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I doubt not that this chef is great. Unfortunately, I returned this book because, upon receiving it, I realized that it does not have enough illustrations for my taste. You will find one photo every dozen or more recipes. And even when a photo of a dish is provided, it is indeed aesthetically beautiful but not offered in order to give the reader/cook an idea of what to expect or how to get there. I don't need a step-by-step representation, but being a very visual person, I really need my cookbooks (and I own many) to be full of images and illustrations.
There would be a lot to love about this cookbook if the recipes had been tested but pay attention to the number of people who talk about the cooking times being off. I just made my first recipe from the book and the instructions were incomplete and the baking time was listed as 45 minutes and at 20 minutes it was slightly more browned than I would have preferred. I'm pitching the book because I don't want to waste my time with a cookbook that can't be trusted. It's incredibly frustrating that she has profited off of a useless book.
For all the fame and glory dispensed on Chang, I expected a lot from her cookbook but it is an understatement to say I was underwhelmed. As others have noted--BAKER BEWARE--the formulas and baking times are completely wrong. I made the Currant Scones...but the baking time was way, way, way off. The recipe said to bake for 50-55 mins. I baked for 40 mins. and still overcooked the scones. I repeated and baked the scones about 20 mins shorter time than the recipe said and that seemed about right. Unfortunately, for all that the scones were not that good--tasted to me more like dense glorified muffins than scones. Then I made the orange-cranberry variation. BIG MISTAKE!...I am an ok baker and have done a lot of baking...so when the variation said to replace the 1/2 c dried currants with 2 c fresh cranberries chopped, I did raise my eyebrows...but heck, if I knew how to make the recipe I wouldn't need her cookbook! So I did it the way she said and more bad news---it turned into a thin batter. I tried thickening with more flour and baked but they were awful--had to throw them away. I also tried her pie crust but again it was just ok...the one at Cook's Illustrated was much, much better.
I don't know how anyone can write a cookbook and let it be published without ever testing the recipes. The baking times in this cookbook are so far off that I'm afraid to try more than the handful of recipes I have tried. I emailed the author ( who gives an email contact address in the book) to ask if there were any corrections on the baking times. I never got a response. What I have made has come out good but that is only because I am an experienced baker and I knew enough to take things out of the oven long before ( and I'm talking as much as 40 min. before) the recommended times. I tested my oven temperature to be sure it was correct and it is. I wish that Joanne Chang would retest these recipes and publish a correction for the baking times, then I think this would be an excellent cookbook. I give it 1 star because I think it is truly awful that she has not done this yet, despite the consistency of the complaints in these reviews regarding the incorrect baking times. I think it is so unfair to any baker who doesn't have a lot of experience and who has spent the money to buy this book and put in the time and effort to prepare one of it's recipes only to have it come out totally overdone and possibly burnt.
honestly this is one of the worst cookbooks I've ever used. I first heard of her from the food network throwdown with bobby flay, and quickly logged online to snatch up the famous sticky bun recipe...well it was a disaster...so i purchased the book thinking there would be better instructions, or perhaps tips on completing them successfully..but i was wrong..and to make matters worse, i used two more recipes at Thanksgiving, for her Pumpkin and Pecan Pies...they were the most terrible I'd ever tasted...I felt so horrible having to serve them to guests..My suggestion...if you want great baking recipes that will never fail you, buy the Rebecca Rather books..every recipe i have tried from Ms.Rather's books has been delightful, I have all three of her books and I really can't say how much i depend on them.