The Perfect Fall Baking Cookbook for You (Based on Your Spirit Cake)

December 16, 2016

The person you're gift-hunting for loves to bake (in this scenario, remember you could be on the hunt for yourself). You want to get a baking cookbook, but there are like 5000 of them, and you've only managed to narrow the list to 1000 that look fabulous.

But not every book is right for everyone. Our highly tested system will churn out the right cookbook for the occasion: Just pick your ideal cake and we'll match it to a book. Note that not all of these cakes appear in the books they align with; rather, the ones with asterisks are dreamt up by us to hone in on the spirit of each book.

Click on your ideal cake to jump to its book match, or read through the article to see your full range of choices:

What's Your Dream Cake?

*Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Burnt Honey Glaze

You like cozy, all-natural cakes that are best eaten with tea—not coffee, or wine, or harder liquor. You love pure, classic flavors (vanilla, lemon, straight pumpkin), but aren't opposed to little twists once in awhile. Maybe a burnt honey glaze?

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented by Sarah Kieffer

Tomato Ricotta Cake

You're excited by rustic, beautiful desserts that use somewhat out-of-the-ordinary flavor combinations. You can't wait to try fennel blondies, peach cardamom muffins, plum bourbon crumble pie, but especially a ricotta cake with tomato marmalade and tomato cream cheese frosting.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Little Flower Baking

Little Flower Baking by Christine Moore

Chocolate-Zucchini Cake with Chocolate-Sweet Potato Frosting

You like technically precise and wholesome, but still really delicious, baking recipes. You'd like to experiment with gluten-free and vegan baking but don't want to sacrifice flavor for anything.

Shop the Story

For instance: You're the one who brings a luscious chocolate cake to your kid's bake sale that everyone raves over, and you keep to yourself that it's made with vegetables.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Better Baking: Wholesome Ingredients, Delicious Desserts by Genevieve Ko

More: Watch Genevieve make the Green Tea Chocolate Cake with Matcha Marshmallow Frosting from her book.

*Kumquat Upside Down Carrot Skillet Cake

Your baking swerves from sweet to savory, classic to experimental. You're not afraid of combining ingredients for the first time, or of somewhat complex recipes—as long as they come out utterly delicious and comforting but still sophisticated. Bonus points if you hold your cast iron close, or want to be the kind of person who does.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Stir, Sizzle, Bake: Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Skillet by Charlotte Druckman

*Quince-Rose Upside Down Spelt Cake

You ask for an oozy fruit cobbler or pie for your birthday instead of chocolate cake. You're the first "in line" at the farmers market for fall's quince, summer's delicate berries, and winter's kumquatsorangesgrapefruitslemons. You like playing with alternative flours, and spices, but will always use the season as your inspiration for what to bake.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Sweeter off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season by Yossy Arefi

Kranzkuchen (Braided Almond-Cream Wreath)

You like traditional European pastries and the flavors that come with them: almond, dairy, sugary glaze, boozy-plump raisins. You're not afraid of yeast or shaping dough (or would like to be taught how to conquer that fear).

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Watch Luisa make the Kranzkuchen

Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen by Luisa Weiss

*Semolina Cake with Orange Blossom Glaze

You love baking Middle Eastern desserts, and especially those that are floral, fragrant, and weeknight-friendly. You've got chamomile, mint, orange blossom, and rose at the ready for your next baking project.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Soframiz: Vibrant Middle Eastern Recipes from Sofra Bakery and Cafe by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick

8-Layer Smith Island Cake

For you, baked goods are your canvas: You swirl your niece's birthday brownies with more than just cream cheese (strawberry-balsamic jam? pistachio butter?) and ask, again, if you can make a wedding cake for your neighbors. You've already made an ombré cake and are looking for surprisingly delicious and beautiful recipes.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150 Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars, Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More by Irvin Lin

Election Cake

Your idea of a history textbook is a vintage cookbook. And you only like to bake cakes that have a good story attached to them. Then, at your dinner party, you can say, "This cake first appeared in the second edition of America's first cookbook!" or "This is one of the Los Angeles Times's most-requested cake recipes of all time!"

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, the Stories and Recipes Behind More Than 125 of Our Best-Loved Cakes by Anne Bryn

Cola Cake

You like the nostalgia and simplicity of boxed cake mixes (and the fact that they take 20 minutes to make), but you like to bake from scratch. And while you don't need spelt or mochiko flour, you do like to dream up an exciting cake that's just right for your occasion.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Cake Magic!: Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations by Caroline Wright

*Zucchini-Date Loaf Cake

You're a daytime dessert kind of person: Your breakfast and 3 P.M. snack is usually sweet, preferably with a spot of tea. You like messy, unfussy baked goods that ooze with fruit, spices, or both.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Golden: Sweet & Savory Baked Delights from the Ovens of London's Honey & Co. by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer

Babka, Not Cake

You like the challenge of baked goods that require rising, kneading, folding, and twirling. And babka is your absolute favorite (even if it's not technically a cake), and you want to learn how to make it—and other breads—from the pro.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking--Flatbreads, Stuffed Breads, Challahs, Cookies, and the Legendary Chocolate Babka by Uri Scheft

*Chai-Pear Buckwheat Roulade Cake

You seek out wholesome desserts, particularly gluten-free ones. If they happen to have fruit, use alternative flours, and look cute (you know, like a roulade, a tart, or a pie), then even better.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Alternative Baker: Reinventing Dessert with Gluten-Free Grains and Flours by Alanna Taylor-Tobin

*Chocolate Chocolate Chipper Cookie Cake with Sky's the Limit Whipped Cream

You like cookies so much more than cake. You like to smile and experiment while you read recipes and bake, but you also want the best, most fun versions of classic cookies.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

Oh my gosh how could I decide?!!!!

You like literally every kind of cake and no one could make you pick a favorite. You like the classic, the simple, the edgy—and the straight-from-your-own-brain.

Then your cookbook soulmate is...

How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking by Mark Bittman

What baking books do you have your eye on? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • sarah kieffer | the vanilla bean blog
    sarah kieffer | the vanilla bean blog
  • catherine margaret o'donnell
    catherine margaret o'donnell
Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.


sarah K. December 29, 2016
Somehow I missed this in the holiday hustle and bustle. Thank you so much! :)
catherine M. December 16, 2016
Good ideas for Christmas gifts!!