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Joanne Chang on the Challenges of Recipe Testing

Photo: Flour Central Square/Cal Bingham

While overseeing her Flour empire (now four bakeries strong) and South End hotspot Myers + Chang, Joanne Chang has somehow found time to publish a second cookbook, Flour, Too. (Her first, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery+Cafe, came out in 2010.) Today, she shares with Eater a tidbit of what it's like to write and test recipes for a cookbook — when your chefs don't usually work from recipes.

Testing the recipes for Flour, Too was thankfully not full of disasters since pretty much every recipe is something that we've made over and over at Flour over the last 13 years. However one of the biggest challenges I had this time around was trying to get my chefs, none of whom really cook with recipes, to slow down enough while cooking so that I could write down and take measurement of what they were doing.

I remember specifically working with Chef Jeff on his turkey burgers. I love these burgers. When he makes them at Flour, I make sure I'm there around lunch time so I can have one, so I knew I wanted these in the book. I made plans with him to be in the kitchen when he made them next. I showed up with my pad and pencil and measuring cups and scale and timer. I was ready. And then...all of a sudden, he was done. Wait a minute! I need to jot down every last morsel of what you're adding before you even think about adding it, Chef!!

That's not how chefs work, I quickly found out. So a big challenge with this book was getting the chefs to SLOOOOOOOOWWWW DOOOOOOWWWWWN while I took notes so that all of these Flour favorites could be reproduced at home. Let's just say that for almost every savory recipe, we had to make and remake it probably 4-5 times just so I could get the right amount of cumin, salt, onion, whatever written down to create a recipe that worked.

So far it seems all of that testing worked out — I've gotten many wonderful emails from readers who have replicated the Roasted Lamb Sandwich or the Famous Egg Sandwich or the Spanish Gazpacho with great success. All of that chasing was worth it.

· All coverage of Joanne Chang on Eater [~EBOS~]
· All coverage of Flour Bakery + Cafe on Eater [~EBOS~]

Flour Bakery + Cafe (Fort Point)

12 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 617 338 4333 Visit Website

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