8 Tested, 8 Winners
Reviewed in the United States on 4 June 2013
Chang's first cookbook, Flour, is one of my favorite baking cookbooks. But I decided to be cautious before pre-ordering Flour, Too. So I made the recipes that were available on Amazon "search inside this book." These were the available recipes: Classic Apple Turnover, Cinnamon-Creme Brioche, Vegan Vanilla-Mixed Berry Muffins, Brown Sugar-Oat Cherry Muffins, Twice-Baked Brioche, Fabulous French Toast, Decadent Sunday Waffles, CJS Spiced Banana Pancakes, Steel-Cut Oats, and Denise's Dutch Baby. Made all the recipes except for the Vegan Muffins and Twice-Baked Brioche. Here were the results.
1. The waffles are decadent and have become the favorite in my household, beating out N. Silverton's sourdough waffles, D. Greenspan's waffles, and the old but reliable I. Rombauer waffles.
2. Denise's Dutch Baby is excellent. It is more sophisticated than A. Thomas's German Apple pancake. Would make a good dessert.
3. The French Toast is fabulous but you must remember to start the night before.
4. The cherry muffins turned out wonderful, even with substituting the all-purpose flour for the whole wheat flour. I would make them again, but substitute chopped dates for the cherries next time, just for something different.
5. The banana pancakes are fine but prefer plain pancakes using M. Cunningham's recipe in The Breakfast Book (and also repeated in P. Reinhardt's Crust and Crumb.)
6. Steel-cut oats are delicious. I have made plain steel-cut oats for years. But based on inspiration from her recipe, I incorporate cinnamon and nutmeg to the milk, water, brown sugar, and salt and bring to boil before adding the oats and cook for about 15-20 minutes. The spices add a warmth to the cereal. And whenever I have pears, usually Dánjou, I cook them as stated in the recipe. They are a delicious addition.
7. The apple turnovers are superb. Just a note, I did not use J. Chang's puff pastry recipes because I already had some puff pastry from an N. Silverton recipe. Either way, definitely try. (N. Silverton's apple turnovers are, also, excellent. Better yet try the Lemon Turnovers in her book Pastries From the La Brea Bakery but use J. Chang's Lemon Curd. Delicious.)
8. The Cinnamon-Creme Brioche was sublime. Heavenly may be the way to describe these treats. J. Chang's brioche recipe is my favorite and most reliable brioche. All her recipes using her brioche dough are wonderful, and I even use it when other cookbooks call for brioche, e.g. C. Hitz's Lemon Brioche Doughnuts (a must try, along with his Gibassier).
My one complaint about the cookbook would be that liquid measurements were given only by volume, both U.S. and metric, and not by weight. For those of us who cook by weight, we must do the conversions.
When reviewing the Vegan Vanilla-Mixed Berry Muffins recipe, I noticed either the volume or weight for the flour seems to be incorrect, or at least not consistent with the flour conversions in the other recipes. The cookbook Flour did not have this problem. Hopefully, this is the only recipe in Flour, Too with this discrepancy. (10 June 2013 NOTE: This discrepancy has been corrected for both the book and search inside. Must have caught it before the printing. Good editing!)
I would have liked to try some savory recipes but unfortunately none was available.
And again, whatever you do, make the Cinnamon-Creme Brioche.
PS: Disclaimer: I have never been to any of J. Changs bakeries or restaurant.
6 June 2013
Received cookbook today. Had a chance to look it over but not to cook from it.
Layout is basically the same as her first cookbook, flour, with one important exception: the ingredient list is easier to read because the typeface is bold, not normal weight. I still wish for black ink instead of gray ink. Quality printing. Well bound, sewn binding. Professional photos. Just like Flour, the directions are clear and concise and the stories are a nice short read. Well written and thought out.
Reviewed the brioche, pastry cream, and lemon curd recipes, listed in the Basics chapter. Exactly or nearly the same as before, which is good, because they are excellent recipes.
Kosher salt is used in both cookbooks. In her first cookbook, she notes under the ingredients chapter that "You can use table salt if you don't have kosher salt, but only use about half the amount called for." I did not see this very important note in flour, too.
10 June 2013
Tried two savory dishes with two positive outcomes.
The first savory dish was Christopher's Oven-Baked Potato And Red Pepper Tortilla, aka frittata. Having crisp potatoes cooked with smoked paprika is a nice variation. Would recommend serving it with a green sauce such as the one that accompanies the Summer Squash Frittata in D. Madison's The Greens Cook Book. The Tortilla would be an excellent meal for guests, because it can be made ahead of time and is just as good cold as hot.
The second savory dish was Vegan Carrot And Ginger soup. I like carrots but have not found a good carrot soup. Until today. The soup is hearty and delicious. Roasting carrots did make the them sweeter. Thanks J. Chang. And thanks for the tip on freezing ginger.
And of course, tried one sweet recipe. Decided to make the Maple-Apple Upside-Down Buttermilk Cake because it was straightforward and could be eaten about 1 hour after it was baked. Another winner. J. Chang recommends to eat this cake warm. Actually, we thought it was even better the next day.
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