BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes
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BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  678 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Great day in the morning, BakeWise is out! You are holding the book that everyone has been waiting for. Sure enough, Shirley did not hold back -- it's all here. Lively and fascinating, BakeWise reads like a mystery novel as we follow sleuth Shirley while she solves everything from why cakes and muffins can be dry to génoise deflation and why the cookie crumbles.

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Hardcover, 544 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by Scribner (first published 2003)
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Melissa
My New Year's resolution this year was to bake more. Eight new cakes & counting, this has been my most successful resolution yet! I always have great success using Cook's Illustrated recipes since they do all the work for you, but I am drawn to books like these because it's nice to feel smart about what you're doing in the kitchen. The section on cakes has already taught me so much, I not only feel like I could make up my own cake recipe, I was able to feel all superior watching a baking sho...more
Monika
This book gets infinity stars from me.

Here's my review for this book over at 101 Cookbooks Library, which has a bit more detail:

Written by a biochemist, this book is *essential* for anyone that is serious about baking, especially if they are a recipe developer or make a lot of modifications/substitutions. Every possible variation and combination of all essential baking components - flour, egg whites, yolks, baking soda, baking powder, acids, sweeteners, fats, Dutch processed vs. natural cocoa, t...more
Laura
Let's just be honest, I love lots of pictures in my cookbooks. Although this one was very interesting and scientific and I appreciate all of her research, I just found that the book was hard to follow in terms of the layout and the recipes.
Emily
I read through this book, and there were a lot of amazing sounding recipes. So, I tried two of them and was underwhelmed. The science behind the recipes was interesting, and why she chose the amounts of ingredients that she chose. We tried the Apple Walnut Muffins, and agreed that there were just too many flavors in them. I also made the Lemon-White Chocolate cookies, and they were okay. For some reason they left a weird aftertaste in my mouth. So, if you like to read about the science of baking...more
Sherri
I wanted to love this, I really did. After seeing the author's numerous appearances on Good Eats, I was excited to dive into her work and learn all about the science of baking. But in reality it was rather disappointing. The book is packed full of useful reference information - baker's formulas, scientific explanations, discussions of ingredients. I instantly learned why the sheet cakes I had tried to make for my son's birthday didn't rise and wished I had read the book beforehand. However, as I...more
Elizabeth
I admit that I bought this book mainly for the science and had no strong intention of ever making any of the recipes. But now I've read the book and am feeling tempted by a few. Which is why I really wish there were more photos. I'm not familiar with many of the baked goods the author includes, and pictures of the final products would help immensely. When she talks about her Double-Icing Technique for ganache, I want a photo to see just how smooth she can get it—are the results worth the effort?...more
Natasha
The science and secrets of baking revealed. The eternal question of why does my chocolate always seize is answered at last. Here is a woman who not only understands the exacting standards of baking, she embraces the hard science behind them. No pinch of this, a dash of that typical cookbook garbage here. She details the recipes with step by step technique rich descriptions; if she calls for a cup of flour, she specifiesy exactly what type and brand she means and reminds you how a cup is to be me...more
Iowa City Public Library
Fans of Cooks Illustrated type cookbooks where the science and the experimenting are as important as the recipes will enjoy this book by James Beard Award winner, Shirley Corriher, the author of the classic, CookWise. The author uses her background as a chemist to explain the science of baking. Each recipe is accompanied by a section titled "What This Recipe Shows". For instance, "Cream of tartar speeds up the unwinding of the egg-white proteins and aids in forming and stablizing the meringue."...more
Hannah
May 08, 2012 Hannah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
I received this book as a gift, and it's not one that I ever would have bought for myself. But I am thrilled to own it! I started flicking through and ended up skimming nearly the entire book. The recipes look phenomenal- I'm a baker who's confident to try a recipe the most complicated way possible, and most of these recipes have more than a few extra steps to ensure perfection in cooking.

