The Year’s Best Baking Cookbooks: Radical Ideas, Classic Treats

 In Edibles, Lifestyle

In the world of baking cookbooks, the ones written by pastry chefs are glamorous things, filled with the caramel-spangled drama you would expect to see at the end of a 12-course tasting menu. But however ambitious they are on the page, the recipes often fall short in the kitchen, leaving a frustrated cook amid a trail of fallen soufflés.

Baking books by professional food writers tend to be more modest endeavors. Most don’t attempt to get you to the top of a croquembouche, but appeal to you with simpler techniques, practical advice and interesting flavors — a flaky scone here, a splash of pomegranate molasses there. They are more reliable, if less exciting.

This year’s roster of baking books, however, turns these truths upside down.

Two of the best by restaurant pastry chefs are chatty, informative and easy to navigate, and they yield terrific baked goods with nary a tear. Three more by professional food writers eschew the standard formula of “tried and true with a twist” in favor of riskier, more experimental territory. And then one made our list because, though the recipes are German classics, the excellence of the testing and writing makes it well worth using for years to come.

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