Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Baking Through

Among the wonderful goodies I brought home from my visit to the Culinary Institute of America last Saturday was a copy of Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America.Since then, the book has made the rounds of my night table, my desk, the couch, the coffee table, the kitchen counter. I’ve schlepped it all over the house. It’s a tough one to put down.

Baking at Homeis a serious home baker’s dream book. From the book’s flyleaf:

The chefs of the CIA have distilled the best of their teachings into these pages, offering clear explanations of the essential baking methods that will broaden your understanding of how baking really works. The streamlined recipes and dozens of how-to photographs enable you to dive in and gain the hands-on practice that is an essential part of any baking and pastry education.

See what I mean?

After a few days of poring over the recipes, I thought, Wouldn’t it be great to just plow through this book, recipe by recipe ~ like CIA homeschool? My experience in other baking groups (like Tuesdays with Dorie and the Daring Bakers) has taught me that you can learn a tremendous amount by doing exactly this sort of thing. And this particular book is filled with lessons ~ about techniques, ingredients, equipment, and methods. By accomplishing every recipe in the book, I hope I'll be able to fill in some of the gaps in my own baking knowledge.

I'm working toward an ultimate goal of mastering the fundamentals and being able to use them to express a measure of creativity within the boundaries of the art and science that is baking. I feel like this might be a very good step in that direction.

The book is divided into 10 sections: Yeast Breads; Quick Breads; Cookies; Pies and Tarts; Cakes and Tortes; Custards and Puddings; Frozen Desserts; Pastries; Chocolates and Confections; and Icings, Glazes, and Sauces. I’ve decided against working through it in a linear fashion. This is primarily because as my experience in the Tuesdays with Dorie group taught me, it is downright dangerous to create an elaborately delicious dessert every single week (or even more than once a week). My family has mutinied once on that account, so lesson learned.

Instead, I’ll jump around in the book, moving from section to section, baking what best suits the needs of my family, the season, or my personal cravings. I think this will dovetail beautifully with my BYOB project ~ another reason to be gung-ho about baking through this book!

I anticipate on posting weekly, though I haven’t decided on a specific day yet. More details to follow with the first content post. Once I get a better idea of my schedule, I’ll try to post plans in advance.

For now, it's time to get baking!


Elle said...

What a great idea--I love this!

glamah16 said...

Your family is going to be the lucky recipents of all the treats.

Kate said...

This is a great idea and I think you should join up with the "cooking the books" blog(something close to that) -- a group of people who are baking or cooking their way through a designated cookbook. I think it's a grand plan, and it's like everyone weighs in on their own personal Ph.D. program -- and this would definately qualify.

Sue G. said...

Your enthusiasm comes shining through in this post. What a FUN project!! I will follow it vicariously and enjoy it with you.

Di said...

Good luck with your new project! I'm really interested in seeing how it goes. I have that particular cookbook, but I've never made anything from it. It looks like an interesting book, but I have so many other things vying for my attention that it's still sitting on the shelf.

Elyse said...

Oh, you've made me totally want to invest in this book. It sounds so great!! I can't wait to see what recipes you make--maybe you should make a group out of it!! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip to the CIofA.

The Duo Dishes said...

Just imagine all the tasty things you'll be making. And fancy to boot.

Sandy Smith said...

~Kate: I have! And wow ~ it's a pretty impressive group . . . hard acts to follow. You can find the badge in my sidebar; if you click on it, it will bring you to the blogroll site, where everyone's progress posts updates are listed. Cool, huh?

~Sue G.: Thanks! I am nothing if not enthusiastic. ;) I just hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. Some of these recipes (I didn't preread the whole book before I committed myself to the project) are a little intimidating. Ah well . . . I'm game!

~Elyse: It is a pretty awesome book! I have a few of the CIA books, hard-core text books, but this one has recipes and techniques geared to the home baker, so it makes one or two loaves of bread ~ not 6!

Mermaid Sweets said...

What a great idea - I just decided to do that with The Sweet Melissa Baking Book - maybe this book too (although not sure my lawyer life will allow that!). Have had this book on my wish list forever - can't wait to see your posts

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