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Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  6,583 ratings  ·  307 reviews
Michael Ruhlman’s groundbreaking New York Times bestseller takes us to the very “truth” of cooking: it is not about recipes but rather about basic ratios and fundamental techniques that makes all food come together, simply.

When you know a culinary ratio, it’s not like knowing a single recipe, it’s instantly knowing a thousand.

Why spend time sorting through the millions of
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by Scribner (first published March 5th 2009)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  6,583 ratings  ·  307 reviews


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Eileen
Oct 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: food
Michael Ruhlman has much valuable information to communicate; the ratio concept is clearly crucial if one wants to fully understand and experiment with baking in particular. However, he is not a very skilled prose stylist. The book is too busy; it continually throws out disorganized and poorly focused extra information. The intention seems to have been to stay nonthreatening by adopting a casual, spontaneous, and personal tone. However, when combined with the more mathematical aspects of the rat ...more
Hirondelle
Dec 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, food
I loved the cover. Totally loved it. Make it a poster and I will buy it and stick it on my kitchen ( *hinthintnudgenudge*). And it is a great idea for a book, they had me at the blurb. And some of the recipe variation ideas given are good and interesting.

But that is basically all I liked. I have many many opinions about this book, this is going to take me a while, and sadly, I found a lot here to dislike:

- The writing is clumsy. I had to reread paragraphs and sentences to figure out the meaning.
...more
Grace
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book changed the way I approach cooking. And really, that's what it's meant to do. Before this book found its way onto my kitchen counter, I was completely recipe-bound. I could throw a few things together for a decent meal, but nothing too fancy. Most of the time, I would have to search for a recipe to accomplish it. Well, this book will break you of that. As it explains, it all comes down to ratios. As long as you can master those, the whole kitchen will open up to you. Before too long yo ...more
Anna Wanderer
Apr 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
I just started this and I am torn.

On one hand I like the idea of a set of guidelines I can keep in my head and use to cook nearly anything by starting with a few basic ingredients and then adding a few others. And I also like the math of cooking very much.

But another thing I enjoy about cooking is that it's a kind of communication between the person who wrote the recipe and me. They are telling me how to make something they liked or worked hard at or found interesting and when I make changes t
...more
Benj
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
I liked this a lot! I'm only interested in cooking certain types of soups and breads, so half the book wasn't useful to me, but I LOVE this approach to cooking. ...more
Elizabeth
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who cooks; anyone who likes to eat good food
What a great idea for a cookbook! Because, of course, Ruhlman is right. What is the point of burying yourself in a book and following its instructions to the letter? Where's the fun in that? Not to mention that it's completely uncreative. Do we really want to be producing exactly the same thing, every time, no matter where the dish is being made? We might as well just program a machine to make our food. Personalization and variation is the key.

   [I]t's important to remember, as my first culinar
...more
Andrea James
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: cooking
I bought this book years ago because I loved the concept (and Alton Brown is quoted on the back so how bad can it be?) . But then the book somehow disappeared into the depths of my bookshelves so I was excited when I finally found it a couple of days ago!

Then in dawned on me why it wasn't as treasured as one might expect it to be. It so disappointing in its execution. This book could have been so much more...it felt unnecessarily rushed and poorly edited*.

I want to rate this book 5 stars becau
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Sam
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book transformed the way I cook, specifically how I bake. I bought other recipe books, I scoured allrecipes.com and while I found some keepers, they were inconsistent; I never felt like I could extrapolate many hard and fast rules that I could apply to other recipes. I've known since the Alton Brown era that weight is better than volumetric recipes (especially when working with flour) but recipes by weight are few and far between. This book is a good first step in simplifying that step for ...more
Olha
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So this book is great! Not the book itself, but at least the main idea behind it.
My pizza baking skills became very good 🍕
All I needed to do it to stop googling random over complicated and sometimes inadequate recipes and just make the dough with a pinch of salt, tbsp of olive oil, and ANY amount of water plus flour in ratio 3 to 5 😜

