Your Time to Bake

A First Cookbook for the Novice Baker

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Your Time to Bake
Square One Publishers


8.3 X 10.3 in
416 pg

COOKING / Reference
COOKING / Methods / Baking
$29.95 Hardback
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Your Time to Bake

By  Robert L Blakeslee


Best-selling author and talented cook Robert Blakeslee has done it again. In Your Time to Cook, Robert crafted a true “first” cookbook that teaches kitchen basics and cooking fundamentals. Now, with Your Time to Bake, he has taken the same comprehensive approach to turn non-bakers into successful creators of cakes, cookies, pies, and other delectable baked goods.

The book begins with helpful information on baking essentials—ingredients, equipment, and common baking techniques and terms. A fantastic array of easy-to-prepare recipes follows, including a delectable assortment of cookies, brownies, pies and tarts, cheesecakes, muffins, quick breads, and puff pastry creations, as well as luscious frostings, fillings, and toppings. Each recipe includes step-by-step instructions accompanied by beautiful fullcolor photos to ensure that even the most  inexperienced baker enjoys success every time. A chapter devoted entirely to decorating techniques guides you in putting the icing on the cake—as well as the frosting, edible fondant flowers, and much, much more.

Here is the perfect blend of instruction, advice, and humor to make the art of baking both easy and enjoyable.


"As essential for new cooks as a good knife. . .  Dishes are detailed with the care of a doting mother, instructing with clear text and more than 1,000 step-by-step photos while avoiding condescension. . . .This volume should sustain newlyweds and other cooking partners well past their first year together.” Publishers Weekly

Author Biography

Robert L Blakeslee earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in Northern California. He has been a college professor at the International Fine Arts College in Miami, Florida, and is an internationally published award-winning graphic designer, art director, and creative director. The author is also a gourmet cook and a cookbook illustrator and photographer.

Table of contents


 Words from the Author,


The What’s & How To’s of Baking

1. Essential Ingredients,

2. T ’n T (Tools ’n Terms),

3. This Is How to Do It,

Cookies, Cakes, Pies & More

4. Frostings, Fillings & Toppings,

5. Cookie Mania,

6. Brownies, Squares ’n Bars,

7. Easy as Pie,

8. Cheesecake Shots,

9. Quick Breads, Biscuits & Muffins,

10. Coffeecake Break,

11. Big ’n Little Cakes,

12. Puff the Magic Pastry,

13. Sweet Holidays,

14. Decorating with Taste,

Metric Conversion Chart,




Introduction or preface

How exciting for you that you’ve decided to try out some baking! This book is designed to teach novice and experienced bakers alike. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be amazed at what you can do with a bowl, wooden spoon, baking pan, and an oven.

When I created the recipes for this book, I noticed that most of them fall into categories where the steps were almost identical. For example, a drop cookie almost always has the first three steps; creaming butter and sugar, stirring in dry ingredients to form the dough, then stirring in any additions. So I’ve organized the recipes into groups, with descriptions of the basic techniques and fundamental steps required in making each and every type of dessert.

Before I get to the recipes however, I start off with three “primer” chapters. This first shows and describes all the ingredients used in baking, the second shows and explains the tools and terms you will need to know to make recipes. The third “primer” chapter is about baking techniques – so you can see how to work with the ingredients, tools, and terms you just learned about in the first two (pre1y smart, huh?).

This book is loaded with almost every type of dessert creating you can think of: Basic recipes for fillings, sauces, toppings, frostings and icings; four different types of cookies including drop, nut, biscotti, and refrigerator; square ‘n bars; pies, and the “pie of cakes” cheesecake. If you’re a cake lover like me, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are recipes for muffins and quick breads, a bounty of coffeecake recipes, and of course the classic versions of cake, or what the French call Gateau. And if you’ve never had a puff before, my puff pastry chapter is loaded with amazing dishes made with puff pastry dough which you can find in your local supermarket. Of course, I couldn’t forget about the holidays - so I’ve also loaded you up with some of my favorite holiday treats.

To finish off the book, there’s an entire chapter showing you how to decorate your creations. From simple garnishing and frosting techniques, to advanced work with pastry bags, and fondant –this chapter has it all. You should have fun while learning how to make these recipes, and become the baker you always wanted to be. I know you’ll have fun eating your finished products! If you’re a novice I suggest you start off with easy recipes. Try out some cookies or bar and brownie recipes at first to build up your confidence. If you already have some experience at baking, then you might like to try out some of the more sophisticated recipes and then try your hand at some decorating too.

