No exaggeration, Your Time to Bake by Robert Blakeslee is the perfect book for someone who is interested in learning to bake. Not only do you get to see photos of each finished product, but there are also columns of in-progress photos for each recipe. Exactly what a beginner needs to feel confident as they move along – visual proof they are on the right track. You know you found a great guide when page three is “How to Read the Recipes.” with a sample illustration page. Blakeslee is not taking any chances – Your Time to Bake is written with the assumption that the reader may be using the oven for sweater storage. I think that’s a fantastic approach!
The first three chapters are incredibly important for a person who is new to baking. It is here that basic ingredients are explained, and introductions to kitchen equipment are made. I love how there is an illustration for every single kitchen gadget, from oven mitt to pastry dough blender. This section also contains a thorough index of baking terms with easy, concise definitions. Possibly the most useful is the section that explains and illustrates commonly used techniques. You can actually see and compare the differences between whipping and folding, learn how to grease and flour a pan, trim a pie crust, and more.
As for the actual recipes, I think Blakeslee does a great job of offering a wide selection of baked goods. He includes the expected chapters on cookies, pies, breads, and cakes, but also devotes an entire chapter to cheesecakes and one to puff pastry. New York Strawberry Cheesecake looks super impressive, but the illustrated steps make it seem like a snap to throw together. Actually, all the dishes seem manageable thanks to his clear directions and step-by-step photos. Even treats that can be a bit involved, like Rugelach and Biscotti, seem very approachable. Your Time to Bake really does a fantastic job of making the kitchen accessible to every person, no matter how little baking experience they may have.
It is also worth mentioning that this is also a pretty humorous cookbook. I think the puns and wordplay are meant to help you remember that baking doesn’t have to be serious business. You can still make accurate measurements a priority, while ensuring that your time in the kitchen is enjoyable. During the introduction, Blakeslee mentions that his mother “was an absolutely amazing cook, but she couldn’t bake her way out of a paper bag.” This book can save you from that fate.
Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and six year old son. She writes reviews of children’s books on her blog, FIRR-Kids and loves filling her own shelves with cookbooks.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Square One Publishers. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.