A Baker’s Dozen

Reviews by Kristina Sepetys

The fall season means more requests for baked goods: a dozen shortbread cookies for a school party or bake sale, a pumpkin loaf for a neighborhood potluck, a spiced tea cake for a reading group, or some chip-studded bars for a sporting event. Three new books will give you a long list of enticing recipes you’ll want to try. Many of the delicious confections rely on spice or alternative natural sweeteners over sugar, and all are guaranteed to disappear quickly from the serving plate!


The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking
By Samantha Seneviratne
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)

Samantha Seneviratne blogs about dessert at lovecommacake.com and has worked as a food editor at various publications. Her new book is a collection of more than 80 recipes for sweets that rely as much or more on spices than sugar for their flavor. Each chapter focuses on a different flavor profile: vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, peppercorns, chiles, cardamom, and savory herbs and spices. Combinations like spicy, pepper-flecked Chile-Chocolate Truffles, Swedish-inspired Saffron Currant Braid, Gingered Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Blackberry Lavender Clafoutis, and Fig and Fennel Seed Biscotti are made all the more alluring by Erin Kunkel’s beautiful photography.



Real Sweet: More Than 80 Crave-Worthy Treats Made with Natural Sugars
By Shauna Sever
(William Morrow, 2015)

San Francisco–based baking expert Shauna Sever is the voice behind the popular blog Piece of Cake. In her latest book, Sever shares dozens of recipes for cookies, cakes, puddings, fudge, and other confections using only natural, unrefined, readily available alternative sweeteners that range from coconut sugar, agave nectar, orange blossom honey, and pure maple syrup to smoky turbinado, brown-buttery panela, and jaggery. The book is helpfully organized by chapter titles such as Snacks and Lunchbox Treats and Picnics and Potlucks, with recipes including Baked Apple Cinnamon Doughnuts, Cracklin’ Maple Popcorn, Bonfire Toffee Pops, and Butterscotch Pots de Crème.



Cookie Love: 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary
By Mindy Segal with Kate Leahy
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)

James Beard Award–winning chef and the owner of the popular Chicago restaurant HotChocolate shares her secrets for making classic cookie recipes even better. With more than 60 recipes organized by cookie type, you’ll find ideas for drop cookies, bars, sandwich cookies, shortbread, thumbprints, and a mix of others. Learn to make your own delicious Spiced Double-Chocolate Cookies, Pistachio Shortbread with Cranberry Preserves, Smoked Almond Shortbread with Orange Blossom and Rasperry Framboise, and many more.