By David Lebovitz
Photographs by Maren Caruso
Ten Speed Press -- 2010
Buy it on Amazon
This is the Slinky of cookbooks. I've been paging back and forth, back and forth, mesmerized, spurred on each time I land on a silvery endpaper. It's an enticing, beautiful book with charm and know-how. But this book is not for a coffee table; I'd put it on a pedestal.
See what we tested and whether it's worth buying after the jump.
Takeaway Tips: Lebovitz wants us to chillax about baking. Too often perceived as a persnickety enterprise, here it's measure and go forth.
Cookbooks, especially baking books, often come with primers on ingredients and equipment. Instead of skimming these, I found myself really drawn in by their thoughtfulness. There's a lot of Lebovitz in this book, and he's by far the best ingredient.
Quality of Pictures: Like a greedy kid, Caruso's sexy, bold photos just made me want more. The photos are plentiful but when there wasn't one, I was selfishly miffed. In Maggie-world, every recipe would have a photo and the publishers would just eat the cost.
What We Tested: My methodology for selecting recipes for testing is complex and scientific. For this book, after endless slinkying, I chose one because it was Lebovitz's mom's and the other because it was the child of obsession. A mother and child reunion, if you will.
The date-nut torte, by way of Lebovitz's mom, was one of those no heavy machinery, no real thinking ahead, and mostly pantry staple recipes that speak to my no fuss, no muss leanings. Orange and anise give this humble snack cake a touch of luxe. It's one of those desserts that you can't keep your hands out of. Perhaps the powdered sugar is to dissuade constant picking but it doesn't have a chance in hell.
After 12 years of trial and error, Lebovitz has mastered the Croquant. A French cookie, whose name I believe, translates as crackly or crunchy but might as well just be called crack. Taste one and you totally get why he obsessed. I got all Gollum on them... We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.... thankfully he is not me, and shared this recipe.
Worth the Investment: Many of these recipes are tweaked, update-tations from Lebovitz's earlier two books but that doesn't make this a rehash. I know you probably think my life is glamorous and that I get to keep all these books I review. Well it is, but I don't. So when I tell you it's worth the investment, I'm weighing my own thin wallet and my bookshelf real estate. This book; buy it and bake the living daylights out of it.