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Monday, February 22, 2010

Le Cordon Bleu: Professional Baking - Wayne Gisslen (Cookbook/Textbook)



Released October 2000

www.cordonbleu.com

I picked up Professional Baking at this past year's Harvest Market, a huge rummage/bake/festival that occurs in my childhood hometown every fall. Book sales lead to incredible bargains and I spotted this gem on the $1 table at a library book sale.

With my 40th birthday quickly approaching, I've been somewhat moody as of late. Seems just yesterday that I was young, hanging out with friends and not a care, or responsibility, in the world. Now I'm a few days from 40, happy, yet wondering what else there is to do with life.

My daughter and I watched Julie and Julia a few weeks ago. She commented that I should do that some day, pick a cook book and work my way through it. My immediate response was that it's been done before. However, after desperation caused me to pull out Professional Baking, I started thinking. I love baking and always thought NECI would be a great school to attend, but I lack the money and at this point the time. With a little more thought I realized I could go through the entire Professional Baking textbook from start to finish and see what I could learn.

The truth is that I was desperate for a recipe for puff pastry. My son found a recipe he wanted to make from the newer Alton Brown/Good Eats cookbook and after hunting for puff pastry in stores and finding the cheapest price to be $5, I decided it was time to make my own. I've been told it is hard to make, I now disagree, and time consuming. Realistically, it took some muscle and time to roll it out, fold it and roll it out again, but it wasn't really that difficult and the end product was amazing as not only the curry chicken pot pie proved, but I used the remainder of the dough making cream cheese and marzipan turnovers that were incredible.

Wayne Gisslen's cookbook teaches you everything there is to know about baking. Start with the ingredients you need, including a guide to help you discern the differences between the different flours. Then tackle recipes like yeast breads, quick breads, cakes, cookies, pastries, candy making and working with sugar. Everything you need to know is in here, including text, Q&A sessions and tips on what went wrong if your final product doesn't turn out as planned.

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