Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review: The Messy Baker by Charmian Christie

Since when did every cookie on the plate have to be just like the next? Or each layer of cake exactly the same height? Each piecrust an impeccable work of art and encircled by stunningly perfect pastry leaves? To the uninitiated, all that fastidious, spotless baking is intimidating, not to mention exhausting. The Messy Baker celebrates baking as it happens in the real world—sweet, messy, fun, not always gorgeous, but a way to show love. Which doesn’t make it any less delicious; to the contrary, Charmian Christie’s flavor combinations rise far above the ordinary. Why have a raspberry galette when you can enjoy a raspberry-rhubarb galette with drippy, unctuous walnut frangipane? Or how about a Brie and walnut whiskey tart? It’s all yours without the rigid perfectionism or complicated instructions of other gourmet cookbooks.

Christie’s warm, irreverent voice brings the fun back into baking at a time when home cooks—pulled from pillar to post by jobs and errands—need to have fun. The Messy Baker is a full-service book that not only guides the reader through simple, delicious recipes but is also there to help out when things go wrong. For anyone who gave in frustration when that cake collapsed or the frosting smeared, Christie’s practical advice is here to rescue even the worst disaster and inspire the baker to try the next recipe.



E-galley received for review.

I love flipping through cookbooks and when I saw the gorgeous dark chocolate brownies pictured on the cover of this book I simply could not pass it by.

I was a little bit surprised to discover that nearly 50 pages of the book were devoted to a lengthy introduction detailing the ingredients and pans needed to make the recipes.  I was expecting a simpler cookbook with down-to-earth recipes, but this was a bit more involved.

I was pleasantly surprised that once I actually made it to the recipes there were a combination of both sweet and savory options.  "Baking" usually means sweet recipes so it was nice to see savory recipes.  The sweet to savory recipe ratio was about 1:1 which I felt made it a little heavy on the savories.

I liked that each recipe had an accompanying photograph so you knew what it was supposed to look like.  That's always immensely helpful when trying to achieve the desired result.

Overall, I was not particularly impressed with the recipes.  There was nothing simple and many seemed to have entirely too many things going on, like the Cherry and Lemon Macaroon Meringues.  Are they macaroons or meringues?  Why combine them?  It was strange.

So, while the premise was interesting and there were a couple recipes that I'd like to try I wasn't blown away.  If you can find it at your library it's worth a look but I wouldn't rush out to buy a copy.

★★☆☆ = Liked It



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