When I first met Irvin Lin, it was quite a few years ago and he was relatively new to the food blogging world. I liked him immediately and found him to be a wonderfully creative and inspiring guy. Though we should have stayed in closer touch than we did – as often happens when friends live in different cities – I was extremely pleased when I heard that his first book Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More was going to be released. The book is a beautiful one to add to your collection, not just because it is packed with lovely pictures of delicious food, but because the recipes in it are bursting with flavor and any of them would make a fine addition to your dessert repertoire.
Despite the name, the book does not only deal with recipes that include marbles, swirls and layers, though you will find plenty of layers of flavors as the recipes tend to have multiple components (many of the cookies, for instance, combine two doughs) that make the finished products more complex than most. The book opens with a fairly comprehensive list of the equipment needed to make all the recipes in the book. With 150 recipes, it isn’t surprising that this list runs from baking pans to ice cream machines! The introduction also covers standard pantry ingredients, basic troubleshooting tips and even offers up some basic gluten free flour substitutions that might come in handy when baking for friends with dietary restrictions.
After the introductory pages, you’ll dive into the recipes, which are divided into several chapters by type: Cookies; Brownies and Bars; Cakes; Pies, Tarts, Cobblers and Crisps; Muffins Breads and Breakfast Goods; and A Little Bit More (which includes cheesecakes and other treats that don’t fit into the aforementioned categories). The recipes are all beautifully presented, with personal stories preceding the recipes to provide context about their creation. Though there are multiple components with most of the dishes – two doughs, different batters, unusual crusts – the recipes are well presented with clearly written instructions that are easy to follow along with. You’ll get more recipes out of the book than the cover suggests because every recipe comes with suggested variations that offer up additional flavor combinations. The photography in the book is absolutely beautiful and would likely inspire you to start baking even if the recipe titles didn’t (though they undoubtedly will). This makes it a nice coffee table book to keep around if you’re only an occasional baker, though I would recommend getting started sooner than later so you can identify some new favorite recipes before the holiday season rolls around.