The learn-to-bake master class in a book.
The craft of baking is based on good technique. Learn the fundamentals well, and you can bake perfect cakes, cookies, tarts, breads, and pastries each and every time.
That's the premise of Baking, revered cooking teacher James Peterson's master course in baking fundamentals. In more than 350 recipes and auxiliary techniques--most accompanied by illuminating step-by-step photographs--Peterson lays the foundation for lifelong baking success.
This book teaches you how to build finished baked goods from their essential components, providing both maximum guidance for less experienced bakers and great creative freedom for more confident bakers. The Cakes chapter, for example, presents basic cake recipes (Moist Sponge Cake, Devil' s Food Cake) followed by frostings, fillings, and glazes (Professional-Style Buttercream, White Chocolate Ganache), allowing you to mix and match endlessly. Or, if you're looking for knockout assembled cakes, go to the end of the chapter and discover complete illustrated instructions for, say, a decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate Filling and Hazelnut Buttercream, or an elegant Peach Creme Mousseline Cake.
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Ten Speed Press
September 29, 2009
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from Baking by James Peterson
I'm not a natural baker. Whereas when confronted with a stew or roast, I seem to know just what to do, when it comes to baking I need exact measurements and exact directions. And even with instructions in hand I manage to get flour all over the kitchen floor and chocolate on a whole sinkful of dishes. But I do savor the joys of baking: its precision, its particular (and sometimes peculiar) exigencies, and the pleasure of presenting a finished product to my guests or family. As I have progressed as a baker over the last four decades, I've gotten a lot of oohs and aahs, which is always extremely gratifying.
There is no shortage of excellent baking books available. I was motivated to add to the number because it has long seemed to me that most baking books never really explain the rudiments of the art in a way that would allow the reader to build on knowledge gradually acquired. What I hope to bring to the table is an approach that will truly teach you to think like a baker.
This book was years in the making. As with my other highly illustrated step-by-step books, recipe testing and photography went hand in hand--only this time, I worked with a full-time baking consultant on set. It seemed wise given my proclivities (or lack thereof).
Baking is organized and written in such a way as to enable you to understand the principles and techniques at play in a given classic recipe, and then to apply what you learn to baking projects that aren't even included in the book. This means that most of the chapters are organized in a modular fashion. The chapter on cakes, for example, starts with basic recipes for the six different kinds of cakes, then moves on to recipes for frostings, fillings, and glazes. Next come an array of instructions for assembling cakes, such as raspberry buttercream layer cake (page 74), each of which results in a delicious and beautifully decorated cake and also serves as an example of techniques that can be used successfully with myriad other recipes (in the case of the raspberry buttercream layer cake, the main technique illustrated is how to assemble a layer cake without using a cake stand). Or, to take a principle from the chapter on pies, tarts, and pastries, once you realize that pastry dough comes in only five basic varieties, it becomes much easier to master the techniques required to execute a fully decorated pastry.
Often the difference between an ordinary cake and a fantastic one involves only a simple trick or two. In each chapter and recipe, I have tried to take every opportunity to teach good technique, whether in headnotes and recipe methods or in the many sidebars with stand-alone tips and techniques. Baking describes what can go wrong and how best to avoid common pitfalls such as over- or under-beating, but also how to use little bits of extra knowledge to get great results rather than merely good ones. Thus, Baking is for both novices and experienced bakers seeking to improve the quality of their cakes, tarts, cookies, or breads and make them look as good as the wares in the windows of Fauchon, the famous patisserie in Paris and New York.
Key to this book's focus on teaching and technique is its abundant photography--more than 1,500 images that show the most important parts of virtually every technique and recipe described in the text. This step-by-step color photography is indispensable for teaching certain techniques that are next to impossible to explain fully with words. Being able to see how a recipe's ingredients come together in stages throughout the process of baking reinforces good technique and gives the reader confidence, and a greater ability to get it just right the very first time.
The art of baking has an implicit logic that lends itself well to such an approach to teaching and learning. The behavior of certain ingredients in combination can be predicted and categorized--in sweet baking, we're usually concerned with the big four: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar; when making breads, the interactions of water, yeast, and flour matter most. In keeping with the book's philosophy of providing a solid foundation in baking technique, Baking contains many classic recipes in the French tradition, adapted for use in American kitchens. It's also a reflection of my own discovery of baking and progress as a baker, starting in my years in France, through my experiments and learning in my own restaurant and those of other chefs, and comprehending also my decades as a food writer and cooking teacher.
Before you embark on a baking project from this book, I suggest you skim through the rest of the chapter to familiarize yourself with the basic issues and techniques (if you are a less experienced baker) or the tricks of the trade and possibilities for variation (if you are a more experienced baker). It is my hope that Baking will provide a firm foundation in baking fundamentals so you can create perfectly executed classics, feel comfortable diverging from the basic recipes, improvise creations of your own, and dive confidently into any baking recipe you feel inspired to try.