Review of Baking for the Holidays by Sarah Kieffer

Baking for the Holidays

Sarah Kieffer

September 7, 2021

Chronicle Books

Blurb: Here’s a festive holiday baking book to celebrate this very special time of year. Sarah Kieffer, author of 100 Cookies, beloved baker behind The Vanilla Bean Blog, and creator of the “bang-the-pan” method offers more than 50 delicious recipes for seasonal brunches, cookie swaps, and all those Christmas, Hanukah, and New Year’s Eve parties.

Delight family and friends with edible gifts and whip up some delicious baked goods to treat yourself through the long winter months after the holidays have ended. Recipes include: Triple Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Meyer Lemon-White Chocolate Scones, Pear-Almond Danish Bread, Hot Chocolate Cake, and Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pepita Streusel.

With cozy holiday imagery, a lovely, clean aesthetic, and easy yet innovative recipes, this is a go-to cookbook for baking enthusiasts, anyone who loves the holiday season, and, of course, fans of Sarah Kieffer and her hugely popular cookie book, 100 Cookies.

GREAT GIFT OPPORTUNITY: With happy, festive photography and anyone-can-do-it recipes, this is a perfect holiday gift alongside a cute apron or baking product. It’s sure to please anyone in your life who loves to while away the winter months in their warm and cozy kitchen.

BELOVED, ACCOMPLISHED BLOGGER AND AUTHOR: Sarah Kieffer is the beloved blogger behind The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog, which won the SAVEUR Reader’s Choice Best Baking & Desserts Blog in 2014. Her pan-banging cookie technique went viral on the New York Times website. She has written two cookbooks and been featured by Food52, The Today Show, Mashable, The Kitchn, America’s Test Kitchen, Huffington Post, and more.

Purchase Links:
Amazon | Shop your local indie bookstore

One thing I inherited from my mother was a love of cookbooks. She also loved the holidays and when they would begin, so would the baking. And, really, isn’t there something special about adorning all the counters in flour snow while listening to “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and then pulling something scrumptious from the oven to share?

Baking for the Holidays by Sarah Kieffer is a beautiful cookbook with lots of photos showing methods as well as the finished baked goods. Sarah offers reminiscences about her holidays growing up and makes the book feel very homey.

The book is divided into five chapters: Morning Breads and Pastries, Holiday Desserts, Gift Giving, Beyond Christmas, and Extras (which encompasses recipes for things like whipped cream, lemon curd, and crème fraiche). Most of the recipes look inspiring, but I have to tell you that a lot of them seemed time and/or labor intensive. Seriously I love the idea of making cinnamon buns from scratch and having them warm on Christmas morning but with everything else going on during the holidays, making a yeast dough just doesn’t come high on my list. I could see it happening at another time, though…..probably in January, late, late January, when the mad rush is over.

Now, I’m an outlier on this next thing, and I admit it. Give me less chocolate on desserts. Please. Sarah puts chocolate on things that really doesn’t need them. I’m certain that some of you have bad feelings about fruitcake, but I believe that a fruitcake that is done well is a brilliant thing. And certainly doesn’t need chocolate glaze because it already should be rich enough! I feel like bakers…and maybe Americans, just need to take a step back from pouring chocolate on everything. See. I am an outlier.

Along the same lines of incorporating chocolate, Sarah seems to like things a bit sweeter than I would be happy with. Pumpkin pie is the holy grail of Thanksgiving desserts in my family. While I agree with Sarah that a little crunch is needed, her remedy is to brûlée the top thus adding more sugar to a recipe that already incorporates a cup of the stuff (my recipe is still hefty on the sugar with 3/4 cups). As for the crunch, I like chopped walnuts, which are so, so delicious when toasted and certainly healthier than adding more sugar.

While some of the cakes were very appealing like the White Cake with Cranberries and White Chocolate Buttercream and Carrot Cake with Burnt Honey Buttercream, many of these recipes just don’t scream homey to me. Homier kinds of recipes can be found in the gift section, but even still some of these seem a little on the higher end of things and again, of course, incorporate extra chocolate. Boohoo. Yeah, yeah, yeah, my pet peeve. However, the one recipe I am dying to make is the Coconut-Cardamom Cupcakes. I love cardamom and can almost imagine how wonderful it would taste with coconut. If I had all of the ingredients, you can be sure I’d be whipping these up right now! Yum.

If you’re looking for downhome kinds of recipes from Christmases past, this probably isn’t your book. However, if you’re an experienced baker who wants to try some different takes on established recipes, this is definitely a go. The book is very well done.

Oh, and if you are looking for the Pumpkin Pie with the Candied Pepita Streusel mentioned in the blurb, stop. Someone ate it along with the recipe.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



4 out of 5 butterflies

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