Before even trying out a single recipe, I was impressed by how beautiful this book was. With glossy pages and artfully composed photography in a hefty octavo, The Violet Bakery Cookbook looks and feels like a museum catalog.

What distinguishes this cookbook for me is the varied palette of flours and pantry ingredients Ptak draws on to create elegant recipes that are simple and straightforward while still vaguely exotic. The first recipe I baked from this book (a slice-and-bake, shortbread-style cookie made with buckwheat flour, candied citrus peel, and chopped nuts) was mostly met with reviews of, “I have no idea what I’m eating but I like it!” The range of flours alone may be daunting for American amateur bakers, but nothing I have attempted thus far has been technically difficult, and every recipe has been delightful.

This book is particularly handy if you need to prepare anything gluten free, as it has a wealth of recipes built around grain and nut flours (instead of recipes built around wheat and subsequently recreated without it).