Let Them Eat Cake

Pastry chef Emily Luchetti's new book is a recipe for success

It's a rare person who refuses dessert. Yet many wouldn't dream of attempting to make it themselves, claiming that baking is a scary proposition.

Thank the sugar gods for Emily Luchetti and her latest cookbook, The Fearless Baker ($17), a compendium of 175 recipes geared toward the beginning baker.

As executive pastry chef at San Francisco's Farallon and Waterbar restaurants and the author of six books, Luchetti is well versed in the art of sweet. The recipes we tried were both straightforward to cook and pleasing to consume, running the gamut from chocolate chip cookies and basic pie dough to more adventurous creations such as double strawberry tart (click here to download the recipe) and olive-oil-pecan Bundt cake.

Each recipe begins with an accurate description of the end result. Alongside many of the recipes is a running "conversation" between a mystery novice baker, who asks questions at each step, and Luchetti, who responds. It's like calling a friend to talk you through a cake crisis, except said friend happens to be one of the best pastry chefs in the country.

With a good book full of solid how-tos, and desserts as the reward for your efforts, what's there to be afraid of?