Like most cookbooks, Dessert Person opens with sections about how to use the cookbook, what hardware you’ll need, and even a chart of how hard the recipes are compared to one another. Unlike most cookbooks, the majority of this information actually appears to be useful. I’m known to skip over introductions and charts and graphs at the start of other similar cookbooks because I feel like I already know a lot of what there is to be learned before diving into it.
Dessert Person does not make these sections out to be the be all end all of information, which is lovely. Still, a novice baker can look at photographs of how to fill a pastry bag, how to line a round pan with parchment paper, and various stages of beating egg whites so that they are never in the dark while trying out new techniques and recipes. These are things I don’t know much about. I know what bread dough is supposed to look like, to always measure in grams, etc… but these aspects of baking are foreign.
Pie doughs and the various different versions of cookie doughs are alien to me. I’ve never made my own pie dough, and many of the cookies I make follow the same process from start to finish in terms of creaming sugar and butter together to achieve texture. It is intimidating as a person who better knows when a meat has overcooked or how long to roast a vegetable. Photographic references feel like someone’s there to hold my hand through the process, and that will be a huge resource for me to turn to when I get pie anxiety. Which is a thing. I swear.
The good news is that if you started any kind of baking during the initial pandemic lockdown, you probably own most of the hardware required for booking out of the book. If you’re lacking something in a particular recipe, move on. There are plenty of opportunities to bake without going out to find a certain type of pan or tool. As long as you have a bowl, a sheet tray, maybe a pizza cutter, and a pie pan, you’ll be able to do a lot with what’s packed into Dessert Person.
As far as I can tell, the ingredients are also fairly standard with a few exceptions. I generally don’t keep nuts in the house that are sometimes called for in the recipes, so special additions will need to be made in any grocery trip I make. Still, you won’t need to go to a specialty shop for pistachios or demerara sugar. Both are standard in nearly every American Supermarket now. Compared to some of the books I’ve taken on this year, that’s a welcome change.
We don’t have to work hard to get ready to bake with Claire’s recipes. There’s no sourdough starter to tend to for a week or two before you actually bake, no amazon order to make for an insane specialty ingredient or tool. Before I’ve even started cooking, it appears that Dessert Person will be highly accessible to most home cooks. This is probably thanks to Claire’s time developing recipes for Bon Appetit with this very thing in mind.
My first goal is to conquer my pie anxiety with the Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie from the book since it will satisfy my husband and give me another pumpkin recipe for the repertoire if it comes out as gorgeous as it looks in the book. If all goes well, maybe we’ll try a tart or two along the way as well. There are some savory recipes further into the book that I can turn to if I start to feel too far out of my comfort zone.
Halloween weekend will be bake one: Caramelized Honey Pumpkin Pie.