From Christmas Cookies to Dolly Parton’s Birthday, Baked Occasions Has You Covered

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Tessa Huff)

Cookbook: Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Overall Impression: No matter the season or day of the year, there is a sweet and innovative recipe to help celebrate every occasion — even the ones we didn’t know existed.

The brilliant duo from Baked NYC are back with their fourth book, Baked Occasions, celebrating Easter to Halloween, and everything in between. Whether you are throwing a Kentucky Derby Party or feel like honoring Dolly Parton’s birthday, Lewis and Poliafito have developed a genius recipe to celebrate the day.

1 / 8
Dolly’s Doughnut (page 36) (Image credit: Tessa Huff)

Recipes I Tried

  • Cheesy Bastille Day Beer Bread (page 144)
  • Gingersnaps with Lemon Sugar (page 229)
  • Chocolate Mint Chip Cupcake Shakes (page 260)
  • Dolly’s Doughnut (page 36) (not pictured)

Cooking from Baked Occasions

With 65 stunning photographs to go with 75 festive recipes, this book is a bit quirky, yet still traditional, and certainly fun. Some of the ideas and “holidays” seem a bit of a stretch, but the authors’ wit and expertise more than make up for it. For example, a vegan “Hippie Cake” for Earth Day? But I bet it’s one of the best eggless chocolate cakes you can find. All jokes aside, their passion for the content and knowledge of baked goods shines in the writing and innovative recipes. They acknowledge that this book is not an all-inclusive holiday cookbook. They decided to include only the occasions that truly inspire them and that are celebrated year after year at their bakery.

I first made Dolly’s Doughnut, a velvety coconut bundt cake with chocolate-coconut filling. The texture was light and buttery, and the pink coconut glaze with sprinkles made the cake look like a giant doughnut.

Cheesy Bastille Day Beer Bread (page 144) (Image credit: Tessa Huff)

Next, I tried the Cheesy Bastille Day Beer Bread. This was the perfect addition amongst all the sweet treats. I wanted to try something on the more savory side, and this quick bread did not disappoint. The recipe was easy to follow and the method was fairly simple. Plus, who can’t get behind a bread that has cheese baked on both the top AND bottom crusts?

Gingersnaps with Lemon Sugar (page 229) (Image credit: Tessa Huff)

As much as I enjoyed some of the over-the-top holidays, I am glad there was a section devoted to just Christmas cookies. The Twelve Days of Cookie Baking Interlude was an excellent addition — each recipe is carefully curated and contains its own story. I was immediately drawn to the Gingersnap with Lemon Sugar. With an extra “zip” from the lemon sugar, these crisp yet chewy cookies were devoured by my own family within days.

Chocolate Mint Chip Cupcake Shakes (page 260) (Image credit: Tessa Huff)

Just for fun, I also tested out the Chocolate Cupcake Shake. How could I pass it up? There are several different variations, all including your favorite ice cream and any leftover baked goods you have on hand. Next time I must certainly try adding a slice of leftover pie to my shake.

What Could Be Better

I am inevitably drawn to the recipes with pictures. I think it would be beneficial if each recipe had its own photograph, especially those that are a bit more unfamiliar like the Picnic Cake — is it just a single-layer cake that is easy to take on picnics or something else entirely? And while I understand that the book’s primary focus is sweets, I wouldn’t have minded a few more savory pastry recipes. I found that the recipes required a mild to moderate skill level, but some of the techniques may be a bit advanced for a first-time baker. In-depth explanations might be helpful for more novice bakers, but may also turn away those looking for something truly unique and original, so it’s kind of a toss-up.

Final Takeaway

Overall, I was thoroughly entertained just reading this book, which is a good sign for any good cookbook, in my opinion. The stories were invigorating and each recipe was inspiring. I had a hard timing picking which recipes to create and was left eager to try more. The authors are clearly experienced and the recipes will not you down. Plus, the knowledge you gain from learning about an assortment of holidays will make you look like a genius at your next trivia night.

Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.