Many bakers boast degrees from The Culinary Institute of America, the French Culinary Institute, and other storied programs—but I'm willing to wager that Joanne Chang of Boston's Flour Bakery might be the only one with degrees in applied mathematics and economics from Harvard. Her path from post-college management consulting to restaurant kitchens and bakeries was one that took the sort of motivation and drive that you'd expect from a Harvard grad. For Chang it was a matter of seeking out Boston's most talented chefs and persuading them to give her a chance to start at the bottom, honing her rough passion for cooking and baking. And for Chang, persistence paid off; she opened the first location of her first of three bakeries in 2000, and is the currently the co-owner and chef of Southeast Asian and Taiwanese street food spot Myers+Chang.
Chang's thorough, can-do attitude shines through in her cookbook, Flour. She's taken the simplistic beauty of her bakery and translated it into book form, presenting her recipes for classic and nostalgic sweets for home bakers. Muffins, pound cakes, and cookies share the pages with childhood favorites like homemade Oreos (fauxreos?), Pop-Tarts, and fluffy yellow birthday cakes. But before you have a chance to delve into the recipes, Chang's comprehensive introductions to technique, equipment, and ingredients, plus can't-live-without tips and pointers, will make sure that you're on the right track even before you break out the flour and measuring cups.
For the next two weeks we'll be sharing Chang's favorite recipes from Flour, including a Croissant recipe that could only come from a Harvard grad, a Yellow Birthday Cake with Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Frosting that will clinch your invite to many birthday parties to come, and a Milky Way Tart filled with gooey caramel and milk chocolate.
Thanks to the generous folks over at Chronicle Books, we are giving away five (5) copies of Sugar Baby over the next two weeks.
All you have to do is tell us about the most helpful baking tip you've ever received in the comments section below.