on April 4, 2004
This durable classic was written by one of the better known names among American cookbook authors, who apprenticed with James Beard and supervised the rewrite of the Fannie Farmer cookbook. The book endures by providing a super coverage of a neglected culinary subject. While there are dozens of books with chapters on breakfast dishes, there are only a small handful of books devoted exclusively to breakfast written in the last 20 years. This book, neatly typeset, edited, and designed by the Alfred A. Knopf crew, should grace your shelf for a long time, even if your space is limited.
This book among my favorite types of cookbooks to own, as it gives you easy access to a great number of recipes on a single subject. This is even better than books on fish or red meat or potatoes or chicken, as it covers a wide range of recipes for all flavors available to a single meal. And, Ms. Cunningham does touch all the bases. Her chapter titles are:
Yeast breads such as American White Bread.
Toasts, French Toast, and Breakfast Sandwiches.
Quick Breads such as biscuits, cornbread, scones, muffins, and fruit breads.
Cereals, hot such as oatmeal and corn, such as granola
Doughnuts and Fritters
Griddling, as in pancakes and waffles
Eggs, as in boiled, omelets, frittatas, souffles, baked, scrambled, poached, fried, and so on
Fruit Fixing, as in applesauce, poached apples, stuffed pears, fresh juices, rhubarb, pineapple, mango, etc.
Potatoes, as in oven fries, hash browns, potato pancakes, potato bacon pie, and potato custard
Meat and Fish as in steak, chipped beef, corned beef hash, bacon, ham, fresh fish, fish hash, and salt cod
Custards and Puddings, an extension of eggs or cereals, depending on how you look at them
Cookies, Pies, and Cakes as in yum, yum, cookies for breakfast
Condiments, as in jellies, jams, caramel, syrups, and salsas
Breakfast Beverages as in tea, coffee, hot chocolate ya da ya da ya da
Some reviewers have stated that her recipes are easy. While this may be true of most topics above, it is not true of yeast breads. Even the simplest recipes, and Cunningham's are relatively simple, require a modest amount of skill and a fair amount of time, so I must say that Cunningham is more concerned with good recipes and completeness than she is with speed.
While Miss Marion covers all the bases, some are covered a lot better than others. The yeast bread chapter has only a few samples and an exceptionally picky person may feel that the book suffers by not having a brioche recipe, as this is a perfect ingredient for French Toast. I will only point this out and generally suggest that if you are serious about making bread, check out either 'Baking with Julia' as an excellent general introduction to baking or Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Bread Bible' for the straight skinny on everything bread. For the very best Southern biscuits, check out Nick Malgieri's 'How to Bake'.
The coverage of eggs and toast and condiments and cakes and custards and puddings and pancakes is terrific. This represents the strongest reason to own a copy of this book, if you are especially fond of leisurely weekend breakfasts or brunches. There are dozens of recipes for things I knew people did actually eat for breakfast, but never came close to having them myself or even seeing them on restaurant menus.
As with the bread and biscuit recipes, do not believe Ms. Cunningham has absolutely covered all bases in chapters such as Meats and Beverages. She does not always cover the most common recipe for a dish. A perfect example is her creamed chipped beef recipe that includes mushrooms. A classic recipe would not include mushrooms and would include Worcestershire sauce and a little cayenne.
This aside, this book packs an enormous punch with 288 recipes for a list price of $20 and an Amazon discounted price of $14.
Very highly recommended, especially for a modest budget and a big appetite for big breakfasts.
on March 24, 2012
Cunningham's book should be called The-Not-Just-For-Breakfast-Book because the recipes range from cereals, eggs, muffins, etc. to yeast breads, cookies, pies, cakes and puddings, on to meat, fish, and jellies and relishes. The book is a must for any cook, and it makes a fabulous gift to be treasured by food loving family and friends. I have used more recipes from The Breakfast Book than any other cookbook in my collection.
I love the introductions to the recipes; they make you want to head to the kitchen. And some will put a smile on your face - does anyone make knothole eggs as a treat for their children anymore? More's the pity.
Over the years I've tried every variation of the Great Coffee Cake recipe, the version with five teaspoons of vanilla extract being the frontrunner. It's a must for family brunch gatherings. My go-to recipes for plain and raised waffles, fresh ginger cake and soft gingerbread, several different pancakes & numerous condiments all come from this book. I'd be lost without it.