If you need encouragement to bake or need fundamental instructions for all phases of baking from measuring techniques to oven temperature, the Farm Journal's "Complete Home Baking Book" ($14.95, Farm Journal, Philadelphia) will be helpful.
For years Elise W. Manning, former food editor of the Farm Journal and author of the book, has collected recipes sent to her by home bakers, mostly farm women.
Patricia A. Ward, associate food editor, together with the food staff, tried all the recipes in the Farm Journal's test kitchens.
The result of this painstaking work is a comprehensive book.You can read up on ingredients needed for baking, baking pans, the different kind of flours, and how to use your oven.Color illustrations show how the finished product should look.
There is an unusually large amount of recipes to choose from for breads, cakes, cookies, and pies, and many practical hints to help turn you into a skillful baker. Yes, it is easier to chop candied or dried fruit with a knife or scissors dipped in warm water.
The recipes are easy to follow and tempting to try. I found a recipe for vanilla wafers, a bit different from the one I often use, and I could not resist making them right away. They are very good with ice cream or sherbet. Here is the recipe. Brown-Rim Butter Cookies 2 1/2 cups sifted flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter or margarine 1/2 cup shortening 2/3 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift together flour and salt; set aside. Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar in bowl until light and fluffy, using electric mixer at medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla.
Gradually stir dry ingredients into creamed mixture, blending well. Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls, about 3 inches apart, on greased baking sheet. Flatten each with bottom of drinking glass dipped in water to 2 3/4-inch rounds.
Bake in 375 degree F. oven 10 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from baking sheet; cool on wire racks. Makes 4 dozen.