This is sweet stuff no matter how you look at it! I’m sure you’ll be amazed at what you can do once put yournmind to it. So grab your whisks and mixing bowls ladiesnand gentlemen, and come inside my book. There are so many recipes, and so little time…


Before You Bake,

Read This

There’s a lot that can go wrong in baking because there are a lot of variables involved. So how can you make the great desserts in this book without making great disasters too? Here are some things to know:

Don’t get burned

Once you’ve started the baking process you should assume that everything is extremely hot. To avoid ge2ing burned you are going to need at least two oven mitts, and a trivet or a safe place to put your hot bakeware. These will protect your hands, furniture, and your counter surfaces.

Keep it clean

The trick to keeping your kitchen clean is staying on top of things. You should remove items that you have finished using and place them into a sink filled with hot water as soon as possible. Wash your dishes immediately after completing a recipe or place them in a dishwasher and wash them within a day. One way to reduce your cleaning time is to reduce the amount of dishes you use. For example, if you are mixing dry ingredients together, do it all in a measuring cup. Measure out the correct amount of flour, then add your baking powder and/or baking soda, salt, and spices and stir. It’s also a good idea to use a foil lined cookie sheet under pies or desserts that can boil over and create a mess. It’s easy to toss out a piece of foil: it’s difficult to clean up sugar that has burned onto a surface of an oven. If the dish doesn’t boil over, you’ve still got your piece of foil!

You must follow orders!

You should also follow the recipe instructions to the le2er. If I’m cooking I will often scan a recipe and then make things up as I go along. With baking you must follow orders! That means using exact measurements, using the properly sized baking pans, and paying attention to the temperatures, timing, testing, and ingredient preparations described in the recipe instructions.

Hot, warm and cold

The temperatures of ingredients are prior to recipe preparation are important. Butter for example will bind to flour differently when it’s cold, softened, or melted. Eggs should be at room temperature. Milk products should also be taken out of the refrigerator to thaw to room temperature. Fruits are often best frozen, even if you buy them fresh, to avoid having them “bleed” into batter.

What’s in my pudding?

Keep your ingredients clean. Remove any wrappings, shells, etc. before using. For eggs it is best to crack them in a clear bowl so you can easily see and remove any broken shells.

Only in a pinch

In most cases you should always use the exact ingredient indicated in the recipe. If you’re in a bind for time and you’re missing an ingredient, only use the substitutions listed on page 000, and even those may not produce the best results.

Use the paper

If I indicate using parchment paper or wax paper in a recipe, there’s a reason for it. When working with dough using wax paper can save you a lot of time and headaches. And parchment paper is essential for some recipes, unless you like scraping your desserts out of the pan.


Every oven is a little different, and some are hotter or colder than others. That means timing a baked recipe can be problematic. To avoid over-baking or under baking a dessert you should always check it, and possibly test it a little before the time indicated, and use the visual tests suggested in the recipes for doneness.

Many recipes will indicate a color clue (like light brown, golden brown, etc.), others will tell you to insert a toothpick into the center of a dish to see if the batter is fully baked, or to gently shake the dish to see if it has set.

Just be sure to test your recipe completely before removing it from the oven.

Altitude is Everything

Unlike cooking, successful baking is reliant on air pressure. The higher the elevation you live in, the less air pressure you have– which will have a dramatic effect on the way your baked goods rise (and fall). On pages 000-000 I have basic formulas and tips on how to deal with altitude adjustments.

Have no fear

Most importantly, remember to have fun. Revel in your successes, and learn from (and laugh at) your mistakes.

How to Read the Recipes

The recipes in this book all contain common elements that are arranged for easy reading. The “Stuff You’ll Need” box shows the utensils and cooking vessels you’ll need to create the recipe. An ingredient list, yield information, and clear step-by-step instructions with photos are also included. Then all you have to do is follow the recipe instructions. If you do it right, the finished product should like the finished recipe photo. Many of the recipes also have helpful Important Tips—these pointers will help you make a be1er dish or save you from making mistakes that could ruin your meal.

Be sure to read them!

Recipe Title

Step-by-step photo instructions

Step-by-step written instructions

Finished recipe photo

Chapter title and page number

Recipe Introduction

Ingredient list

Important tips

Stuff You’ll Need (utensils and pans)