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Yet Another Long-Awaited Cookbook!!

Nov 10, 2012 | From the kitchen of Rose

Thumbnail image for Standard Baking Co Pastries.jpg

Fall always ushers in the new group of cookbooks from top authors and chefs and this fall is especially rich in high quality baking books.

Alison Pray and Tara Smith of the Standard Baking Company in Portland, Maine, have just come out with their first cookbook, Pastries, and anyone who has ever visited the bakery will want to have it. I met Alison and her husband Matt James, who does the bread baking, on my first trip to Portland and was deeply impressed by both of them and all of their baked goods. On my second trip, I also visited her other bakery, Two Fat Cats, where I discovered the best Whoopie Pie ever and put it in my most recent book (Rose's Heavenly Cakes).

photo credit: ©2012, Sean Alonzo Harris, from Standard Baking Co. Pastries, Down East Books

Pastries is filled with enticing photos of the pastries but they are not on fancy glossy paper. Rather they appear as warm, rustic and highly approachable. The recipes are very clearly written in a friendly voice. Yes, Alison is a professional baker but Tara, as she writes in her introduction, is also a joyful home baker. Between the two of them, they know what home bakers need to know.

Standard Baking Co. Pastries

The first recipe I couldn't resist trying was the luscious apricot and cream cheese babka filling. SInce Maine is known for its extraordinary wild blueberries which are tiny and intense in flavor, next will be the Wild Blueberry Oat Scones. Luckily Whole Foods market has the frozen Maine blueberries!

I know that Alison would love to have had weights in the book but having lost that battle with the publisher (as so many of us do) she made sure to tell how she measures flour (dip and sweep method--dip the measuring cup with an unbroken rim into the flour bin and without shaking or tapping the cup level it off with a straight edge spatula or knife.)

Now that they know first hand how much fun it is to write a cookbook, let us all hope that there will be Standard Bread Baking book next!


I have to tell you about my experience today. I am baking the Blueberry Ricotta Custard Cake on page 82. I have baked this cake twice before and love it. I convert the volume measurements to grams using Rose's chart in TPPB. Today, this cake had to be perfect. I wanted to make certain my calculation of the flour was correct because I am bringing it to very special people, my children and grandchildren. Because I was uncertain as to their method of measuring (I now know they spoon lightly into cup) I came up with two different gram weights. I called the Standard Baking Co. and had the privilege of speaking with Sara. I explained my situation. She was so cheerful and sincerely happy to help. She asked Tara, one of the authors of the book, and I was told 1 1/2c cake flour, sifted equaled 150g. I told her I had come to that figure based on Rose's chart and was so grateful she confirmed the weight. This experience made my day. Thank you Sara and Tara; and, of course, thank you Rose!


Thank you :)


love it flour girl!


Thank you for reviewing this book Rose. I got a chance to look through Standard Baking Co. today. The recipes look delicious. I wish the recipes were in weights but that won't stop from buying this book. When recipes are in volume measurements I refer to your books for the correct gram weight. I realize the author probably based her recipe on measurements which may or may not be the correct volume equivalent but I have never gone wrong using your weight chart. I'm not a person who likes chackas on the refrig but your weight chart is the thing "allowed" on it.


thank you for the support dianne. yes--we must write for the world because we are all so closely connected now.


Dianne Brims
Dianne Brims
12/ 4/2012 07:19 PM

Perhaps publishers of cookbooks in the USA might consider how they alienate non-USA buyers of their books? Perhaps the $$$ signs might make them sit up and take notice? As a serious and experienced baker who talks baking non-stop with friends I am constantly being told how they avoid recipes given in volume measurements and will just not buy the books.Personally, I carry the flag for American baking as I think it is far superior to AUS and UK - Rose of course, Nick Malgieri, Dorrie and Flo et al - love 'em all - BUT the whole flour thing is a disaster. The difference in weight between the different "methods" sends most people to another recipe. Cookbook sales in AUS alone are huge, think of the market missed guys. Americans should be horrified that publishers think they are dumb-and-dumber. And how difficult is it to put a conversion table in anyway? Give us some of that well-known American freedom of choice and let us appreciate American baking even more I say. Keep up the fight Rose.


Why should stubborn publishers be an issue? Especially on this day, age of the Internet and all. The author can just put the conversion chart on his personal website and spare him/herself debating with publishers.


I agree with Charles, I won't even consider buying a book that doesn't at least have a table of weights of ingredients. Even if a publisher insists on listing recipes in volume, a table of weights in the appendices would open up purchase to many avid bakers. Happy to send off any emails that might help get that message across.


Ok, I see from one of the comments on Amazon that only the Butter Croissant has the weights.

Not having weights immediately moves a book in my estimation from top tier to second tier.

If someone can provide the email of the publisher, let's see if we can set them straight!


Rose, the sample pages on Amazon (for Butter Croissants) show grams as the primary measurement, with the volume measurements in parentheses.


thank you jeannie--i was close but apparently wikipedia has no imagination when it comes to greek mythology!


Hi Rose, I believe the character from Greek mythology you are referring to is Sisyphus.


daphne, sometimes i feel like the man ini greek mythology who was doomed to spend his life pushing a heavy stone up a hill. the name starts with an S but i'm so far from being able to spell even wikipedia is not making any suggestions!

let's face it, the prevailing trend in our culture is "quick and easy" (read dumb and dumber). publishers need to sell books and they perceive their audience to value what appears to be simple. i was most fortunate in the cake bible to have a revolutionary and brilliant editor, maria guarnaschelli, who encouraged me to "elevate" the consciousness of the reader and respect them. the editor of my most recent book (heavenly cakes) also believed in the value of respecting the author's belief system.

it is a very hard battle for a new author, or often a proven author to fight. i'm thrilled to report that thomas keller in his new bouchon bakery book has grams and for volume he does not round off--he will even list something like 1 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon. it's good not to be alone in this battle and to have the support of a colleague with as much clout as thomas keller.


Am I being naive to ask, if the publishers are concerned the recipes look intimidating (or will take too much space) with weights included, why they will not simply compromise with a table in the appendix featuring the standard weight (for their method of measurement) per cup of ingredient just like you have in The Cake Bible, Rose? I'm flummoxed at why publishers are still non-converts. Recently read Joanne Chang's blog in which she reports the publishers of her latest book (due next year) had converted all the liquid measures (e.g. creme fraiche) from grams to millilitres or cups only... and had to scratch my head in wonder. I don't know any publishers and definitely know nothing about the industry but why do they publish a book yet have so little trust in the author knowing what is best within their area of expertise? Anyway I know I'm flogging a dead horse :-)



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