I’m a cook, not a baker. There are few professional chefs who are both. Cory Barrett, formerly of Cleveland’s Lola, was its pastry chef and then its chef de cuisine, very rare. Michel Richard is an anomaly in being both a world-class pastry chef and a dazzlingly ingenious savory cook, as his book Happy in the Kitchen shows (I highly recommend this book, by the way, and his restaurants). That savory cooks and pastry cooks are different creatures is also why writing the new best-selling Thomas Keller book, the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook—stunning in its recipes, photography, and design—was both so hard and so exciting for me, as I tried to understand the whys behind the craft of baking and pastries and write about them through executive chef Sebastien Rouxel. But it’s holiday-time, Christmastime, the season of baking! Read On »