I thought I would review a book I have. All of the books that are in my library have either been bought by me, given as gifts by family or friends, or I have got them for free at yard sales or other places. I have not gotten any of the books from the publisher, and if I ever do, I will let you guys know.
First up is Williams-Sonoma Essentials Of Baking- Recipes and Techniques For Successful Home Baking (Oxmoor House $34.95US)
The recipes I've made from this book are: Traditional Sourdough, Challah, Classic Dinner Rolls, Cinnamon Rolls, Focaccia, Double Crust Apple Pie, Classic Chocolate Cake, and Flowerless Chocolate Cake. There are numerous other recipes.
I've noticed a few errors in the book that they have hopefully fixed, but I am not sure if they have. One thing was that the sourdough starter "recipe" was flour + milk. I've always known it to be flour and water. Maybe it was correct, but I don't want to use spoiled milk in my bread, and commercial milk spoils, it doesn't sour.
Other than the few errors, the book is a wonderful resource. It has very detailed instructions, and each recipe has information for doing the mixing either by hand or with an electric mixer.
If you are new to baking, there is a section in the beginning of the book detailing equipment to use, what it is used for, and how to use it. Each section also has a trouble shooting section as well as a primer telling you the basics of what you will be doing in the following section. For breads, it explains the basic process of kneading, raising, and the second raise, and how to bake your bread for the best results.
Another thing I love about this book are the pictures. They are absolutely beautiful. Each recipe has a picture. If it's a complicated recipe, or has complicated steps, like the braiding of Challah, there will be multiple pictures. They aren't just quick snapshots either. They are very nicely done. You could really use this as a coffee table book, the pictures are so nice.
I like the binding. I like that it's hardback. It stays open well when I'm baking. I've spilled flour and liquids on it (wouldn't recommend it of course, I'm just a clutz). The pages have a nice gloss to them but it's not hard on the eyes.
All in all, I think it's a great book. It has a few flaws, but nothing is ever perfect. I recommend it for everyone's baking library.