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ABC of baking


pattimw
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Hi Tony. Here is book that I have found helpful. It is, strictly speaking, a general cooking book but does explain the how and the why of pastry and baking. I am referring to "COOKWISE" by Shirley O Corriher. Take a look at it and see what you think.

Edited by FWED (log)

Fred Rowe

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Mastering the Art of French Pastry by Healy & Bugat hasn’t been mentioned in this thread (briefly in earlier ones). I’m not a pro, but it seems quite comprehensive.

Based on the high price it commands in the used book market & on e-Bay I wonder why it hasn’t been reprinted. I have to rely on the library copy.

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I'm a fan of Alice Medrich just simply for the fact that she tests her own recipes over and over until she has found the absolute best way to do something. And she is a great person to take a class with because she rambles and you pick up sooo much information as she rambles. Mary Cech was another instructor that I enjoyed and learned a lot from even though her book isn't out yet. I caught classes with both of them at Sur La Table.

Pamela Wilkinson

www.portlandfood.org

Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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Hi Tony. Here is book that I have found helpful. It is, strictly speaking, a general cooking book but does explain the how and the why of pastry and baking. I am referring to "COOKWISE" by Shirley O Corriher. Take a look at it and see what you think.

I heard Ms. Corriher was supposed to release a book called BAKEWISE as a follow up to the first. Let's hope it happens. I love COOKWISE, though I can't really say it taught me how to cook.

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I would love to see something along the lines of Bakewise. There are several books coming out in the next few months that may also be useful along these lines:

Paula Figoni, How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science (Sep 03)

From the Publisher

"Accessible coverage of the science of baking

Underlying the artistic considerations involved in baking is science, and no other text offers as in-depth coverage of the "whys" of baking as How Baking Works. By helping bakers and pastry chefs better understand the major ingredient groups and reactions ingredients undergo during basic baking techniques, this insightful book is an essential key to mastering skills, effectively adapting to today’s quickly evolving trends, and understanding a wide array of ingredients from different cultures.

In a clear, easy-to-understand format, How Baking Works explains how sweeteners, fats, leavening agents, and other ingredients work, as well as how to apply scientific knowledge to answer such questions as: By doubling the sugar in a pound cake, how does that affect the appearance, flavor, and texture of the end product? Each chapter concludes with helpful review exercises and lab experiments, making this book an engaging learning tool.

Complete with dozens of informative illustrations, How Baking Works is a versatile instructional book for students in culinary and baking programs and professional bakers and pastry chefs. "

Author Biography: PAULA FIGONI is a food scientist and associate professor in the International Baking and Pastry Institute in the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. She also has more than ten years of experience in product development and food science at The Pillsbury Company and Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.

Cathy Burgett and Lou Pappas, Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking (Oct 03)

From the Publisher

Every generation has its standard bearers-and for today's cooks, it's Williams-Sonoma. Second in the "Essentials" series, this is the ultimate "everything you need to know" baking resource from America's favorite expert on all things culinary. From the simplest muffins to artisan-style yeast loaves, it covers the ingredients, equipment, and fundamental techniques for successful baking. In addition to step-by-step photos and baking tips and tricks, this informative volume offers insights on baking traditions all around the world. Over 130 recipes include sumptuous photography, straightforward directions, and multiple variations-in short, everything a cook needs to know to rise to the top.

Sherry Yard, The Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Extraordinary Desserts (Nov 03)

From the Publisher

"a comprehensive primer that guides the cook through the world of baked goods and other desserts, from time-honored classics of the French patisserie to the inspired and fanciful creations that made Spago the famous restaurant it is today. At the same time, it advances a radically new understanding of these recipes, one that will give the baker greater flexibility and confidence in the kitchen.

Instead of grouping desserts into traditional categories (pies, cakes, cookies), Sherry Yard arranges them around crucial master recipes. Starting with these recipes -- simple, basic guidelines for making caramel, chocolate sauce, lemon curd, pound cake, and brioche, to name just a few -- Yard shows the cook how to create dozens of variations. Knowing how ingredients interact opens the door to a multitude of baking possibilities. For example, cream puff dough forms the foundation for éclairs, profiteroles, and the caramel-coated tower the French call croquembouche, but understanding how and why it behaves the way it does allows the cook to create deep-fried beignets, mascarpone-filled cannolis, or simmering-hot dumplings.

