Monday, January 23, 2012

Baking Basics and Beyond - Book Review (Giveaway Closed)

I learned the basics of baking from my mom, then continued learning through lots of trial and error.  Baking Basics and Beyond by Pat Sinclair is the next best thing to learning from an experienced baker in your own kitchen. And compared to my trial-and-error approach, it will probably save you from a lot of crumbled cakes, charred cookies, and tough biscuits!

Baking Basics and Beyond is divided into 12 chapters.  Each begins with a few pages on key points, ingredients, equipment, and techniques.  That's followed by about ten recipes--some traditional (blueberry muffins, peanut butter cookies, old-fashioned baking powder biscuits) and some creative (wild mushroom tarts, honey orange scones, gingerbread nectarine cobbler, savory blue cheese cheesecake).

I like this book not only for the recipes (over 100 in all), but for the background information and tips.  I appreciate that the author includes notes about substituting ingredients and baking pans, as well as tips on what to look for and what to avoid.  She also explains why certain steps are done the way they are.  Novice bakers will learn the fundamentals, and experienced bakers are likely to pick up some hints, too.

The recipes themselves are very appealing.  The author advocates the use of real ingredients--real butter, for instance--and I fully agree.  I found many recipes that I am eager to try.  I'm especially looking forward to spring, when I can bake the blueberry tart with vanilla whipped cream!

The first recipe I tried, though, was Grandma's Old-Fashioned Coffee Cake.  I found the instructions well-written, easy to follow, and practical.  (All of the ingredients were staples that I always have on hand, and the author doesn't assume that I want to use every mixing bowl in my kitchen!)  The cake was a hit with my family!  The cake is tender, the crumb topping is delicious, and both are flavored with the warmth of cinnamon.

For more information, visit the publisher's page for Baking Basics and Beyond.

Thanks to the publisher, Surrey Books / Agate Publishing, one lucky reader will win a copy of Baking Basics and Beyond.  Would you like to win?

This giveaway is closed.

Here's how to enter:  Just leave a comment.  (Tell me whether you're a novice or experienced baker, what you would like to learn about baking, which of the recipes appeals to you, or just that you want to win.)  Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you. Limit 1 entry per person.

More details: Open to residents of USA and Canada, age 18 or older. Giveaway ends 2/8/12 at noon (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen by the random number generator at and will be notified by email.  Winner must claim prize within 48 hours, or another winner will be chosen.  Prize will be fulfilled by Surrey Books / Agate Publishing. Void where prohibited.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book, at no cost to me, for review purposes.  I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions in this post are my own.  I have received no compensation in any form for hosting this giveaway.


  1. I love baking. I have collected cookbooks since I was young. I love trying new recipes.

  2. I love to cook, but allways could use improvement! Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. I love coffee cake. So good. I love trying new things but I always need recipes to help out.

  4. I enjoy baking and I love cookbooks, always want to try a new recipe!

    tiramisu392 (at)

  5. I used to bake all the time years ago but stopped so that puts me back close to novice again. That coffee cake looks tasty. I'd like to try that.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  6. I'm an in-between-baker! LOL
    I know a good bit, but def not everything!! I would LOVE to win this!! :) I love to bake!

  7. I would consider myself a right in the middle of the pack baker. Thanks for the giveaway!

  8. I've been baking for years, but love to challenge myself with new recipes and new techniques.

  9. i am a novice at baking but i try and bake something new every week
    nannypanpan at

  10. I enjoy baking and would love to enter for this wonderful book!
    Thank you :)
    kimberlybreid at hotmail dot com

  11. I think I'm intermediate, pretty good at most things but I could definitely challenge myself more!

  12. I used to love cooking and baking, but I've lost the desire for it. However, my 20-year-old daughter Amber is a baking enthusiast and it would be great to win this and give this to her.

    She's surpassed all that I've taught her. She has learned how to do fondant and what ingredients to use to replace when you don't have what you need.

    She is amazing... now if she would stop trying to make me fat. LOL

  13. I am not a novice but don't feel I could be called experienced either--somewhere in the middle. I like to try new recipes.
    slrdowney at hotmail dot com

  14. that coffee cake looks so good!
    how have you been?


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