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A Good Bake: The Art and Science of Making Perfect Pastries, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Breads at Home: A Cookbook

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From the James Beard Award nominee who redefined American baking, a comprehensive baking bible for the twenty-first century, with 120 scientifically grounded recipes for sweet and savory baked goods anyone can master. Melissa Weller is the baking superstar of our time. As the head baker at some of the best restaurants in the country, her takes on chocolate babka and sticky From the James Beard Award nominee who redefined American baking, a comprehensive baking bible for the twenty-first century, with 120 scientifically grounded recipes for sweet and savory baked goods anyone can master. Melissa Weller is the baking superstar of our time. As the head baker at some of the best restaurants in the country, her takes on chocolate babka and sticky buns brought these classics back to life and kicked off a nationwide movement. In A Good Bake, Weller shares her meticulously honed, carefully detailed recipes for producing impossibly delicious--and impossibly beautiful--baked goods. A chemical engineer before she became a baker, Weller uses her scientific background to explain the whys and hows of baking, so home cooks can achieve perfect results every time. Here are recipes both sweet (Pumpkin Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Brown Sugar Frosting) and savory (Khachapuri with Cheese, Baked Egg, and Nigella Seeds); beloved classics (Croissants and Chocolate Babka) and new sure-to-be favorites (Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Blondies)--as well as Salted Caramel Sticky Buns, of course . . . all written and tested for even the most novice home baker to re-create. With gorgeous photographs by the award-winning Johnny Miller, and tutorials that demystify all of the stuff that sounds complicated, like working with yeast, sourdough starters, and laminating dough Weller's book is the one guide every home baker needs.


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From the James Beard Award nominee who redefined American baking, a comprehensive baking bible for the twenty-first century, with 120 scientifically grounded recipes for sweet and savory baked goods anyone can master. Melissa Weller is the baking superstar of our time. As the head baker at some of the best restaurants in the country, her takes on chocolate babka and sticky From the James Beard Award nominee who redefined American baking, a comprehensive baking bible for the twenty-first century, with 120 scientifically grounded recipes for sweet and savory baked goods anyone can master. Melissa Weller is the baking superstar of our time. As the head baker at some of the best restaurants in the country, her takes on chocolate babka and sticky buns brought these classics back to life and kicked off a nationwide movement. In A Good Bake, Weller shares her meticulously honed, carefully detailed recipes for producing impossibly delicious--and impossibly beautiful--baked goods. A chemical engineer before she became a baker, Weller uses her scientific background to explain the whys and hows of baking, so home cooks can achieve perfect results every time. Here are recipes both sweet (Pumpkin Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Brown Sugar Frosting) and savory (Khachapuri with Cheese, Baked Egg, and Nigella Seeds); beloved classics (Croissants and Chocolate Babka) and new sure-to-be favorites (Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Blondies)--as well as Salted Caramel Sticky Buns, of course . . . all written and tested for even the most novice home baker to re-create. With gorgeous photographs by the award-winning Johnny Miller, and tutorials that demystify all of the stuff that sounds complicated, like working with yeast, sourdough starters, and laminating dough Weller's book is the one guide every home baker needs.

30 review for A Good Bake: The Art and Science of Making Perfect Pastries, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Breads at Home: A Cookbook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anna Catherman

    A Good Bake was, hands-down, the most condescending, impractical cookbook I've ever read. It seems marketed to the home baker, yet many of the recipes are seven to eight page essays involving everything from traditional French techniques to the care and keeping of sourdough. I'm willing to make homemade Oreo and from-scratch pizza dough, and like finding uncommon recipes, like Snipdoodles. I was open to the idea of making some of the more difficult pastries in this book. That being said, I found t A Good Bake was, hands-down, the most condescending, impractical cookbook I've ever read. It seems marketed to the home baker, yet many of the recipes are seven to eight page essays involving everything from traditional French techniques to the care and keeping of sourdough. I'm willing to make homemade Oreo and from-scratch pizza dough, and like finding uncommon recipes, like Snipdoodles. I was open to the idea of making some of the more difficult pastries in this book. That being said, I found this book's tone to be a bigger problem than its actual content. A Good Bake talks about how few people know that homemade graham crackers exist, and explains in detail what gelatin is and how you need to rehydrate it. The average home cook, perhaps, wouldn't know these details, but I think the author underestimates the average chef. And I'm pretty certain at least ninety-five percent of individuals picking up a 450-page baking tome know that graham crackers do not, necessarily, have to come from a factory. The book also has an extreme emphasis on perfectionism, assuming that its readership, if it will take time to make such elaborate desserts from scratch, will want to make them absolutely flawlessly. Combine the tone with the fact that the recipes involve many pieces of specialty equipment and peculiar ingredients, and you get a recipe for discouragement and hopelessness. The tone, combined with the impracticality of the recipes, made this cookbook the most disappointing I've read in years. I tried the chocolate chip cookie recipe, in hopes that perhaps the resulting sweets would change my mind, but they were nothing special. Very glad I borrowed this one from the library.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Tyler

