Cover Image: A Good Bake

A Good Bake

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I love baking, but I am the first to admit that my style is less precise and scientifically sound and more, "let's see what happens when I do THIS," which often produces...interesting, but often less than stellar results.

Enter: A Good Bake.

In the same vein of cookbooks such as Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, The Baking Bible, and the Scientifically Sweet cookbooks, A Good Bake is clear, concise, informative, and surprisingly fun to read. Baking is a science, and personally I had lost sight of that in my extensive experimentation. Now, I feel more confident in experimenting because I know a little more about what's happening, inside and out of my oven. It's a thoroughly enjoyable cookbook.

Some notes, though. The food photography in this is absolutely stunning, but I absolutely wish there had been a good bit more of it. There were, I think, too many recipes with nothing to accompany them. The result is a lot of dense cooking text, though that might be more a personal preference than anything because I am a bit obsessed with food photography. It also reads as if maybe it needs another skim with the editors. Could just be me (I didn't make every recipe. Not yet at least),  Some of the measurements seem kind of off (not what you want in a book about the scientific and exact nature of baking), but I'm also not advanced enough to say for certain until I give a few more of them a try.

P.S. If you are like me and have a Kindle currently out of commission because of an unfortunate drop and a split screen, please be aware that (on my iPhone, at least), this book was almost impressively incompatible. I would get all the ingredients one after another and then the measurements so I had to write them all out to attempt to match them up (no easy feat when each ingredient has both U.S. and metric measurements). I'm not sure how it fares on other eReaders but it worked much better on a different Kindle. Regardless, I recommend the cookbook! If nothing else there's a great babka recipe in it.
Was this review helpful?
While this book seemed promising, and as many other have pointed out, watch out for errors and ingredients that are completely omitted. When baking, precision is key, which is why I'm hesitant to dish out ingredients on a recipe that might not even work.
Was this review helpful?
So many recipes! Savory and sweet, breads and cakes, plain doughs and everything you could possibly do with them - this is a very comprehensive cookbook! The instructions are quite long, but they're very detailed - there's no vague wording left up to interpretation, which, when you're trying to bake a perfect bread, is super annoying. No, everything is very thoroughly explained, which is incredibly useful, especially if you're new to baking. Love the variety and the detail.
Was this review helpful?
Like many people, I started baking a LOT more in March 2020, so I was excited to see this book available on NetGalley.

Anytime I get to review a cookbook, I start by flipping through it, checking out the recipes, images, and any filler to see if it's a book that I would pick up in a store and want to examine closer and maybe buy. A Good Bake passed on all three of those points. I especially appreciated the "Setting Yourself Up for Success" section and the "Ingredients" section where author Melissa Weller details the processes, tools, and ingredients that she prefers.

After my initial look at it, I then select a few recipes that I'd like to try to see if they're written in a way that makes them easy to follow and if they create a dish I'd like to make again. A Good Bake made that really hard because I wanted to try ALL the recipes! I was constrained by what tools and ingredients I had on-hand since the pandemic has restricted our trips to the grocery store and I only go every 2 weeks. Those restrictions meant that I started with the chocolate shortbread cookies, and they were amazing. In fact, they were so amazing, that they were the second and third recipe I tried--and I used them to make ice cream sandwiches as suggested by the author. 

With that success, I moved on to the brownies recipe. Everyone in our household prefers brownies to cookies, and the college student requested brownies be made when she came home for Christmas break. The recipe provided in this book is so good that I will never make another brownie recipe again. A fudgy interior, that nice thin "crust" on the top, and crispy edges ... what more could a person want from a brownie?

After those recipes, I committed to buying a copy of the book when it came out, and I'll be working my way through all of the recipes over time. I'll also purchase copies for my baking friends when it's time to give them gifts. Obviously, I recommend this book!

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of the e-book in exchange for my unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
Even if they are for beginning cooks or bakers, most cookbooks only have detailed recipes for a few items. Looking at Carreno's outstanding book, I can see why -- it's a huge amount of work. But this book will give you everything you need to get professional results in your home kitchen.

