“Baking Illustrated” by Cook’s Illustrated (2004)

I’ve made a few recipes out of this book and have yet to be impressed.  A while back, I tried to make a birthday cake for a co-worker and failed miserably.  It was the recipe for “Genoise” (a tender and light cake if done properly).  The recipe’s method of using the stand mixer to incorporate flour into the batter is a little rough on such a delicate cake.  I’ve made a genoise with a different recipe before; that method involved gently folding the batter with a spatula.  I figured that Cook’s Illustrated puts their recipes through numerous tests so I thought that maybe their method would work.  The cake turned out extremely hard and inedible, so I tried again.  The second cake also went into the trash.    The “Almond Buttercream” that accompanied this genoise cake was a little too greasy for my taste, but I ended up using it anyway.  It was late at night and I promised to bring in a cake, so I used a box of brownie mix to make a layer cake and filled/frosted it with the buttercream.  Which leads me to my discussion about brownies…

I love brownies but have not been able to make a good batch from scratch.  I can make a very moist from-scratch chocolate cake and really good red velvet cupcakes, but I cannot make brownies!  I’ve grown accustomed to eating the kind that comes from a boxed mix.  One of my friends makes great homemade brownies — without measuring!  I welcome you to share any delicious homemade brownie recipes that you may have.

I decided to try this recipe for “Chewy, Fudgy Triple-Chocolate Brownies”.  I think I overbaked by just a few minutes, but even so, I’m not in love with the flavor enough to try this recipe again.  I don’t know how much of a difference it would make if I did make this recipe again and was more careful.  The fact that none of the recipes I’ve made in this book have been good means that I’m probably doing something wrong every time — since I can’t replicate their results (which are described in great scientific detail in this book).  This also probably means that the recipes do not easily result in good product.  I’m not alone in thinking this.  I went to a book signing event for Cook’s Illustrated and several other cooks secretly felt that several of their recipes are flawed.  However, I absolutely the “America’s Test Kitchen’s Family Cookbook”.  The recipes in that book almost always turn out well for me.  I’ll write about that one next. 

That said, I’m still willing to try a few more out of this book before I cast it off.  Do you think their recipe for “Foolproof Sponge Cake” is really foolproof?  I shall have to try it and see.

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Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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