You’ve probably heard it said that baking is a science. It’s true. It works like this: multiple ingredients get mixed together, heat is (usually) applied and a few chemical reactions later you have something truly delicious to eat – as long as you did everything right. How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science is a book that tells you everything you need to know about baking from a scientific standpoint and, unlike your high school textbooks, manages to make the information it passes along both interesting and useful.
Most cookbooks touch on the most important properties of ingredients briefly before moving on to the recipes. The protein in egg whites is a binder. Gluten in flour provides structure. Etc, etc, etc, and so forth. Then the books move on to the recipes – and for good reason, since the recipes are the reason that you purchased the cookbook in the first place.
How Baking Works is all about the process. Not only does it describe – in detail – the function of every type of baking ingredient and the role it plays in the chemistry of baking, but forces you to learn as you go. The book has a unique setup of questions and answers that quiz you as you go, asking you to consider what will happen if you add more sugar, subtract an egg or double a recipe. It’s this setup and this kind of information that makes this book a great tool for those who want to move from being a good baker to being a great one. It gives you the tools you need (and probably a boost of confidence on top of it) to tweak existing recipes to your own specifications and to write your own recipes – and allows you to be pretty sure that they’re going to come out just right.