Tuesday, November 14, 2017

HOLIDAY COUNTDOWN Review: The Artful Baker by Cenk Sonmezsoy

Title: The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker
Author: Cenk Sonmezsoy
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: October 17th 2017
Source: Harry N. Abrams

Book Description:

A collection of more than 100 extraordinary desserts—all with photos and meticulous instructions—by Cenk Sönmezsoy, creator of the internationally acclaimed blog Cafe Fernando.

Written, styled, photographed, and designed by Cenk Sönmezsoy, The Artful Baker shares the inspiring story of a passionate home baker, beginning with his years after graduate school in San Francisco and showcasing the fruits of a baking obsession he cultivated after returning home to Istanbul. Sönmezsoy’s stories and uniquely styled images, together with his original creations and fresh take on traditional recipes, offer a thoughtful and emotional window into the life of this luminary artist.

The Artful Baker is comprised of almost entirely new content, with a few updated versions of readers’ favorites from his blog, such as Brownie Wears Lace, his signature brownies topped with blond chocolate ganache and bittersweet chocolate lace (originally commissioned by Dolce & Gabbana and awarded “Best Original Baking and Desserts Recipe” by Saveur magazine); Raspberry Jewel Pluot Galette, a recipe inspired by Chez Panisse’s 40th year anniversary celebrations; and Devil Wears Chocolate, his magnificent devil’s food cake that graces the cover of the book.

Each chapter highlights a variety of indulgences, from cookies to cakes and tarts to ice creams, including recipes like Pistachio and Matcha Sablés; Tahini and Leblebi (double-roasted chickpeas) Swirl Brownies; Sakura Madeleines; Sourdough Simit, the beloved ring-shaped Turkish bread beaded with sesame seeds; Isabella Grape and Kefir Ice Cream; Pomegranate Jam; and Blanche, a berry tart named after the Golden Girl Blanche Devereaux.

Every recipe in The Artful Baker has gone through a meticulous development phase, tested by an army of home bakers having varying levels of skill, equipment, and access to ingredients, and revised to ensure that they will work flawlessly in any kitchen. Measurements of ingredients are provided in both volume and weight (grams). Where a volume measurement isn’t useful, weight measurements are provided in both ounces and grams.



This is one of the most beautiful cookbooks that I have read in 2017. The photographs are stunning, the recipes are delicious, and it really is like looking through an art book.

The book is divided into types of dish, including: Cookies, Brownies, Cakes Muffins Cheesecakes and Meringues, Tarts Galettes Pie Quiche Cobbler and Crumble, Bread and Pastries, Ice Cream Frozen Yogurt and Sorbets, Confections and Drinks, Jams and Jellies, Base Recipes, and Ingredients, Equipment and Conversions.

There's a lot of personal stories and name dropping in this book, making it clear that the author has a level of not just passion, but pride in what they do. You learn why they included the recipes and ingredients they did, and what makes them the best.

In addition to the recipes, there's also a TON of extra tips and techniques in this book. There are step by step photos of how to deal with vanilla beans, there's a whole section on perfecting macarons, there's a guide to tempering chocolate. It's clear the author wants to help you succeed with their recipes! There's also a lot of storage advice, which is appreciated.

As I mentioned, the photos are beautiful. A lot of the things look too beautiful to eat (I mean, not that that'd really stop me, but you know what I mean). There's an abundance of photos too, at least one per recipe though there's often more.

One of the downsides is that some of the ingredients are relatively hard to find, like sakura flavored white tea leaves. You'd need to plan well in advance for some of these recipes, they don't all lend themselves to spur of the moment baking.

Some of the recipes that sound the best to me include Sour Cherry and White Chocolate Macarons, Sakura Madeleines, and Isabella Grape and Kefir Ice Cream.

This book is fantastic, and any home bakers looking to up their game or to more finely hone their baking techniques would find something to benefit from in this book.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.


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