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Author: By Pat Sinclair
Website: http://www.agatepublishing.com/book/?GCOI=93284100312500
Reviewed By: Anne Holmes for the NABBW

Baking Basics and Beyond: Learn These Simple Techniques and Bake Like a Pro (Second Edition) Reviewed by:  Anne Holmes for the NABBW

This small book is a treat to read, as well as a feast for the eyes. Beautifully published, it would make a very special gift. The book is a charming and perceptive union of words and images that again proves that angels appear in forms least expected and there is healing power in the red rocks of Sedona.

I learned to bake by watching my mother, who is not only an excellent baker, but a former baking instructor who taught foods and nutrition classes for decades, and is a natural-born teacher.

As we would work side-by-side in the kitchen, she\’d casually explain to me why cakes sink in the center, what I needed to do to assure that my piecrust came out tender and flakey, or difference between all- purpose flour and self-rising, cake and bread flours. I never realized she was teaching me – I just thought we were having kitchen conversation.

But since I\’ve “grown up” to become an accomplished baker, I\’ve realized how much food science she taught me in those kitchen sessions – and how beneficial my casually acquired knowledge. Sadly, I nevermade time to provide anywhere near as much “hands-on” training to my daughter. And that\’s why this book will be my next gift to her.

NABBW’s “Cooking for Two” Expert Pat Sinclair has outdone herself with this book. It is eleven wonderful chapters covering the basics of baked goods -with sections on Coffeecakes, Cookies, Pies and Tarts, Yeast Bread and Rolls – not to mention an entire chapter just for Cheesecakes.

But there\’s more: a final chapter, Beyond the Basics, offers luscious embellishments for your efforts. It\’s packed with recipes for yummy stuff like Chocolate Ganache, Lemon Curd, Crème Fraiche and Custard Sauce. These extras are what will take your wonderful home-baked creations from basic to deluxe. And win you enormous praise for your efforts.

Your first impression of the book will be that it is beautiful. With full page, full color photosand an easy to read layout, it\’s so much easier to start devouring it than traditional cookbooks. (Sorry Julia!)

But more importantly, it clearly explains key techniques all bakers need to master-and provides secrets to success. I love that at the end of each recipe, Sinclair provides a highlighted box, with Baker\’s Notes and Secrets to Success.

There are over 100 recipes – literally running the gamut from A to Z. Or more specifically, you\’ll find everything from Almond Tea Loaf, Angel food Cake and Autumn Apple Crisp all the way to Yeast Breads and Chocolate Zucchini Bread. Be sure not to miss the Savory Blue Cheese Cheesecake, the Chai Latte Egg Custard and the English Trifle…

But perhaps more important than the beautifully photographed fantastic recipes is the content Sinclair provides. The book begins with practical information – an introduction to baking equipment and ingredients. Each chapter includes a detailed introduction to the special equipment and techniques necessary to master its recipes. And the index is comprehensive.

No wonder nationally acclaimed pastry chef Gale Gand says of the book:

“This baking bible is the perfect mix of solid techniques, good advice and tried-and-true recipes. This is a great book if you\’re just starting to bake and want an expert guide, or if you are looking for some new solid, fun recipes. Baking is good for the whole family again and this book is one of the best places to begin.”

I\’m not a credentialed pastry chef like Gand. But I can promise you that once you get your hands on this book, the hardest part will be deciding which recipe to make first!

As "Boomer in Chief" of the National Association of Baby Boomer Women, Anne is passionate about educating, empowering and enriching the lives of women in their middle years. Actively involved with a number of Boomer-focused organizations and committees, she keeps a steady finger on the pulse of this spirited generation, with the goal of helping you to enjoy life, stay healthy and live lives that are rich in every sense of the word. Anne is often interviewed by the media and in addition to writing on behalf of the NABBW, she publishes www.BoomerWomensWorld.com and blogs at www.BoomerLifestyle.com