home baked

Here’s where I am with baking: it started as therapy, then it was a creative outlet, then it became part of “who Cecelia is (especially at parties).” Now I my goal is to find new, exciting, unfamiliar things to make – basically, to challenge myself. And as much as I love getting recommendations from friends or seeing what the New York Times cooking section has on offer, the recipes rarely surprise me. So it’s a good thing that I won an Abrams Instagram contest and a handful of new-to-me cookbooks.  Yvette van Boven’s Home Baked has been surprising me since January, and it has been the jump-start I needed to get out of my baking comfort zone.

home baked by yvette van boven book cover
Food stylist and cook Yvette van Boven has offered delicious seasonal recipes in Home MadeHome Made Summer, and HomeMade Winter that highlight the fresh produce available throughout the year. In her much-anticipated follow-up, Home Baked, she celebrates the art of baking.

Complete with her signature illustrations and scenic photographs of Ireland and Paris, Home Baked is a beautiful collection of van Boven’s favorite baked goods—warm bread from the oven, sweet banana bread, a gooey cinnamon and caramel pull-apart loaf, rich chocolate cake, shortbread cookies, and more. And alongside these beautiful images of delicious treats, van Boven provides step- by-step instructions for how to make them in your own home. And she leaves no one out—working with different types of flours (including gluten-free) so there is something for everyone to bake. Her inviting voice, easy-to-follow recipes, and beautiful photographs make Home Baked a staple for every kitchen and lovely enough to show off in other rooms as well.

Talented cook, artist, and food stylist Yvette van Boven tackles home baking in a gorgeously–conceived and –executed cookbook.  Van Boven introduces a range of Irish, Dutch and French recipes (and some that are a mix or none of those three!) under the headings of Viennoiserie (breakfast pastries), Bread, Pound Cake, Bars and Slices, Cookies, Pie, Birthday Cakes, Pâtisserie and “Do Not Forget the Dog,” aka recipes for canine companions.

Home Baked provides a fresh take on baking inspired by van Boven’s personal preferences, changes to diet, and special occasions, all with a homey feel (and most importantly, reproducible by the home baker!). Some of the European-influenced recipes may be familiar to North American bakers, but van Boven includes detail about why certain ingredients are included that was new to this reader.  In addition, all of the recipes are labeled if they are wheat-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, sugar-free or refined sugars-free, which is very useful for anyone dealing with dietary restrictions.

The overall presentation of this cookbook is one of its best features (what, you thought it was just a book of recipes?!).  Along with gorgeous photos of the food, its pages are filled with watercolor-washed backgrounds, lovely full-page spreads of photographs of Irish and French landscapes, and hand-inked recipe illustrations.  It’s a cookbook that can double as a coffee table art book (and I don’t know that I’ve ever thought of a cookbook that way before!).

Now that I’ve done the official “review” things, I can give you my honest feedback on the book, right?  Well, it’s great.  I found it both an inspiration and a bit of a learning experience.  Van Boven makes all of her recipes in a convection oven, and the majority of the goodies don’t call for expensive kitchenware. I used more eggs and lemon zest in baking than ever before, experimented with oven times, substituted ingredients, and liked the results. Who knew? I thoroughly tested (read: enjoyed) the cookbook by baking that gorgeous cake on the cover (Super-Light Lemon Poppy Seed Cake), the Cherry Cream Pie with Raspberry-Campari Sauce, the Far Breton Aux Pruneaux, and two kinds of cookies.  All of the recipes turned out well and won major kudos from friends.

One minor nit: I found a couple of recipes that either had ingredients or amounts transposed or misspelled, or that were missing bit of the recipe.  For a book so beautiful, it’s a shame that they didn’t do just one more copyedit.

In the preface, Yvette van Boven writes that “Baking will not only make you very happy; it will make you beloved.” Home Baked is a homey, accessible homage to baking, a breath of fresh air, and its recipes prove the author right.

Recommended for: home bakers who want to round out their baking game with European-inspired delicacies, and anyone who can appreciate a beautifully constructed book.

Interested in other food-related posts? Check out Beth FishReads’ Weekend Cooking!

Fine print: I received this book from the publisher as a prize in an Instagram contest.  I did not receive any compensation for this post.


Beth F said...

Grrr on the copyediting errors. Would like to think the proofreader might have caught them. Despite that, I have to say the recipes you mention all sound delicious. I'll have to see if my library has her books.

Bummer on the peaches!

Claudia said...

Sounds like you're enjoying that book. I often spot typos while reading, which makes me believe an editorial position might me mine in an alternate life. You would think if readers could spot the errors, an alert editor would.

Mae Travels said...

Ireland, Holland, and France are an interesting combination of cuisines. Your examples are very appealing. It's very good that you tried some of the recipes before reviewing the book (not everyone is so careful).

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I am so awful at baking but I hugely admire people who can do it. (I could, I suppose, if I were willing to invest the time and money and to accept that I will make lots of expensive mistakes before getting things right, but I am emphatically not.) Do you watch The Great British Bake-Off? My bakingest friend says she finds it a total inspiration of new baking ideas as well as just a super charming and enjoyable show.

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