Baking with Julia is a compendium of nearly 200 recipes from some of the best known bakers in the worlds, experts in their areas of bread and pastry. It’s a companion to the PBS TV show of the same name, where each of these contributing bakers made an appearance and not only shared their recipes with Julia Child, but gave on-camera demos of the techniques they used to produce perfect results. The on camera demos didn’t make the print edition, but the volume is nothing short of a “full course in the art of baking” with a wide variety of recipes and techniques, as well as the clarity to present it in an easy-to-understand fashion.
This is not the simple, make-it-in-five minutes type of cookbook. The recipes all emphasize technique and flavor and include croissants from scratch, artisan-style breads, wedding cake how-to, and a variety of cookies and other pastries, just to name a few of the offerings. Don’t be put off by the fact that there are no shortcuts (a selling point for so many books!) because the recipes are all extremely well written and thorough. Whether a batch of muffins takes a few minutes or a tray of from-scratch danishes takes a lot longer, the results are well worth the effort you put into them. In addition to the pleasure of eating your creations, you also take away improved skill and a greater depth of knowledge every time you work through a recipe or read through a chapter. This is especially true of the chapters in the beginning of the book that cover baking basics, doughs and batters and give you some foundation recipes that will come in handy again and again.
Baking with Julia is a cookbook that I’ve had in my collection for several years now and I’m so glad it’s on my shelf. There is so much great information on ingredients and baking techniques that it is practically a must-have volume if you’re really looking to become a better baker. On top of that, it’s one of those cookbooks that you can just look through and be inspired – whether you make a recipe from the book itself or just use that inspiration as motivation to bake from another source – thanks to the lovely commentary throughout and the beautiful photos of some of the recipes.
To only name a few of the recipes I’ve tried, here are some I’ve both tried and mentioned before:
- Classic White Sandwich Bread
- Boca Negra
- Alsatian Onion Tart
- Cream Filled Bread Tart with Plum Compote