I picked this book up on a whim at the bookstore and am quite glad I did. It goes far beyond the well-known gingerbead cake and gingerbread men with many other ginger-y delights. I have a lot of cookbooks so a determining factor in my purchase was that I hadn't seen the vast majority of these tempting recipes anywhere else.
Be warned that the average person is not likely to have all the ingredients at hand. I consider myself a baker but do not stock whole wheat flour, rice flour or almond flour, nor do I have Chinese five-spice powder, orange flower water, maple extract, candied citron or quince jelly. Make sure you read the recipe far enough in advance to allow time for a trip to the grocery store (and possibly a specialty cooking store such as Sur La Table).
After a brief introduction, the author provides an overview of necessary equipment and recommended ingredients. Most cooks are likely to have all the necessary equipment: stand mixer, baking pans, baking sheets, wire cooling racks and parchment paper or silicone liners. Interesting facts about the history of gingerbread are scattered throughout the book.
The first chapter is on cakes and incudes recipes for Grandmom Lindner's Favorite Gingerbread Cake, Gingerbread Pound Cake, Pumpkin-Gingerbread Cake, Apple Butter-Gingerbread Cake, Spiced Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread Cake, Gingerbread Rum Cake, Ginger Syrup-Soaked Gingerbread Cake, Marbled Gingerbread-Almond Loaf Cake, Robert's Celebration Gingerbread Cake, Carol Lee's Jeweled Gingerbread Fruitcake, Rich Chocolate Gingerbread Cake, and Eliza Leslie's Lafayette Gingerbread.
The next chapter focuses on Cookies and includes recipes for Old-Time Gingersnaps, Five-Spice Gingersnaps, Pressed Spicy Gingerbread Cookies, Moravian Ginger Thins, Cutout Gingerbread Cookies, Golden Gingerbread Cutout Cookies, Shimmering Gingerbread Maple Leaves, Chocolate-Ginger Crinkle Cookies, Giant Chewy Ginger Cookies, Logan's Favorite Soft Molasses Cookies, Gingerbread Shortbread Cookies, Twice-Gingered Shortbread, Gingerbread Madeleines, Braune Lebkuchen, Pfeffernusse, Soft Gingerbread Biscotti, Alexis's "Oh, Wow" Gingerbread Blondies, and Kate's Gingerbread Brownies.
The next chapter is Desserts and seems to include treats that didn't fit in the previous two chapters. Recipes include Burgundian Bread & Butter Pudding, Gingerbread Bread Pudding, Sticky Toffee Gingerbread Pudding, Gingerbread-Maple Moon Pies, Gingerbread-Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches, Gingerbread Blackberry Trifle, Chris's Pumpkin-Gingerbread Torte, and Gingerbread Buche de Noel.
The fourth chapter is entitled, "Ice Cream and Confections" and includes recipes for Gingerbread Ice Cream, Caramel-Ginger Cookie-Chocolate Chun Ice Cream, Pain d-Epices Ice Cream, Pumpkin-Gingersnap Ice Cream, Gingerbread-Hazelnut Rum Balls, Gingerbread Butter Drops, Panforte Margherita, Burgundian Spiced Caramels, and Spiced Christmas Toffee.
The next chapter is one of the reasons I purchased the book and is on Gingerbread for Breakfast. Recipes include Gingerbread Pancakes, Gingerbread-Pumpkin Waffles, Gingerbread Doughnuts, Pain d'Epices, Pain d'Epices French Toast, and Gingerbread-Cranberry Scones.
The sixth chapter is on Gingerbread Houses and is brief. There are books dedicated solely to gingerbread houses (How to Build a Gingerbread House: A Step-by-Step Guide to Sweet Results, Gingerbread Houses, and The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes and Blueprints for Twelve Classic American Homes among others) so I was glad the author didn't try to cover all the possibilities. She provides a recipe for four pounds of Gingerbread House Dough and then provides instructions and templates for a gingerbread church and a gingerbread house (specifically Betsy Ross' house in Philadelphia).
The final chapter is on Basics & Accompaniments and includes recipes for Whipped Cream, Creme Anglaise, Vanilla Ice Cream, Dede's Italian Buttercream, Royal Icing, Dark Chocolate Glaze and Candied Orange Peel. Recipes for other accompanients are featured with main recipes and include Apple Butter, Molasses-Maple Marshmallows, Chestnut and Chocolate Buttercreams, and Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache.
While beginners can hopefully successfully tackle many of the recipes, there are several more complicated recipes that may cause even intermediate bakers some anxiety. For example, Robert's Celebration Gingerbread Cake requires three layers of cake, two meringue rounds, and praline buttercream. Carol Lee's Jeweled Gingerbread Fruitcake is covered in rolled marzipan and then rolled fondant. You have to make your own Molasses-Maple Marshmallows for the Gingerbread-Maple Moon Pies.
I would have liked more photos of the finished products. Of the 56 main recipes (not including accompanients such as icing and glaze), only 23 are pictured. There is not even a picture of the church gingerbread house. I find it very helpful to know what the finished product is supposed to look like (especially when the decoration is important, as it is in a gingerbread house).
This book would be a thoughtful hostess gift in the fall and winter, perhaps accompanied by gingerbread cookies or another treat from the book. A cookie cutter for a gingerbread man could be a finishing touch for a thoughtful gift.