As a fan of The Great British Baking Show, I have often wondered how to get those amazing results; now I know becai=use the author's wonderful teaching style has unlocked so many new techniques for me.

I am in awe. Even experienced bakers will find much to love in the book. It has recipes for many unusual items, detailed descriptions on making complex items such as babkas, and plenty of tips to make your baking even better.

It's an amazing reference!
Was this review helpful?
I made the fudgy brownies recipe from this cookbook, always a good idea to see how a baker's brownies are. I liked the way the recipes are laid out, very clear, and many of the more complex baked goods come with full-color photographs of the major steps. This will be one to add to my collection because next year when I focus my reading on Non-Western Europe, I will have to make khachapuri and babka, at least.

Here are the recipes I really have my eyes on:
-Chewy Gingersnaps
-Khachapuri with Cheese, Baked Egg, and Nigella Seeds
-Kale and Cheese Khachapuri with Zhoug
-Cinnamon Babka with Brown Butter Cinnamon Glaze
-Chocolate Babka
-Cranberry Cream Cheese Babka
-Cardamom Cinnamon Rolls with Buttermilk Glaze
-Strawberry Jam and Hazelnut Rugelach
Was this review helpful?
A Good Bake: The Art and Science of Making Perfect Pastries, Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and Breads at Home by Melissa Weller; Carolynn Carreno is currently scheduled for release on November 17 2020. 


In A Good Bake, Weller shares detailed recipes for producing delicious, and beautiful, baked goods. A chemical engineer before she became a baker, Weller uses her scientific background to explain the whys and hows of baking, so home cooks can achieve perfect results every time. Here are recipes both sweet (Pumpkin Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Brown Sugar Frosting) and savory (Khachapuri with Cheese, Baked Egg, and Nigella Seeds); beloved classics (Croissants and Chocolate Babka) and new sure-to-be favorites (Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Blondies)--as well as Salted Caramel Sticky Buns, all written and tested for even the most novice home baker to re-create. With photographs by the award-winning Johnny Miller, and tutorials that demystify all of the stuff that sounds complicated, like working with yeast, sourdough starters, and laminating dough Weller's book is a comprehensive guide.

A Good Bake is a great look at the science and detail that can make or break our bake. I love getting down to the reason my muffins did not rise, or a loaf of bread did not turn out quite like I expected- even when I swear I did everything right. I am also the type of baker that after I do the same recipe a few time I like to switch up ingredients or eyeball amounts, and knowing what the key ingredients do for the final product, this kind of information is extremely helpful in having those experiments turn out successfully. Weller starts by giving the basic advice that we all know, but rarely follow- a careful reading of the recipe and planning of the bake based on its details. She goes on to explain some of the common pitfalls, tools and ingredients, and of course the tools and terms of the trade. While some more experienced bakers might just skip over this bit, I will admit to simply skimming it in most cookbooks, but I found it well worth a more thorough read in this case. I found the recipes to be very detailed, and nicely organized.  I liked the bits of extra information included in the recipes about how or why something happens or is important. Although, I will admit that I could have done without the  information about where she came up with a recipe or I also like that the measurements are given in both common cups and weights, giving even those unable or unwilling to make the switch equal opportunity to enjoy the recipes.  I found the variety of recipes, and the ideas included to be informative. I thought the photographs were a great match, and liked that there were some step by step photographs- which I found very helpful particularly with the shaping of some bread. No matter how good the phrasing is, sometimes a good picture is key to understanding the way a twist, plait, or fold is meant to go. A well written and informative cookbook that covers the hows and whys of a good bake.

