Are your cake pans gathering dust? Are you leery of turning the oven to Bake when flour and butter are involved? There are plenty of good cooks who feel that baking is beyond them, demanding a certain mix of patience, precision, and artistry that mere mortals do not possess. For this food group (and for experienced bakers looking for more good recipes), Elinor Klivans's cookbook is the answer.
Klivans assumes your baking knowledge is just about nil, and your baking confidence even lower. She understands that you don't know how to test for doneness and that you won't automatically know to bring butter to room temperature before mixing. By the end of the first real chapter, titled “Just Stir and Bake,” she'll have you turning out Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Brownies; Big, Easy Popovers; and Toasted Hazelnut Peach Crisp just by stirring ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon (and baking).
Subsequent chapters, again based on technique (“Mixing a Smooth Batter,” “Whipping Eggs for Cakes and Meringues,” for example), introduce Fifty-Fifty Crumb Buns, Pear and Gingerbread Upside-Down Cake, Chocolate Chiffon Cake, and Tiramisû Ice Cream Loaf, to name a few. The "Baking Answers" section of each recipe anticipates any questions and points out possible pitfalls. This step-by-step approach can make a few recipes seem much too long, but will nicely ease any baking-phobes into the fast lane.
Fearless Baking provides more than 100 recipes, many showcased with full-color photographs. Klivans also offers her thoughts on essential pantry ingredients, appropriate pans and utensils, and a basic baking glossary. (Ginger Curwen)