Comments: Beth Lipton knows a highly educated woman who lived in the same apartment for nine years – and never turned on the oven. Her book is for that woman, and everyone else who has been scared off by baking. The book features desserts for nearly any occasion, that can be made without a kitchen full of expensive tools and – the primary goal here – without the baker feeling overwhelmed.
What we love about this book is that it is not a collection of thrown-together store-bought ingredients arranged prettily on a plate (and those books are out there) – these are real recipes. You may purchase pie crusts and puff pastry, but most everything else is from scratch.
The chapters feature cookies and bars, cakes, custards and puddings, pies and fruit desserts, candies, sauces and frostings, and "emergency desserts." There are sections on required or desired tools, ingredients, the "lingo" of the kitchen, and basic how-to information. All this service material is hidden at the back of the book, presumably so you won't be scared off while browsing in a bookstore. But don't be fooled, it's there; we just don't think it's all that scary.
Each recipe has a list of all the tools you'll need, and explains in simple language words that may be simple, but have crept into many recipes without explanation – words like the verbs to fold and to cream.
We notice that there is no show-stopper cake here, but perhaps that is coming in the next book. There is a certain amount of alcohol and a certain amount of coffee in various recipes, and that is going to turn off a few people, but there are plenty of recipes with neither.
We like the recipes. We very much like the concept. If real novices work their way through a recipe, they will not only turn out a good dessert, they'll gain a real feeling of accomplishment, and they'll absolutely know how to turn on their oven – something they may do again and again.