The Art and Soul of Baking is a new book from Sur La Table’s relatively young cookbook line. Things Cooks Love was published earlier this year and another book, Knives Cooks Love, is due out at the end of this month. The store is known for its top quality kitchenware, so it’s no surprise to see them putting it to good use in a book like this one.
The Art and Soul of Baking a huge compendium of all things baked. The book has nearly 300 recipes in its 464 pages, as well as tons of information about kitchen equipment and ingredients. The introduction to the book is broken up into two parts and is the main reference section. The Baker’s Kitchen chapter is primarily dedicated to describing the use and purpose of various pieces of baking-related kitchen equipment, and also gives weight and volume conversion tables. The Baker’s Pantry chapter is dedicated to ingredients, describing how things are made, what the flavors are like and how to use them.
The recipes are broken down into chapters by type, and are all well-written. At the beginning of each chapter there is a little primer on how to be as successful as possible with your cakes, breads, souffles, etc. The instructions are descriptive and there are plenty of tips given in the sidebars to help make the process as easy as possible. The book also makes note of possible variations on each recipe. There are plenty of full-page photographs in the book, and while they are excellent shots, not every recipe is covered. Overall, it’s a nice book that will give the reader plenty of recipe options and some great reference material, the sheer size of the book is a little intimidating, even though the clear writing and friendly tone will keep a reader engaged once he or she starts to flip through the pages. The book’s author, Cindy Mushet, has a blog set up that is a great way to get a preview of the book.