This cookbook has well written explanations and recipes that come out true to expectations (if you have been to the bakery) or otherwise very well (read: delicious). I have been to the Standard Baking Co. bakery a handful of times, and love their brownies. In truth, the brownies were the reason I wanted to get the cookbook. However, I have been extremely satisfied with all the recipes I have tried so far, including the brownie recipe. In addition to the fact that the recipes work and are delicious, they are not too involved: no esoteric techniques that I've come across so far, and any more complicated processes are well explained. I highly recommend this cookbook as a source for excellent sweet pastry recipes (not including frosted cakes). More details below if you want:
The book contains mostly sweet pastry recipes: croissants/scones/coffecake like pastries, then tarts, then "cakes" and cookies. There is also a small section of savory and snack items (like granola bars). The "cakes" section contains brownies, bundt cakes, tea cakes and the like - no frosted airy cakes or anything like that, a fact that they point out in their commentary as their bakery does not have a refrigerated case. There are also no bread recipes.
I have tried three of the four pastry dough recipes (the sweet, perfect and rustic tart pastries - there is a chocolate pastry recipe I have yet to try) and am so happy with them I am going to adopt them as my standby pie doughs. I was very impressed with them for three reasons, 1) two of the recipes (the sweet and perfect) use a stand mixer which worked surprisingly well and I found to be easier than 'cutting' the butter into the flour and less hassle than blending in the food processor, not to mention the results were wonderful; 2) all of the doughs came out very well, and; 3) all of the doughs came out very differently: the sweet dough is like a cookie crust, the 'perfect' dough is light and flaky, almost like a puff pastry except without the height, and the rustic dough is just that, lots of rough character and flavor in a crisp and crumbly crust.
The tarts I made with the doughs were also very good. The Irish whiskey chocolate tarts are deadly - extremely rich, tender and chocolaty. The 'perfect' pastry that goes with it both balances the chocolate flavor and also helps it stand out through the flavor contrast. The frangipane is lovely but intense and very buttery. This is the only recipe I probably won't make again, but not because I don't like it. I have another recipe that I prefer because it is more subtle. However, I will always use the poached pear recipe from this book for any frangipane I do, as it intensifies the pear flavor. Finally, the rustic apple tart has become our new apple pie standby, and my husband has stated that it the best tart he's ever had.
Finally, the brownies. I made these the day before yesterday, and they did not disappoint. They are as rich and decadent as the ones you buy at the bakery. They say in the recipe description that while everyone goes back and forth about cake-like brownies versus fudge-like brownies, these brownies are simply the best. I completely agree. The density and texture are very pleasing, however when you eat one of these brownies those thoughts only come after the pure chocolate bliss passes. These brownies are beyond cake-like or fudge-like being a concern.
I don't usually write reviews, but have been so impressed with this cookbook I was compelled to do so. It has been rare for me to find a cook book where the recipes come out consistently well. If you are looking for a collection of delicious pastry recipes, then this is the book for you.