Reviewed by Jen K.

There are so many baking books on the market that it becomes a real challenge to find one that stands out from the crowded bookshelves. Some are fair, some are quite useful and a very few sweep me off my feet. The Perfect Finish fits neatly into that last category, as an absolute standout. Wow. This book really does has all the components of a fabulous cookbook: intriguing stories, splendid photos, great instructions and of course, amazing recipes.

I like that the authors acknowledge that sometimes we need to impress our guests. Thus, they offer big, show stoppers like Mamie Eisenhower’s Cheesecake with a Chocolate Crust or Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt that will stop your company right in their tracks. The Orange Flower-Scented Kugelhopf states “Simply put, this is a spectacular display of your baking prowess.” Fear not, the book is not that limited. There are also many simple recipes that are appealing in a different way. Bake up a pan of Apple and White Cheddar Scones for your own family on Saturday morning, become known for bringing Pecan Toffee Bars to the office on Mondays, or select your own signature from the twelve recipes presented in the “Birthday and Celebration Cakes” chapter.

Although this book is full of great recipes, it’s not solely the recipes that make it outstanding. The commentary from the authors plays a huge part in making the reader feel like a professional chef is whispering pointers right in your ear. Rather than just assembling a host of recipes, they made a point of sharing exactly why each dish is their favorite and the steps to take to make sure it becomes one of yours. The result is a very personal collection – like you somehow stumbled upon a secret diary from the most amazing and [amazonify]0393059537[/amazonify]personable baker. The photos, of which there are many, are so well done that I found myself thinking “I want to make that!” even before I read the recipe title. They are that good. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I found a cookbook as intoxicating as this.

As well as a baking genius, author Bill Yosses is currently the White House Executive Pastry Chef. Click here to read a very nice Q & A with him. If you only buy one new baking book this year, make it this one. Even if you think you don’t really need another baking book, at the very minimum take a moment to leaf through this one at the bookstore. I would classify this book as on par with Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, which is a very high compliment. The Perfect Finish is an apt title, indeed.

Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and five year old son. She writes reviews of children’s book on her blog, FIRR-Kids. She enjoys trying new recipes and using her baking as an excuse to add more cookbooks to her collection.

This book was provided free of any obligation by W.W. Norton & Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.