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BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes Hardcover – October 28, 2008

132 customer reviews

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BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes + CookWise: The Hows & Whys of Successful Cooking, The Secrets of Cooking Revealed + On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's not surprising that James Beard Award-winner Corriher (CookWise) once worked as a chemist. Her no-nonsense approach to cakes, muffins, breads and cookies shows her deep knowledge and understanding that baking is, above all things, a science. This hefty collection of more than 200 recipes offers amateur and expert bakers alike clear, numbered steps and a plethora of information on ingredients, equipment and method. Invaluable troubleshooting sections solve pesky problems on everything from pale and crumbly cookies to fallen soufflés. With a sense of expertise and ease, the author showcases recipes from the basic (cherry pie, fudgy brownies, baguettes) to the more specialized Bordeaux Macadamia Crust and Bourbon Pecan Oatmeal Cookies, focusing on the reasons for each step (e.g., "using shortening limits the cookie's spread"). Astute references to a variety of chefs, cookbook authors and restaurants add a knowing punch to this solid collection that's sure to please bakers of all skill levels.
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About the Author

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416560785
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416560784
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

259 of 276 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Adler VINE VOICE on November 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Shirley O Corriher is one of the best known food scientists in the world. She's a frequent guest on "Good Eats," and is often consulted by professional chefs. Her first book, Cookwise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed is one of my favorite cookbooks. Alton Brown said about this book "Finally, Moses has come down the mountain with another five commandments." With this history and pedigree, I expected great things from this book (and ordered it months ago). It would be difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to live up to these expectations. Sadly, this book does not.

There are many things to like about this book. It is a very detailed book, and provides a lot of background about each recipe. It's well organized, with chapters devoted to Cakes, Puff Pastry, Pies, Cookies, and Breads. And it provides a lot of good information about baking: how to tell if a recipe will work, what purpose different ingredients serve, useful and novel techniques. However, this is not a very good book of recipes.

After getting this book, I plunged right in, making her recipe for "Blueberry and Cream Muffins." The recipe promised moist, delicious muffins. They were really delicious, but the texture was oily and gummy. I tried the recipe a second time, carefully measuring every item, checking my oven temperature with a thermometer, and made a second batch. The second batch was slightly better, but was still greasy and gummy. I was surprised; how could the queen of food science provide recipes that don't work? I sat down and started reading the book from the beginning. At last, I realized what was wrong.
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92 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Seven Kitties on October 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First, two tiny gripes: One, the photography. To keep this book from an astronomical price, it only has a single 8 page color photo insert, which means out of the 'two hundred magnificent recipes' you only get to get a visual on sixteen. And they're photographed at extreme macro levels against a chic stark background, which isn't helpful. Is that cream puff really the size of my head?

Second, several times she'll give a recipe with a kind of caveat, like Pop Corriher's Applesauce Cake. The idea is that she made it, didn't like it, and then sets about to 'fix' it, taking the reader along on the journey. Not only does this cut into the *new* recipes she could be offering, it sometimes seems kinda mean. I've decided if Shirley Corriher ever asks me for a recipe, say no, because she's going to savage it in her next book.

One of her fixes she explores in the poundcake section is, for example, different varieties of fats one can use in a cake--oil, butter, shortening, whipped cream, etc. She ultimately decides on a combination of fats and the addition of potato granules to the cake. Her explanation is sound, but this kind of cooking comes from the kitchen of someone who has minions to do all sorts of scut work for her--what I call the Many Little Bowls School of Cooking. Not likely to see me whipping that one up for a little snack for my coworkers!

But, and this is what is irreplaceable about this book for the hard core baker: I'm sure that that poundcake will be phenomenally good. Her discussion of the science behind baking is fascinating to read, and I started thinking about the structure of cakes a whole new way (I learned why, for example, my cookies and biscuits turned out so different after I left the South--turns out it was the protein content in the flour!).
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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Rowan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At the risk of hyperbole, I must say that this is an extraordinary cookbook. Because precision is more important to baking than any other type of cooking, many books will give you a fast-and-dirty introduction to the basics. Corriher's introduction is no exception to this rule, but her introduction is a very nuts-and-bolts one, with tips on how ovens work, and similar information. It's within the chapters that things get really interesting.

Bakewise is divided up into chapters on cakes, and cake-like baking (muffins, quickbreads, etc.) puff pastry, pies, cookies and breads. At the beginning of each chapter you have a section that gives you an overview of what you will learn by making the recipes contained in it. For example, the cake chapter will teach you: "How to create your own perfect cakes," "How to spot cakes that won't work and how to fix them," "How to make cakes, muffins and quick breads more moist," "Even if you have never baked, how to ice a cake as spotlessly smooth as glass and looking as if it came from an elegant professional baker," and more. Recipes are then broken down into types, such as "Favorites" or "Elegant cakes." Finally there are the recipes, and here Corriher really goes to town.

She leads off with a classic, or very basic recipe, one which we all know, and probably have tried to make in the past. She discusses it, the theories and techniques behind it, and may even show you the process by which the recipe has been perfected. At the head of the recipe is a box that tells you what the recipe will show you.
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