Inconsistencies in Payard’s pastry recipes?
Posted: 22 June 2009 09:30 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I have been studying carefully the recipes for Sweet tart dough or pate sucree and chocolate dough in two books by Francois Payard?s Simply Sensational Desserts and Chocolate Epiphany.  The recipes are neither internally consistent nor consistent from one book to the other, and I cannot understand why.  The SS book only contains a Sweet tart dough recipe while the latter book has a recipe for both pastry doughs. 

First, comparing the pate sucree recipe from SS to CE, both recipes claim to result in enough dough for two nine or nine and a half inch tart shells.  Yet the volume of ingredients in the CE recipe is hugely larger.  For example, the SS recipe calls for 9 tablespoons butter while CE calls for about double or four sticks of butter.  On flour, the SS recipe calls for 1.75 cups, while CE calls for 6.5 cups! The amount of sugar is about the same while the amount of eggs is roughly four times larger in the CE recipe.  Can anyone explain what seem to be inconsistencies?  How can two recipes, with widely varying volumes of ingredients both be for the same sized two tart shells? 
Second, in the CE book, comparing the Sweet tart dough recipe to the Chocolate dough recipe, both claim to make enough dough for two nine inch pastry shells yet have widely different volumes and are internally inconsistent.  The sweet tart dough recipe calls for ?4 sticks of butter or 1 pound?.  The CD recipe calls for ?33 tablespoons butter or 8.5 ounces? yet 33 tablespoons is a tad more than one pound.  The other ingredients are in roughly the same volumes.  Can anyone help?  Thanks!

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Posted: 23 June 2009 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Sounds like a big mess to me—I would just use another recipe. The CE recipe sounds like enough for 8 tart shells.

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Posted: 23 June 2009 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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OPTIONSTRADER:
  Good morning & welcome to our baking forum. To answer your question in the last sentence of the 2nd paragraph…I have a standard answer. Not all writers of culinary/baking books, but too many are not learned in the culinary arts. Their main interest is
book sales. They have more knowledge of 401k plans which are down to 201k’s these days than in baking knowledge.  As you further read more culinary books you will see more of the same.
  To do a double crusted 9, inch fruit pie (I assume this is you main interest in you asking for assistance) A prof baker would require 11.75, of oz of pie pastry for each. I am just a amatuer, I start off with 12.25, oz for each I do not like to fight to roll the dough to get the approx 11.75 inch dia required for a 9, inch crust.  Soooo, add up the ingredients & it should add up to approx 24, oz. Now then, if you are interested in doing this baking project
& if you post one of the recipes, I will either increase or decrease the stated amounts to give you a double crust for a 9, inch pie plate.
  By the way my friend, I have been earning my living stock/option trading full time for 29, years now this summer. Using my own capital.
  Baking math is much more simpler than learning & applying the BLACK~SCHOLES option model
Good luck to you my friend & enjoy the rest of the day.

~FRESHKID.

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Posted: 23 June 2009 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Here are my theories:

1. Printing error. Somebody didn’t double check the quantities before the book went to press.

2. Ease of use, which is one of the points Fresh Kid makes in his post. The author who published the bigger quantity of dough might believe it will be easier for a novice to roll out more than is needed and to have some leftover, rather then trying to roll right up to the exact height of the tart pan. It may also be that the author likes a substantially thicker crust.

3. Proprietary recipe. Cookbook authors have a strong incentive to publish recipes that are exclusively their own, and which cannot be found in other cookbooks. One way of doing this is to vary the proportion of ingredients enough to change the recipe and make it original without causing it to fail. I have some cookbooks that I adore, but ingredients are given in weird volume sizes, not by weight. For example a recipe will call for “3/4 cup plus 2 1/2 teaspoons flour” or “1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream.” This drives me bonkers! I end up having to go through and calculate the weight of the ingredients down to the teaspoon, which can get quite exasperating.

