Pros: Delicious reliable results; easy recipes; nostalgic feel
Rating: 5 out of 5
First posted 7/12/2005
Review book provided courtesy of Lake Isle Press
We used to bake all the time, but we haven’t had so much time for it lately. It’s a sad thing. So we welcomed the excuse to do some again when I received a copy of “Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book: Recipes from an American Childhood” for review. Reading the introduction by Jim Fobel that describes his family’s passion for good food and his childhood experiences with their cooking, is enough to get anyone fired up to run back into the kitchen and whip up breads, cakes, and pies galore. And that’s exactly what we did.
The format of the cookbook is simple and without airs, like the old-fashioned American desserts represented throughout. There are no elaborate photo spreads of artsy kitchen-work, just the occasional black and white photo from Fobel’s family album. The font is reasonably large, so you won’t have to squint even if your vision is getting a little fuzzy. Ingredients are set apart visually from instructions, and instructions are divided into short, convenient numbered steps that make the recipes easy to follow.
And as for the recipes–oh, my, the recipes! There’s a marble cake that’s hardly any more difficult to make than a boxed cake mix, yet infinitely more moist and delicious. There’s a raspberry cream pie that we picked up the ingredients for on the spur of the moment (the raspberries looked too good to resist that week), and I can still taste its exquisite sweet-tartness. You’ll find recipes for traditional favorites such as coconut cream, pecan, and pumpkin pies, but you’ll also find things like banana meringue pie, Mrs. Paasanen’s cheese pie, and a glazed strawberry pie. Cakes range from a golden fruitcake to burnt butter cupcakes, chocolate coffee cream roll, and a maple layer cake.
There are coffee cakes, sweet rolls, yeast breads, cookies of all kinds, and of course cobblers, crunches, etc. Whether you want something simple that mostly uses dry ingredients and a few things you probably already have around the house, or you’re in the mood for something that uses the best of the season’s fresh fruit, you’ll definitely find it here!
Mr. Fobel started from a pile of crumbling, yellowed recipes that inevitably left out changes and whole steps that his family members knew by heart, and recreated the nostalgic wonders of his childhood for us to enjoy in our own kitchens. These are painstakingly tested recipes that come out beautifully and result in absolutely delicious foods, and this is a cookbook well worth purchasing!