Baked Elements: The Importance of Being Baked in 10 Favorite Ingredients Hardcover – Sep 1 2012
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About the Author
Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito left their day jobs in advertising to open their bakery, Baked, in Brooklyn to immediate praise from fans across the country. They have been featured on Oprah, the TODAY show, the Food Network, and the Martha Stewart Show. Their previous books include Baked and Baked Explorations. Lewis and Poliafito live in New York City.
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Baked Elements is a collection of about 75 recipes based on the top ten favorite ingredients of Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. So what are those top ten ingredients? Nothing short of decadent destruction for your waistline, I fear. They chose peanut butter; lemon and lime; caramel; booze; pumpkin; malted milk powder; cinnamon; cheese (think savory and sweet recipes, folks); chocolate; and banana. All of their luscious twists on great American desserts showcase the aforementioned ingredients beautifully and prominently!
The authors open with some pointers on basic equipment as well as ingredients and techniques you'll need to work your magic with their recipes and then they immediately head into the good stuff, the recipes. Every chapter is headlined by a neat page of applicable clip art-like pics with cool facts regarding the ingredient. For example, you'll learn that peanut butter in the U.S. has to contain at least 90% peanuts.
However, despite the cuteness of design here, the substance of the book is in the glorious recipes and the full page photo spreads of the finished product. You won't get a photo for every recipe but I don't see that as a flaw in this book although I'll never turn down a picture of something these guys baked.
After a week long adventure of gourging myself on pumpkin desserts from a different book, I decided to reset the palate by trying their Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones. Oh my! It was the embodiment of everything a scone should be: tender, crumbly, moist, rich with chocolate studs, no less, and the beguiling afternote (and pleasant texture)of crunchy peanut butter. I won't say how many I ate in a sitting, but the authors would be pleased...or mildly disgusted.
I think anyone will enjoy the food in this book at any time of year, but fall is in the air and many of the chapters are especially appropriate for this time of year. So if you were thinking of purchasing it, I heartily encourage it and I'll add that this book would make a welcome Christmas gift for the serious baker in the family.
The styling of this book is fantastic, I love the intro page for each ingredient. They are nicely done and filled with neat little bits of information and trivia on the ingredients.
So far, I have only made the pumpkin cheesecake bars, which were good, but the recipe felt poorly done to me. There was a lot of prep work for the crust of the bars, and it made directions like preheating the oven for baking the crust very out of place. There's at least 90 minutes of wait time before they ever make it to the oven, excluding the prep work. And the note about cracks meaning you overbaked the cheesecake seemed absolutely silly for something topped with frosting! This may be nitpicky but both these things just seemed odd to me.
Other than that, I find myself struggling to find anything that really stands out as worthy to make, especially compared to Baked Explorations. I was actually considering returning the book to Amazon after my first read through but the pumpkin cheesecake bars changed my mind.
The booze chapter is highly disappointing because it is nearly entirely whiskey. I would have liked to see at least one recipe involving beer and one involving wine, both are great for baking too. Instead it's a very small section that is dominated by whiskey and bourbon.
But I am giving it three stars, because there is a lot in here, and it might be better suited to other people's tastes. Perhaps you do a better job managing time and remembering what a recipe says, or boozy baking is irrelevant to you. All the Baked books have been fantastic, so even if this one ends up my least favorite, it's still got to have a few gems in it.