People ask me all the time how many cookbooks I own (never count them) and do I actually use them all (I certainly use a lot of them).
Inevitably I’m asked which ones are my favourite and that’s a really tough one to answer as so many are near and dear to me.
I’m happy to say that I can add Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery to that list.
I first heard about Thomas Keller in 2005 when I was planning a trip to California. Like many, I embarked on a (futile) attempt to book reservations at the infamous The French Laundry. While I was unsuccessful, I ended up at Bouchon Bistro, another of Keller’s restaurants.
My family and I had a lovely lunch and were thrilled to find the bakery next door. We were going to visit relatives in the afternoon and decided we’d bring some pastries. I stepped into Bouchon Bakery and was immediately smitten. I don’t remember now if we brought cookies or a combination of cookies and tarts, but it was all delicious.
I haven’t been back to a Bouchon Bakery since (much to my chagrin), but I was so excited when, during the summer, I found out that Keller would be releasing a baking book based on the delicious creations at his bakery.
Plus the book was scheduled to be published on my birthday so if that’s not a sign then I don’t know what is …
My first impression was … this book is heavy.
But that’s a good thing because it’s full of incredible recipes, pictures and instructions.
Many of the bakery favourites (i.e., TKOs) can be found in the book, which means you can stop feeling badly if you haven’t made it to a Bouchon Bakery yet.
While the book is accessible to all, I would say that some baking experience comes in handy.
I was very impressed by the detailed instructions but you will need to have some baking equipment handy, most important being a kitchen scale.
While I am a huge supporter of using a kitchen scale for precision in baking, I sometimes feel that it can be a deterrent for folks who might be a bit intimated to start baking.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, you will need a kitchen scale to maximize what you get out of this book.
But it’s totally worth it.
I tried several recipes, the first one being Bacon Cheddar Scones, which were incredible. They were a bit of work and having to freeze them before baking brought out the impatient child in me. Believe me, though, it was worth it.
Golden, slightly puffy, strong flavour with a fluffy interior, it was very hard not to eat all of these by myself.
As I flipped through the book, I came across a recipe for Banana Muffins and as luck would have it I had some ripe bananas and crème fraîche in the refrigerator (the recipe calls for crème fraîche which contributes to a tender crumb). The recipe did not disappoint.
As I like to say, there’s always room for one more cookbook on my shelf and I can’t imagine a better one to take that spot.
Whether you’re an avid baker, a Keller fan or looking for a beautiful book give you the urge to bake, Bouchon Bakery is worth it.
Bacon Cheddar Scones
Makes 12 Scones
¾ cup + 1 teaspoon (107 grams) All-purpose flour
1 ½ cups + ½ tablespoon (196 grams) Cake flour
1 ½ + 1/8 teaspoons (8.1 grams) Baking powder
3/8 teaspoons (1.6 grams) Baking soda
2 tablespoons + ¾ teaspoon (27 grams) Granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons 3.6 grams) Kosher salt
4.7 ounces (132 grams) Cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon (71 grams) Heavy cream, plus additional for brushing
¼ cup +2 ½ tablespoons (89 grams) Crème fraîche
12 ounces (340 grams) Hobbs applewood-smoked bacon, cooked, drained, and cut into
1/8-inch pieces (77 grams cooked weight)
2 cups (144 grams) Grated white cheddar cheese
½ cup (36 grams) Grated white cheddar cheese
¼ cup (10 grams) Minced chives
Freshly ground black pepper
Scones baked in a convection oven will have a slightly higher rise and more even color.
We wanted a savory scone in our repertoire, and because scones are traditionally eaten at breakfast, adding bacon—with its great flavor and power to enrich—was a natural. We incorporated another flavorful fat in the form of cheddar cheese, as well as chives for their oniony note and vivid color. No surprise that this is our most popular scone.
Leftover scones, traditional or savory, can be frozen, then pulverized and used as a crunchy topping for other foods. For instance, the bacon cheddar scone would be great on Corn Muffins. And don’t think of these only as a breakfast treat: they are terrific for dinner. I could make a meal of a good salad and a couple of these scones.
Place the all-purpose flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sift in the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar and mix on the lowest setting for about 15 seconds to combine. Add the salt and mix to combine. Stop the mixer, add the butter, and, on the lowest setting (to keep the flour from flying out of the bowl), pulse to begin incorporating the butter. Increase the speed to low and mix for about 3 minutes to break up the butter and incorporate it into the dry mixture. If any large pieces of butter remain, stop the mixer, break them up by hand, and mix until just incorporated.
With the mixer running, slowly pour in the cream. Add the crème fraîche and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, until all of the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough comes together around the paddle. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and paddle and pulse again to combine. Add the bacon, the 144 grams/2 cups cheese, and the chives and pulse to incorporate.
Mound the dough on the work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together. Place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using your hands, press it into a 7-by-9-inch block, smoothing the top. Press the sides of your hands against the sides of the dough to straighten them. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours, until firm. (See Note to Professionals, page 45.)
Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper. Cut the block of dough lengthwise in half and then cut each half crosswise into 6 rectangles (70 grams each). Arrange them on the prepared sheet pan, leaving space between them. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until frozen solid, at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. (The scones can remain in the freezer for up to 1 month.)
Preheat the oven to 325°F (convection) or 350°F (standard). Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper.
Arrange the frozen scones 1 inch apart on the sheet pan. Brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with the remaining 36 grams/H cup cheese and black pepper. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes in a convection oven, 33 to 36 minutes in a standard oven, until golden brown. Set the sheet on a cooling rack and cool completely.
The scones are best the day they are baked, but they can be stored in a covered container for 1 day.
Excerpted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Artisan Books) with permission from the publisher. Copyright 2012. Photographs by Deborah Jones.