For as long as I can remember, I’ve always read cookbooks. And when I say read, I mean cover to cover as if it were a normal fiction book. I’ve even been known to whip out a cookbook on an airplane to pass the time (you should try it – cookbooks are awesome plane reads). I never thought this was a weird habit, but I’ve come across a few people in my life who thought it was a little strange. In fact, my high-school college counselor thought this was such a “unique” trait that she made me write my college essay about how I read cookbooks for pleasure. Honestly, I thought it was a super random topic and it wasn’t exactly the most thrilling essay, but I wasn’t going to argue.
I’ve always believed that anytime you are trying to do something, you should read up and research it as much as possible. When I started running half-marathons, I read everything I could about the subject from training plans to nutrition guides. I did the same thing when I started attempting to cook actual non-dessert food (cooking and baking are seriously two separate parts of the brain). Maybe it’s the History Major in me, but I love doing research. My favorite part of writing my dissertation was going to the National Archives and digging through all the documents…..I really am kind of a nerd, aren’t I? I guess this is why I’ve always loved reading cookbooks. It’s one of the best ways to perfect your baking. They provide practical tips, new recipes to try out, and, if you’re lucky, they’ll provide inspiration for your own baking creations.
The past couple weeks, I’ve been poring over my cookbooks researching recipes and looking for inspiration. It’s been a lot of fun revisiting some of my favorite books and it’s always exciting to see what other pastry chefs are doing. I tend to gravitate towards chefs who do modern twists on classic American desserts. Hedy Goldsmith of Michael’s Genuine, Christina Tosi of Milk Bar and Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito of Baked are some of the best at this. Their books have sparked a lot of great ideas for me, which has been awesome as I’m developing my menu and testing recipes. I’m really excited about this phase in my business – mostly because it combines two of my favorite things, baking and research.
The next couple months are going to be crunch time for me as I test recipes and nail down my final menu. I’ll keep all of you updated on my progress and, as always, will want to get your feedback on some of my crazier ideas. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite cookbooks that will hopefully inspire you to bake some amazing desserts. I also have to mention that Public Libraries are great sources to check out new cookbooks. It gives you an opportunity to test out a book and make sure you really like it before committing to purchase it. I do this a lot and I’m not going to lie, nine times out of ten I usually end up purchasing the book (did I mention I might have a cookbook obsession???). Here are a few of my favorites and hopefully you’ll geek out on them as much as I do.