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Renowned chef Joanne Chang shares her passion for baking with the world in her latest book, "Pastry Love: A Baker's Journal of Favorite Recipes." As she explains, the concept of "pastry love" is a philosophy at her bakery, Flour Bakery + Cafe.
On Chang's love for pastries:
"Gosh, I could talk all day about why I love pastries so much. For me, honestly, it started out when I was little. I had my first bite of something sweet and just the amount the joy - it's just sheer joy that I got from it. It automatically makes me smile ... it smells great. When I walk into the bakeries, that pastry love, that whole sensation of walking in and just being overwhelmed by the beauty and the smell ... I can't wait to dig in. It just brings a lot of joy.
"And for me, being able to focus and just kind of look at something delicious and taste it and enjoy it really gives you a sense of what's really important in life, you know?"
On Pastry Love as a strategy:
"Well when we had one bakery, I literally stood over the counter for 12 hours a day and looked at everything to make sure that it was as perfect as could be, and then as soon as we opened a second location I could no longer be in two places at once. So I would call over to the other location and say 'Have you given the pastries some love? Have you made everything look wonderful? Is everything baked perfectly?'
"...We shortened it into doing 'P-Love' - 'Have you done Pastry Love? Is P-Love done?' It's grown into a philosophy that all of the bakers and all of the entire Flour team is aware of."
On tweaks made to perfect pastries:
"You know, a lot of it is just how we arrange them on the counter, and when you're baking, a lot of it is stopping and looking at every single pastry individually. I think it can be easy to look at the whole swath of pastries and think 'Oh, OK, everything looks great,' but you really need to stop and look individually at every single pastry because every pastry is going to be enjoyed individually.
"The whole tray of cookies might look good, but if there's one burnt cookie - if you get that cookie - you're going to be really bummed out."
On how specific pastries made it into her book:
"...Honestly, pastries [are] always evolving. So there are recipes that started off, and they might be one book, and over the years I've tweaked them and improved them. A lot recipes come from my travels. A lot of recipes came from my team. I have pastry chefs and bakers who contributed recipes and it was really fun for me to be able to share all those recipes in this book... I want it to be kind of dog-eared and tattered on your kitchen counter in the same way my own journal is. It's something that I use all the time and I want other people to be able to use this book in that same way."
On how to make pastry baking accessible:
"If it's something you want to approach and you don't have a lot of experience, then just find the pages that speak to you. It's not meant to be something that you have to do, that you have to study and approach beginning to end. You can take the easier recipes, which are at the beginning of each chapter, and approach them that way. And the master techniques and the equipment sections - again, you don't have to buy all of that equipment. Not all of those techniques will be necessary if you're a beginning baker. But just skimming through all of that and finding the stuff that appeals to you - that's how I want you to approach this book to make this book yours."
On the importance of science and chemistry in baking:
"If you look at the basic ingredients, or building blocks, of baking, it's really a handful of ingredients. It's flour, sugar, butter, eggs, chocolate... but then it's taking all of these ingredients and putting them together in different proportions, different techniques, and then you can come up with all of these desserts that we're about to try - they all have the same basic ingredients but we've made four or five different desserts.
"So the chemistry is super important so that you can get different textures, different flavors, and honestly, it's the fun part. It's that you can open up your cabinet and you can find these five or six ingredients and then create of these different desserts."
This segment aired on January 3, 2020.
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