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Williams-Sonoma: Essentials of Baking

Williams-Sonoma: <i>Essentials of Baking</i>
There are few things as comforting as the smell of freshly baked bread or cookies still warm from the oven. Welcome these pleasures of baking into your kitchen with Essentials of Baking, one of the newest volumes in Williams-Sonoma's series of instructional cookbooks.

Baking instructor Cathy Burgett, award-winning pastry chef Elinor Klivans and food writer Lou Seibert Pappas blend their long experience as respected baking professionals. Their time-tested recipes and reassuring advice will help you transform simple ingredients into delicious homemade treats.

Flexibility and versatility guided the authors as they gathered their recipes. Most offer options for mixing the ingredients by hand, electric mixer or food processor. A special section features recipes for widely used sauces, toppings and fillings, such as berry coulis, espresso buttercream, ganache filling and lemon curd.

With just the turn of a page, you'll have all the components you need to prepare imaginative, memorable desserts. Celebrate a birthday with a moist carrot cake, infused with orange zest and swirled with a cream cheese and white chocolate frosting. Pastry shop classics, such as Parisian hazelnut macaroon sandwiches filled with rich ganache, will delight your sweet tooth.

A section on breads includes traditional loaves from around the world. Create your own sourdough starter for crusty pain au levain, braid a spectacular four-strand challah or bake herb focaccia, the classic Italian flatbread. For easy entertaining, offer your guests homemade seeded crackers—thin crisps flavored with your choice of spices and cheese.

Color photographs, step-by-step instructions and informative charts lead you through the fundamentals of baking. Even novices will soon feel confident rolling out tart crusts, folding croissant dough and frosting layer cakes. Learn the basic recipe for choux pastry, then fill the puff shells with ice cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce to create elegant profiteroles. Challenge yourself with classic puff pastry, or master a trick-of-the-trade for making an alternative, known as quick puff pastry, that's almost as light and flaky. Or simply whip up a quick batch of pear-ginger muffins or Russian tea cakes—you'll discover how easy it is to incorporate home-baked treats into even the busiest schedule.

Recipes include abundant variations, tips on working with special ingredients and ideas for serving your creations. Also featured are detailed descriptions of equipment and ingredients, plus a discussion of basic techniques, from preparing pans to whipping egg whites. Informative sidebars offer tidbits of food history.

More than just a collection of recipes, Essentials of Baking is an important teaching tool. You'll reach again and again for this indispensable book as you master the art of baking and share its sweet joy.