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Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America Hardcover – September 27, 2004
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This gorgeous cookbook makes delicious perfection look doable. Replete with artful color photos of flawless custards, silky glazes and deftly done tortes, it also includes expert tips and techniques. (USA Today, November 25, 2004)
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But the real reason I disliked this book was that the recipes I tried simply did not work as advertised. The challah recipe was not a standard recipe; it seemed extremely large for a single loaf, the mixing technique was not like what I had encountered in amateur and professional books before, but I perservered and followed the directions fastidiously. The loaf was edible, but otherwise a failure. The fact that there is no explanation for this, and no anticipation of the problems I encountered is unacceptable. I have made dozens of challah recipes and I never had a problem before. Usually, when something goes wrong, I blame myself. I can tell when I have made a mistake and I take responsibility for my failures. This was one of those times where I blamed the recipe. This was just an odd ball recipe.
Similarly, the mudslide cookies did not work as the recipe stated they would. How hard is it to make a simple cookie recipe function properly? In the end, I managed to salvage these cookies through ingenuity and improvisation, but that's no excuse; careful faithfulness to the recipe should yield perfect results. Again, no explanation or attempt to anticipate such problems.
That was the last time I wasted my time with this book. Do yourself a favor and instead of buying this expensive paper weight, get yourself one of Pierre Herme's books, or Bo Friberg's Professional Pastry chef.
I do have to offer a warning, though. No book can truly substitute a hands on learning course. As much as book can describe what the right stage is for mixing dough for choux for cream puffs, it does not compare to someone who is experienced standing beside you and telling you what you are doing wrong. I maximized the use out of this book because I enrolled in a fundamental baking class. It also helped me to hone many of the recipes.
The success of the recipes partly lies in the quality of ingredients the baker selects. I recommend that if you don't go cheap, then most of the recipes should turn out fine. Another challenge that I discovered in baking is that my oven sucks - and this plays a large large role in the success of some of the recipes. I had to adapt many of them to accommodate the deficiencies of my oven.
Addressing some of the criticisms of the volume vs weight, there is a reason for this, though not great. The original series of books by CIA, such as The Professional Chef, deal with training exactly that, professional chefs. Therefore the recipes are for 10 or more servings and all are given in weight. This book is more like an excerpt and development from their other book. The problem is that this approach is not "friendly" to many home cooks/bakers as they are accustomed to dealing in volume (or mired in tradition). I figure it was a bit of a compromise in order to sell more books that were appealing to general public.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've tried several recipes from this book and so far they have all worked out fine. Very well written.Published 7 months ago by Ronnie L
I got this for school. The recipes are very good and the directions are very clearPublished 10 months ago by stephrocky