This authoritative, friendly bake-shop bible contains fascinating mini-lessons on food science, illuminating bits of baking history, and time-saving tips. Newcomers to the world of baking will feel at ease with such simple, homey desserts as Banana Bread and Mississippi Mud Pie, and elaborate show-stoppers like Chocolate Brioche Sandwich with Espresso Gelato and Blackberry-Lime-Filled Doughnuts with Blackberry Sorbet and Berries will transform amateur bakers into expert pastry chefs."

I caught Ms. Yard on an episode of Wolfgang Puck's FTV show a couple of weeks ago; I tuned in when I saw she would be on since I knew the book was coming out. Left me quite hopeful for the book. She came across as someone who was really trying to teach/communicate. Unfortunately the show was not the best forum for her to express herself in this manner. She was trying to explain how she was using three different flavor/textures of almonds in a pear tartlet (dough, pastry cream, and slivered on top), why she was adding lemon peel with the sugar while creaming (so the sugar's crystal structure would help release the oil from the lemon zest), etc. and Wolfgang, was trying to keep things pumped up for the audience and moving along. I would have loved to see her face when he literally dumped a half cup (at least) of caramel sauce (which it looked like he nearly killed himself making when he dumped dry sugar into what was apparently a rocket-hot pan-- he looked quite startled and they immediately cut away to a commercial) right over the top of her finished tartlet; I'm sure he is a wonderful chef, but he just drowned the poor thing, threw a couple of raspberries on it and there it was. Somehow, I think she would have plated it differently. She also made Tart Tatin in a way I'd never seen before: making a cutout of the puff pastry to fit the pan she was doing the apples in and baking it separately, then placing it on top of the finished apples and inverting. She was again careful to try to explain things as she went (such as carefully folding the cutout puff into quarters before moving it to the baking sheet so as not to stretch it).

Tony

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  • 1 month later...

I have to thank you all for talking me into buying Baking with Julia....this book has truely inspired me to start bread making! Anybody want my old bread machine? :smile: The recipes are too easy for a beginner like me. THANKS A BUNCH! :biggrin:

I have to go and check on my challah bread.....I can't belive how great the recipe is!

Cheers!

Edited by ChzHead (log)
Think before you drink.......I think I'll have another!
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  • 3 months later...

We recently received one of those "get four free if you join" type of book club deals in the mail, but this one's for cook books. We've narrowed the field down to a handful we're interested in, but haven't been able to find many of them at the local Borders. Amazon ratings are a wash -- everything seems to get four stars. I'd like to hear your opinions on the following books:

"Great Cakes" by Carole Walter

"The Professional Pastry Chef" by Bo Friberg

"Celebrate with Chocolate" by Marcel Desaulniers

"Perfect Cakes" by Nick Malgieri

"American Classics" by the editors of Cook's Illustrated

"The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion"

Thanks!

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We recently received one of those "get four free if you join" type of book club deals in the mail,

DON'T DO IT!!!!!

Yeah, it seems like a deal, but 90% of those books are ones that can be purchased at a fraction of the price through companies like Half.com

You will get sucked into spending way more money than you need to for books you probably won't ever really use because a lot of the really cool books that are out and on best-seller lists are ones that don't show up within these companies' offerings.

Speaking from experience, here. I did it and boy, did I ever regret it. Now that I ended my membership, I am still inundated with "come back to us" offers.

Just my humble opinion.

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I second Carolyn's advice. I'm still a Good Cook member, but it really isn't worth the hassle. I get better deals from Jessica's Biscuit, half.com and other online sites. I have the first two books. I use Great Cakes often and everything is always a hit with friends and co-workers. The recipes are more for everyday baking rather than elaborate restaurant-style cakes. I find the Friberg book occassionally useful, but there are better books for home bakers. The Cook's Illustrated book may also be of some use although likely to be boring and uninspiring. Two books not on your list that I highly recommend are Baking with Julia and Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking.

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Oh, I've been down that path before. We have a neighborhood bakery, though, and we're always looking for new recipes. It also seemed like a good deal on the Professional Pastry Chef book, which I think is $65 in stores.

This is exactly how I acquired my Friberg copy and I thought the same thing. It was only when I began to be inundated with additional offers and the fact that they sell your name to other catalogue companies that I realized the mistake I made. I seriously believe I was mailed a large tree's worth of pulp in junk mail and after I received my initial selection, I never could find another book worth buying - but I HAD to buy SOMETHING to comply with the terms of the contract signed.

