The new book, Craving Cookies, by local pastry pro, Helen S. Fletcher might well be called, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Cookie Baking, but Didn’t Know Who to Ask.”
The author has the creds to tell us what to do for perfect cookies. She recently answered a few question for me.
The Culinary Odyssey of a Pro
How did you get interested in cookie baking?
I grew up in St. Louis in a home of European immigrants, who valued food and it’s preparation. Both my mother and grandmother were terrific cooks, but as a child, I had no interest in cooking. That all changed when I married and asked my mother and grandmother to teach me. T
Have you written other cookbooks?
I’ve written three: The New Pasty Cook, that focuses on replacing classics techniques with modern methods. And European Tarts, featuring the tarts I prepared as a profession baker. My most recent, Craving Cookies, The Quintessential America Cook Book includes new cookies, as well as classics.
Along the way, I’ve contributed to a number of other cookbooks and was a pastry consultant to Cuisinart.
Early in my career, I wrote for the The Post Dispatch, Pleasures of Cooking, and Bon Appetit. My blog can be found at www.pastrieslikeapro.com.
Where have you baked in St. Louis?
I owned and operated Truffles Bakery in University City for 25 years, serving hotels, restaurants and caterers in the area. I did a segment Great Day St. Louis for about 6 years and taught baking and pastry at St. Louis Community College.
Where are you baking now?
I am currently the Pastry Chef for Tony’s Restaurant in Clayton.
Where can your cookies be purchased?
I only bake for Tony’s. I no longer have my own bakery.
What is the most important advice you’d give the home cookie baker?
Buy a scale and use it for consistency. This is what the professionals do. All my recipes are written with volume, grams, and ounces. Patience is essential, especially for the beginning baker. (It took me 30 attempts to perfect my technique for croissants, puff pastry and cronuts.) Always follow the directions the first time you try a recipe.
A Gift That Keeps on Giving
The 188-page book is available in softcover and eBook at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Google. The 200, or so, photos bring the 80 recipes to life.
But it’s Helen’s easy, folksy explanations that add a personal touch and sometimes a smile. You have the feeling she’s in the kitchen with you, standing over your shoulder like a Cookie Cherub.
Put this one on your kitchen bookshelf and on your Christmas gift list.