Case Study: Lucky’s Bakehouse Holiday cookbook

The Project

spread from Lucky's Bakehouse Holiday: Noosa Panna Cotta with Caramel Chocolate Streusel

A four-color cookbook of delicious holiday recipes by premiere dessert chef Jennifer Bush.

The goal: To introduce Chef Jennifer Bush and her bakery, Lucky’s Bakehouse & Creamery, to the foodie world outside of Boulder, Colorado, with a short holiday-themed desserts cookbook showcasing a wide variety of her desserts.

The Challenge: Pack a lot of recipes into a fixed page count and trim size already determined and budgeted — while conveying the appealing beauty of the desserts and at the same time designing the layout to be an easy-to-use go-to cookbook.

We had two things going for us: The interesting and very clearly described recipes written by the chef, and some truly gorgeous photography by Jennifer Olson of the completed dishes. From the start, we knew the photography would be a primary appeal to draw people into the book. My goal was to showcase that work while integrating the recipes such that they would be clear, useful, and easy to refer back to.

In designing a cookbook, form follows function

The Introduction

Page detail from Lucky's Bakehouse Holiday cookbook

In the introduction of a recipe, the dish is sold to the reader. Why it’s so good. Occasions it’s perfect for. Where the recipe came from. Maybe a little tip on a perfect embellishment or additional use.

Jennifer’s friendly, down-to-earth personality came through in the prose. These recipes are her creations. They reflect not just her chef’s genius but her passion for her work. We didn’t want the intros to be the thing everyone skips, as so often can be the case in cookbooks.

We always knew that the visual presentation of the completed desserts would be central to the cookbook’s aesthetic, but when Jennifer Olson’s photographs started coming in, we knew we had gold. Each photograph captured not only the scrumptious details of the desserts, they conveyed the mood.

I laid out the introductions to complement to the photography, integrating the text with each photo’s composition, drawing the eye through the paragraphs without obstructing the image.

The Recipe

Recipe from Lucky's Bakehouse Holiday cookbook
(Note: I scrambled the recipe details out of courtesy to the chef. You can get the actual recipes from the book and website.)

Cooking can be a stressful time. You’re often juggling multiple things at once — preparation of several dishes, gathering the ingredients for each, cleaning utensils that need to be repurposed, coordinating prep and cooking tasks so everything is ready at the appropriate time, greeting guests as they arrive, and of course the other various distractions that can pop up at any time. In this situation, the chef’s anchor, especially with a new recipe, is the cookbook.

Because of this, the recipe needs to be clear, easy to read, and easy to scan for reference in the midst of the process.

The nitty gritty of a cookbook recipe comes down to two primary semantic components:

  1. The ingredients
  2. The preparation steps
Recipe page from Lucky's Bakehouse Holiday cookbook by Jennifer Bush

For the ingredients, I set the lists in boldface, arranged in two-column stacks with hanging indents, with a consistent structure for each: Count, Measure, Description. All counts were set in numerical form with diagonal over/under fractions. Measures were abbreviated consistently.

The preparation steps were numbered (to make it easy to refer back while in the midst of preparation), brief, and to the point.

I used marginal breakouts to highlight:

  • Cookware and utensils needed
  • Prep time
  • Baking temperatures
  • Storage
  • Important tips to be aware of during the process

Result

The final book turned out beautifully. I also created a fixed-layout ebook version.

Spread from Lucky's Bakehouse Holiday cookbook

Credits

I worked with the author, Jennifer Bush, producer and editor Curt Pesmen, and photographer Jennifer Olson. The cover was designed by Mimi Bark. The book was printed in 4-color offset by Frederic Printing in Aurora, Colorado.

More about the book, including some recipes and how to order, can be found on the website.

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