Darren's Reviews > I'm Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking

I'm Just Here for More Food by Alton Brown
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's review
Jun 12, 12

In many ways this book is a little difficult to describe so that it receives the credit it deserves. It is more than a recipe book even though it isn't a classical recipe book - it is more than a textbook too.

This fairly massive tome from Alton Brown is a relatively informal "workshop guide" to basic food preparation in the shape of baked goods. Here Alton focusses on ensuring that the reader really understands the nitty-gritty or the nuts and bolts as to what really happens from when you mix together ingredients right up to the point of serving. If you only care about making recipe X with the shortest amount of work, hassle and time this book is not for you. If you want to understand how things work with a view of improving them then you may find this a gem, particularly if you are not a food scientist or advanced chef.

Brown starts with a good introduction and a bit of an explanation to as to what to expect, before it is onto the "parts department" where elements such as proteins and carbohydrates are explored and their interaction whilst baking is explained. No, do read on, it is not as dull as you might think. Even if you don't fully understand what Brown is writing, if you can pick up some basic understanding and practical tips you may find a real, noticeable difference in your baking. The importance of core ingredients such as eggs and flour also comes under the proverbial magnifying glass, helping remove any misapprehension that, for example, different types of flour are essentially the same and do roughly the same job. Indeed they may, just as a bicycle and an aircraft can propel you from New York to London (eventually).

After all of this, recipes and their underlying work processes are concentrated within a number of standard methodologies and thus many recipes appear here. Each standard methodology - muffins, biscuits, pie variants, creaming, straight dough, egg foam, custards and a few other bits and bobs are similarly heavy on the science and plain-language explanation of the whats and whys and, naturally, then many recipes are provided that draw on this knowledge.

As long as you remove any preconceptions about this book and if you are interested in how things actually go together and want to hopefully make a better "product" then this book might be an interesting, innovative diversion for you. A hybrid that carefully curates and moulds both high-level academic theory and common sense practical information to a fairly light-hearted, engaging and informative stream to be piped en masse into your brain. Just like Alton Brown's (American) television shows you can sense the energy, constantly changing focus as you read through the book yet, surprisingly, there is an almost serene, controlled manner to this as well. A concept that is harder to explain than it is to understand through reading it.

The book ends with, as you would hope for, a good detailed index since it is a fair bet you will be referencing hither and tither as time goes on. Some little errors and some abrupt endings made this reviewer scratch his head metaphorically a few times, but these little black marks rapidly pale into insignificance when you consider the overall picture.

I'm Just Here for More Food: Food X Mixing + Heat = Baking, written by Alton Brown and published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang. ISBN 9781584793410, 336 pages. Typical price: GBP20. YYYY.

This is a RETROspective review of a previously-published book that, whilst not new on the market, is still available and the review has been made of the book as it stands today.

// This review appeared in YUM.fi and is reproduced here in full with permission of YUM.fi. YUM.fi celebrates the worldwide diversity of food and drink, as presented through the humble book. Whether you call it a cookery book, cook book, recipe book or something else (in the language of your choice) YUM will provide you with news and reviews of the latest books on the marketplace. //

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