By Joy Wilson
Hyperion, $19.99, 246 pages

Anyone’s kitchen cookbook shelf would benefit from Joy the Baker Cookbook. The recipes are mostly basic but author Wilson gives them a twist to make them original and out-of-the-box, either by using an unusual ingredient or by their preparation. Yet some recipes will test your skill and the results are likely to be sumptuous.

“Each recipe in this book is meant to be approachable, comforting, and, of course, delicious.”

The introduction discusses ingredients, techniques, substitutes and gives useful baking tips. The layout of the book and recipes are great and cook-friendly. You’ll never need to search for hard-to-find ingredients. The recipes range from very easy, like pancakes, muffins, biscuits and French toast to chocolate chip marshmallow cubes and banana bourbon bread pudding. There is enough added freshness to each recipe to make it special. Wilson even includes some smoothies, milk shakes and hot chocolate. The recipes are well written, very easy to follow and a beginner baker should be able to reproduce many of them. The head notes are hilarious and definitely worth reading. Beautiful full-page photos illustrate many recipes in this medium-format trade paperback. The pages are of heavy stock and reasonably spill-proof. The index is excellent, well cross referenced. This book is a must for all bakers.

Reviewed by George Erdosh,