I Made Every Single Recipe from One Cookbook — Here’s What I Learned

Diane Callahan
21 min readJan 23, 2023
Title card that reads “Making Every Recipe from The Model Bakery Cookbook” with pictures of two cakes, a plum galette, and four-leaf-clover sugar cookies

My Villain Origin Story

As a goal-oriented person, sometimes I can be a little . . . intense. With over 258 items on my bucket list and counting, I’m definitely a person who Does Things for the Sake of Doing Them. Skydiving. Getting a tattoo. Visiting an alpaca farm. It’s all part of adding zest to life.

With that spicy spirit in mind, I made an ambitious New Year’s resolution back in 2019: make every recipe from a single cookbook.

#1 — January 2019, Buttermilk Biscuits: Today is a snow day; we’re supposed to get around thirteen inches, and what better way to celebrate a cozy day in than homemade buttermilk biscuits? We made bacon and put cheddar cheese on them for savory biscuits, then had strawberry jam for sweet ones.

Naturally, I was inspired by the movie Julie & Julia and its real-life source material, wherein food blogger Julie Powell attempts to conquer all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But I wasn’t feeling quite that ambitious, and the idea of having to cook things like Tuna Niçoise sounded slightly nightmarish to my picky taste buds.

Thus, my parameters for a good cookbook candidate were that it:

  1. Featured foods I would feasibly try
  2. Involved around a hundred recipes
  3. Contained enough of a challenge that I’d actually learn something
#2 — January 2019, Brownies: One could say I’m stress-baking. Or perhaps trying to redeem myself. I’ve had two kitchen snafus in the past few days, the first being the buttermilk cake debacle, wherein I got so distracted while multitasking — trying to bake and watch The Great British Bake Off at the same time — that I used the wrong cup measurement for flour.

I figured I’d be a lot more likely to achieve my goal if it involved carbs and sweets. After all, I grew up baking cinnamon rolls and old-fashioned divinity with my grandmother, so sugar was in my blood.

My first thought was to choose a book centered on bread-making because I find the idea so romantic, and I’d love to be that girl who bakes bread like some villager in a nineteenth-century French provincial town. That idea quickly became too intimidating, especially since I hadn’t been bequeathed a generations-old jar of starter.

#67 — July 2022, Pain au Levain: After twenty minutes of rest (for the dough and for me), I added the sea salt and mixed it with the paddle attachment. This was followed by pulling and folding the dough in quarters, then letting it rest for twenty minutes, then more folding, then more resting, then more folding, then more resting.