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The James Beard Award–winning, bestselling author of CookWise and KitchenWise delivers a lively and fascinating guide to better baking through food science.

Follow kitchen sleuth Shirley Corriher as she solves everything about why the cookie crumbles. With her years of experience from big-pot cooking at a boarding school and her classic French culinary training to her work as a research biochemist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Shirley looks at all aspects of baking in a unique and exciting way. She describes useful techniques, such as brushing your puff pastry with ice water—not just brushing off the flour—to make the pastry higher, lighter, and flakier. She can help you make moist cakes; shrink-proof perfect meringues; big, crisp cream puffs; amazing pastries; and crusty, incredibly flavorful, open-textured French breads, such as baguettes.

Restaurant chefs and culinary students know Shirley from their grease-splattered copies of CookWise, an encyclopedic work that has saved them from many a cooking disaster. With numerous “At-a-Glance” charts, BakeWise gives busy people information for quick problem solving. BakeWise also includes Shirley's signature “What This Recipe Shows” in every recipe. This scientific and culinary information can apply to hundreds of recipes, not just the one in which it appears.

BakeWise does not have just a single source of knowledge; Shirley loves reading the works of chefs and other good cooks and shares their tips with you, too. She applies not only her expertise but that of the many artisans she admires, such as famous French pastry chefs Gaston Lenôtre and Chef Roland Mesnier, the White House pastry chef for twenty-five years; and Bruce Healy, author of Mastering the Art of French Pastry. Shirley also retrieves "lost arts" from experts of the past such as Monroe Boston Strause, the pie master of 1930s America. For one dish, she may give you techniques from three or four different chefs plus her own touch of science—“better baking through chemistry.” She adds facts such as the right temperature, the right mixing speed, and the right mixing time for the absolutely most stable egg foam, so you can create a light-as-air génoise every time.

Beginners can cook from BakeWise to learn exactly what they are doing and why. Experienced bakers find out why the techniques they use work and also uncover amazing pastries from the past, such as Pont Neuf (a creation of puff pastry, pâte à choux, and pastry cream) and Religieuses, adorable “little nuns” made of puff pastry filled with a satiny chocolate pastry cream and drizzled with mocha icing.

Some will want it simply for the recipes—incredibly moist whipped cream pound cake made with heavy cream; flourless fruit soufflés; chocolate crinkle cookies with gooey, fudgy centers; huge popovers; famed biscuits. But this book belongs on every baker's shelf.

Photo courtesy of author

Shirley O. Corriher has a BA in chemistry from Vanderbilt University, where she was also a biochemist at the medical school. She has consulted for Julia Child, Procter & Gamble, Pillsbury, and The Joy of Cooking, and is a noted international speaker and teacher, named by Bon Appetit as Best Cooking Teacher of the Year. Her media appearances include Good Eats, Smart Solutions, Real Simple, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and she has written a regular column for the Los Angeles Times and in publications including Cook’s Illustrated and Fine Cooking. Her first book, CookWise, won a James Beard Award for excellence. She is also the author of BakeWise and KitchenWise. She lives in Atlanta.

  • Publisher: Scribner (December 1, 2008)
  • Length: 544 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416560784

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“At last! For years I’ve been getting tantalizing previews of BakeWise when Shirley would call with her most recent baking mystery or cogitations or discovery. Our talks were always eye-openers, and always left me hungry to have That Book. Well here it is, and it’s been worth the wait. Shirley’s thoroughness and doggedness and enlightened common sense will make BakeWise a treasure for novices and advanced bakers alike. And her warmth and sheer delight in baking—and savoring the results!—make every page a pleasure to read.”
—Harold McGee, Author of On Food and Cooking

“The hardest thing in all of cooking is how to be a creative baker and Shirley Corriher’s BakeWise is the best book you can own to find out the how and why of it all. I will reach for BakeWise before flour and eggs.”
—Ethan Becker, Coauthor of the Joy of Cooking

“Finally, Moses has come down the mountain with another five commandments.”
—Alton Brown, Host of Food Network’s Good Eats and Author of I’m Just Here for the Food

“’What does Shirley Corriher say about that in CookWise?’ was often my reply to students who asked me cooking questions that I couldn’t answer. But BakeWise is the book I’ve really been waiting for, specifically focused on all that dough wisdom, yes, but also containing some of the best recipes in the known baking and pastry universe, each one illustrating a dynamic baking principle. I will be making full use of this book for years to come.”
—Peter Reinhart, Johnson & Wales University, and Author of Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor

“Specific, learned, and precise, BakeWise is the ultimate teaching guide on baking, elucidating many baking mysteries, from the fluctuation of your oven temperature to the size of the air bubble in your beaten egg whites.”
—Jaques Pépin, Dean of Special Programs at the French Culinary Institute and Author of Chez Jacques: Traditions and Rituals of A Cook