Shant Boodaghians
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
The philosophy behind this approach to baking is great, and just the cover of this book is a really useful reference. But I wish the list of recipes had more diversity to offer.
Jennifer
Jul 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, cookbooks
Michael Ruhlman illuminates the mysteries behind all of those fancy french words you see on menus of fine dining establishments in this book. Pâte à choux? Hollandaise? Mousseline? Bread? It's really just a matter of understanding simple ratios of ingredients. Ruhlman hammers the ease of which one can master the list of ratios, eliminating the need for complicated recipes.

Well, I'm not entirely convinced about "ease." At the end, Ruhlman relates that while both he and his wife understand the rat
...more
Liz De Coster
Dec 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: food
I was a bit disappointed in this book. I was anticipating a basic how-to of creating your own recipes based on the titular ratios, which was only loosely the focus of the book. While reading it, I felt that there were so many caveats and addendums to each ratio that it would be difficult to memorize and utilize the ratios in a home kitchen. The author was probably going for flexibility, but lost some authority in the process. I didn't get much from this book, either recipes or knowledge, that I ...more
Wordweaverlynn
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
This elegant book conveys the fundamental principles of cooking: how the proper ratio of basic ingredients (eggs, butter, flour, cream, and sugar, plus the appropriate seasonings) and the techniques to combine them will result in foods as different as cookies, quiche, caramel, creampuffs, and ciabatta.

There are also sections on meat ratios, but these seem less useful. Making stock is simple; I'm not likely to make either sausage or mousseline (no meatloaf, oddly).

What's missing is any mention
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Helen
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Being a public librarian with access to an unending supply of books, it takes something really special to make me want to part with $27.00 just so I can call it my own. Ruhlman has found the secret code in Ratio and my copy should be in my mailbox by tomorrow.

It a weird format for a cookbook in that Ruhlman buries his recipes in parts or chapters that explain the basic ratios for, for instance, doughs and batters. By explaining the how and why of the most basic dough, Ruhlman opens up doors for
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Barbara Rice
Jul 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
I was given this book as a gift from someone who thinks I like Alton Brown and that analytical, scientific approach to cooking. I don't. It's my opinion that new cooks who eagerly embrace this concept and leap in unprepared are going to find themselves with culinary disasters on their hands and no idea how to fix them.

I wrote a review on Amazon and was almost immediately crucified for my opinion. According to one anonymous person, I am bitter, not too bright, and unpleasant. Well, hey, fuck you
...more
Rina
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found it fascinating to learn about the relationships between foods; how adding more flour or sugar or fat turns x into y, how the difference between sponge and pound cake is the mixing method, how ice cream is just frozen crème anglaise, among others. The obsession with “flavours” on the Great British Bake Off finally made sense, since all base recipes are essentially the same, (assuming good technique) it is the extras that differentiate an okay bake from a great one.

