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"Bakewise" by Shirley Corriher

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52 replies to this topic

#1 SethG

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Posted 28 December 2004 - 08:06 AM

Today's New York Times has a nice article (free registration required) on Shirley O. Corriher's forthcoming book Bakewise.

Fans of Cookwise will be disheartened to learn that she won't have the book out until at least next Christmas. But three very tasty-sounding cakes are published along with the article-- look at the "Related" sidebar.
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#2 bloviatrix

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Posted 28 December 2004 - 09:05 AM

Actually, a year wait isn't so bad. It'll give everyone a chance to digest McGee before moving on to the next "kitchen science" book. :raz:
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#3 Gifted Gourmet

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Posted 28 December 2004 - 09:18 AM

:laugh: more Corriher .... Too much is never enough! :laugh:
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#4 Suzanne F

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Posted 28 December 2004 - 09:40 AM

This is good news indeed! She is such a doll, and so helpful. :wub:

#5 foodie52

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Posted 28 December 2004 - 09:56 AM

Apparently she's been under "house arrest" for the past year in order to finish up this book!!

#6 Moopheus

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Posted 28 December 2004 - 10:05 AM

I just hope they don't do a rush job on the production to make up for the book being late, to get it out in time for the holiday. What am I saying? Of course they will.
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#7 Gifted Gourmet

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Posted 28 December 2004 - 10:15 AM

Methinks Shirley will never "sign off on" anything not done quite properly and to her exacting standards ... after all, she is a biochemist by profession!
Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"


#8 Suzanne F

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Posted 28 December 2004 - 01:31 PM

I just hope they don't do a rush job on the production to make up for the book being late, to get it out in time for the holiday. What am I saying? Of course they will.

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Now I know what to wish for for my birthday :wink:

#9 joiei

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Posted 02 January 2005 - 07:09 AM

I assisted Shirley at a cooking demonstration. She is something else. And I love her. I use Cookwise for reference more than anything, especially when trying to dissect what went wrong on something. I now will look forward to the new book.
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#10 SethG

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 09:32 PM

I was reminded this week that a year has passed with no publication date in sight for Bakewise! :sad:

Anyone have any info? A Google search turns up nothing, Amazon has no listing, and B&N says it was published in 1924(!).

I made her tunnel of fudge cake the other day for a party. The Times article and the accompanying recipes are still accessible a year later. I thought the cake was good but it is absurdly sweet. (The overwhelming amount of sugar is what keeps the cake from solidifying in the center.) Mine was pretty loose in the middle, but it didn't run the way Shirley's does in the picture that appears next to the Times article. I guess I cooked it a couple minutes too long, but I was grateful; it made for easier serving.
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#11 rosejoy

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Posted 14 January 2006 - 01:07 PM

I was reminded this week that a year has passed with no publication date in sight for Bakewise:sad:

Anyone have any info?  A Google search turns up nothing, Amazon has no listing, and B&N says it was published in 1924(!).

I made her tunnel of fudge cake the other day for a party.  The Times article and the accompanying recipes are still accessible a year later.  I thought the cake was good but it is absurdly sweet.  (The overwhelming amount of sugar is what keeps the cake from solidifying in the center.)  Mine was pretty loose in the middle, but it didn't run the way Shirley's does in the picture that appears next to the Times article.  I guess I cooked it a couple minutes too long, but I was grateful; it made for easier serving.

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I came across and article from the El Paso Times from July, 2005 saying that BakeWise is due out in 2007 :angry:

Here's the link:
http://www.borderlan...mplate=printart

#12 Chris Amirault

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 08:26 AM

Simon and Shuster is saying that the book is shipping in late Oct 2008!

ETA: You can preorder through Amazon by clicking this eGullet-Society-friendly link.

Edited by chrisamirault, 09 September 2008 - 08:27 AM.

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#13 judec

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 02:41 PM

Has anyone picked up this book? Any first impressions would be appreciated.

Can't find a table of contents or index anywhere.

#14 JeanneCake

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 04:46 PM

Amazon is shipping it on or after Oct 28; there's a video available but no peeks inside the book

#15 docsconz

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 04:57 PM

The Ideas in Food take on Bakewise is here. They like it.
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#16 Gingersnap

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Posted 21 October 2008 - 06:34 AM

My copy arrived from Amazon some time last week. I haven't had a chance to do more than flip through it.

There are five chapters (and a hefty bibliography):

Cakes, Lucious Cakes! Muffins, Quick Breads, & More
Puff, The Magic Leavener -- Steam
Pie Marches On & On
As the Cookie Crumbles
Great Breads -- Great Flavours

#17 Lindacakes

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 02:47 PM

Very very interesting. I'm curious about this book. I know a little bit of gossip about it. Apparently Shirley Corriher is not a baker, which is why it took so long to write the book . . .
I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

#18 Special K

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 05:09 PM

Apparently Shirley Corriher is not a baker, which is why it took so long to write the book . . .

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She is now!

#19 ruthcooks

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 03:48 PM

My copy arrived from Amazon some time last week.  I haven't had a chance to do more than flip through it.

