The Modern Baker, by Nick Malgieri {Review}

“If you have an oven, you need The Modern Baker.”  ~ Maida Heatter

First published in 2008, Nick Malgieri‘s cookbook, The Modern Baker: Time-saving Techniques for Breads, Tarts, Pies, Cakes, and Cookies, has just been reissued in paperback.

Like most home cooks, I own a lot of cookbooks. Some I turn to all the time; others I rarely touch. The Modern Baker never leaves my kitchen.

This book contains over 150 recipes, both sweet and savory, with everything from quick breads to savory tarts to cookies, cakes, and pies. I have been baking from it for about a year and a half, and even started the Modern Baker Challenge to encourage others to bake with me. In that time, I’ve made — and blogged about — almost 100 recipes. (If you want to read any of the blog posts, use the search box on this page to search for {ModBak}, the tag I use in all my Modern Baker posts.)

I have really come to appreciate the clarity with which the recipes are written, how easy they are to follow, and the consistent results I get when making them. But what really sets this book apart from other cookbooks is the way Nick takes the mystery and intimidation out of baking. Through his helpful, step-by-step instructions and photos, he shows how to make perfect pie crusts, “instant” puff pastry, bakery-quality cakes and pies, and company-worth tarts.

I originally picked up The Modern Baker in hopes that I could finally overcome my mental block when it comes to pie crusts. As comfortable as I am in the kitchen, both with cooking and baking, I had never been able to make a decent pastry crust. It wasn’t that I didn’t try; I just could never seem to get it right. My dough would be gooey or too dry, and when I baked it, it would turn out tough or dry and crumbly. So I was delighted when I made Nick’s quick pastry crust and it turned out perfect the first time. And the second. And the third. And every time since.

The puff pastry is another breakthrough in this book. It mixes up in minutes and doesn’t require rolling in butter in “turns” as in most puff pastry recipes. After mixing the ingredients in the food processor, you pat it out, fold it over itself envelope style, roll it up, and pop it in the fridge. And the resulting puff pastry surpasses anything you can buy. Since I discovered Nick’s technique, I always have homemade puff pastry in the freezer. And the book has taught me countless ways to use it.

If you fancy yourself a cook, but have always been intimidated by baking, you need to own this book. And if you are a seasoned baker and want to find some new, streamlined techniques for the recipes you love to make, you’ll find them here. Even if you’ve never tried your hand at homemade bread or layer cakes, you will feel like a real baker after trying just a few recipes.

In fact, whatever your level of baking experience, you will learn amazing tips, techniques, and tricks from Nick Malgieri and The Modern Baker.


  1. February 20, 2012 at 8:44 am

    […] recipe can be found in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of The Modern Baker, by Nick Malgieri. If you want to add a great baking book to your library, this one has everything […]

  2. Pamela said,

    November 22, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Great post about the book. You were one of the reasons I bought this one. 🙂 I really want to give that puff pastry recipe a try, too. Sounds incredible.

    • gaaarp said,

      November 22, 2011 at 10:29 pm

      You’ll be hooked once you try it. It’s so easy and has so many uses!

  3. November 3, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Well, you got my attention and I may just have to add this one to my Amazon wish list. Pie crust has long been my kryptonite. I struggle with it every time.

    • gaaarp said,

      November 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm

      I did, too. My m-i-l used to laugh about it, as I am otherwise a fairly accomplised baker. She always made my crusts for me. Now, I can handle them myself!

  4. Kayte said,

    November 1, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Great review for a great book. Great baking along with you on this as well, thanks for starting it up, I have learned a lot and have a lot more to learn from it.

    • gaaarp said,

      November 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

      Thanks. And thanks for your continued support, encouragement, and good ideas!

  5. October 31, 2011 at 6:41 am

    Thanks for the great review and comments… I’m going to turn your comment on my blog into a post along with the full review. You are a mensch. Nick

    • gaaarp said,

      October 31, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks, Nick. I’ve been thinking about doing some reviews of books, products, and services on my blog, and this seemed like a great one to start with.

  6. teaandscones said,

    October 30, 2011 at 11:47 am

    VERY nice!! I aagree with everything you say about NIck’s book. True on the puff pastry and the pie crust. And everything else in the book!!

    And love that I am using it so much because of THE CHALLENGE!!!

    • gaaarp said,

      October 30, 2011 at 11:57 am

      I liked the quick breads and breads sections, but it was when we got to the tarts and pies, and I found out I really could make pie crust, that this book really hooked me. And now that we’re baking with puff pastry, I’m finding so many uses for it.

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