When you get a hankering for something sweet, cookies, squares, or bars are always a simple and often inexpensive choice. However, too often we get stuck with the same old choices like snickerdoodles, peanut butter, or chocolate chip. With Bake Something Great by Jill Snider you won’t have that problem because it’s packed with 400 innovative and interesting recipes for bars, squares, and cookies.
Author Jill Snider is a food writer and recipe developer who spent 25 years as a Test Kitchen Manager for a major flour maker. Her expertise shows in this impressive 480-page tome. She begins the book with an informative chapter called Baking for Success and covers equipment, tips for success, cooling and cutting, and storing and freezing. Though I’ve baked my share of cookies and bars and squares over the years, I was surprised to learn facts like over-greasing cooking sheets make cookies spread out and get too brown on the edges or that underbaking the cookies by two minutes can make cookies softer (something my partner always wants!)
This chapter also offers a great section on ingredients equivalents (did you know 40 marshmallows equals one 10-ounce bag) and emergency substitutions (an equal amount of maple syrup can be used in place of corn syrup or ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves take the place of ground allspice).
Snider divides Bake Something Great into two main sections cooking and bars and squares. The bars and squares section includes an entire section on brownies (who knew you could make 22 different kinds of brownies and blondies); chocolate bars and squares; nut bars and squares; shortbread; no-bakes, healthy; easy kids recipes; and cake mix bars and squares. The cookie section includes drop; refrigerator; pressed, cutout, and sandwich; shaped and biscotti; chocolate; shortbread and holiday; healthy; easy kids’ recipes, and cake mix cookies.
Each recipe within the chapters includes a short introduction that describes the cookie or bar/square, the yield, prep/bake/chill time and whether or not the cookies freeze well. She also includes tips for success specific to the recipe, the list of ingredients, numbered steps, and a shaded box that lists different variations you can do. It’s a comprehensive and easy-to-read layout bakers will appreciate.
Something else I also appreciate is the fact that Bake Something Good is a hardbacked binder, something that makes the book ultra-easy to use because it stays open. I also like the fact that each page has just one full recipe and the type font is big enough to make the recipes easy to read as you bake.
My one complaint is that there are only a scattering of recipe photos. The photographs they use are well done and are right across from the accompanying recipe, something I appreciate. While I know photos are expensive to print, I’d be more inclined to make the recipes I could really visualize. However, Snider’s work is so well done and thorough, the lack of photos won’t keep me from using this book regularly.