There are five chapters (and a hefty bibliography):

Cakes, Lucious Cakes!  Muffins, Quick Breads, & More
Puff, The Magic Leavener -- Steam
Pie Marches On & On
As the Cookie Crumbles
Great Breads -- Great Flavours

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Mine came last week too, after I had forgotten I'd put in an advance order. After waiting so long (years), I am trying to save it for Christmas reading, but think Thanksgiving will feature her Crust for Pumpkin pie, which Shirley says will still be crisp after several days in the fridge. Strange little recipe with Wondra flour, butter flavored shortening, corn syrup and vinegar!

Another find, a meringue which is easy to cut, non-weeping and safe against salmonella. Shirley gives credit to others for the originals of both these recipes, and many more.

I don't see too many unique recipes, but you can be sure that Shirley's versions are the most reliable--and probably the richest--around.
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#20 prasantrin

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 04:20 PM

Like others, I've been looking forward to this book for a long time, but after seeing her recipe for pound cake and reading some of the ingredients for the pumpkin pie crust, I'm not sure how useful the book will be to people living outside the United States. Wondra flour and butter-flavoured shortening certainly aren't easily found where I live (Japan).

Are a lot of the recipe in the book like that?

#21 rickster

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 11:37 AM

So I was suckered in by a 30% off coupon at Borders and picked this up last weekend. I haven't baked anything from it yet, but my take is that there are some interesting tips buried in one of the most confusingly written cookbooks ever. Cheesecake recipes in the pie section. Genoise in the meringue section. Recipes you are not supposed to make. I know there is a logic to the organization, but it is very different to that of the average cookbook. It's probably better to think of this as a Harold McGee type book with some recipes for illustration. My other thought is that baking by nature is more "scientific" than cooking and a lot of baking books already use that perspective, a la Beranbaum and most serious bread books. So Corriher has less unique to offer here than in her Cookwise book. May be why it took so long to finish.

#22 Reignking

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 08:55 AM

The Cook's Warehouse in Atlanta will be having a book signing:

Midtown 11/17/2008
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM FREE

#23 joiei

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 02:37 PM

The Cook's Warehouse in Atlanta will be having a book signing:

Midtown 11/17/2008
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM FREE

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Shirley lives in Georgia so i guess they get first crack at a book signing with her.

Shirley's background is as a food scientist like Mr McGee. In the course of writing the book she has had some serious health problem to deal with.

To meet her in person, Shirley is a very funny person filled with so much knowledge of food and the science of food. I backed her up for a cooking school class one time and fell in love with her then.
It is good to be a BBQ Judge.

#24 HungryC

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 10:04 AM

So I was suckered in by a 30% off coupon at Borders and picked this up last weekend. I haven't baked anything from it yet, but my take is that there are some interesting tips buried in one of the most confusingly written cookbooks ever. Cheesecake recipes in the pie section. Genoise in the meringue section. Recipes you are not supposed to make. I know there is a logic to the organization, but it is very different to that of the average cookbook. It's probably better to think of this as a Harold McGee type book with some recipes for illustration. My other thought is that baking by nature is more "scientific" than cooking and a lot of baking books already use that perspective, a la Beranbaum and most serious bread books. So Corriher has less unique to offer here than in her Cookwise book. May be why it took so long to finish.

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I agree that the organization is quite confusing. Overall, it is stuffed with fascinating info, but you must plow through lots of cross-referencing, asides, and a fair bit of repetition to squeeze out the good stuff. Did the editor quit mid-stream? A firm reorganization might have increased the flow & clarity. It isn't quite the masterpiece compared to her first book.

One minor quibble: the layout/typesetting/body design appear to have been carried out by a legal secretary only allowed to use the most conservative fonts in MS Word 2000. Times Roman for body copy? Arial Bold for headlines & sub-heads? Part of the confusing nature of the text is caused by the lack of attention to good informational design...too much space between sections, overall weird line spacing. Again, a minor quibble, but if you look at Alford & Duguid's last few books, you'll get a stellar example of good design elevating good material into something extraordinary.

#25 prasantrin

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 03:19 PM

I agree that the organization is quite confusing.  Overall, it is stuffed with fascinating info, but you must plow through lots of cross-referencing, asides, and a fair bit of repetition to squeeze out the good stuff.  Did the editor quit mid-stream?  A firm reorganization might have increased the flow & clarity.  It isn't quite the masterpiece compared to her first book.

One minor quibble:  the layout/typesetting/body design appear to have been carried out by a legal secretary only allowed to use the most conservative fonts in MS Word 2000.  Times Roman for body copy?  Arial Bold for headlines & sub-heads?  Part of the confusing nature of the text is caused by the lack of attention to good informational design...too much space between sections, overall weird line spacing.  Again, a minor quibble, but if you look at Alford & Duguid's last few books, you'll get a stellar example of good design elevating good material into something extraordinary.

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Boy, are you going to get slammed for that one! :biggrin:

#26 pastrygirl

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 07:24 PM

If I hate the layout of a book, I won't buy it, even if the recipes might be good. Or if they use a lot of pink...how did pink come to be the designated color for pastry? I hate pink.

