By Cuisine2 Minutes
June 21, 2021By Cuisine

Many say that while cooking is an art, baking is a science. Melissa Weller was a chemical engineer who loved to bake, and it is this scientific background that sets A Good Bake apart from the rest. During a 10-year career in engineering, and prior to retraining as a pastry chef, Melissa worked nights and weekends at a French restaurant, learning the ins and outs of a professional kitchen.

All the while, she remained a passionate home baker. And as she baked, she kept a spreadsheet for each recipe she made – be it her own or one she refined from another cookbook. She tweaked the recipes with a dream that one day they would become the book she wished she’d had when she was learning. It is an attention to detail that sees most recipes taking up two or three pages of instructions. Her favourite carrot cake is a case in point. The texture of the batter is richer with the addition of freshly toasted and ground pecans, and the flavours are brighter from the acidity of crushed pineapple mixed with lemon juice. It is a magnificent cake, a recipe I can see myself making again and again.

A Good Bake is big, glossy and sumptuously photographed, but it is also so much more. It is instructive, researched and refined. It is a book where reading the explanatory notes that accompany each recipe is as important as reading the recipe itself. And in reading these, you will not only end up with a good bake, you will end up with a very good eat. Felicity O’Driscoll