Baking and dessert cookbooks

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The Perfect Scoop

David Lebovitz, Jacqui Small, £18.99 (hardback)

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Pastry chefs make their living from precision and attention to detail. When the chef writing the recipes has spent 13 years in the kitchens of Chez Panisse, the Berkeley restaurant of Alice Waters, they are also likely to feature fresh vibrant flavours that are both appealing and delectable. David Lebovitz’s visually sumptuous book on ice creams ticks all these boxes.

Lebovitz’s five other books have a similarly sugary focus along with a decidedly US approach to sweet treats: the more indulgent, the better. So not only does ‘Perfect Scoop’ have recipes for ice creams, sorbets and granitas, but almost a third of the pages are devoted to sauces, mix-ins and edible vessels.

At the bottom of most recipes are Lebovitz’s ‘perfect pairings’, suggestions for folding in crumbled brownies or layering ice creams with fudge sauces, or both.

All the recipes we tried were easy to follow and delivered on their promises. Vanilla ice cream was rich with not too much egg in the custard base. When paired with the strawberry sorbet, made using supermarket berries uncooked and macerated with sugar, the combination was pleasingly reminiscent of an upmarket strawberry split.

We opted to try the ‘chewy-dense brownie’ recipe and they emerged from the oven moist and soft and probably would have stayed that way beyond the next morning, when the last remaining morsel was devoured.

A recipe for ‘fleur de lait’ is Lebovitz’s take on a favourite Parisian parlour’s ice. Mostly milk (and sugar but no egg) thickened with cornflour, it resulted in a dense almost chewy ice with a richness that didn’t overwhelm the clean milky flavour. So the recipes work and taste good.

Zoe Kamen, Time Out London Issue 2128: June 2-8 2011

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