Wow! Great review. So much opinion – as it should be! Helpful info @extra-large eggs, flour measuring, and then subtle insight on the trendoid styling. I will now be on the look out for *a bunch of crumbs that don’t belong there* when perusing food photography! Love your take on the tattoo. And, of course, I agree with you that the recipes matter most. Jam cookie recipe looks like a winner.
Thanks for the review, Tim! I was on the fence about buying this book and you’ve pushed me over the edge. Like you, I’ve been to Hot Chocolate a million times and loved every experience and dish, but was concerned about that translating into a cookbook for the “home” cook. Glad to hear that the book is a success and I can’t wait to try some of the recipes you’ve described.
I’m in love with this book. I understand your problem with the design aesthetic, but it doesn’t bother me. I guess I like that the cookies have the appearance of something that could actually be produced in a home kitchen. And while it will certainly feel dated whenever the prevailing aesthetic changes, I find something charming about things feeling of their time. (I do find the extra-large egg thing weird, especially since it’s tougher to find extra-large eggs from local farms. I’d also rather just scale everything than worry about imprecise measuring spoon techniques.)
What I love most is the feeling that these recipes are actually new and original without feeling gimmicky and make me think about the potential of cookies in news ways (cookies with smoked almonds? why didn’t I think of that?). I also appreciate the expertise Segal brings to the techniques (like explaining why a pastry roller is useful for shortbread).
“I think this style started off as a nod toward the authentic—cooking is messy and imperfect! Which was an understandable response to the high-gloss fakery of the food styling that preceded it…” This could have come from my own head (and I confess, almost verbatim what I said about this and many other books as they’ve crossed my threshold). They’re largely great books from talented cooks, so it’s especially a shame that knowing the book process, most cooks are neither book designers (obvs) or have much say in the way their books are packaged. But it does feel like we’re overdue for a design refresh. At least personally, I like to remove the rusty spoons and antique dental tools from the table before eating. Then again, we’ve established that I’m boring. :)
All- Thanks for being such great commenters. I really do think I have the best people reading my blog and am grateful for it.
Sara- I do have both Chang books. I like them, but for some reason I don’t find myself using them very often. Should I be? What do you like?
Mary- Agreed. I just bought a pastry roller and am surprised by how useful it has been.
Thanks for the great review! I had pre-ordered this book based on the cover photo alone (my bad, I know). Truth be told though, I’m a cookie-baking fanatic so it didn’t take much to sell me. Did you actually follow her instructions with the scoop method of measuring the flour? I never measure that way anymore so I’m a bit concerned. From J. Chang’s book Flour, try her hazelnut, milk chocolate cookies (can’t remember the precise name). I add tons more chocolate and hazelnuts and they are to-die-for! One of these days when I have a house full of people to help eat them, I’ll make her sticky caramel buns. Keep up the good work!
Thanks, Nancy! Yes, I did use her scoop method to measure flour. It worked just fine but made me anxious. It seems even less predictable than the scoop method (how much pressure am I putting on flour?!). Honestly, I just really wish all baking books included weight measurements. It would solve SO many problems. I was surprised this one didn’t since it is from a professional bakery, and presumably recipes were written that way. Anyway….
Interesting that she chooses to use extra large eggs, scoops the flour, and doesn’t provide weights. I excel at cookies and from your descriptions, it appears that I’ll have to get this book asap. Years ago, my sister and I wouldn’t buy cookbooks that had only one recipe per page. Of course, there also wasn’t a full page photo of each recipe. Many were without photos, but we tried them based on their descriptions.
Sounds like a great book! Regarding the FLOUR measuring technique – I wish ALL cookbooks and especially baking related books would include the gram (and or ounce) weight of ingredients. Inexpensive scales are readily accessible in stores and on line for those that don’t already have one and as everyone who uses a scale knows, measuring by weight eliminates ALL the guesswork. Cup measurements can still be given too, along with a particular technique such as this one for flour. As a professional baker who has been involved in creating recipes (with weights) for a book for home bakers, I realize it takes longer to formulate each recipe when ingredients are weighed but the end result is a big plus for those wishing to use a scale.
C’mon American people, use weights in your recipes. I am in the UK, but was born and raised
in the USA and not using a scale to bake would be a terrible idea to me now. And, how do egg sizes compare over there compare to here? I don’t think we have beer nuts here….!
You definitely do not have Beer Nuts, Catherine. I actually have no idea how eggs sizes compare, that’s a great question. I bake from British books regularly though and have never had a problem. I assume our regular (large) eggs are the same.
Tim, thank you so much for the brilliant review which made me buy the book – despite lack of weight measurements in any baking book filling me with intense rage. I adore the book – couldn’t agree more with her on salt as absolutely essential to bring out flavour in sweets – but why oh why do these massively gifted US pastry chefs insist on driving us to distraction with their volume measurements? Surely it’s not something they’d use in a professional kitchen???? And on that note I’m coming out at 145gr = 1 cup of AP flour by her method. Does that sound about right? Anybody? Help?
I’m one of those quiet readers, but I had to say your work is very appreciated in the often ridiculous world of food blogs. I know this is a place I can come to to run away from trends and pretentious sh*t. And now I’m going to order the book because it sounds phenomenal.
From Flour, I really like the pineapple upside down cake, the banana bread (though it needs longer in the oven than the recipe calls for –it is very moist), and the brioche recipe (super clear and detailed). I also love the narrative and her voice. I haven’t looked at Flour Too.
goodness gracious I love you and all your posts! Thank you for always taking the time to write something worthwhile..yours is one of the first food blogs I started to follow and I’ve kept up with it ever since. This book sounds stupendous can’t wait to check it out!
By the way, Tim, do you have Alice Medrich’s Flavor Flours? It’s fantastic and I think you would love the golden corn cake (I made it with brown butter rather than clarified and I could not stop myself from eating it; also reduced the sugar ever so slightly and upped the salt just a little). Her rice flour chiffon is terrific, too, as is the corn flour chiffon!
Thanks for this Tim. I bought the book, and have really, really enjoyed baking from it. The goat butter shortbread is amazing. Again, thanks, because this wasn’t on my radar until your review. It’s replaced the Alice Medrich book as my favorite cookie book.
I will check this book out for sure. I have both of the flour cookbooks and loved the Boston cream pie, coffee ice cream, the pastry recipe for chicken pot pie was delicious and worked the first time, (never happened before). I made the brioche and worked perfectly. Try the potato and red bell pepper tortilla, and the spicy three bean and corn chili.
I’ve loved following Lottie + Doof for YEARS, and I am a huge Mindy’s Hot Chocolate fan (we live in Oakland, CA now but previously Chicago) and my husband and I frequently ate at Mindy’s, always ordering dessert. :)
I appreciate your genuine, thoughtful review of the book and I’m so inspired to order it now. That strawberry lambic jam needs to get in my belly asap.