A Good Bake is a great cookbook for bakers that like knowing the science involved in getting the perfect bake.
Was this review helpful?
All I can say is make the Pumpkin Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Brown Sugar Frosting. It is an EPIC cake. It was a showstopper. Everyone who tried it loved it and wanted more. My husband said it was one of the best cakes I had ever made, and I love to bake.
Was this review helpful?
This was a great book for showing the science behind baking. Unlike cooking, baking requires much more of a science. A Good Bake gave great pointers on the chemistry and logic required to ensure the outcome a baker is looking for.
Was this review helpful?
This is a fabulous book, one that any baker will return to time and again, 

Melissa Weller is deeply skilled at baking and provides detailed and empathetic instruction. it's uncommon to find someone as talented at baking cakes and cookies as breads and pastry and absolutely every recipe I've made has been a winner. 

Moreover, I love the detail of her instruction and that her recipes avoid being sugar-bombs or instrgam gimmicks. 

An excellent gift for any aspiring baker and a tome, I'll be reaching for again and again.
Was this review helpful?
I received a free copy of this cookbook from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review!!! I loved this one and love the recipes inside. I’m a big baker and am so excited to try out several of these recipes!! 

I enjoyed the science of baking perspective and found the layout lovely from what I could tell from the online presentation! I think I’m going to be ordering my own copy to have at home.
Was this review helpful?
Excellent baking cookbook. Lots of recipes with varying degrees of difficulty that’s perfect for many different bakers. Excellent fundamental baking skill content as well.
Was this review helpful?
This is a gorgeous book with fabulous recipes. I want to try all of them. The author's expertise in the science of backing gives the book a unique angle and offers a lot of useful information and tricks for the home baker who wants to understand what makes a bake successful or not.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this review copy!
I am extremely impressed, in an overwhelmed sort of way.  The detail, the instructions, goes on for pages.  And pages.  If you wanted to learn how to make these sorts of items, I'm certain this is the book for you!  
However, the difficulty level makes me want to curl up in the corner and eat  Twinkies in my despondency, because this is obviously all I am worthy of.
Was this review helpful?
When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are continuing to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation,  superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. And it is way too hot to go outside, so why not sit in from of the blasting a/c and read and review books??  BTW - stay home and save lives!!!!!!!! No tan is worth dying for.

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

From the James Beard Award nominee who redefined American baking, a comprehensive baking bible for the twenty-first century, with 120 scientifically grounded recipes for sweet and savoury baked goods anyone can master.

Melissa Weller is the baking superstar of our time. As the head baker at some of the best restaurants in the country, her takes on chocolate babka and sticky buns brought these classics back to life and kicked off a nationwide movement.

In A Good Bake, Weller shares her meticulously honed, carefully detailed recipes for producing impossibly delicious--and impossibly beautiful--baked goods. A chemical engineer before she became a baker, Weller uses her scientific background to explain the whys and hows of baking, so home cooks can achieve perfect results every time. Here are recipes both sweet (Pumpkin Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Brown Sugar Frosting) and savoury (Khachapuri with Cheese, Baked Egg, and Nigella Seeds); beloved classics (Croissants and Chocolate Babka) and new sure-to-be favourites (Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Blondies)--as well as Salted Caramel Sticky Buns, of course . . . all written and tested for even the most novice home baker to re-create.

With gorgeous photographs by the award-winning Johnny Miller, and tutorials that demystify all of the stuff that sounds complicated, like working with yeast, sourdough starters, and laminating dough Weller's book is the one guide every home baker needs.

I can finally admit something - this #COVID19 and #socialisolation thing has resulted in one thing --- I can finally bake.  Not well, but I can bake! Excellently written, this book can get non-bakers like me baking and good bakers become experts at it.  I decided to make (last night) Pumpkin Layer Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Brown Sugar Frosting and it turned out! I made a cake that was not from a mix!! (Luckily I always have canned pumpkin on hand so I could try to make it...my dad loves pumpkin custard so we buy canned pumpkin by the case in hopes of keeping weight on him.)

The book is technical, but baking is a science, not an art. And the photos are drool-worthy - my book club(s) will be very happy that I am going to buy a hard copy of this book so I can keep them in baked goods. My only complaint is that the use of ingredients like Nigella seeds that are very hard to source can turn some people off.

As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube  Millionaires/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🥧🧁🍪🍩🎂
Was this review helpful?