Anyway, I agree that layout, fonts, spacing, design, all that make a difference.

#27 Darienne

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 08:06 AM

Another very interesting article in NY Times, Dec 18, 08 about butter and baking cites the Corriher book and also adds Jennifer McLagan, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes (Ten Speed Press) and also Anita Chu, Field Guide to Cookies (Quirk Books) .
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#28 Anko

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 02:06 PM

I really love this book. So far, I've made the Pound Cake recipe and the Boston Cream Pie cake. I've made pound cakes from several different recipes, but this is my favorite. The texture is fine-grained, the cake is moist, and the flavor is intense of butter and vanilla and almond. The Boston Cream Pie had a lot of potential, but I overcooked the cake by possibly as much as 5-10 minutes, so it was pretty dry. Everyone said they enjoyed the cake, but it could have been so much better.

This is definitely not a standard recipe-after-recipe cookbook. But you soon realize how much time, effort, analysis, and testing Shirley put into each recipe. Each ingredient and extra step is there for a reason. And everything is thoroughly explained, including the unorthodox use of whipped cream and potato flour in the recipes above. I guess I've never been so confident baking from a book before, I feel like as long as I follow the directions carefully (like I didn't do with the cake), success is guaranteed.
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#29 Lesley C

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 01:11 PM

Not necessarily.

I wasn't going to post anything but that last statement of Anko's had me worried as do the southern biscuits that I just made from the book that are salty, greasy and heavy. Perhaps, I'm thinking, self-rising flour in the U.S. is different than here in Canada? Or maybe I don't have that "touch of grace."

I see several problems with this book so far, first and foremost the laborious method of the recipes and the lack of visual reference points. Illustrations would also have helped. And the use of shortening and corn syrup is just off limits for so many of us bakers. And from a scientist like Ms. Corriher, I expect a serious paragraph on why bakers should be using a scale to measure. She provides metric measures, hooray!!!, now tell us the advantages of using a scale. There are many (interesting to note that it says the recipes were not tested using metric measures. Why? I used the metric measures, maybe that's why I had gummy biscuits?)

Also, the recipes are complicated complicated. I have little time or patience to bake like this any more, and I even worked as a pro pastry chef for a decade. People who worked on the book, not naming any names here, may indeed go nutso when they read any criticism, (again let me say the author is the loveliest of ladies) BUT for those of us who have worked with meringues, batters, creams and doughs for years, this book is far from a baker's bible. Pro bakers will find problems here as beginners will be discouraged by the length of the recipes.The 12-step pate a choux recipe alone is so unecessarily complicated...and why use release foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray? Why not use parchment paper? Or better yet, a Silpat? In the roasted pecan chocolate chip cookie she admits the baking soda is "excessive and overleavens" but keeps it in there to make a "slightly darker cookie." What's so great about a darker cookie?

And then there are the recipes themselves. Take, for instance, the creme anglaise. Why not use a thermometer and cook it to 85C, strain immediately and cool over an ice bath as pastry chefs do? Looking for the answer, I see on page 328 that she claims creme anglaise turns to scrambled eggs at 82C. What? Then I go back to the anglaise recipe on page 331 and see that she uses 5 egg yolks for 1 1/2 cups of liquid (milk and cream). The standard recipe most pastry chefs use is 12 yolks for 4 cups of milk (I actually use 10 because 12 is too rich). By my calculation, she's
using about 14 yolks per litre of liquid and over 250g of sugar, which is very high. The whole thing is too rich. And why doesn't she add a note to tell us how long this sauce can be kept refrigerated -- a very important factor with this cream due to the egg content.

So much here left me scratching my head. Why so many egg yolks in the pastry cream? And why the backwards method when the classic works so well? Why bother with the steam for the pate a choux when you can achieve great results in a simple convection oven? Why the marshmallow in the whipped cream when gelatin is so much easier? Why the cream of tartare (I know she explains why but it's hardly essential)? Why chopping chocolate in the food processor when melting in the microwave? Why bother pouring the hot syrup into a glass cup when making Italian meringue (get used to pouring it in a stream from the pot; it's actually less dangerous than transferring it into a cup)? Why not put half your sugar in the milk when making creme anglaise and pastry cream to stop it from burning? Why list a recipe and then tell readers not to make it? Why why why???

I'm all for food chemistry helping us do things better, but so many of these suggestions and bold statements (roasting nuts improves flavour, butter enhances flavour) are all too obvious. I'm a fan of Ms. Corriher but this book misses the mark for me. I think she has a lot to give, but I also think she should have teamed up with a seasoned baker for best results, like Herve This does with Pierre Gagnaire.

#30 Anko

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Posted 15 January 2009 - 09:07 AM

Lesley,
You bring up many good points that I'll keep in consideration as I continue to try recipes from the book. I'll admit that my post may have been a little too "rah-rah" after just trying a couple recipes. Maybe the southern biscuits next :smile:
Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about.
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