I've been a fan of Rose Levy Beranbaum since I found her first book, The Cake Bible (published in 1988), in a charity shop. Whoever donated it must not have known what they were giving away - it's one of my favourite cake recipe books. Beranbaum has written authoritative "bibles" on a range of subjects: pies and pastries, breads and, now, the broader "baking". The newest volume covers some old ground (although, in most cases, offering new or improved recipes) with cakes, pies, tarts and breads from her previous books, but also introduces other subjects such as cookies and candy. Beranbaum always approaches baking methodically and scientifically; her books are not just collections of recipes - she explains her approaches and goals, and writes about her failures and successes in developing her techniques.

That's not to say she's rigidly scientific: the recipes are given first in volume measurements for those stubborn souls who won't use the more precise metric and avoirdupois weights, details of which Beranbaum also provides.

The cakes in the first chapter tend to be far more basic than the lavish, multi-component decorated ones that make up much of The Cake Bible. Even the candies are simple - they don't require moulds or call for the tempering of chocolate.

Recipes include lemon posset shortcakes; frozen lime meringue pie; chocolate-hazelnut mousse tart; savoury cream puffs; pizza rustica; molasses sugar butter cookies; bourbon pecan butter balls; brandy snap cannoli; praline pecan meringue ice-cream sandwiches; crumpets; golden orange panettone with chocolate sauce; Swedish apricot walnut bread; and caramel buns.