by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito

Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $29.95, 207 pages

Cookbooks with gorgeous illustrations double as coffee table books and are quite popular with publishers. Here is a great example having full-page, high-res, stunning professional photo images that are a pleasure to flip through. The recipe collection is also very good though most of them you readily find in most good baking books. A nice five-page introduction gives the baker necessary equipment, tools and baking terms. The recipes are of classic regional American, some left nearly unchanged and others updated to suit the two authors’ high standards established in their professional bakeries. Each recipe is preceded by a descriptive and informative head note including stories, and sprinkled throughout the book are additional useful sidebars (“How to Freeze Brownies”).

The recipes are well written, easy to follow even for the novice, and ingredients are neatly listed in a sidebar, many with additional notes below. The collection is varied throughout the spectrum (Malted Waffles, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, Tomato Soup Cupcakes). The layout is beautiful but not baker friendly. Many recipes flip over to a next page to the inconvenience of the baker with sticky fingers. Subject index is short but well cross referenced. A separate recipe index is helpful.

Reviewed by George Erdosh,