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"The Secrets of Baking" by Sherry Yard


bloviatrix
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After "seasoning" on the shelf for three months, I finally decided it was time to start baking from this book. Today I made her lemon curd and the master recipe for Pound Cake. Her instructions are very clear. And the book is easy to follow. My one complaint is that uses volume for measurement and doesn't include weights.

For those of you not familiar with the book, Yard's concept is that desserts can be broken down into assorted components. By knowing the master recipes and variations, you can then combine them to create your own stunning desserts.

Have any of you used the book yet? If so, what have you tried? Were you pleased?

"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 kept looking at this book whenever I went to the bookstore, so I finally ordered it through interlibrary loan last month. I followed her creme brulee recipe, and it came it wonderfully -- in fact, it may have been the best creme brulee I've made yet (and I've made lots). Very creamy and rich, lovely vanilla flavor, and I didn't get any unsightly bubbles on the top, which has happened with prior creme brulees. Recalling her directions from memory, you basically steam the custards by putting foil over the casserole dish containing the ramekins and hot water.

I enjoyed reading the book, as well, so I do think I'll eventually purchase it for my library.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

DianaCooks.com

My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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I've only tried the brioche because I've been into baking bread rather than sweets lately. The brioche was excellent and the recipe was easy to follow. Even though I haven't tried any other recipes, I definitely believe this book was worth buying.

Did any of you notice the discrepancies between the picture and the recipe for the Halsey Tart? I'm fairly certain that the recipe will not produce something that looks like the picture.

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Just pulled out the book and compared the photo to the recipe. You're completely right. The photo looks like it's a thin cookie layer with a whipped cream and chocolate top. But the recipe calls for mini tart pans which means in the photo there should be sides to the base. :hmm:

"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've been wondering about this one. I'll have to go check it out. Thanks for commenting on it !

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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The photo looks like it's a thin cookie layer with a whipped cream and chocolate top. But the recipe calls for mini tart pans which means in the photo there should be sides to the base. :hmm:

I think the recipe also has a chocolate crust, but the crust in the picture isn't chocolate. I think the picture is the variation mentioned in the rice pastry recipe.

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I don't have the book with me at the moment so I don't know if I am remembering the names correctly, but some of the recipes I have tried are:

Campton Place hot chocolate -- delicious, I would definitely make this one again.

Lemon pudding cakes (I can't remember if this is what they are called in the book) -- They are made with the master recipe for lemon curd, and baked in ramekins. The cakes were very good, but they weren't what I expected. In the picture in the book, the tops of the individual cakes are very brown and you can see where the "pudding" has separated from the "cake" and settled to the bottom of the ramekin. When I removed my cakes from the ramekin, there was very little pudding. I think I may have overbaked them , but I will try the recipe again because it was pretty tasty.

Coffee cake and sticky buns (both made from the brioche recipe) -- Excellent! Probably one of the best coffee cakes I have ever eaten, I especially loved the filling. My family devoured the sticky buns in record time. Both recipes are favorites of mine and I can't wait to make them again.

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Funny, I made the halsey and noticed it didn't read like the photo- but I did sort of a typical pc thing and did my own thing with it, never thought twice about the discrepancy until you mentioned it. Anyway, it got rave reviews and sold out quickly, so I'd say it was good and I reccomend it.

What I did: made the cookie/tart dough bases by rolling out the dough between two parchment sheets (avoiding flour so it wouldn't dis-color my dark choc.) (oh, by the way it's exactly like those purchased chocolate wafers you use for an ice-box/whip cream cake) I chilled the dough then cut them out with a cookie cutter, baked them off (no need to dock this dough as the recipe calls for). Made her caramel whip cream using caramel I had left over (So if you were lazy you could just buy a jar of caramel and not make your own). I piped the caramel in a doughnut shape then filled the center with straight gooey caramel. Put a second cookie ontop of the whipped filing like a sandwich cookie. Coated it with ganche and a plain whip cream dollop.

This tastes best after the cookies soften a bit from the filling, just like an ice box cake. It's really simple and it can be embelished with endless suggestions.

Another recipe I made was a chocolate short bread and I didn't like it particularly.

