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The Craft of Baking Cakes, Cookies and Other Sweets
(Clarkson Potter) ISBN 978-0307408105 0307408108

Making pies, muffins and brownies with Karen DeMasco's cookbook is like taking baking classes from a professional pastry chef. Dessert recipes range from meringues and fruit compotes to ice creams and biscotti.

In The Craft of Baking, Karen DeMasco, like a good baking school instructor, teaches you how to substitute ingredients to make different desserts with the same recipe.

Baking techniques

The 256-page cookbook is well-organized, with easy-to-follow recipes.

The Craft of Baking begins with a description of baking ingredients, such as cacao nibs (roasted, hulled and broken bits of cacao beans). The chapter on Baking Techniques provides baking school instructions. For example, you learn how to make caramel, how to know when the caramel is dark enough and how to clean burnt caramel from a pot.

Each chapter begins with an index of recipes, such as the scones, waffles, muffins and doughnuts in the Breakfast Sweets chapter.

Karen DeMasco begins each recipe with advice on ingredients, baking techniques or serving suggestions. She introduces the brioche baked in a can recipe with advice to use a soup can instead of a baking pan for the brioche. A sidebar explains how to prepare and season empty cans for baking breads.

How to make pistachio flour

Many recipes include variations, such as substituting Karen DeMasco's recipe for fig and spiced wine preserves for raspberry jam, in the raspberry granola bar recipe, to make fig bars.

Several recipes in the baking cookbook contain tips. In the raspberry pistachio brown butter cake recipe, Karen DeMasco describes how to make pistachio flour (grind one cup unsalted pistachios with one tablespoon flour in a food processor). In the maple custard recipe, she explains that Grade B maple syrup adds a stronger caramel flavor than Grade A.

Mouth-watering photos by Ellen Silverman make you want to bake pecan shortbread cookies, chocolate custard tarts and other desserts in The Craft of Baking as soon as you see them.

Baking ingredients

Building Your Craft sidebars help you create new dessert recipes by adding different ingredients to a basic recipe. For example, Karen DeMasco helps you vary her milk and white chocolate truffle recipes by adding Armagnac-soaked prunes, Earl Gray tea, toasted chopped nuts or crushed peppermint candies to the truffle ganache.

A Sources chapter in The Craft of Baking provides contact information for stores and websites that sell baking ingredients like Chocovic chocolates, Trablit coffee extract and Saigon cinnamon.

Sample dessert recipes

Rum raisin scones. Chocolate babka. Glazed buttermilk cake doughnuts. Crisp honey grahams (homemade graham crackers). Cherry anise biscotti. Toasted coconut meringue. Grandma Rankin's cashew brittle. Key lime meringue pie. Pine nut tart with rosemary cream. Almond rhubarb tart. Lemon olive oil cake. Milk chocolate hazelnut panna cotta. Jasmine rice pudding. Caramel ice cream. Toasted almond milk sorbet. Pineapple cardamom sauce.

The Craft of Baking Cakes, Cookies and Other Sweets with Ideas for Inventing Your Own


  • Introduction
  • The Craft of Baking Pantry
  • Techniques to Help You Hone Your Craft
  • Muffins, Scones, Quick Breads & Other Breakfast Treats
  • Cookies, Brownies & Candies
  • Tarts, Pies, Cobblers & Crisps
  • Cakes & Cupcakes
  • Custards & Puddings
  • Ice Creams, Sorbets & Frozen Desserts
  • Roasted & Poached Fruits, Fruit Compotes & Sauces
  • Sources
  • Index


Karen DeMasco is the James Beard-award winning pastry chef at Locanda Verde, Robert De Niro's restaurant in New York City.

Mindy Fox has co-authored several cookbooks.

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