Sunday, March 21, 2010
My formal education and my education at the dinner table was in economics and politics. With that background came a foundation that in order to understand anything you had to fully research the subject of your interest. When I decided I wanted to become more proficient in the kitchen I embarked on years of culinary school in both cooking and pastry and bought and read untold numbers of books and magazines. One closet in my house is dedicated to all the cookbooks and magazines that I have amassed over the years. The books above are my "go to" books. There are books of baking chemistry, technical instructions, theory and recipes.
"The Professional Pastry Chef" by Bo Friburg is an encyclopedia for pastry chefs. The technique instructions are easy to understand for the home baker and the last 180 pages has all the answer to those pesky questions including conversion ratios (metric to US equivalents), proper equipment and definition of terms. "On Food and Cooking" by Harold McGee is a chemistry book for cooking. Chapter 12 is excellent for a description of the properties of 'Sugars, Chocolate and other Confections'. "Cookwise" by Shirley O. Corriher is another book that deals with the chemical properties of food. The chapter on sweets in enlightening - every wonder why your caramel has crystals in it? This chapter will teach you how to avoid the most common problems in using chocolate and sugar in your confections. "Kitchen - the best of the best" by Michael Cranston has a wonderful chapter on 'Afternoon Tea' which gives some simple recipes with great photos of the finished products.
Maida Heatter's books on cakes and cookies are fail proof as are the many Rose Levy Beranbaum's books. Of course there is Martha - Stewart as if there was another one - all of her books are an excellent resource for recipes. There are many cookbooks dedicated to cookies, cupcakes and brownies. In addition to the "textbooks" there are so many magazines, internet sites and blogs that I could spend all my time reading and never make it into the test kitchen. So, while I will continue to research I will also be "testing".
But it all starts with the research.