    A Good Bake: The Art and Science of Making Perfect Pastries, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Breads at Home by Melissa Weller; Carolynn Carreno is currently scheduled for release on November 17 2020. In A Good Bake, Weller shares detailed recipes for producing delicious, and beautiful, baked goods. A chemical engineer before she became a baker, Weller uses her scientific background to explain the whys and hows of baking, so home cooks can achieve perfect results every time. Here are recipes both sweet A Good Bake: The Art and Science of Making Perfect Pastries, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Breads at Home by Melissa Weller; Carolynn Carreno is currently scheduled for release on November 17 2020. In A Good Bake, Weller shares detailed recipes for producing delicious, and beautiful, baked goods. A chemical engineer before she became a baker, Weller uses her scientific background to explain the whys and hows of baking, so home cooks can achieve perfect results every time. Here are recipes both sweet (Pumpkin Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Brown Sugar Frosting) and savory (Khachapuri with Cheese, Baked Egg, and Nigella Seeds); beloved classics (Croissants and Chocolate Babka) and new sure-to-be favorites (Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Blondies)--as well as Salted Caramel Sticky Buns, all written and tested for even the most novice home baker to re-create. With photographs by the award-winning Johnny Miller, and tutorials that demystify all of the stuff that sounds complicated, like working with yeast, sourdough starters, and laminating dough Weller's book is a comprehensive guide. A Good Bake is a great look at the science and detail that can make or break our bake. I love getting down to the reason my muffins did not rise, or a loaf of bread did not turn out quite like I expected- even when I swear I did everything right. I am also the type of baker that after I do the same recipe a few time I like to switch up ingredients or eyeball amounts, and knowing what the key ingredients do for the final product, this kind of information is extremely helpful in having those experiments turn out successfully. Weller starts by giving the basic advice that we all know, but rarely follow- a careful reading of the recipe and planning of the bake based on its details. She goes on to explain some of the common pitfalls, tools and ingredients, and of course the tools and terms of the trade. While some more experienced bakers might just skip over this bit, I will admit to simply skimming it in most cookbooks, but I found it well worth a more thorough read in this case. I found the recipes to be very detailed, and nicely organized. I liked the bits of extra information included in the recipes about how or why something happens or is important. Although, I will admit that I could have done without the information about where she came up with a recipe or I also like that the measurements are given in both common cups and weights, giving even those unable or unwilling to make the switch equal opportunity to enjoy the recipes. I found the variety of recipes, and the ideas included to be informative. I thought the photographs were a great match, and liked that there were some step by step photographs- which I found very helpful particularly with the shaping of some bread. No matter how good the phrasing is, sometimes a good picture is key to understanding the way a twist, plait, or fold is meant to go. A well written and informative cookbook that covers the hows and whys of a good bake. A Good Bake is a great cookbook for bakers that like knowing the science involved in getting the perfect bake.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I haven't actually tried any of these recipes yet so I may come back and increase the rating. For now, it is only low because almost every bread requires a sourdough starter which I find annoying. At least I can try some of the cookies and pies and cakes. Photos in this are gorgeous, and the recipes are incredibly detailed. I haven't actually tried any of these recipes yet so I may come back and increase the rating. For now, it is only low because almost every bread requires a sourdough starter which I find annoying. At least I can try some of the cookies and pies and cakes. Photos in this are gorgeous, and the recipes are incredibly detailed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Disappointing, poorly edited. I did try a few recipes. Not impressed. Not all recipes had pictures. Not clear what recipes went with some of the pictures. She may be a great chef, but she needs a better editing team. One recipe I tried called for 1 1/4 cups of dried apricots and converted to 23 grams...! Really, how did that get through the editor.

