This is a big year for major baking books. I remember exactly 29 years ago it was the same when The Cake Bible was published and the category itself got huge attention. Erin is going to benefit from being in the company of so many distinguished authors both old and new and they will be proud to have her as a member of the baking cookbook community of sister (and brother) bakers.
Not only is Erin a gifted baker, she is also a professional food stylist and so, of course, the photos in this book are drop dead gorgeous. Erin was the food stylist for my upcoming book. Here’s my favorite photo of the two of us taken during the photoshoot this past April:
I couldn’t be more proud to be the writer of the foreword to Erin’s first book. And here it is so you don’t even have to wait until the book arrives to read it:
Foreword to The Fearless Baker
When I learned that Erin McDowell was writing her first baking book, my immediate response was Yes! quickly followed by Of course! I had met Erin when she was involved in the baking and styling of the photographs for my book The Baking Bible. We spent two intense weeks in a rented studio in upstate New York, baking, styling, discussing, and getting to know each other. Not only did Erin make delicious, nourishing lunches for the entire team every day, her sunny disposition helped set the tone. I taught her how to make a special border on a tart, and she demonstrated how to make the most luscious, voluptuous ganache and buttercream swirls on cakes.
Reading through this book, I am struck by how eager Erin is to explore new ideas and inspirations and how open she is to learning. One of the secrets to being a great baker is to have love in one’s heart and love for the profession. And one of the secrets to being a great baking author is having a true desire to share. Erin is gifted with both. Her written instructions are a model of clarity and a perfect reflection of her delightful and joyful spirit. And her writing style is so friendly, fun, and unpretentious that it makes baking more approachable than ever.
I didn’t have to test recipes from this book in order to sing Erin’s praises, because having seen her in action, and having tasted the results, was proof enough of her expertise. I tested four of the recipes just because they were so alluring I couldn’t resist. The rhubarb cheesecake, which imaginatively replaces lemon juice with rhubarb puree, is topped with stunning ribbons of rhubarb. It’s exceptionally delicious, and it leaves a surprisingly bright, fresh finish in the mouth despite the richness of the cream cheese. Chocolate puff pastry is something I’d never actually made before, but when I saw the photo for this book, I couldn’t resist the challenge. Yes, it is “hard,” as Erin realistically indicates at the top of the recipe, but it is an empowering experience, and success is guaranteed if one follows her excellent instructions. And her technique for making puff pastry results in the best palmiers I’ve ever made–or eaten.
Erin writes, ” is book is intended to educate you on the whys and hows of baking in an approachable way. If you understand those basics, you can become fearless–and potentially tweak your own recipes to suit your whims, the way I do.” I relate to this goal 100 percent. In fact, this is shades of the young me, at the start of my own cookbook-writing odyssey.
It is inspiring to see the fine and exciting work of this prize representative of the new generation of bakers. I am honored that she claims to have used my books as a launching pad to her baking education. And I am certain that Erin Jeanne McDowell will continue to march to the beat of her own drummer and rise to ever greater heights of discovery and baking excellence.
The Fearless Baker: Simple Secrets for Baking Like a Pro