The Everyday Baker: Recipes and Techniques for Foolproof Baking has the look and feel of a culinary text book, and a thorough examination of its pages would lead you to the same opinion. Abigail Dodge, the creator of this baking tome, developed recipes specifically for this project. She writes, “My goal with this book is to demystify baking and empower you with all the techniques, skills, and information that I have culled through my personal baking life.”
Keeping the feel of a one-on-one baking tutorial, Dodge sprinkles commentary, advice, and photos illustrating specific techniques throughout the 600 page hardbound book. The recipes are organized into chapters:
Everyday Baking Basics
Quick to Make
Pies and Tarts
Puddings and Custards
One might think the recipes in a baking cookbook would all lean toward the sweet side, but not so in The Everyday Baker. Individual Roasted Carrot Jalapeno Soufflés and Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Cheddar Quiche are on my list of dishes to try.
I made the Rich and Delicious Dinner Rolls on page 446 (see photo).They are as their name implies. Not a typical yeast roll recipe, this bread contains 4 egg yolks and ¼ cup of sugar to the nearly 4 cups of flour and 1 cup of whole milk. They are rich, indeed. And so very good. The mixing process calls for beating the dough on medium speed for 10 minutes, so it’s not a quick recipe. Dodge offers instruction and photographs to guide you through four methods of shaping the dough into beautiful rolls.
My family heartily approved of the Double Tomato Basil Open-Faced Tart on page 481. I didn’t stage a photo before we dug into its deliciousness, and the remaining crumbs wouldn’t have been very attractive. The technique she employs with the puff pastry would have been difficult to follow with only words to describe, so the accompanying photographs are very helpful.
She writes, “No matter when you serve this tart, make sure you bring it to the table before cutting it. The square shape with puffed sides and twisted corners will have everyone thinking you are a pastry genius. There’s no need to tell them how easy it is to shape this tart.”
Advice, Techniques, Photos
Each recipe contains notes in the sidebars under titles like “Make Ahead” (identifying which part of the dish can be done in advance), “Twists” (how to swap ingredients or change the appearance), and “Baker’s Wisdom” (where useful teaching occurs).
Mouthwatering photos are grouped in clusters throughout the book, and my only complaint about the cookbook’s organization is that that photograph isn’t side by side with the recipe. When I’m flipping through a cookbook, my eyes catch on a photo of a dish, and then I scan the recipe to see if it interests me. It’s more difficult to employ that method of perusing in The Everyday Baker. It’s not impossible though. Each photo has a page number where you can find the recipe, and each recipe identifies the page where you can find the photo. I’m sure it was structured this way to minimize printing costs, and it’s one more characteristic that makes the book feel like a textbook.
Abigail Johnson Dodge is passionate about baking and imparting her skills to others. With her as your teacher and inspiration while you use The Everyday Baker, your kitchen will be the source of much mouthwatering joy. Preparing the recipes in this collection will make you a better baker, and that was her intention from the beginning. — by Lisa George, RFT Cookbook Editor and Chef at the Latigo Guest Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado; photo by Hannah George