  5. 5 out of 5

    False

    I was disappointed in this book. I would say it is aimed for those who already have master level baking skills. She is thorough in explaining her techniques and the whys and wherefores, but I think most people looking for home baking skills don't want to go through the length of these processes for one loaf of bread, or a layer cake. There are special tools required, special flavorings to be purchased. Recipes with fillings face the same problem. You are already following several pages of recipe I was disappointed in this book. I would say it is aimed for those who already have master level baking skills. She is thorough in explaining her techniques and the whys and wherefores, but I think most people looking for home baking skills don't want to go through the length of these processes for one loaf of bread, or a layer cake. There are special tools required, special flavorings to be purchased. Recipes with fillings face the same problem. You are already following several pages of recipe for a donut and then you are going to make blood orange jam to pipe into it? Personally? Judging from the photography, I thought all of the crusts were overbaked and could potentially taste burnt or bitter. I saw little that I would want to replicate, although I am going to try her chocolate cookie recipe and her chocolate chip ricotta loaf. I also love seeing an extremely thin baker in the pictures, making you wonder if she even eats this stuff. I think this book has an audience, but it would be a small one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    So many recipes! Savory and sweet, breads and cakes, plain doughs and everything you could possibly do with them - this is a very comprehensive cookbook! The instructions are quite long, but they're very detailed - there's no vague wording left up to interpretation, which, when you're trying to bake a perfect bread, is super annoying. No, everything is very thoroughly explained, which is incredibly useful, especially if you're new to baking. Love the variety and the detail. So many recipes! Savory and sweet, breads and cakes, plain doughs and everything you could possibly do with them - this is a very comprehensive cookbook! The instructions are quite long, but they're very detailed - there's no vague wording left up to interpretation, which, when you're trying to bake a perfect bread, is super annoying. No, everything is very thoroughly explained, which is incredibly useful, especially if you're new to baking. Love the variety and the detail.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this review copy! I am extremely impressed, in an overwhelmed sort of way. The detail, the instructions, goes on for pages. And pages. If you wanted to learn how to make these sorts of items, I'm certain this is the book for you! However, the difficulty level makes me want to curl up in the corner and eat Twinkies in my despondency, because this is obviously all I am worthy of. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this review copy! I am extremely impressed, in an overwhelmed sort of way. The detail, the instructions, goes on for pages. And pages. If you wanted to learn how to make these sorts of items, I'm certain this is the book for you! However, the difficulty level makes me want to curl up in the corner and eat Twinkies in my despondency, because this is obviously all I am worthy of.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mskychick

    This book seems like it would be right up my alley. Written by an engineer and professional baker. I love to know all about the scientific reasons about why things do or don’t work in baking and cooking. However, in terms of recipes, there was not much here I think I would want to make, so this is not a book I will be buying for my keeper shelf. Which makes me sad.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. And it is way too hot to go outside, so why not sit in from of the blasting a/c and read and review books?? BTW - stay home and save lives!!!!!!!! No tan is worth dying for. I requested and re When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. And it is way too hot to go outside, so why not sit in from of the blasting a/c and read and review books?? BTW - stay home and save lives!!!!!!!! No tan is worth dying for. I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. From the James Beard Award nominee who redefined American baking, a comprehensive baking bible for the twenty-first century, with 120 scientifically grounded recipes for sweet and savoury baked goods anyone can master. Melissa Weller is the baking superstar of our time. As the head baker at some of the best restaurants in the country, her takes on chocolate babka and sticky buns brought these classics back to life and kicked off a nationwide movement. In A Good Bake, Weller shares her meticulously honed, carefully detailed recipes for producing impossibly delicious--and impossibly beautiful--baked goods. A chemical engineer before she became a baker, Weller uses her scientific background to explain the whys and hows of baking, so home cooks can achieve perfect results every time. Here are recipes both sweet (Pumpkin Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Brown Sugar Frosting) and savoury (Khachapuri with Cheese, Baked Egg, and Nigella Seeds); beloved classics (Croissants and Chocolate Babka) and new sure-to-be favourites (Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Blondies)--as well as Salted Caramel Sticky Buns, of course . . . all written and tested for even the most novice home baker to re-create. With gorgeous photographs by the award-winning Johnny Miller, and tutorials that demystify all of the stuff that sounds complicated, like working with yeast, sourdough starters, and laminating dough Weller's book is the one guide every home baker needs. I can finally admit something - this #COVID19 and #socialisolation thing has resulted in one thing --- I can finally bake. Not well, but I can bake! Excellently written, this book can get non-bakers like me baking and good bakers become experts at it. I decided to make (last night) Pumpkin Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Brown Sugar Frosting and it turned out! I made a cake that was not from a mix!! (Luckily I always have canned pumpkin on hand so I could try to make it...my dad loves pumpkin custard so we buy canned pumpkin by the case in hopes of keeping weight on him.) The book is technical, but baking is a science, not an art. And the photos are drool-worthy - my book club(s) will be very happy that I am going to buy a hard copy of this book so I can keep them in baked goods. My only complaint is that the use of ingredients like Nigella seeds that are very hard to source can turn some people off. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🥧🧁🍪🍩🎂