The main negative is tha
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Caitlin Meisenbach
Jan 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Neat concept, but apparently not actually enough material for a whole book because there was SO much filler and unnecessary repetition. Also it was pretty poorly edited- missing steps and ingredients, repeated steps, etc. - and I'm the type that gets too distracted by that. But that said I do imagine getting a lot of mileage out of the ratios included...apparently he's got a iPhone app now. That may be a better format for the info. Haven't tried it, though. ...more
Kelly
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is my new best friend. I'm sure it has faults (fyi -- I don't buy his claim that yeast can activate in cold water, I tried it & it failed) but I have found it inspiring and interesting. The recipes -- er, I mean, ratios -- are so simple that I can basically go home right now and make bread AND pie AND mayonnaise. I would let you all borrow it, but go buy your own. ...more
Whitney
May 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
In all honesty, I didn't finish reading this. I thought the concept was fascinating, and useful if I had the time for it.But for now, I think I'll rely on other people's recipe-making skills and just make my own blind modifications. ...more
Angela
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not the most engaging book, but one of the most useful in that I can now make a muffin into a scone just by switching the ratio of this and that. Everything is by weight and volume so when I get my Slovenian villa I'll just bring my gram scale and this book and hope the oven has Fahrenheit. ...more
Jenny
May 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: grown-up-stuff
Ugh, too much work to remember those numbers. It may never make me a baker extraordinaire, but I am sticking with good old fashioned recipes!
Laura
May 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
How to cook using ratios of ingredients versus recipes....may be helpful but I can't see myself not using a recipe! ...more
Tanna
Jan 17, 2010 rated it liked it
sigh, while I did read a little of this book and enjoyed it, in the end I just put the app on my iPhone for the basic ratios. Now use it from time to time if a recipe looks "off" to me. ...more
Xander
Mar 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Ratio is a wonderful book. Michael Ruhlman teaches the practical ratios in cooking that are the foundation of most recipes a cook will encounter. Ratio gives the reasons for why ingredients are proportioned the way they are, what functions they serve, and at the end of many of the chapters it gives a basic recipe using these ratios.

To say that Ratio is a cookbook wouldn't be quite right. It is a book about cooking, but the point of the book is to teach you how to make changes to or even create y
...more
Laura Sackton
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a super useful book, and I finally got around to reading it at just the right time, since I'm obsessed with baking, and have found it frustrating when I want to create my own recipes but have to always turn to existing ones to alter. Ratios aren't everything, but this book clearly explains a whole bunch of super useful ones for various kinds of cooking and baking (cakes, cookies, bread, batters, custards, sauces). I can't wait to apply some of these basic principles when I'm testing my ...more
Alex Walton
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure who this book is for. If you've gone to culinary school, you've already memorized staple recipes. If you're a home cook, you need the methods and variations written out, so the ratios don't mean all that much, the advice isn't practical. I'd rather just read a normal cookbook. The recipes and ingredients skew towards haute, which is even more puzzling and alienates me as a home cook. Might have worked better if written as master recipes with variations instead of the focus on ratios ...more
Luke Gruber
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I love the approach of this book. Free yourself from recipes, and understand the fundamental ratios of cooking.

Cooking is most fun when there is creativity or mastering technique (IMO).

This book helps allow creativity in your cooking. It also helps differentiate the differences (and often subtle) between things like bread dough and pie dough (fat is responsible for making pie dough unlike bread dough, tender rather than chewy).

Worth reading, but there other more fundamental books that I’d rea
...more
Jon Dudding
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very informative. This book has changed how I approach cooking. Ruhlman clearly explains how ratios can be used in place of recipes of which I lean on very heavily in my daily cooking routine.

This book is more of an ongoing reference manual though instead of a sit down read because of the inclusion of many basic recipes that demonstrate how ratios can be used to achieve a wide variety of outcomes.

I recommend this book to anyone that wants to move away from recipes and cook competently with jus
...more
M Christopher
I don't have much time to cook these days but I suspect I will return to this when I do. The idea of ratios being consistent in certain types of food in both cooking and baking makes a lot of sense to me and explains how all those chefs on "Top Chef" or "Iron Chef," etc, are able to concoct recipes off the tops of their heads without reference to recipes. Seems to me that every home cook should have a copy of this book. ...more
Grace Kaetterhenry
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a good book for people who want to understand baking and cooking better but don't like being told what to do. Essentially this a book of culinary theory, showing the underlying principles, techniques, and ratios that govern food. I don't have any sort of culinary training and thought this book was super interesting, approachable, and practical. I'm considering buying this book to have around as a reference. ...more
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Michael Ruhlman (born 1963 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American writer. He is the author of 11 books, and is best known for his work about and in collaboration with American chefs, as well as other works of non-fiction.

Ruhlman grew up in Cleveland and was educated at University School (a private boys' day school in Cleveland) and at Duke University, graduating from the latter in 1985. He worked a se
...more

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