With recipes listed in the order of the time they take, Abigail Johnson Dodge guides the baker through easy steps to a mouth-watering success every time. Her key concept is an enticing blend of elements not found in any other single book: great-looking and great-tasting breads, puddings, cookies, cupcakes, cakes and pies, ranging from fast and simple projects, like the "emergency" cupcakes that can be mixed up in minutes, to more ambitious undertakings, like a lattice-topped apple pie that can be put together in stages. The Weekend Baker promises to lure time-pressed bakers into the kitchen.
What's a weekend baker? "Anyone who loves to bake, but gets tripped up feeling that it's too time consuming," writes Abigail Johnson Dodge in The Weekend Baker, her collection of 100-plus recipes for a wide range of sweet and savory baked goods. Formulas for the likes of Gingered Shortcakes with Jumbled Fruit, Soft Chocolate-Almond Oatmeal Cookies, and Chocolate-Banana Swirl Cake are immediately attractive, but the great value of Dodge's book lies in its organization, which takes readers from the simplest and quickest projects--"Baker's Express"--through "Baking in Stages," and finally "Productions," fuller-dress items like Four-Layer Carrot Cake and Overnight Brioche Braid; these are, nevertheless, well within the average baker's skill. In a world of baking books that offer the simplest and most traditional recipes only, or assume that readers have the time and technique to create multi-element extravaganzas, The Weekend Baker stands apart. Its approach is realistic without sacrificing good taste or recipe integrity. Dodge includes tips that cover familiar ground--get to know your oven, and the lik--but also offers, for example, "Bake It and Stow It," a detailed guide to storing sweets. Features like "Do-Aheads," and "Got Extra Time?," usefully further Dodge's quick-and-delicious approach. (She's also pleasingly droll; a really rich brownie is dubbed "prescription-strength."). With color photos, the book is a real addition to the harried baker's library. --Arthur Boehm