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Beard bakes the books


Baking, probably more than any other form of cooking, relies on strictly following the recipe. So which baking books have the best ones? The James Beard Foundation's cookbook awards committee chose a baker's dozen of their favorites. As with all such lists, some, uh, "discussion" is bound to follow. So let's start here: What are your indispensable baking books?

The Beard choices, which range from contemporary favorites to classics from the 1970s, include Times contributors Dorie Greenspan (for "Baking: From My Home to Yours") and Peter Reinhart (for "The Bread Baker's Apprentice"). Other choices were: James Beard's "Beard on Bread" (the oldest book, originally published in 1973); Maida Heater's "The Book of Great Desserts"; Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible"; Richard Sax's "Classic Home Desserts"; Alice Medrich's "Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts"; Marion Cunningham's "The Fannie Farmer Baking Book"; Carole Walter's "Great Pies and Tarts"; Carol Field's "The Italian Baker"; "Martha Stewart's Cookies"; Jim Lahey's "My Bread"; and Flo Braker's "The Simple Art of Perfect Baking."

The list is the first of what the organization says will be several themed recommendations, following last year's compendium of 20 books that belong in every cook's library.

-- Russ Parsons

Photo: The cover of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours." Credit: Houghton-Mifflin

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