Bittman on Baking

Book review by Kristina Sepetys

How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking
By Mark Bittman
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

While browsing the 703 pages of Mark Bittman’s latest cookbook, I’m struck by a question: How does he manage to pull together these massive, information-rich cookbooks in such quick succession? One in the course of a career would be an achievement. But Bittman seems to average about one a year– more than a dozen to date– all dealing with different topics related to cooking, most featuring recipes for cooks of all skill levels looking to prepare wholesome food quickly and easily. In his latest, Bittman takes on baking. Besides offering more than 2,000 recipes, he teaches and encourages readers to be comfortable improvising, varying, and personalizing recipes, whether they want to make them vegan, incorporate available ingredients or new grains, or adapt them to suit dietary needs like gluten-free. The book is filled with helpful sidebars, instructive illustrations, and a wealth of useful detail. Crunchy Toffee Cookies and Gingerbread Whoopie Pies sound enticing, but recipes aren’t limited to sweet confections. There are instructions for savory bites and international items like Finnish Rye Bread, a Flaky Caramelized Fennel and Sausage Tart, a Curried Sweet Potato Galette, and Afghan Snowshoe Naan. If you’re looking for a comprehensive manual on baking accessible to all cooking levels, this is a resource you’ll surely want on your shelf.