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CriticasThe creator of the Basic series, which includes cooking titles like Basic Italian: All You Need to Live the Dolce Vita at Home (Silverback, 2002), Dickhaut is an accomplished German food journalist and cookbook author with a reputation for creating casual, stylish recipes. Co-author Schinharl has collaborated with him on many of the Basic titles. Divided into two parts, "What to Learn" and "The Recipes," this glossy guide to baking and confectionaries is both an excellent introduction to making pastry and a comprehensive cookbook. In short chapters, the first section introduces the seven basic baking ingredients, 16 essential sweets, and 17 utensils. Page spreads peppered with beautiful color photographs also discuss how to stir and whip the ingredients, knead the dough, and decorate the pastry. The second half of the book features recipes from around the world, from classic marble cake to German apple strudel to creative Italian and Turkish pizzas and Mexican quesadillas. A chapter called "Pequenisimo" ("Tiny") focuses on small pastries like cookies and muffins, while "Finisimo" ("Very Select") offers more elaborate recipes, like a coffee and mascarpone cake. Each chapter begins with a series of frequently asked questions and their answers-"How do I cut a cake?" and "How do I spread the dough?"-as well as useful definitions and advice. Aware that the complex recipes and skill level of many baking cookbooks intimidate readers, Dickhaut and Schinharl use an informal, sometimes humorous tone and include entertaining features like a "What type of baker am I?" test. The recipes use grams and metric units, but recent Hispanic immigrants will be familiar with these measuring systems. Highlyrecommended for bookstores and public libraries. Jardineria esencial (Basic Gardening) and Fitness esencial (Basic Fitness) are also available from RBA.
—Carmen Ospina, "Criticas" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.