The Artful Baker by Cenk Sonmezsoy

Stunning photography makes this book well worth having even if the recipes were terrible. Landscapes relating to recipes’ origins, wonderful process photos, shots of ingredients that make them look like they should be in museums, and pictures of the finished products that range from adorable to charming to drop-dead gorgeous. Seriously, the photos alone are worth the price.

But the recipes are very very not terrible. Contrary to what seems to be the norm since the pandemic began, I haven’t had much time for baking in the past couple of years, but (once I get past the fact that my last stove blew up) I sincerely want to make every item in this book. And that never happens – there’s always something too weird or outre or with some ingredient I don’t like that I’d be fine skipping. Not here. Desserts from Chocolate Chip Cookies to macarons to something strange and wonderful called Mont Blanco; beverages from hot chocolate to elderflower cordial; recipes sweet and savory; globe-spanning foods ranging from focaccia to simit from Istanbul to Eton Mess (keep hearing about this dessert in your British television or novel consumption? Here’s your chance to make it. It looks marvelous.) And, as in the Great British Baking Show, there’s an ice cream section which could, if I allowed it, be life-altering.

I like that the recipe names basically follow the rule of “just tell me what it is”. “Carrot cake with blond chocolate frosting/’;[” – sorry, I drooled on the keyboard there. But there is also a touch of whimsey here and there – the apple cake included here isn’t just an apple cake, it’s a “Deeply Appley Apple Cake”, which is actually something I’ve been looking for for years. And “The Devil Wears Chocolate”, which when you think about it makes sense.

And if the beautiful pictures and the amazing recipes on the whole weren’t enough, there’s a recipe for making your own chocolate and hazelnut balls – “Fernando Rocher.” I need to do some shopping soon to stock up my baking essentials.

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