By Nick Malgieri
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
With bloggers said to be more than 100 million strong, blogs devoted to baking are proliferating, and some are shaping up to be as addictive as a warm madeleine.
In some cases, cookbook authors blog to promote their books or the products they represent; in others, passionate amateurs post photos and recipes (usually gleaned from current magazines or cookbooks) of their latest baking triumphs.
Among the pros, Dorie Greenspan and Michael Laiskonis stand out for sheer wealth of information. Greenspan, author most recently of 2006's "Baking: From My Home to Yours," keeps homes in Manhattan, Paris and southern Connecticut and reports on the food scene in each locale, though mostly (not surprisingly) on the first two. She links to other writings and media appearances, though I wish she would post more of her stellar recipes. Laiskonis, whose blog is relatively new, is a pastry genius, and he approaches each subject with curiosity and humility, virtues rare in blogging. Pastry chef at the acclaimed Le Bernardin in New York, he writes of his triumphs and failures in exploring a new ingredient or a new use for an old one. I've started a folder with downloads of all his posts.
Many home bakers who blog belong to a loosely knit group called the Daring Bakers Blogroll, which has a membership of 500 and growing. Occasionally one of the two group moderators or another blogger designated by them issues a challenge and invites member bloggers to post a photo and recipe for a chosen topic. The latest was lemon meringue pie, and the posts were as diverse as the blogs they came from.
The best of this blogroll's members select up-to-the-minute cookbooks, try a recipe or two and post the results; often they also post their latest baking project for entertaining, sale or donation and cite the sources for the components of the finished cake or other creation. Alas, some write about what I consider junk food, including mix-based or convenience-food-based recipes. Some of the bloggers are afflicted by cuteness; one shipped her family's garden gnome on a round-the-world tour from one blogger to another, each of whom photographed and baked for it.
The best of these blogs should come with a warning: If you love to bake, you'll while away the hours reading about it, following the links from one blog to others and beyond, until something -- hopefully, a great-looking recipe -- sends you back into the kitchen.
Nick Malgieri, director of the baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, has written eight cookbooks.