Book Review: The Fearless Baker

Emily Luchetti is a well-known executive pastry chef in San Francisco. Whenever she meets new people and they find out what she does, they always seem to say, “Oh no, I never bake. It scares me!”

Emily has such a passion for baking. She hates that there are so many fearful would-be bakers. She and co-author Lisa Weiss gathered together 32 of those fearful would-be bakers and taught them to be Fearless Bakers.

The result of that experiment is a new book. The Fearless Baker is a creative primer on the art of baking. It’s filled with recipes for yummy cookies, pies and tarts, cakes, fruit desserts, puddings, and even breakfast breads. However, in my opinion, the first chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

In Chapter One Emily shares the basics of baking. For example, she explains in detail what it means when a recipe says to beat, fold, whip, or cream. And, she explains those techniques in language that is easy to understand, almost as if she is standing right next to me at the kitchen counter. The rest of the book is also filled with great baking lessons.

I have to tell you how I read this book. In the Table of Contents I saw a chapter titled “No Oven Required”. I went straight to it. [It has been in the mid to upper 90s here. Nothing is going to persuade me to turn my oven on.] In this chapter I found lots of great treats that could be made with no or very little heat. I found treats such as Honey Fruit Bites, Lemon Cream with Smashed Berries, and Fudgesicle Bars with Caramel and Spanish Peanuts. (Are you salivating yet?)

All three of those recipes are on my list to try in the next few weeks as the summer heat continues. But here’s a recipe I thought was so creative that I had to try it right now: Butterscotch Peach Split. Fresh peaches are coming in at the Farmers Market, so it’s timely.

This is a take on the old banana split idea, only with peaches. I’ll give you the short version of the whole dish and then the recipe for the Butterscotch Sauce. This is super easy to make – really – and very delicious.

  1. Peal three peaches, cut them in half, take out the pit, and place each half (cut side up) in bowls.
  2. Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on each peach.
  3. Spoon the Butterscotch Sauce over the top
  4. Top everything with whipped cream, dried cherries and serve.

How to make the Butterscotch Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons macadamia nuts, chopped

Directions:

  1. On top of the stove melt the butter in a saucepan.
  2. Stir in both sugars and the corn syrup. Over medium high heat, bring it to a boil.
  3. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream. Bring all of it back to a boil and then stop.
  5. Stir in the macadamia nuts. (I used chopped pecans.)

The sauce can be made several days ahead of time (or early in the morning when it’s cool) and refrigerated. If you choose to do that, wait and add the nuts after you reheat the sauce for serving.

I’m quite taken with this book and Emily Luchetti. If you should find yourself in San Francisco, you can sample Emily Luchetti’s desserts at these two restaurants: Waterbar, 399 The Embarcadero South, www.waterbarsf.com; and at Farallon, 50 Post St., www.farallonrestaurant.com.

The Fearless Baker:  Scrumptious Cakes, Pies, Cobblers, Cookies, and Quick Breads that You Can Make to Impress Your Friends and Yourself.  Published by: Little, Brown and Company, 2011

Check your local bookstore, your library or Amazon for copies of The Fearless Baker. (I am an Amazon Associate.) The Amazon link contains a short video of Emily Luchetti demonstrating how to whip cream.

As always on Saturday morning, this post is linked to Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads. Don’t forget to enter new recipes in the Whip Up Something New meme I am hosting during the month of July. Hit either button to take you where you want to go.

This entry was posted in Book Challenges, Foodie's Reading Challenge, Weekend Cooking. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Book Review: The Fearless Baker

  1. Tea says:

    I do luv butterscotch. I never thought of the world of people too afraid to bake.

  2. I love to bake unless there’s yeast involved, but wouldn’t it have been fun to be one of those 32 people? This book sounds fabulous!

  3. Wow, this sounds fabulous. And I’ve been seeing fresh peaches everywhere lately!

  4. TheBookGirl says:

    The funny thing for me about this book is that I have always been a pretty fearless baker, but the exact opposite is true when it comes to cooking — I am easily intimidated by anything other than pretty basic recipes, and I am not very adept at cooking on the fly.

    I hear you about not turning your oven on, lol. We’ve had the nineties and terrible humidity for a while now. My daughter was asking for baked potatoes (and not of the microwave variety), so I got out my Nesco countertop oven because I couldn’t bear to turn the big one on.

    I am definitely going to look out for this book; that butterscotch recipe alone is enough for me to buy it!

  5. I wish I had the confidence to be a Fearless Baker – perhaps a sign that I *need* this book!?

    The “Fudgesicle Bars with Caramel and Spanish Peanuts” treat sounds delicious.

  6. Nan says:

    I can’t imagine being afraid of baking. You follow a recipe and voila! But I know people who’ve never baked from scratch. It is one of my greatest joys.

  7. Funny, I have this book on my wishlist because I love reading baking books, but like the people she speaks with I feel the same, baking scares me 🙂 But Butterscotch Peaches, sounds fantastic and that I can definitely do! And will!

  8. I am one of those people who only bakes around the holidays — maybe that’s because that’s the only time when I indulge in sweets. But my girls love to bake, and this sounds like a book they would like! Thanks for sharing it!

  9. Tami says:

    I got stuck at “lemon cream with smashed berries”. Drooled all over my keyboard. The peach split sounds delicious, too. If you’ve never tried white peaches, look for them at your market. So much better than yellow peaches, which are pretty yummy. Think I’ll try this with the leftover homemade ice cream from July 4th

  10. Beth F says:

    WOW — that butterscotch sauce sounds awesome. What I love is that it sounds like there are great recipes for everyone — even experienced bakers. I bake only once a month or so — mostly because we don’t need to eat that many sweets. Bread is another matter — when it’s cool enough, I bake several times a week.

  11. Uniflame says:

    This sounds like a very original recipe 🙂 I love that you enjoyed it so much 🙂

  12. Staci says:

    No oven…sign me up!! 😀

  13. This sounds like a great book. I love baking but haven’t done much lately and would like to get back to it.

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