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I'm Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking Hardcover – October 1, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking should be required reading for those who truly want to learn how to become great bakers. In his own off-beat style Alton explains the science behind the process simply and in a manner you will not only remember, but subconsciously apply to all your baking endeavors. What is salt's role in the baking process? Why use eggs? Why is the way you mix important to overall success? Stylized and presented like his first book and popular Food Network show Good Eats, Baking is more like a goofy textbook rather then a pretty, photographed book with a bunch of recipes. If you are looking for a couple of quick, simple recipes to make cookies or bread, keep looking. If it's an education about the "Whats," "Whys," and "Hows" of baking with the intent to lift your skills to a new level: welcome!

Baking is a precise science that needs to be followed to the letter if you want success. It is highly recommended to read the introduction and "The Parts Department" section before attempting any of the recipes in this book. The essence of Alton Brown's book is not to simply follow recipes, but to get a deep understanding of what is going on during the baking process. The introduction goes over the layout of the book and how it should be used (the ingenious "method flaps" for instance), the low down on how to read recipes, the importance of measuring by weight vs. volume, and baking's five core steps. The "Parts" section explains just that: ingredients. What is the chemical make up of proteins, carbs, and fats? Why is their interrelationship so important to success? How well do you know flour, eggs, sugar, and baking soda? Once you have the basics down and your parts measured it's time to get mixing. The rest of the book is smartly broken up by the six major mixing methods (Muffin, Biscuit, Creaming, Straight Dough, Egg Foam, and Custards). Each technique is explored in detail with recipes to follow. You won't find any ultra fancy recipes in Baking. The focus here is on the basics and getting the basics down right. Rediscover some old favorites like chocolate cookies and muffins, buttermilk pancakes, biscuits, shortcake, multigrain loaf bread, and good old fashioned cheesecake. There is no denying it, follow Alton's advice and you will be a better baker. Guaranteed. --Rob Bracco

From Publishers Weekly

Less a cookbook than a course book on baking, this entertaining and certainly educational follow-up to Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food offers up formulas for basic cakes, muffins, pies, custards and breads, as well as information on the components of each. Like a quirky, affable professor with a mad scientist’s flare for facts and figures, Brown takes readers through the "Molecular Pantry," examining the properties and functions of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Those familiar with his Food Network show, Good Eats, will be well-versed on these building blocks, and those who aren’t will find his explanations and diagrams easy to comprehend. Unlike other baking books, this one is organized by "mixing method" rather than by food type, which means that recipes like Banana Bread, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake and Buttermilk Pancakes are clustered together under the same umbrella—the Muffin Method of mixing. According to Brown, this is because "mixing is more important than ingredients and even cooking method." While some bakers would be quick to counter this claim, Brown supports it well, using diagrams to illustrate how mixing and over-mixing the same ingredients can yield different results (i.e., by over-mixing muffin ingredients, one can end up with cupcakes). As Brown states early on, this isn’t a recipe book. Rather, it’s an instruction manual for people who want to be better bakers. Those looking for appetizing photos of sumptuous dishes won’t find any here, but they will find plenty of practical tips (use a food processor instead of a traditional flour sifter) and sidebars that can be both informational and anecdotal (Brown’s story of his struggle with a 50-pound blob of dough bent on expansion is particularly amusing). Anyone who has a yen to learn the science and methodology behind good food will find this a fascinating read.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Stewart, Tabori and Chang (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584793414
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584793410
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is Alton Brown's third major culinary book, and it is, I believe, the best of the three. Alton successfully apples his scientific approach to baking, but he has done the ultimate scientific task of illuminating great explanations of baking techniques by classifying them by mixing method. Alton has compounded this insight with a novel device in the design of his book that prints the `master recipe' for the eight mixing methods on flyleaves that can be folded over pages to appear beside the details of the individual recipes. Many major cookbook writers, most notably Julia Child, have employed the `master recipe' device to good effect. So, this device is not totally new, but the flyleaf I have simply never seen in any other cookbook, so I give full credit to Alton and his Stewart Tabori & Chang publishers for creating something new under the culinary sun.

