Cookbook Review: SprinkleBakes by Heather Baird
My obsession with baking began when I had a lot of time on my hands. Suddenly, making my own crème brûlée sounded like a valid project now that the hours stretched before me, long and seemingly insurmountable. Don’t ask me why extra time lessened my fear of destroying the kitchen during a culinary experiment, because that is a question I could not answer. Nonetheless, I was found whiling away the hours over a saucepan, waiting for crème to scald. One success led to a desire for more, which required more recipe sources. Luckily, my best friend was quite supportive, sending me links to delicious food blogs that had desserts too tempting to pass up.
This is how I discovered SprinkleBakes, a blog full of delicious and beautiful confections I just had to try. After trying many of Heather’s recipes (chocolate chianti cupcakes were always a fav), I was delighted to find that she would be publishing a book. Naturally I had to preorder it! I was not disappointed in the least. A true artist, she chose to organize her book by artistic principles rather than baking ones. The result is an exploration of tastes, color, and sculpture that turns desserts into works of art.
Luckily, Heather does not forget the basics that make her desserts possible. Before jumping into the world of art and food, she lays these our as well, explaining the best cake for sculpting, how to make the perfect fondant, buttercream, or royal icing, etc. For those impatient souls (myself included), you can jump straight to the more ambitious endeavors, but this section is always there to give you the basis upon which your own spectacular desserts can grow.
Overall, I give this book 5 stars. I still have many recipes to discover, but the ones I have tried have been pretty (with practice) and tasty. So far only one recipe has sacrificed taste for looks, as the cookies were a bit chalky in texture. Beyond that, everything I have attempted has impressed. Here are a few of the winners.
(A personal favorite)
A rather lengthy process leads to one delicious cupcake. You start with a brown sugar cupcake, core it and add a caramel filling, top that off with a caramel buttercream, and end with a swirl of actual caramel candy. Why not incorporate three kinds of caramel? At all stages of the baking process, this dessert is delicious (and the brown sugar cupcake base makes for a sweet breakfast with or without the filling).
You cannot go wrong with a simple sugar cookie recipe, but I for one never knew how best to decorate them. With some ingenuity, a little bit of template making skill, and bowls filled with multiple colors and consistencies of royal icing, anything can be achieved.
There are more decorative ideas in her book, but my favorite were the marimekko cookies and the postcard cookies. The marimekko cookies come from a simple template and only use three colors of icing. For the postcard cookies, you can stamp any design you want on wafer paper with food coloring and then affix the paper with a little corn syrup. With the help of wafer paper, apparently anything is possible (and edible).
Craving Green Tea
Green tea provides delicious flavor and vibrant color to some already amazing desserts. Heather uses matcha green tea powder (which can be purchased on Amazon or at your local Asian market) to flavor a génoise cake and a white chocolate cheesecake. Both are light and scrumptious And now that I have the matcha powder, I cannot wait to make some green tea biscotti!
Another thing these fabulous recipes taught me? That almond is a perfect compliment for green tea.
The Bottom Line
Buy the book and visit the blog. You will not be disappointed. With such innovative ideas, Heather Baird is definitely the baker I aspire to be.
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