In the hipster baking rush to altoids brownies and Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookies, we shouldn’t overlook the Maida Heatter, the original baking obsessive. She’s earned icon status with both reliable recipes and indulgent concoctions.
So that’s why it’s great to have her recipes reassembled in Maida Heatter’s Cakes and Maida Heatter’s Cookies. From plain cakes like a Buttermilk Loaf Cake to a birthday-worthy Black and White Layer Cake, and from everyday cookies like Raisin Oatmeal to elaborate, only-made-by-nana-once-a-year Maxines, these books, from basics to specialties will school the beginner and tempt the expert.
Chapters on Chocolate Cakes, Layer Cakes, Fancy Cakes, Cheesecakes, Fruit and Nut Cakes, Yeast Cakes, Sweet Breads, Gingerbreads will answer every craving and suit every pantry, from a gentle slice of Hollywood Honey Cake for breakfast to a whipped cream-filled Paris-Brest for a celebration.
Heatter is likewise exhaustive with her cookie choices. Sometimes you just want a plain, biscuity cookie; a nibble of something slightly sweet to set alongside a cup of tea. Heatter’s recipe for Cornell Cookies are lovely—as she explains in the headnote, developed by home economists to be healthy, but there’s nothing to stop you from dipping them in a jacket of dark chocolate or serving them with a good blue cheese.
Whether it’s all-American Chocolate Chip or the spicy, old world flavors of Viennese Marzipan Bars, there’s a small sweet here for you. The recipes are organized by energy level—plenty of simple drop cookies and bar cookies when you need to move fast. When you’ve got more time, try 8-Layer Cookies or roll out delicate Les Petites and sandwich them with chocolate. There’s even a chapter on savory crackers that includes Melbas and Knackerbrod.
In both books, Heatter’s headnotes will tell you what to expect. Her directions are precise—seasoned bakers will find their own way through, but beginners will appreciate the hand-holding. And everyone will appreciate what you make from these books.