Just as the master recipe technique is not new, the proper classification of baking techniques is also not entirely new. Good writers on baking have been grouping quick breads with pastry crusts and cheesecake with custard pies for a generation. What Alton has done is similar to Mendeleev's achievement in building the periodic table of the elements. Before Mendeleev, chemists were all very familiar with families of elements corresponding to horizontal and vertical clusters in the full table. It was obvious that fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine had a lot in common. Mendeleev gave us the organization that brought out all those similarities. This was a stepping stone to the early atomic theories which identified electron rings that went on to explain periodic table behavior. This explanation of why different mixing methods give different end products is at the heart of Brown's contribution to the literature on baking.
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Format: Hardcover
Alton Brown's new book "I'm Just Here for More Food : Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking" is just as great as his first one "I'm Just Here for the Food". Once again Alton Brown doesn't only tell you what to do he tells you WHY you do something in a recipe. He teaches you techniques and applications, giving you the tools to create your own recipes. A normal cookbook gives you detailed instructions you follow like a robot. Alton Brown's cookbooks instruct you how to achieve a type of cooking (or in the case of this book baking) result. Knowing the how and why of doing something allows you the freedom to apply what you learn creatively. There are plenty of great recipes in this book but they should be used to understand the technique primarily.

I say this with all honesty...both of Alton Brown's cookbooks are MUST haves for any aspiring chef. They are superb teaching tools. They are a great gift for someone who wants to learn how to cook.

Highly, highly recommended!!!!!
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a huge Alton Brown fan, so I wish I could give his book 5 stars and rave endlessly about everything he does. Alas, this book has its shortcomings, but if you understand them, it's definitely worth the purchase.

The editorial errors are endless and frustrating. The recipe fixes were available online on Alton's site, but the last time I checked his new site, they hadn't shown up. The page with the changes was still available, but was not linked to his new home page. You can find them online with a quick search--one of the easiest ways is to input the mysterious "tk" found in the brownie recipe with other good key words. There are some inconsistencies where he seems to contradict himself from section to section of the book, and some vagaries in a few of the recipes can be frustrating if you don't have a lot of experience in the kitchen.

That being said, I wouldn't go without this book. I've always been great at improvising with food, because I go off of taste and adjust and play--not so with baking, because all the leavenings and ratios can seem like a mysterious formula. I'm not making up new baking recipes, but with the great science and explanations that Alton gives, I can now take a baking recipe and adjust it to how I like it without throwing it off so it no longer works. The whys and the hows and the science still can't be beat--that's all classic Alton. I love the cracker recipes and my son calls Alton's pancakes from this book his favorite pancakes of all time. I changed the 'base' of the chicken dumpling recipe, because we prefer a thicker--more gravy-- base than broth, but the dumplings themselves were heavenly. We were so content after the meal that we were seriously contemplating if world peace could be achieved if everyone sat down together and had a dish--

Don't buy this book for the recipes, but definitely enjoy the recipes within. The techniques learned will make all of your other baking endeavors so much better.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful, informative, and engaging book, but beware the pizza dough recipe.It calls for 8 cups of flour instead of 4. This was the first recipe I tried and let's just say it wasn't a nice thing to do to my brand new KitchenAid mixer. I had to consult another cookbook to fix the pizza dough. I later found AB's website and LIST OF CORRECTIONS. Subsequently, I have used AB's corrected recipe a couple more times and it's the best dough I have made, compared to other cookbooks I have. As mentioned by another reviewer, do check out all the corrections before proceeding, (and so you don't have to use AB's esoteric Vitamin C source in the pizza dough recipe.)

What I got from the book was a greater understanding of which methods were appropriate for which type of baking product. I've found this useful when following recipes from other cookbooks. Both of AB's books have helped me to cook more flexibly, sometimes winging it, because I know what the ingredient or process is meant to do and can make appropriate substitutions.

If you give this book as a gift, make sure to mention that corrections are available on AB's website.
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