Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Flour Bakery Cookbook: Sticky Buns to Banana Bread

It is often said that cooking is an art while baking is a science. That possesses much truth, though is also not wholly true, as cooking and baking both possess at least some aspects of art and science. Though measurements are very important in baking, there is also an art to using that science to create delectable treats. Baking may be less forgiving of error, but that still allows plenty of room for creativity and ingenuity. And who doesn't enjoy a well-made dessert?

If you would like create your own baked goods and desserts at home, an excellent resource is a relatively new cookbook, Flour: Spectacular Recipes From Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe ($35) by Joanne Chang and Christie Matheson. The hardcover book was published by Chronicles Books (September 2010), consists of 320 pages, and is also available for the Kindle for only $9.46.

In the Boston area, Joanne Chang needs no introduction as her three Flour Bakeries and Myers+Chang restaurant are very well known and respected. Plus, she achieved additional fame by defeating Chef Bobby Flay, on national television on Throwdown with Bobby Flay in a Sticky Bun challenge. I enjoy visiting the bakeries and restaurant, having eaten many wonder dishes there. It should also be known that Joanne participates in many charitable activities, and I often see her at charitable culinary events donating her time and food to numerous excellent causes. She gives much back to the local community and should be commended for that.

The Flour cookbook has two main sections, the first providing general baking advice and the second with all of the recipes.  The first section, about 25 pages long, has four chapters: Techniques, Equipment, Ingredients, and Joanne's Top 12 Baking Tips. This is an extremely useful section, which should help amateur bakers up their game. Some of the advice may seem obvious to a more advanced baker, but it is well needed knowledge for others. Not only does it tell you what you should be doing, but it also indicates why too, elevating your comprehension. If you only read this part of the book, you would probably become a much better baker at home.

The second section, the bulk of the book, is divided into six chapters: Breakfast Treats, Cookies, Cakes, Pies + Tarts, Other Sweets, and Breads. Many of the recipes begin with an introduction, either with a story about the recipe or additional suggestions and advice on preparation. The recipes vary in difficulty, from relatively easy to more advanced. Sprinkled through this section as Baker's Bites, usually additional baking advice or suggestions on how to perform certain actions if you lack specific equipment or ingredients. All of this is intended to make this a very useful book for anyone. Plus, about every five recipes, there is a mouth-watering, full-page photo of some of the foods.

You will find recipes for a diverse variety of baked goods, including scones, muffins, croisssant, pop tarts, cookies, brownies, cakes, cheesecakes, pies, puddings, cream puffs, ice cream and much more. You'll even find a recipe for her famous Sticky Buns (p.84). I have a list of items that I want made from the recipes in the book.

A good friend of mine, Lori, made the Banana Bread recipe (p.66) for me, as Flour's banana bread is one of my favorites, being moist and flavorful. It has always been the best banana bread I have ever had from a bakery. Lori, who loves to bake, was enamored with the cookbook, and her banana bread came out great, very close to the one I get at Flour. The primary difference is that at Flour, the bread is darker in color. I can't wait for Lori to try another recipe from the book.

I highly recommend the Flour cookbook, and I bet that it will improve your baking skills. Even if you do not consider yourself a good baker, the lessons you will learn in this book will help you. And then you will be able to make some of the enticing recipes in the book.

1 comment:

magi said...

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