BUT, I will say all in all I really like her work and would definately reccomend all of her books! Her chocolate book is outstanding!!!!!!!!!! I really like the fact that she is teaching home cooks about master recipes and working out from them. The fact is she saving you years of work and study...........at least it took me that to figure this out myself with-out classes. I really like her and find her to be one of the better female baking book authors.

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FYI: This book is a finalist in the First Book [by an author] category of the International Association of Culinary Professionals cookbook awards, announced yesterday. (For the complete list, including baking books, look here.)

It is also nominated for a James Beard award in the baking category. So apparently some "noted authorities" also like this book a lot. :biggrin:

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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Those IACP Awards are evil :D They tempt me to buy more books, not that it takes much to do so. American Boulangerie and Great Cookies in the baking category were already on my list. Time to freeze the credit cards in a block of ice.

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Good for her, I think she is a huge positive to the baking world in general! I'm glad you shared that info. Suzanne, thanks.

A tangent:

Anyone dare compare this book by Yard to the recent one Gale Gand released? They're like night and day! I'm very sad that Gale doesn't publish a higher level of work.........and please-it doesn't NOT have to be that low to pander to the non-baking public and still sell well.

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I haven't looked the the new Gand, although I have the other two. What makes the new one so lame?

Edited by bloviatrix (log)

"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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The Secrets of Baking is the only book Sherry has written, the Spago Chocolate and Spago Desserts were written by Mary Bergin. Also a lot of the desserts served at Spago and other Puck restaurants are Mary Bergin recipes also.

check out my baking and pastry books at the Pastrymama1 shop on www.Half.ebay.com

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OH, wait-I thought Sherry co-authored those with Mary? If not, my appologies.

Gale Gand-hum.... I own her first book and barely worked from it, and I haven't been entised to buy the following ones. They just don't speak to me, at all.

I'm very very interested in her work at the restaurant and I even have enjoyed her foodtv show (she has some top notch freinds that visit her too!!).

My impression of her is very very favorable-she seems really amazing/cool/deep, she's VERY good on tv, etc....In alot of ways were both from the same area and around the same age-so I really relate to her and I'm thrilled with her sucess. Shes like a local hero!!

My only real complaint is how dumbed down her books are-coming from HER because she's NO DUMMY!!! Maybe it's just me, that's why I wanted to hear other peoples opinions. There might be one or two recipes out of each book I'll find interesting but the bulk of her books don't seem to contain info./recipes I'd use or want to.

I wish the publishers would want her to do a serious book. She's certainly capable-she should have a top book to win a Beard award!

Thats my opinion-and I wondered what others thought. On the other hand I think Sherry Yard put forth a educational and interesting book full of recipes that I do want to try. It's unique and presumes her reader is smart.

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My previous sous chef Suzzane Griswold is now Sherry's sous chef- she tested most of the recipes. I will mention about the tart.

Now if you want to get really technical- a lot of Mary Bergin's recipes came from Nancy Silverton! Many pastry professionals have passed through "Puckdom".

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KarenS -- if you're passing comments back, can you please let them know that the pound cake was so successful that even my friend who doesn't like pound cake raved after sampling.

"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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  • 1 year later...

Bump.

On Sunday, I got to see Sherry Yard do a cooking demo at the LA Times Festival of Books 2005 over at UCLA.

Wow! What a culinary treat! She was so energetic, so ebullient, so entertaining to the crowd. And she knows her stuff. So I HAD to buy the book, "The Secrets of Baking," which did win the 2004 James Beard Award for Best Pastry Book. When I got my book personally autographed :wub: , Sherry was making a few corrections on the book. I went back through the book and I'm making an errata list:

p. 26: [omit the phrase “2 tablespoons potato flour (potato starch)”]

p. 42: “1 ¼ cups heavy cream” [that's "one and one-fourth cups heavy cream"]

p. 207: “3 : 2 : 1” [top line]; “SOLID LIQUID LIQUID” [middle line]; “Flour Butter Water or Sugar”[bottom line; omit the word “eggs”]

p. 322: “Eight 3-inch savarin molds” [that's 8 three-inch savarin molds]

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Russel -- Did she offer any changes to her thumb-print lime melt-away cookies?

Here's an old thread I started on the problems I had with this recipe. You will see others were kind enough to try it out and experienced the same problems I had. Unfortunately, it has made me distrust the recipes in the book and I've been afraid to try anything since. Too bad, it's a lovely book.