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Posted: 23 June 2009 03:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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My theory is that this recipe was originally in a quantity for a commercial kitchen and someone messed up reducing it for home use (reduced it by the wrong factor).  I have found many of these types of books are fraught with problems like this. By the way, I think the weird volume amounts you mention Christine are the result of a recipe being originally in weight, and then being converted to volume for home use—I don’t know why they just don’t supply the weights too—probably editors think no home bakers go by weight.

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Posted: 23 June 2009 05:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Oh my - what a mess is right!  Proceed at your own risk!

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Posted: 23 June 2009 10:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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My theory is that cookbooks published by people who do something other than write cookbooks often suffer in quality. 

Case in point, I tried to make laminated brioche recently, which I thought sounded wonderful. It was from Sherry Yard’s Secrets of Baking, and the quantity was totally off- I rolled out the dough to the specified size, but it was three times as thick as called for, 3/4 of an inch instead of 1/4 inch.  I don’t know why I invested more time and ingredients in a recipe from this book, the only other one I tried was the buttermilk birthday cupcakes, which fall for most, if not all, who make them.  Never again.

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Posted: 24 June 2009 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I have been studying cookbooks and doing some recipe testing here and there, and I can tell you that not all cookbooks are put through a rigorous testing process. Baking is extraordinarily finicky, and any recipe intended for the home cook should be tested (in my humble opinion) not only in a home kitchen, but also by another home cook (preferably three). There are always instructions that can use clarifying, steps that seem obvious to the person writing it but not to the tester/reader, and visual and sound cues to doneness that can be gleaned from a fresh pair of eyes and hands testing a recipe. this process will also catch typos and errors before they go to print, but I imagine some are unavoidable.

I agree with Matthew that most of the problems stem from improperly scaling down commercial kitchen recipes for home use, and writing recipes for volume measurements and not weight measurements. In the Cake Bible, Rose actually pays such careful attention to scale, that she adjusts the quantity of leavening/baking powder for different size pans (look at the wedding cake / Rose factor section in the back). She is the first cookbook author I have seen that does this (though there are probably others). Every measurement in Rose’s books is provided in imperial and metric measurements, by both weight and volume (LOVE). 

Some publishers and editors think that home cooks want only imperial volume measurements (cups) and will be intimidated by volume measurements. This is bunk. At a minimum, I agree with Matthew that weight equivalents should be provided (the people who are freaked out can just look at the volume column LOL ).  However, wonderful cooking teachers and cookbook authors (Julia Child!) are fine publishing recipes with just volume measurements: for example, Martha Stewart’s wedding cake recipes only have volume measurements, and I am sure they measure by weight in her bakery/test kitchen! I know it can be done by volume, but why would you want to make an entire wedding cake like this? At a minimum, I think the volume measuring method should be identified right on the ingredient line in recipes - i.e. spoon and sweep, or dip and sweep.

Ironically, the volume-only recipes probably make it MORE difficult for a novice baker to make the recipes successfully, which in turn probably hurts cookbook publishing. At a booksigning event for some bakers I met recently, they said their editor had pushed them against including weights, and they asked us to email them requests for including weights in their next book to show their editor!

When I find someone who writes reliable recipes, like Rose, Flo Braker, and others,  I am really loyal and don’t venture too far from them. And when I find a recipe that clearly hasn’t been tested and causes me to waste time and ingredients, I tend to veer away from their recipes in the future (Ina Garten, Nigella Lawson*). I need to be more open-minded, though, and am going to buy Shirley Corriher’s BakeWise and Cindy Mushet’s The Art and Soul of Baking.

*I like these cooks, but not for their baking recipes. More for savory foods or other recipes that don’t require the same precision (i.e. Ina’s granola).

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Posted: 06 September 2009 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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StartfromScratch - 24 June 2009 05:51 PM

When I find someone who writes reliable recipes, like Rose, Flo Braker, and others,  I am really loyal and don’t venture too far from them. And when I find a recipe that clearly hasn’t been tested and causes me to waste time and ingredients, I tend to veer away from their recipes in the future (Ina Garten, Nigella Lawson*). I need to be more open-minded, though, and am going to buy Shirley Corriher’s BakeWise and Cindy Mushet’s The Art and Soul of Baking.

