cover image Butter, Flour, Sugar, Joy

Butter, Flour, Sugar, Joy

Danielle Kartes. Sourcebooks, $29.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-72827-801-8

Rustic Joyful Food blogger Kartes (Meant to Share) offers unfussy one-bowl recipes for sweets in a straightforward collection stressing shortcuts, fun, and community over a rigid, chemistry-based approach. Choices lean toward tried-and-true American favorites like peanut butter cookies with Hershey’s Kisses, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, and snickerdoodles, though occasionally a trendy ingredient makes an appearance—marshmallow toffee cookies, for example, call for black sea salt from Hawaii. More sophisticated options are also scattered throughout: a chapter of spoonable dishes features passion fruit panna cotta alongside standbys like butterscotch pudding, while classic coconut cream pie rubs shoulders with a rhubarb and frangipane galette in the pie chapter. Kartes is the mother of two young children who feature heavily, and many of the recipes seem suited to children’s tastes: the proclaimed “heart and soul” of the book is a layer cake meant to mimic the flavor of animal crackers and dotted with rainbow sprinkles. Numerous Christian references throughout, including a handful of exhortations to prayer, will further limit the appeal, but as promised, recipes are easy to follow and low stress, and Kartes evinces an honest, often vulnerable tone that will comfort novices (“even the best bakers have bad bakes some days”). Beginners will find this a handy guide. (Nov.)