My original review gave this book 4 stars because I had initial success and loved the appearance and design, which features great step-by-step photos. However, I have struggled with the ingredient ratios for several recipes. After reading another reviewer's complaint about the buttermilk biscuit dough, I attempted to make them myself - twice. Each time, even with very careful measurements, I had a bowl of liquid. Adding an cup of self-rising flour helped me get a workable dough. That's quite off from the suggested flour and liquid amounts, more than could be justified by temperature and humidity variations.
I also tried the sourdough bread recipe. As an experienced bread baker, I know what a good starter should look like and once again, this was just all water. I let it ferment for 24 hours as is and I was displeased with the results. There was a bit of the wine smell but there was nothing bubbling. I added a cup of flour and a bit of sugar to feed the yeast and let it sit another day. It's better but still not what it needs to be so I gave up.
I am not sure I want to waste my money buying ingredients for any other recipes now.
I just received this book as a holiday gift from my wish list and I'm not disappointed. I bake a lot (several times a week) and have already prepared two recipes from the book. The first was chocolate brownies, my first time baking brownies from scratch. Even with my own mistakes in measurement, they were delicious! Definitely tasted like bakery brownies, rich and fudgy, rather than the box mix. My miscalculation led to brownies that are moister than they would be but the family enjoyed them nonetheless.
My second attempt from the book was the custard pie. I'm a huge fan of baked custard, reminiscing my grandmother's nutmeg dusted custards on snow days. The "instant" varieties just don't cut it and I've had little success from internet recipes. What I wanted was something like the Baker's Square custard pie and what I got was even better.
Many of the recipes seem like a lot of work, but with time dedicated to prepping ingredients and careful measurements, it's possible to be successful the first couple of times you rely on this book. I did not give five stars because the times (not including baking time) seem to be based on someone who has a lot of experience with pastry baking or who has done most of the prep ahead of time. I'll test out a few more recipes to see if this continues to be a problem.
Overall, the photographs are clear and instructive, the ingredients mostly either what you'd have on hand or are easy to get at a traditional market, and the book has recipes for some of the most beautiful and enticing desserts that I've seen at fine dining restaurants and high-end bakeries.