Review: The Fearless Baker by Emily Luchetti and Lisa Weiss

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About the Book:

What could be more satisfying than presenting friends and family with a perfectly crafted homemade dessert, fresh out of the oven? Yet for many, the idea of baking is intimidating; rolling out pie dough or making a cake from scratch is akin to climbing Mount Everest. THE FEARLESS BAKER is a beginner’s baking guide written to empower home cooks with spot-on advice and a cache of go-to recipes. Renowned pastry chef Emily Luchetti guides novice bakers through her amazing recipes to troubleshoot their most common pitfalls

About the Author:

Emily Luchetti, executive pastry chef at Farallon and Waterbar Restaurants in San Francisco, is recognized around the world for her award-winning sweet creations.  With five cookbooks to her credit and numerous awards, including a 2004 James Beard Award, patrons can always count on a delectable, exotic and innovative end to their meal.
Emily has been executive pastry chef at Farallon since 1997 when the restaurant opened. She has been executive pastry chef of Waterbar since it’s opening in 2008.  Her history with Farallon and Waterbar’s co-owner Mark Franz spans more than 20 years when they were both part of the opening team of Stars Restaurant in San Francisco.  It was at Stars that Emily began her Bay Area cooking career as a line cook, working her way up to lunch chef and eventually stoking her passion for desserts.  She was named executive pastry chef at Stars in 1987, a position she held through July 1995.  During that time Emily was also the co-owned StarBake, a retail bakery, with Jeremiah Tower.
Emily has written many cookbooks:  Stars Desserts (HarperCollins, 1991), Four Star Desserts (HarperCollins, 1995), A Passion for Desserts (Chronicle Books, 2003), and A Passion for Ice Cream (Chronicle Books, 2006).  She created the dessert recipes for The Farallon Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2000). Her first two books were rereleased as Classic Stars Desserts in 2007. Her latest book is The Fearless Baker (Little, Brown and Company, 2011).

My Opinion:

This was the first cookbook I reviewed by e-book and I have to say it is the last cookbook I will review by e-book. I LOVE cookbooks. I cannot begin to tell you how satisfying it is for someone like me, someone who loves to cook to hold that book in her hands and browse through the recipes and the stories and look at the photos. I love to page back and forth and read and re-read certain recipes.

That is just completely lost on my Nook. The whole experience was cold and don’t even start me on what is was like to try and follow a two part recipe with a nook in a kitchen. I had to keep going back to the table of contents to find the cookie base recipe and then back to the tart recipe with a nook that would power down after so much time. And the fear that I would spill something on it. Oy! I am not a neat cook – that is evidenced by the state of my cookbooks. Any one can tell a beloved recipe by the number of stains on the page and just how crumpled it is.  I fear I will never go electronic in the kitchen. With regular books maybe but with cookbooks – NEVER.

That being said this review is for the book not the experience. I did like this book and I am very sad that I cannot add it to my cookbook library. The whole idea of Fearless Baking is something I feel I espouse anyway. Take the recipe I used – it’s for a tart; I made tarlets. I tend to not follow recipes – I use them as guides. Once you become comfortable in the kitchen this is just so easy to do and that is what this book WANTS you to do. Baking is not rocket science yet so many people fear it. The recipes are easy to follow and many have “conversations” after them from real baking session the authors held.

I used the recipe for Turtle Tart to make Turtle Tartlets for the firemen. They have to have something to eat that they can just pop in their mouth so I took my mini cupcake pans and put cupcake liners in and then made the crust – into my food processor went the flour, sugar and salt with some butter. 

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I processed that until it was just mixed and quite lumpy.

I pressed a bit into each cup and spread it up the sides. Then they went into the refrigerator to cool before baking. I pricked the bottom with a fork so they wouldn’t puff up too much during baking.

I then made the butterscotch caramel. Mmmmm. It called for corn syrup, brown sugar and heavy cream and butter.

I melted the butter in a heavy saucepan and added the brown sugar and corn syrup. This came to a boil and I added the heavy cream.

At this point it came off the heat to cool and thicken.

I toasted some walnuts. I was supposed to toast pecans but I had walnuts so I went all Fearless on the recipe :)

After the shells came out of the oven and cooled I added some of the butterscotch caramel and topped that with some of the toasted walnuts.

I made a basic ganache with dark chocolate and heavy cream.

And topped the tartlets with the ganache.

They went back into the refrigerator to cool and I can tell you that they were VERY tasty.
The firemen loved them and I am adding these to my Christmas cookie line up.

This is a great cookbook for beginners as well as those of us that love to bake. I would just get the hard copy….

The Fearless Baker is available on

Disclosure:  I reviewed an e-copy of The Fearless Baker. Any opinions are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free e-book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.

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