Bake from Scratch: Artisan Recipes for the Home Baker (Volume One)

Brian Hart Hoffman's Bake from Scratch: Artisan Recipes for the Home Baker, Volume One, is a big, beautiful cookbook full of those recipes. The ones people marvel over, not so much for their exquisite details as their perfectly satisfying and completely memorable tastes. My grandmother and great-grandmother were both known for their baking, and I've certainly inherited their interest, and time/practice are making up for the experience gap. What I do have that they didn't is a stand mixer, and that makes turning out loaves, cakes, rolls, and more a lot less time-consuming.

What I don't have are their recipes. Somehow, they weren't passed down with the hand-cranked egg beater and cast-iron skillets. I've found some pretty good ones, though, either in the pages of Southern Living cookbooks or in Pinterest collections, but it is always a pleasure to thumb through a really large collection of recipes in print, and that's what we have in the two Bake from Scratch volumes. There is a much longer hold list on volume two, so the recipes I mention here are from the first volume.

Every baker needs one or two dependable roll recipes for large gatherings, especially during the holidays. The Parker House Rolls recipe is an excellent example: "This essential dough creates feather-light, buttery bread...the only dinner roll recipe you'll ever need."  There's many sorts of beloved traditional bread: soft pretzels, brioche, challah, biscuits, ciabatta, and sourdough, complete with instructions for making your own starter, something unique that can be maintained and passed from generation to generation, if desired.

But bread is only part of what you'll find here. There are cakes, too. Some of these have a modern artisan flair (Chai Butternut Squash Bundt Cake, Gingerbread Pear Loaves, Blueberry Cornmeal Skillet Cake) while others are takes on traditional European classics (Gâteau Basque, rich with pastry cream; Six Layer Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake; Italian Cream Cake; Le Fraisier Cake). But you'll also find a plentitude of those traditional, basic, and yet rich American cakes that are the stuff of family celebrations: Apple Spice Cake, Chocolate Buttercream Cake, Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate-Buttermilk Frosting, and a fun and lovely birthday cake with sprinkles in the batter -and- on top of the frosting.

Beyond bread and cakes, you'll find recipes for pies and pastries (both savory and sweet), bars and cookies, and homemade ice creams to sandwich between those cookies.

If you enjoy preparing the kinds of foods people remember fondly (and ask for the recipes), you'll find a trove of delicious possibilities in this book, and none of the instructions are so exacting that they are beyond the abilities of a home cook, preferably equipped with a stand mixer.

Below, Hoffman Media shares how to fold egg whites into cake batter, a critical step for creating some of the lightest and most memorable cakes: