Bouchon Bakery recently joined the collection of Thomas Keller cookbooks on my sideboard as one of my birthday presents to myself! Although I've only cooked a handful of recipes from French Laundry and Bouchon, I have cooked often from Ad Hoc at Home, and I sense I will also reach for Bouchon Bakery on a regular basis. I can easily spend an evening curled up on the couch just reading these books and admiring the photography.
|New to the cookbook collection|
I need to become a better baker. I tend to blame most of my failures on the cheap ovens that have been in my rental kitchens over the past few years, but I know my baking knowledge and skills aren't state of the art either.
The first recipe I tried from Bouchon Bakery provided both therapy and a refresher course in baking techniques. Therapy in the sense that I love to get lost in a recipe like this which requires full attention to detail - quality ingredients, exact weights in grams, and required methods for achieving successful results.
|Quality ingredients measured precisely in grams|
There is a chapter on the importance of weighing, advising to throw out measuring cups and spoons before using the book. I do prefer weighing to measuring, but first straining whisked eggs before weighing them, as opposed to using "2 large eggs" was new to me. It's definitely a good way to capture any tiny bits of shell that may get lost, but it also removes the chalazae (white spiral bands attaching the yolk to the membrane).
The rest of the methodology is pretty basic - sifting and whisking the dry ingredients; creaming the butter and sugar; chilling the dough; rotating the baking sheets half way through...but there are precise methods and timing for some of these steps as well.
|Flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt whisked together|
|Light brown and granulated sugars whisked together|
The unsalted butter needs to be room temperature and then creamed until it is the "consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak" when the paddle is lifted. Sugars are added and mixed until fluffy. Next the eggs and vanilla paste. And the rest of the dry ingredients, in two additions, mixed until just combined. Finally, oats and raisins are briefly "pulsed" in to incorporate (the recipe calls for a combination of dark and golden raisins, but I used about 3/4 golden raisins and 1/4 currants because that's what I happened to have in the pantry). The dough is refrigerated, scooped out with a 2 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, divided into 6 equal portions at 145 grams each, rolled into balls, and placed on the baking sheets (but only three to a baking sheet). The dough is allowed to come to room temperature before baking. I baked one sheet pan at a time because I don't have a confection oven.
These are BIG cookies - too big in my opinion. If you take just one, you'll end up with a stomach ache because you won't be able to eat just half and put the other half away. It's best to follow the note at the bottom of the recipe and make smaller cookies by dividing the dough into 12 portions at 72 grams each. I made three large and 6 smaller cookies.
|A tad crunchy on the outside and chewy within|
These oatmeal raisin cookies have more cinnamon and salt than most, but that's what I really enjoyed about them. If you choose to make the four-inch size, you can eat just one...but you'll be sorry. Trust me, go with the smaller cookies. You can find the recipe here, but buy the book because there is so much in it to make you a better baker.