Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cookbook Review: 'Christmas Baking' by Mia Öhrn

✰✰✰ Magical treats are always a memorable part of the holiday season. Pastry chef and food writer, Mia Öhrn, has put together a fun cookbook with delicious sweets including candies, cookies, cakes, breads, and other desserts. Just opening the cover of this book is a feast for the eyes with Ulrika Pousette's stunning food photography and holiday imagery. Readers can choose from traditional treats like Nougat, Christmas Pudding, and Fruit Cake. Additionally, aspiring pastry chefs will want to check out the recipes for Marzipan Figures, Lingonberry Toffee, Glögg Cheesecake, and Saffron Buns "Lucia Cats." There's also a recipe and instructions for baking, assembling, and decorating a Gingerbread House. Gingerbread stencils and a recipe index are located at the end of the book.

Taste Test Notes: For this portion of my review, I decided to attempt baking the Candy Cane Cookies featured on page 46. These look yummy, and I love both chocolate and peppermint. However, this recipe turned out to be a big challenge from the very beginning due to the measurements. This might not have been a problem if I had used the metric measurements; however, I did not.

The author didn't mention how fine to crush the candy. I used the finely crushed candy in the dough part, and the coarsely crushed pieces to sprinkle on top of the cookies immediately after baking. I had trouble with the candy cane pieces sticking together due to humidity. As mentioned in the text, these cookies do spread out quite a bit; therefore, I only placed four cookies on a baking sheet.

Candy Cane Cookies hot out of the oven
Overall, this was a difficult project for me, and I've been baking for a long time. This was a rather messy project, and I probably would not recommend having kids help. It ended up being a lot of work for a limited number of cookies. The result was 15 tasty cookies that are not too sweet and not too extraordinary. The cookies were chewy and best eaten soon after being removed from the oven. They turned brittle the following day even when stored properly. It took 90 minutes from start to finish including prep time and cleanup.

The Bottom Line: The beautiful food photography featured in this book is absolutely magical; nonetheless, actually recreating the items featured on the pages is another story. The recipes look deceptively easy; however, I don't have baking equipment to accommodate the metric system. While the author included measurements for people using the English System of Measurement, it's difficult to measure out 3/5 of a cup of brown sugar, for example. Also, the recipes should include information about preparation time. While this is not an essential purchase, armchair cooks may want to purchase a copy to enjoy the fabulous food photography and Swedish holiday images.

Details: Christmas Baking: Fun and Delicious Holiday Treats by Mia Öhrn. Hardcover published by Skyhorse Publishing in 2012. 96 p. ISBN: 978-1-61608-822-4

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