Wouldn't it be nice if all of the errors and corrections were posted someplace on-line for those of us who didn't get to see her?

Edited by JFLinLA (log)
So long and thanks for all the fish.
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OH, wait-I thought Sherry co-authored those with Mary? If not, my appologies.

Gale Gand-hum.... I own her first book and barely worked from it, and I haven't been entised to buy the following ones. They just don't speak to me, at all.

I'm very very interested in her work at the restaurant and I even have enjoyed her foodtv show (she has some top notch freinds that visit her too!!).

My impression of her is very very favorable-she seems really amazing/cool/deep, she's VERY good on tv, etc....In alot of ways were both from the same area and around the same age-so I really relate to her and I'm thrilled with her sucess. Shes like a local hero!!

My only real complaint is how dumbed down her books are-coming from HER because she's NO DUMMY!!! Maybe it's just me, that's why I wanted to hear other peoples opinions. There might be one or two recipes out of each book I'll find interesting but the bulk of her books don't seem to contain info./recipes I'd use or want to.

I wish the publishers would want her to do a serious book. She's certainly capable-she should have a top book to win a Beard award!

Thats my opinion-and I wondered what others thought. On the other hand I think Sherry Yard put forth a educational and interesting book full of recipes that I do want to try. It's unique and presumes her reader is smart.

I have Gale Gands "Just a Bite" and I like it a lot, have used many of the recipes in it. I found it to be intelligent and interesting. I didn't buy any of her other books because they just didn't ring my bell, but this one was good.

Based on this thread, I just ordered Yard's Secrets of Baking from abebooks.com--after checking Amazon, half.com and barnesandnoble.com, it was the cheapest for a book in very good condition--$12. I recommend them highly as I've ordered books from them several times before, and they always have something I'm looking for at good prices.

It's not the destination, but the journey!
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Lemon pudding cakes (I can't remember if this is what they are called in the book) -- They are made with the master recipe for lemon curd, and baked in ramekins.  The cakes were very good, but they weren't what I expected.  In the picture in the book, the tops of the individual cakes are very brown and you can see where the "pudding" has separated from the "cake" and settled to the bottom of the ramekin.  When I removed my cakes from the ramekin, there was very little pudding.  I think I may have overbaked them , but I will try the recipe again because it was pretty tasty.

I noticed the same thing, and I'm pretty sure I didn't overbake mine. The picture in the books looks like lemon pound cake topped with lemon curd. I find it hard to believe that you can get the dessert in the picture from the recipe in the book. Following the recipe, the pudding cakes looked like this (before unmolding):

gallery_23736_355_1106532962.jpg

I've also tried the vanilla ice cream, creamy caramel sauce, apple caramel glaze, creme brulee, mile-high apple pie, lemon bars, honey blossom madeleines, banana cake, lemon and blackberry-lime curds, and pannettone from the book. The ice cream, caramel sauce, creme brulee, and apple glaze are great. The apple pie was good, but too runny. The rest were just ok. I didn't like the blackberry-lime curd at all.

Edited by Patrick S (log)

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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I *love* Sherry Yard's book! The information is organized in a way that makes so much sense (and, as a former tech writer, I know of what I speak :raz: ), and the recipes are (mostly) solid and adaptable. Funny thing, though, the only recipe that hasn't worked for me is the lemon pudding cakes. I certainly didn't end up with anything that looked like the photo in the book, and I could never get them unmolded without breakage. They tasted good, though.

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I'm making an errata list:

p. 26: [omit the phrase “2 tablespoons potato flour (potato starch)”]

I think I'm having a stupid day: I don't quite understand this correction. Do you mean to omit the potato flour from the recipe entirely? After all Yard said about it contributing moisture and structure? Interesting. If that's not what you meant, please set me straight. Thanks!

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I think I'm having a stupid day: I don't quite understand this correction. Do you mean to omit the potato flour from the recipe entirely? After all Yard said about it contributing moisture and structure? Interesting. If that's not what you meant, please set me straight. Thanks!

Yes, omit the potato flour from the recipe entirely. I saw Sherry mark out that ingredient from the recipe on p. 26.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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