The Baking Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), $40.00

Nine recipes into the first recipe chapter of The Baking Bible, “Cakes” (and specifically “Butter and Oil Cakes”), Rose Levy Beranbaum offers the Pink Pearl Lady Cake, a perfectly restrained but beautifully executed confection that celebrates our longtime professional friendship. The cake is a sweet collusion of butter cake composed with strawberry mousseline (filling and undercoat) and wrapped in white chocolate fondant. We are baking pals–just like the cake, two fancifully-layered, multi-textural personalities–and have been for years, so now you know what might seem like an inherent bias as I describe Ms. Beranbaum’s new baking book.
It is not, however, a bias built on the classic notion of favoritism, but more of a bent on sharing a similar mind-set for the love of baking and offering recipes in our own detailed way. I admired Ms. Beranbaum’s work long before I was allowed the opportunity to publish books on the subject, for her intense focus and mastery of baking chemistry dazzled me. The Cake Bible gave a sense of credibility to baking and likely paved the way for authors to flourish in the field. The Baking Bible does no less, and much more.
In 560 hefty but velvety pages, Ms. Beranbaum teaches and entices in a friendly and, occasionally, studious way. You’d be wise to read (and perhaps commit to memory) “Rose’s Golden Rules” before measuring ingredients and preheating the oven so you know what is expected. This is a woman who advises on how to break and separate an egg (in some detail) and use a stand mixer or a handheld mixer to its best advantage. In case you’ve missed something along the way, “Highlights for Success” pop up in many recipes to explain the hows-and-whys of a particular ingredient or method. Deep within the instructions of each recipe is a baking lesson–even in the simplest one: In “My Chocolate Chip Cookies,” the butter is clarified and browned and the resulting dough is chilled; you’ll learn about the process to making a chewy-crisp cookie and reason for a particular technique along the way. (Result? This is a knock-out recipe.)
The chapters in The Baking Bible are set out in familiar categories (“Cakes,” “Pies, Tarts, and Other Pastries,” “Cookies and Candy,” and “Breads and Yeast Pastries”) but the recipes are not typically commonplace. Rather, the formulas are thoughtfully composed versions hand-picked from the author’s range and expertise. And it’s a wide, precise swing into her baking world.