Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shirley Corriher is a Purple Crayon


Monday night, I managed to get out of my house, dodge the dishwashing and kid-washing, and go to an actual book signing event and talk with actual adults. The Margaret Mitchell House and Literary Center featured "Good Eats" host Alton Brown and cookbook author Shirley Corriher discussing her new title "Bakewise."

"Bakewise" is the long-awaited follow-up to "Cookwise: the Secrets of Cooking Revealed," which was published more than 10 years ago. I guess you could say that "Bakewise" has been in the oven for a long time. I guess low and slow does the trick.

Corriher's premise, much like Harold McGee's, is that once you know the science behind baking and cooking, your creativity can take over and your cooking life will be all that much more exciting. Sort of like Harold, the imaginative crayon-carrying boy in Crockett Johnson's "Harold and the Purple Crayon." Of course, you know this book, "One night, Harold decided to walk in the moonlight..." There wasn't a moon, so Harold brought along his purple crayon and drew the moon. Harold and his purple crayon are an expression of the power of creativity. If your world doesn't feature a moon, use a crayon and put it in there. The same goes for cooking: if you want to make the best pound cake, use the best tools, ingredients and techniques. And take along "Bakewise," your purple crayon, the scientific knowledge you need to be creative.

The book signing event was a giddy night for Atlanta baking and Food Network geeks. The audience chuckled over Corriher's animated explanations of proteins and acids. Alton Brown, whose show frequently features Corriher as a food science expert, kept the night light with questions both technical ("diastatic or non-diastatic malt syrup?") and relevant (his daughter's pursuit of a spherical chocolate chip cookie).

And for those FoodTv fans who just haaaave to know: Corriher is as giggly and animated as you would expect; Alton carries a manbag, dresses like a law student from "The Paper Chase" and is engaging and witty with both children and adults.

Now that I'm home with my copy of "Bakewise," I'm determined to figure out how to make a ginger cookie that is truly tender and chewy while still as flavorful as my favorite (see below). I'm even considering trying Shirley's "Even Greater American Pound Cake," although I'm very attached to my classic pound cake, for ease of preparation as well as superior texture and taste. I think some serious scientific experimentation is in order.

1 comment:

Me! said...

I just got the book a couple weeks ago and I'm so excited! So far I've made the EZ Peanut Butter Cookies, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and Touch of Grace Cookies and they all came out wonderful! I am looking at it now to decide what is next!