The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes
By Shirley O. Corriher
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781416560784, 544pp.)
Publication Date: October 28, 2008
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Great day in the morning, BakeWise is out! You are holding the book that everyone has been waiting for. Sure enough, Shirley did not hold back -- it's all here. Lively and fascinating, BakeWise reads like a mystery novel as we follow sleuth Shirley while she solves everything from why cakes and muffins can be dry to génoise deflation and why the cookie crumbles.
With her years of experience from big-pot cooking for 140 teenage boys and her classic French culinary training to her work as a research biochemist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Shirley manages to put two and two together in unique and exciting ways. Some information is straight out of Shirley's wildly connecting brain cells. She describes useful techniques, such as brushing puff pastry with ice water -- not just brushing off the flour -- making the puff pastry easier to roll. The result? Higher, lighter, and flakier pastry. And you won't find these recipes anywhere else, not even on the Internet. She can help you make moist cakes; flaky pie crusts; shrink-proof perfect meringues that won't leak but still cut like a dream; big, crisp cream puffs; amazing French pastries; light génoise; and crusty, incredibly flavorful, open-textured French breads, such as baguettes and fougasses.
There is simply no one like Shirley Corriher. People everywhere recognize her from her TV appearances on the Food Network and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, with Snoop Dogg as her fry chef.
Restaurant chefs and culinary students know her from their grease-splattered copies of CookWise, an encyclopedic work that has saved them from many a cooking disaster. With numerous "At-a-Glance" charts, BakeWise gives busy people information for quick problem solving. BakeWise also includes Shirley's "What This Recipe Shows" in every recipe. This section is science and culinary information that can apply to hundreds of recipes, not just the one in which it appears.
For years, food editors and writers have kept CookWise, Shirley's previous book, right by their computers. Now that spot they've been holding for BakeWise can be filled.
BakeWise does not have just a single source of knowledge; Shirley loves reading the works of chefs and other good cooks and shares their information with you, too. She applies not only her expertise but that of the many artisans she admires, such as famous French pastry chefs Gaston Lenôtre and Chef Roland Mesnier, the White House executive pastry chef for twenty-five years; Bruce Healy, author of Mastering the Art of French Pastry; and Bonnie Wagner, Shirley's daughter-inlaw's mother. Shirley also retrieves "lost arts" from experts of the past such as Monroe Boston Strause, the pie master of 1930s America. For one dish, she may give you techniques from three or four different chefs plus her own touch ofscience -- "better baking through chemistry." She adds facts about the right temperature, the right mixing speed, and the right mixing time for the absolutely most stable egg foam, so you can create a light-as-air génoise every time.
BakeWise is for everyone. Some will read it for the adventure of problem solving with Shirley. Beginners can cook from it and know exactly what they are doing and why. Experienced bakers find out why the techniques they use work and also uncover amazing French pastries out of the past, such as Pont Neuf (a creation of puff pastry, pâte à choux, and pastry cream in honor of the Paris bridge) and Religieuses, adorable "little nuns" made of puff pastry filled with a satiny chocolate pastry cream and drizzled with mocha icing to form a nun's habit.
Some will want it simply for the recipes -- incredibly moist whipped cream pound cake made with heavy cream whipped slightly beyond the soft-peak stage and folded into the batter; flourless fruit soufflés (puréed fruit and Italian meringue); Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, rolled first in granulated sugar and then in confectioners' sugar for a crunchy black-and-snow-white surface with a gooey, fudgy center. And Shirley's popovers are huge
Shirley O. Corriher has a B.A. in chemistry from Vanderbilt University, where she was also a biochemist at the medical school. She has problem-solved for everyone from Julia Child to Procter & Gamble and Pillsbury. She has taught and lectured throughout the world. She has long been a writer-- authoring a regular syndicated column in The Los Angeles Times Syndicate's Great Chefs series as well as technical articles in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Her first book, Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking is a bestseller and won a James Beard Award for excellence. Shirley has received many awards, including the Best Cooking Teacher of the Year in Bon Appetit's "Best of the Best" Annual Food and Entertaining Awards in 2001. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Arch.