With her years of experience from big-pot cooking for 140 teenage boys and her classic French culinary training to her work as a research biochemist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Shirley Corriher manages to put two and two together in unique and exciting ways. Some information is straight out of Corriher's wildly connecting brain cells. She describes useful techniques, such as brushing puff pastry with ice water—not just brushing off the flour—making the puff pastry easier to roll. The result? Higher, lighter and flakier pastry. And you won't find these recipes anywhere else, not even on the Internet. She can help you make moist cakes; flaky pie crusts; shrink-proof perfect meringues that won't leak but still cut like a dream; big, crisp cream puffs; amazing French pastries; light génoise; and crusty, incredibly flavorful, open-textured French breads, such as baguettes and fougasses.
There is simply no one like Corriher. People everywhere recognize her from her TV appearances on the Food Network and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, with Snoop Dogg as her fry chef.
Restaurant chefs and culinary students know her from their grease-splattered copies of CookWise, an encyclopedic work that has saved them from many a cooking disaster. With numerous “At-a-Glance” charts, BakeWise gives busy people information for quick problem solving. BakeWise also includes Corriher's “What This Recipe Shows” in every recipe. This section is science and culinary information that can apply to hundreds of recipes, not just the one in which it appears.
For years, food editors and writers have kept CookWise, Corriher's previous book, right by their computers. Now that spot they've been holding for BakeWise can be filled.
BakeWise does not have just a single source of knowledge; Corriher loves reading the works of chefs and other good cooks and shares their information with you, too. She applies not only her expertise but that of the many artisans she admires, such as famous French pastry chefs Gaston Lenôtre and Chef Roland Mesnier, the White House executive pastry chef for 25 years; Bruce Healy, author of Mastering the Art of French Pastry; and Bonnie Wagner, Corriher 's daughter-in-law's mother. Corriher also retrieves “lost arts” from experts of the past such as Monroe Boston Strause, the pie master of 1930s America. For one dish, she may give you techniques from three or four different chefs plus her own touch of science—“better baking through chemistry.” She adds facts about the right temperature, the right mixing speed, and the right mixing time for the absolutely most stable egg foam, so you can create a light-as-air génoise every time.
BakeWise is for everyone. Some will read it for the adventure of problem solving with Corriher. Beginners can cook from it and know exactly what they are doing and why. Experienced bakers find out why the techniques they use work and also uncover amazing French pastries out of the past, such as Pont Neuf (a creation of puff pastry, pâte à choux, and pastry cream in honor of the Paris bridge) and Religieuses, adorable “little nuns” made of puff pastry filled with a satiny chocolate pastry cream and drizzled with mocha icing to form a nun's habit.
Some will want it simply for the recipes—incredibly moist whipped cream pound cake made with heavy cream whipped slightly beyond the soft-peak stage and folded into the batter; flourless fruit soufflés (puréed fruit and Italian meringue); Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, rolled first in granulated sugar and then in confectioners' sugar for a crunchy black-and-snow-white surface with a gooey, fudgy center. And Corriher's popovers are huge.