get a job – ideally with Regions) I’ll have a regular day to post. Along with my baking blogage I’ll also be doing Cooking for Losers Tuesdays. (I’m still trying to come up with a name for the baking one.) James and I are big fans of the biggest loser and nothing makes us feel crappier than eating grodie caloric food while watching all these people do something good for their bodies. I’m thinking of posting a recipe on Monday if you want to cook along with us and then posting the result on Tuesday. Anyhow, I’m glad to be back to blogging, I hope you enjoy this little adventure. Once I make my cookbook decision, I’ll let you know. I’d love it if you baked along with me!

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