In his recipes, David Lebovitz articulates a well-crafted sensibility about baking. As a cheerleader for good ingredients (butter, chocolate, almond paste, and vanilla, to name a few components) and respectable equipment (baking sheets, cake pans, cooling racks, and pastry brushes, among the basics), he weaves these–and more–into mainstream-with-a-twist recipes.
As the author of Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes, an updated compilation derived from previous works, this baker tempts you to revisit (or initially visit) the likes of Chocolate Orbit Cake (page 26), Brazil Nut, Date, and Fresh Ginger Tart (page 98), and Coconut Tapioca Pudding (page 147). These recipes aside, you really should begin by baking his Chocolate Chip Cookies (page 200), another iteration of a dear American staple. Enjoying a warm chocolate chip cookie, having ignored the instruction to cool said cookie on a rack, has always been a transformative moment for me and to understand Lebovitz’s chocolate-chip-cookie-point-of-view, you should bake his version. The book is organized around the following recipe-based chapters: “Cakes,” “Pies, Tarts, and Fruit Desserts,” “Custards, Soufflés, and Puddings,” “Frozen Desserts,” “Cookies and Candies,” and “Basics, Sauces, and Preserves.” Information on ingredients and equipment precedes the recipes.
Ready for Dessert is smooth and glossy like the brownie batter that appears in the volume, and slightly jiggly (in an endearing way) like his flan, but really, at the outmost, it’s an accomplished baker’s fondly remembered collection of recipes.
Of his dessert, Summer Pudding, Lebovitz instructs: “Just dig right in.” I’ll second that–for the entire collection.