Baking Day, and an Experiment with Food Photography
With the snow day last week, there were some scheduling conflicts that led to… two baking days. On the second day, I tested the recipe for the new einkorn flour cookbook by Shanna and Tim Mallon of Food Loves Writing, and I was surprised that the Einkorn flour I used wasn’t too different from the All-Purpose wheat flour I’m used to having. It was slightly more yellow than AP flour and smelled slightly different, but the texture was very similar. Since it’s for the cookbook, I can’t tell you anything else. But I can tell you about the chocolate chip cookies I made the day before.
I asked for Thomas Keller’s books Ad Hoc at Home and Bouchon Bakery for Christmas, and I’ve already managed to make a recipe from each. Well, at least portions of them. I made a riff of the Meatballs with Pappardelle recipe, but due to a lack of time/ funds (I am in college, after all), I only made a (simplified) meatball and finished the pasta off with melted butter, parsley, and lemon juice per the recipe. And while I agree with the author of the hilarious tumblr I Followed the Recipe Exactly that people who don’t follow the recipe shouldn’t really judge the results because they didn’t actually follow the recipe, but… man. With how not closely I followed this recipe, and how delicious it was when it came out, I can only imagine how great it will be when I actually do have the time and money to make this.
From the Bouchon Bakery cookbook I made the chocolate chip cookies, with chopped walnuts (from one of the alternate recipes) because I didn’t have both chocolate chunks and chocolate chips on hand. They were delicious, and only included one oddball ingredient I’d never put in a chocolate chip cookie before: molasses. Is it just me, or is that a normal ingredient for chocolate chip cookies? The cookies were wonderful, and it was so much fun to make them with my brothers. I even dabbled with my rinky-dink camera to get the first food photography I’ve done in a while, although it is definitely still rudimentary at best. And yes, I did take a bite out of the cookie before I took the picture. I am unashamed.
One of the most striking thing about these cookbooks (particularly Bouchon Bakery) is how the recipes and writing are both completely intimidating and totally accessible… at the same time. Both Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (the pastry chef at Bouchon and co-writer of the Bouchon Bakery cookbook) are obsessed with precision, and while this can be hugely intimidating to a home cook, their advice to practice, practice, and practice some more, and to repeat recipes so you learn how to cook them really well is really helpful. Also, Ad Hoc at Home is full of really helpful tips that are useful no matter your skill set or funding (or lack thereof). Honestly before I got the book for Christmas, I went to Barnes & Noble and took notes on the way Keller says to prepare meat for cooking. That’s saying something. Plus, the elaborate “Steam-generating Kit” that Matthew McDonald developed (using river rocks, a hotel pan, metal chain link, and a Super Soaker water gun) so that a home cook would be able to introduce steam into their non-commercial ovens so that they can get the best crust possible for their baguettes speaks to the belief these authors have in home cooks, and their ability to make good food.
So, if you have a birthday coming up, get some friends/ relatives to chip in and get these (they are expensive, not going to lie). Or maybe go to the library? They might have a copy, but I’m not sure. Also, if you want to read an (endearing) article about Thomas Keller, you can find it here.