Also, bear in mind that the Friberg book is for Professionals - not necessarily your "home baking book."

I still say, Caveat Emptor.

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Stay away from the Malgieri book. I read through it and was extremely disappointed.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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i haven't seen the desaulnier book, but i would probably stay away from that...if you learn the basics first, you can make his desserts...probably better

Although I like his two Cake cookbooks (the cookie one is kinda lame).

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I think my earlier post was misinterpreted. We own a bakery. We run it. We're always looking for new recipes and I thought these might be worthwhile.

Ah, yes indeed - slightly misinterpreted. I read "we have a local bakery" as "we are disastisfied with the local bakery's offerings and want to bake our own..."

In that respect, I would obtain Friberg's book - but not through the club. The rest of the books are mostly for home cooks and translating those recipes to a professional's format could prove more difficult.

BTW, do you subscribe to Pastry Arts? THAT would be better resource for new recipes and flavors, IMHO!

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I also like the Yard book, though I think it's a bit advanced for the home baker -- especially the novice home baker. I'm mean really... pistachio puff pastry. :shock: I never even bothered with that back in my pro days.

Try to track down the Roux Brothers Patisserie book. It's far less complicated than Yard's (which may look more complicated than it actually is) and contains many helpful, step-by-step photographs. It's one of the books that held my hand when I started down the path of becoming a professional pastry chef (sorry, that sounds incredibly corny :rolleyes: ). I still use it often for basic recipes. And it's just such a beautiful book.

One thing that has always bothered me when people -- especially food writers -- recommend books, is that they tend to forget about the old books. Even if the Roux book is out of print (might be) do everything you can to find it. I promise you won't regret it!

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BTW, do you subscribe to Pastry Arts? THAT would be better resource for new recipes and flavors, IMHO!

No. I've seen a few issues and wasn't all that impressed -- by either the content or the price tag. We specialize in down home type of items. Pies, cinnamon rolls, and so on, so that's a little out of our league. That said, I'm still curious about the Professional Pastry Chef book as many of the techniques and recipes for items like custards, frostings and so on will still carry over. We make everything from scratch, so we're always looking for new frosting ideas.

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I also like the Yard book, though I think it's a bit advanced for the home baker -- especially the novice home baker. I'm mean really... pistachio puff pastry.

The pistachio puff pastry recipe is one of the ones that caught my eye and made me decide that the Yard book is a must-have. I'm going to start with her plain puff pastry or the danish dough this weekend.

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FlourPower, I remember your earlier post about having a homestyle bakery. Have you ever run across a book by Dolores Casella called "A World of Breads"? It's been my favorite for about 25 years and is worth a search. It's full of recipes which might fit your style and everything I've made from it is "best of class". She has a couple of other books, but this one is my favorite. Don't miss Excellent Sour Cream Muffins, Viennese Christmas Fruit Bread, Stoellen, Limpe Rye, Jewish Braids, Orange Bread and all the kuchens and coffeecakes.

As for desserts, I would think you would find good inspiration from Maida Heatter's books. Otherwise, I find my best baking ideas come from here, there and everywhere instead of from single subject books.

It's always interesting to see what becomes a bakery's specialties. One bakery I patronized in the past sold foil cups of Creme Brulee and Chocolate Pots de Creme. They also had a killer apple coffee cake, chocolate cloud cookies and biscotti. The bakery I live near now is not so good overall, but has excellent chocolate eclairs and Danish, a passable jelly roll and some Penn. Dutch desserts like butter cake and shoo fly pie.

Like your customers, I like to see what's available and try it all.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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  • 3 years later...

I LOVE baking. And I love to learn. :biggrin:

So now I want to combine these two things and start learning to bake. :rolleyes: The problem is I can't take any course (2 small kids) so I deciced to start with reading proper books. With all the explanations and step-by-step instructions. Can you help me to choose books?

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I think you need to clarify the kind of baking you'd like to do.

Are you interested in bread? Do classic euro-style pastries appeal to you more than say more American-ish baking? Would you prefer text-like instruction or a more casual, home style approach?

There is a plethora of baking books out there, tailored for every taste and style...finding out which one would fit for you is half the battle.

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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Not bread , certainly. I think "classic euro-style pastries" - that's what I like to learn. Though, as I said, I like to learn new stuff so a book or two on American-stile baking would always be interesting. As about the style of books- this time I want somthing that's written not by a housewife who's good at baking, but smth by a real pro,so I guess that would be text-like instructions.

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