December 21, 2004

I'm just here for more food

We interupt the normal party posts (well, I swear I'll get back to them over the holiday break!) with a possible last minute gift for the baker in your life.

Alton Brown's: I'm just here for more food has just been released. This is a follow-up to his first book (which I also recommend), "I'm just here for the food". This second book is all about baking (the first was about cooking in general).

While I haven't yet finished it (I've made it through part of the "parts" chapter and also the first "method" chapter) I can already say it's going to be on the top of my lists for baking books, particularly for someone just learning the craft. Alton has decided to arrange the book by mixing method, which is how professional bakers usually do it. If you look at recipe "cheat sheets" made by bakers, they usually just list percentages of ingredients. They will then just specify the mixing method (and maybe baking temperature/time). Some of them will leave off the mixing method entirely and assume that a real professional would know it based on the order and ratios of the ingredients alone!

"I'm just here for more food" takes this approach solidly to heart, to the point of having little "flaps" with the basic method at the start of each chapter. This serves to drive home the commonality of the recipes in the chapters, saves on space, and also is a handy bookmark for what you are cooking at the time. I found this "method based" mentality a huge leap forward when I was taught it at cooking school -- but this is the first time I've seen it be such a core part of a cooking text.

This book is somewhere between an introductory text and a reference guide. It's certainly the first I'd recommend for the beginner. But unless you are a professional, or someone who's already become hip to the "method mentality", I think this book would be of interest even to experienced bakers. I certainly stayed up far too late last night reading it already.

Posted by dowdy at December 21, 2004 09:40 AM