  10. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC from Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I loved this cookbook and reading about Chef Melissa's background. I am very familiar with Nancy Silverton's Brand La Brea Bakery and giving how Melissa's passion grew and grew the more she studied, made me want to dive into these recipes and explore myself. All of the photos taken really brought life to the pastries and the This book was received as an ARC from Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I loved this cookbook and reading about Chef Melissa's background. I am very familiar with Nancy Silverton's Brand La Brea Bakery and giving how Melissa's passion grew and grew the more she studied, made me want to dive into these recipes and explore myself. All of the photos taken really brought life to the pastries and they look so delicious like they were just popping off of the page. This definitely will be a future cooking demo book because if everyone can make at least one of these recipes, they can make anything. I can't wait to try the Chocolate Babka and the Khachapuri with Cheese and I know everyone will go crazy for them and will want more and more. We will consider adding this title to our TX Non-Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dree

    Sept/Oct 2021 Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club baking pick. p 14 Khachapuri with Cheese, Baked Egg, and Nigella Seeds. Delicious, but these things are huge and have so much cheese and are very rich. I did the dough the night before as suggested--it worked up quickly and perfectly. I may do a variation (and have 2 more rounds in the fridge) with less cheese, add spinach, and keep the egg. Also make them half the size!! P 387 Chocolate Sugar Cookies. Good, the cocoa powder stands out if you like slight Sept/Oct 2021 Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club baking pick. p 14 Khachapuri with Cheese, Baked Egg, and Nigella Seeds. Delicious, but these things are huge and have so much cheese and are very rich. I did the dough the night before as suggested--it worked up quickly and perfectly. I may do a variation (and have 2 more rounds in the fridge) with less cheese, add spinach, and keep the egg. Also make them half the size!! P 387 Chocolate Sugar Cookies. Good, the cocoa powder stands out if you like slightly butter cookies (my husband does). These are the perfect size and texture for ice cream sandwiches, but you need the right ice cream flavor to go with the cocoa taste. Vanilla is not right.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    I would have enjoyed this cookbook more in a different season of my life, but the current one contains an infant and a 4 year old. I am likely not going to make any of the recipes at this time (maybe the brownies. maybe), although I would love to revisit this book in a few years and try out many of the recipes in the breads (sourdough brioche? yes please!!) and pastries. I did like reading the introductory bits!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    When you pick up an almost 500 page baking book you get excited. Until you open it and realize that some echoes don’t have any pictures, some have 4. Some recipes are 7 pages long. I swear some of these recipes I’ve made before and were on. One. Single. Page. That was a letdown. Sad but it’s a library book so it’s one I definitely don’t need to buy cause I won’t make a thing out of it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Gorgeous photos—especially the one of the iced chocolate babka on pp. 102-3 (also on the cover but not as impressive there). OMG! Also enjoyed her introductions to the recipes that include some science. This is quite an amazing & voluminous tomb but sadly, I don’t have the stamina to make any of these meticulous and time consuming recipes; I am drooling and craving pastries, though!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liquidlasagna

    the book would be perfect, once they fix all the typos --- A very good combination: Baking science all of us can understand and a splendid collection of recipes....A baker’s must! Dorie Greenspan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    An excellent bread book but well beyond what I want to do. I was also disappointed to see some recipes included two full page color images while many others had none. Poor design there. fwiw the book is extraordinarily heavy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Janine

    Love the explanations of the science behind the baking in this book. I also appreciate that there is a “master class” at the beginning of each section that gives an overview of the common elements for that type of baked goods. Can’t wait to try some of the recipes, especially laminated pastry.

  18. 4 out of 5

    KathleenB

    Too much sourdough focus, and the recipe format bothers me a little.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mairzi

    Has some good bakes in it but it is not a graat cook book. Too many errors/omissions

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

    the science behind baking

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ariste Egan

    I'm not sure you could ask for a more comprehensive book on baking all things delicious - both sweet and savory. I'm not sure you could ask for a more comprehensive book on baking all things delicious - both sweet and savory.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brianna Sowinski

    A candidate for an a baking guide.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amber Kelly

    Absolutely beautiful and FULL of delicious recipes. One of my top cookbooks and a must have for sure

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ashani

    Gosh this book is everything an accomplished baker should get hid/her hands on !

  25. 4 out of 5

    K Whipple

    Reinforces that baking is science (cooking is art). She tells you why something works and helps you recreate the magic. If you are looking to become a better, more knowledgeable baker, this is the book for you. Everything is beautiful and doable. A keeper.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Scott

  27. 4 out of 5

    tyren landry

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lexi

  30. 4 out of 5

    Josh Brown

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