A little bit of Chocolate Chip Cookie adventure happened on my Instagram feed a little while ago, when a baker I follow compared the bakers’ percentages of ingredients between the OG Toll House, Jacques Torres’ (the best*), and their own version of it. The post, from what I remember, actually had a bit more to it than just the comparisons of bakers’ percentages and included a lament following the publicization of a new “perfect” chocolate chip cookie recipe that didn’t pay homage to the history of chocolate chip cookies and those that came before this new recipe, but I’m not here today to dwell on the erasure of chefs and innovators in kitchens**. We’re here to talk about how to get to the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie for you (or for whomever you’re throwing them to – from a distance, of course, so throw them you must – this upcoming Valentine’s Day).
As a result of the tiny bit of digging I did to write this article, it came to my notice that some of you might remember a time when chocolate chip cookies… did not exist. You might even remember when they came into existence. Isn’t that incredible?
Here’s Ruth Wakefield, the inventor (!!) of the chocolate chip cookie. Could you imagine? Being the person who invented the chocolate chip cookie. And then also somehow falling into obscurity over the years (because did you know who Wakefield was before this moment?) even though you invented the chocolate chip cookie, which, need I remind you, has not fallen into obscurity whatsoever.
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Whether you’re more into New York style bagels or Montreal bagels, apparently Bagel Day was yesterday (Jan 15), and though we’re a little late onto this train, you can learn about the history of the humble bagel in The Bagel by Maria Balinska – yes, an entire book dedicated to it – along with a variety of recipes you can use to try your hand at making your own, so you can put whatever toppings and seasonings you like!
For a variety of different ways to make challahs, babkas, bagels, and more, check out Modern Jewish Baker by Shannon Sarna. The bagels in this one are New York-style bagels, and they come in a variety of incarnations, from plain bagels and whole wheat ones to jalapeno cheddar bagels and sweeter varieties like blueberry (classic) and cinnamon raisin, you’ll have enough bagels for all your sandwich desires! What I really like about this book is that it also contains lots of step-by-step shaping photo instructions, guiding you through how to shape your bagel dough, yes, but also the different ways you can braid your challah (in addition to the many-numbered strands, there’s also stuffed challah. Stuffed with delicious filling challah) and a clear demonstration of how to shape a babka.
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I might be a little bit late to this bandwagon, but I finally caught up and jumped right on! My absence from this said wagon was not for lack of trying, let me tell you: I’ve got two dead sourdough starters under my belt*, and so for the sake of all future sourdough cultures to be, I figured I should stop there and call it a day. This was two years ago, in the September of 2017, that this all took place, and I am proud to say that as of this year, 2019, I HAVE BECOME A SOURDOUGH MOTHER**.
I have to give credit where credit’s due, because it was upon picking up The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook by Jim Lahey & Maya Joseph that my desire to try embarking upon the journey that is sourdough baking was reignited. And, joy of joys, the recipe included within these pages yielded me my healthy, bubbling sourdough starter son, Leviathan (hereafter referred to as Levi; sometimes spelled Levy), who dutifully lifts up my heart along with my sourdough bread. If you’d like to learn a bit more about the culture of sourdough, read on below the cut!
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