In The Cook and The Book, an ongoing series brought to you by Martha's Vineyard magazine's Cook the Vineyard, we put the spotlight on cookbook authors we love by taking a look at their latest book.

THE COOK

Abigail Johnson Dodge

Abigail Johnson Dodge is an award-winning cookbook author and cooking instructor. Abby has written ten cookbooks including her latest, The Everyday Baker (Taunton Press, 2015), a James Beard Foundation Finalist and International Culinary Association Cookbook Award Winner.

Abby studied at École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris and worked under Michel Guerard and Guy Savoy, specializing in pastry. Back in the States, she held food editorial posts at both Parents and Woman’s Day and became the founding test kitchen director for Fine Cooking magazine, where she has been on the masthead continuously since its inception. She has contributed more than 80 articles to Fine Cooking, and as a contributing editor, consults with the staff on all things baking.

Abby has also contributed to dozens of cooking and special interest magazines and newspapers, including Bon Appetit and The Washington Post. Her radio spots, television appearances, and video classes (available on MyBluePrint.com) are many. Abby is a popular instructor at cooking schools including King Arthur Baking School, Draeger’s, Central Market, Southern Seasons Cooking School, Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School, Cooks of Crocus Hill, and King’s

Abby's new column for Cook the Vineyard, Baking Together, debuts with a look at her Six Steps to Better Baking and a recipe for One-Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting. Read our Q&A with Abby below.

Follow Abby on Instagram @abbydodge
Visit Abby’s website.
Follow Abby on FaceBook


THE BOOK

The Everyday Baker: Recipes & Techniques for Foolproof Baking

The Taunton Press, 2015
Hardcover $30, 624 pp.

A Few Things We Love about The Everyday Baker

  • The range of recipes is astounding: from bread pudding to quiche, flatbread to challah, pound cake to cheese cake, apple pie to apple crisp.
  • Each recipe in The Everyday Baker is like a mini-class thanks to extra elements like flavor swaps, finishing touches, baker’s wisdom, and make-ahead tips.
  • Extensive headnotes from Abby make you feel like she’s right by your side.
  • The “essential technique”  (aka “process”) photos  – over 1000 of them! — help you see everything from how to decorate a cupcake to how to pleat a galette to how to make meringue.
  • The sections of full-page gorgeous finished photos are a great way to dive into the book and find something to start baking.
  • Tools! The first chapter, Everyday Baking Basics, includes an extensive section on baking equipment, with color photos of everything from offset spatulas and cherry pitters to kitchen scales and frying pans.
  • The book includes an excellent index. For a book this big — 664 pages — an easy-to-reference index is essential, and searching by ingredient is easy. A bonus: Abby offers a technique index to the book on her website. 


THE RECIPES

On Cook the Vineyard:

Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Fudge Brownies

Tina Rupp

Other recipes in the book that we love:


Snow White Layer Cake with Strawberry Mascarpone Frosting
• Cinnamon-Pecan Morning Buns
• Banana Rum Truffle Tart
• Caramel Velvet Apple Pie
• Honey-Raisin Whole Wheat English Muffins
• Double Chocolate Cherry Shortcakes
• Peaches and Cream Pavlova
• Brown Butter-Almond Lace Cookies
• No-bake Chocolate Mint Pots de Crème

Apple Cider Donuts
• Glazed Napoleons with White Chocolate-Blood Orange Mousse


THE ORGANIZATION

Chapters:

 

1  Everyday Baking Basics
2  Morning Food
3  Quick to Make
4  Cookies
5  Cakes
6  Pies and Tarts
7  Puddings and Custards
8  Yeast Breads
9  Pastry
10 Flatbread
11 Fruit Desserts


THE SOURCES

Whenever possible, it's always a good idea to purchase your cookbooks through an independent bookstore, like our local Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven. Independent bookstores can always order a book for you if they don’t currently have it. If you need to find out where your nearest independent bookstore is, check out IndieBound.org’s Bookstore Finder.

The Everyday Baker is also available online from:

IndieBound
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
The Taunton Store


OTHER BOOKS BY ABBY

Mini Treats & Handheld Treats — Delicious Desserts to Pick Up & Eat (2012)
Desserts 4 Today—Flavorful Desserts with just Four Ingredients  (2010)
Williams-Sonoma Mini Pies (2010)
Around the World Cookbook (2008)
The Weekend Baker, 2005, reprinted 2008 (IACP Cookbook Award Finalist)
Kids Baking (2003)
Williams-Sonoma Dessert (2002)
The Kid’s Cookbook  (2000)
Great Fruit Desserts (1997)


The Q & A

Cook the Vineyard Chats with Abby Dodge, October 2019


CTV: What was your goal for The Everyday Baker, and who did you imagine your readers to be? Can all bakers, regardless of experience, cook from The Everyday Baker?

Abby: I wanted to offer bakers a comprehensive collection of sweet and savory recipes, and my primary objective was to deliver each of those recipes in a mini-cooking class format —  just as if I was in the kitchen working alongside everyone. I wanted to use how-to photos to guide people through the key techniques in each recipe, to build up knowledge and confidence so that regardless of whether someone is using one of my recipes or one of my colleague’s, they’re going to get great results. And I think even seasoned bakers will pick up new (or new-to-them) techniques in The Everyday Baker. Everyone loves a new twist or a new trick!

CTV: Wow, there are more than 1000 technique photos in the book. How long did it take you to photograph all those?!

Abby: The technique photos are at the heart of The Everyday Baker’s mission. I believe we all learn better when we can see what the directions are telling us to do in a recipe. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words!”  The photo shoots for this book were looooong and spanned weeks. Luckily, the memories of dish-pan hands and achy feet fade quickly!

CTV: Each recipe in The Everyday Baker has so many different fun elements. What is your favorite feature in the book?

Abby: While I always advise bakers to make a recipe exactly as written, especially for their first go-round (using a scale for weighing the ingredients, please!), I also encourage them to make the recipe their own by changing the flavors or adding a new ingredient (chips or nuts, for example) here or there.  Flavor swaps in the Twists section of each recipe offer readers alternative flavor profiles for those looking to change things up. These swaps can also be used as a springboard for bakers to make their own creations. I love seeing folks share their adaptations with me on social media!

CTV: 175 recipes is a lot – until you see the scope of what is in this book! Was it hard to settle on your final list? 

Abby: Each recipe was specifically chosen to highlight an important technique. To that end, I actually had a spreadsheet to track the recipes (including flavor profiles) and techniques to ensure that I didn’t have any overlapping flavors, styles, and specific skills. It was quite a juggling act!

CTV: You say in your introduction that perfection is unattainable. But there are certainly many suggestions you make in the book to help bakers meet with success. What do you think are the two or three most important tips you can offer bakers?

Abby: My goal with every recipe I develop, every book I write, and every class I teach is to put bakers of all skill levels at ease so they can relax and enjoy their baking experience. To that end, I’m kicking off my new column here at Cook the Vineyard with my Six Steps To Better Baking. It’s a lighthearted take on some important baking guidelines that we should all keep in mind when we turn on the oven. Don’t miss the last one — it might be my fave!