Well, I'm pretty sure Heather Baird's, SprinkleBakes was written for me. Just saying.
I literally spent hours reading this book, cover to cover, completely captivated by the techniques, images and the sense that I was being given the directions and guidance to make these amazing works of art myself! Every few minutes I'd yell out, "you have to see this!!" and show off the next technique or tip I had just read. This book is more than just a cookbook. It's like an art class, culinary class and motivational speech on your baking abilities all rolled into one.
Baking is about so much more than simply cracking a few eggs or sifting flour, the same way art is more than simple brush strokes. It's about feeling something and sharing that with your friends, your family or as in Heather's case, the world. Whether you prefer the structure found in the scientific aspect of baking or the freedom in the creativity to mix flavors and decorate, baking is and can be for everyone.
Now, for the details.
& take a look at Heather's blog SprinkleBakes
The cover for one is absolutely adorable and a table of contents of sorts. It's essentially comprised of artistic renderings of a few of the fantastic recipes you'll come to discover. And if these drawings don't pique your interest, the beautiful crisp images inside will. Each recipe is not only paired with a photo of the final product (that you'd be happy to frame in your kitchen), but there are pictorial guides to the steps as well! I found this especially useful while baking, as it helped to avoid the inevitably stressful, "you think it's supposed to look like this?" question.
I found that my favorite feature of this book lay beyond its directions and instead in its incredible encouragement. If you're in any way deterred because you think that making candy, or tiered cakes, or seemingly fancy desserts is not for you, think again. Each chapter is prefaced with clear, concise information concerning what you can expect, all gradually increasing in difficulty. The cake recipes you learn in the first section will carry you to the end, where you'll be shown how to carve and cover them like a pro. The "Baker's Toolbox" is not nearly as intimidating as you would expect for a book with such visually elaborate desserts, and for the most part Heather helps to give either a directory where you can find these items, or ways to DIY and avoid having to invest in them (although after making these desserts once, you may find that it's an investment you're willing to make!). It also outlines not only what the tools are, but where and when you can expect to use them, further allowing you to make an informed decision as to whether or not it's something you would want to consider purchasing. As for the ingredients, you'd think these cakes were impossible to make, until you realize that you have everything you meed to make a "Genoise Sponge Cake" right in your kitchen already! There's even a recipe for fondant to save you the hassle of running out to search for a ready made version. While a few ingredients such as liquid glucose may be less common, a quick trip to your local craft/ baking store should satisfy all ingredient needs (and having to run out for only one ingredient would be a welcome day in my kitchen, so it's definitely not a big deal!).
Additonally, her "Commandments," offer tips on what helps her to bake successfully (I really need to focus on the "mise en place" tip!) and the tips found within each recipe themselves help to eliminate guesswork. There's even a troubleshooting guide for some of the more elaborate recipes, such as the macarons as well as directions and variations for making small and large batches of a few recipes. And don't be deceived, the table of contents does not do justice to all of the incredible recipes found within. A few recipes come with variations to create completely different desserts altogether, (think Boston Cream Pie!).
Throughout the pages you'll learn tips and techniques you'd never expect ranging from herbs to picking up art techniques I had only ever read about in Art History textbooks and seamlessly transferring them into your kitchen.
When it came time to test out the recipes themselves, I decided to try out one from the beginning of the book, where the basic recipes are provided and merge it with a more complicated recipe from towards the end of the book (as I previously mentioned, I found that as you flip through Heather's book, the recipes become gradually more extensive, always using what comes in the pages before them as a base).
I was immediately tempted by the egg tempera technique. Being an Art History student, Da Vinci was a given in all the intro to art classes, and to think I could take his style of painting (tempera) and translate it into decorating sugar cookies - well excitement doesn't even explain it. It was fairly simple and I had a great time doing it!
I have never had the confidence to decorate using royal icing, but this, this I not only wanted to try but Heather's directions and explanations made me feel like I could! Below is a series of pictures with the results! I used my favorite Wilton Tea Party Cookie Cutter Set and painted away! This would be a great activity for everyone from kids, to teenagers, to expert bakers!
Overall, this book is a fantastic compilation of inspiration, encouragement, recipes and techniques you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere. You don't have to be an art lover, culinary artist or expert baker to love it. It's a staple, all around accessible book that you'll find yourself referring to time and time again to kick all of your recipes up a notch. As Heather writes in her introduction, make dessert the result of your own creative endeavors!
Pick up this book (good luck putting it down) and "inspire your inner artist".
Disclaimer: I was kindly provided a copy of this wonderful cookbook to review by Sterling Epicure, a division of Sterling Publishing Co. The opinions and views expressed in my review are completely my own.