I think while I'm cooking, I'll have to be careful following the recipes. The layout of the recipes is very...more
Anna
Oh how I love this book. I read about it on NPR and my hubby bought it for me for Christmas. I love knowing the science behind baking and cooking. I think it all started when I moved to a much more humid climate and couldn't get my favorite cookie recipe to work (the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe). I was so sad because they were so, so good. Since that time, I had been on a quest to fix them. The funny thing about this book is that it directly addressed the recipe and gave the hi...more
Rikelle
I love this book! I have become a big fan of Shirley after watching her on Alton Brown. This is not your ordinary cook book. Instead of just giving you a recipe she tells you the purpose for the ingredients and the science behind baking. This is great because you can now have the tools to tweak your own recipes. I also love her tips for tempering chocolate. The only thing I wish the book had was more pictures. Also the cookie section could use more information. I saw her once on television sayin...more
Sharri
Okay, I don't normally include cookbooks on my GoodReads list -- then again, I don't normal read cookbooks. But this one is different. This one was made for people like me don't have much interest in the process of preparing food... unless you make it scientific! The author talks about the science behind baking soda (now I know the difference between baking powder and baking soda!) and flour (now I know that the wide variance in all-purpose flour's protein levels explains why my cookies sometime...more
Paula Quinene
This is one of my two go-to baking science books. A great component here is that the author interviewed a good handful of chefs to get their "secrets." For instance, I love the section on making meringue. Shirley explains the differences between French, Swiss, and Italian meringue, including recipes for each. She shared Roland Mesnier's (White House pastry chef to 5 presidents) secret to a good seal between the meringue and the pie filling. She also elaborated on the use of starch in meringue, s...more
Kathryn
Cookies, yum. Have you ever wondered why something you bake turns out perfect one time but less than perfect another time? This book will give you the answer to that and many more baking questions that you didn't even know you had. Shirley Corriher even gives you the formula to invent your own cake recipes. Do you prefer your brownies cake-like or fudgy? And what is up with that dry flaky crust they sometimes develop on the top? This book explains it all and tells you how to adjust the recipe to...more
Susie
I cannot give this book a rating. Not because it was bad or good, but because I realized I'm not ready for it. I got it thinking that understanding the science of baking would help me make an awesome pie, but instead I learned that I clearly don't know enough about either science or pie-making to understand this book. I've decided to try to make a few more pies and then re-read it and see if that helps. I bet this would be a good book for people who bake a lot. Or got A's in chemistry.
Matthew Gatheringwater
This cookbook is good for both the intuitive "I don't use a recipe" Ratio-type home cook (because it illustrates general principles) and the "I've researched the optimum method of cracking eggs" Cook's Illustrated-type home cook (because it has clearly written and carefully researched recipes). The chocolate crinkle cookie recipe alone is worth the price of the book! My only complaint is that the recipes don't include serving amounts but then, I've researched the best way to crack an egg...
Pash&peony
Great book that provides lots of insight into how ingredients work to produce baked goods.
I just wish the text was better organised and the layout more attractive. Photographs far and few between and were poorly shot extreme close-ups which did not do the recipes justice. It was like look under a magnifying glass at collections of crumb and cake slices.
Such a shame as I really enjoyed the writing style but more attention should have been paid to presentation.

Mary Anne
Apr 15, 2009 Mary Anne marked it as to-read
I haven't gotten very far in this book but I LOVE it. She goes into detail about how to get what you want out of a recipe. What alterations to make to get fugde-like brownies or cake-like brownies or brownies with a thick crust. I'm always tweaking recipes and love that this books has tons of info to help me do that more effectively.

I had to return it to the library but I got Cookwise for Christmas. Haven't had time for it yet.
Maggie
If you ever wondered why your baked goods didn't turn out--this is the book you need! This book goes in to the science behind why recipes work the way they do. Do you prefer a crispy cookie or a soft cookie? Fudge-like brownies or cake-like brownies? This book tells you what to do to get the result you want. Plus there are a number of recipes that look like fun to make.
Jessica
Should be called Serious Baking for Serious Bakers. Buying all the gadgets and ingredients the recipes call for can make for some pretty pricey muffins. I've made two of the recipes with tasty but not so-mind-blowing-it's-worth-the-cost results. However, the tricks and techniques make the book worthwhile. Get it as a book on baking -- not a recipe book.
Kristina
I love this book. Finally, someone breaks baking down for me into scientific terms I could understand. I have taken away so much from this book. Even if all you remember is how much baking powder or soda to use per cup of flower, I still say reading this is a great investment of your time.
Jan
This cookbook is written by a biochemist that knows why things go well (or poorly!) when we bake. Does your recipe make chewy cookies and you want cake-like? She tells you how to make them "cakey" and why what she shows you works. It's a great book!
Dawn Siemer
I love cookbooks, but rarely read them cover-to-cover. I did that with this one, and learned a lot! From how to make perfect (for you) chocolate chip cookies to why how much gluten flour has is important--if you love to bake, you NEED this book.
Autumn
Shirley Corriher is a nuclear genius and also unpretentious enough to include a recipe for 'Fire Crackers' that's made out of saltines, cheddar and pepper flakes. Also, her granny made biscuits the same way my granny made biscuits ie: correctly.
Jae
I kid you not, I read it cover to cover in three days. Everything I have made from here is fabulous, and my church choir inhaled the lemony pound cake. More importantly, I learned so much. This is a life changing book.
Gina Bégin
Indispensable. This is the best book I have read so far about baking. This lady is a food scientist and knows what she is talking about. I have tried her techniques and they work- so well. She comes highly recommended.
Ashlie
Baking is such a science that it was fun reading this book cover to cover. I didn't get all of it -- chemistry was never my best subject -- but I did pick up a few things that have helped me with baking since.
Courtney
Amazing infomation to make sure all of your baking is perfect. I learned so many great things (use a pizza stone to ensure even distribution of heat and to bake evenly).
Loved the coconut cake recipe.
Elizabeth
Apr 08, 2013 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
As seen in this webinar: scrub to ~15:00.
Kim
Feb 28, 2013 Kim rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: cooking
If you want to read a baking text book, then read this. I am all for knowing the science behind my baking but this was really dry and not nearly enough pictures for me.
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