I’m new to this forum but I’ve been baking for a few years (although I still consider myself a complete amateur!). But your comments ring so true that I had to add my opinion! In England where I live Nigella Lawson is the self-appointed Domestic Goddess. I have two of her cookery books and always assumed that they were ‘the bibles’. Well maybe but some of her recipes really really DON’T WORK. After yet another disappointment (banana muffins that didn’t rise and that I could have used as tennis balls), I had a look online and found out that her recipes are notoroius for not working (although to her credit, in her website she lists various corrections, an alarmingly high number if you ask me).

So, although her New York Cheesecake recipe does work and has become one of my staples, I am too scared to try any of the others now. This made me come to the conclusion that most recipe books are compiled by scavanging recipes from various places without actually testing them at all. How else would you explain the tennis ball muffins?

So all hail people like Rose, who gives you all the necessary steps, even if the publishers might tell them that they’ll scare off some of the potential readers. My first double-crust cherry pie worked, thanks to her!

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Posted: 06 September 2009 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I was very disappointed in Bakewise.  Shirley has an incorrigible sweet tooth, her own words, and I am the opposite, the less sweet, the better for me. Consequently, all of Shirley’s recipes are written for her tastes, incredibly sweet, overly sweet IMO.  So this book is almost useless for me.  Terrible disappointment, as I am very pleased with her wisdom in Cookwise.  But since Bakewise is geared for icky sweet recipes, I have not made one recipe from it.  Carole Walters is another one I tend to shy away from.  I have made several of her cake recipes, all bombs.  Some of her cookie recipes work for me, not all out the ones that I have tried.  But I will not waste money on another cookbook from her because of all the recipe failures I have had.  I agree, hail to Rose, her recipes have NEVER failed me.

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Posted: 06 September 2009 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Shirley is from Georgia, where they definitely like their sweets to be SWEET.  I haven’t had the chance to make any recipes from her new book yet, but I’m sure I’ll like them. (yes, I too have a sweet tooth)

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Posted: 06 September 2009 09:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I’m with you on the “not-too-sweet” thing.  But at least Shirley comes right out and says it in her books, rather than having you find out only through trial and error.  I have taken to calculating the percentage sugar by weight before I bake, it helps one know what to expect.  And Shirley does provide a wealth of information that you can apply to all your recipes.

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Posted: 08 September 2009 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I wanted to report back that I am 2/3 of the way through BakeWise and have gotten so much out of it already. The book seems like a wonderful baking textbook, but I have not yet made any recipes from it. The ones I am most interested in making are actually not sweet - the Touch of Grace, mile-high biscuits she is famous for, especially since in the book it spurred Chuick Williams to stock White Lily Flour in Williams-Sonoma stores. Plus this is one of those old family recipes that someone honed for years and years (Shirley Corriher) and then was nice enough to pass along. Those are always the best.
I am also interested in some of the recipes that demonstrate different techniques, including the dissolved-sugar method.

The cakes do look quite sweet (especially the coconut cake!), but like you all said, Shirley is quite up-front about her sweet tooth, and I am grateful that she usually notes this in the headnotes.

I am on the path to find a buttercream frosting that will strike a middle ground between confenctioner’s sugar frostings and the mousseline buttercream, which I love (but only the versions with the full amount of puree and liqueur) but many of my clients find too buttery. And I think Shirley’s book will be helpful to me in experimenting.

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Posted: 09 September 2009 09:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I love Bakewise for the science and info. I have only baked one recipe from the book so far, the golden yellow cake (I think that’s what it’s called) using the dissolved sugar method and it was really, really good. The crumb as tender and the cake was moist. It had a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Everyone who tasted it loved it. However, I prefer Rose’s recipes for the perfect balance in sweetness.

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Posted: 01 November 2009 05:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Hi Rachel - I have ordered Bakewise for the know how not for the recipes! Incidentally I see several postings on the web where people are cutting down on the sugar content of these recipes without bad results.

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Posted: 01 November 2009 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I have not yet baked a recipe out of Bakewise. Even if I never do, it is well worth the money! I’m constantly consulting it for advice, ideas and cooking science.

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