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Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Everyday Craft of Cooking

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
While I was at Barnes and Noble the other day I cam across this book; Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Everyday Craft of Cooking. I am a math teacher so I have always thought of cooking in terms of ratios but according to this book most recipes are variations of simple ratios.

I wanted to see if anyone else has read this book and has any thoughts to share or if anyone has any thoughts on this theory. I would be very interested to hear what you think. :rolleyes:
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
-Maya Angelou
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I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
-Maya Angelou
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post #2 of 15
I'm actually reading it now. After 30 years in the kitchen, I have become rather obsessed with the idea of cooking without a recipe. With the help of Ratio, I think I can actually get to baking without a recipe. I'm on vacation next week so I'm definately going to work my way through all the doughs. I'll let you know how it turns out.
post #3 of 15
Any book by Michael Ruhlman is an excellent read and have all been worth MORE than the money you spend!!! Don't hesitate buying this book.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
I haven't been cooking that long and I rely a lot on recipes. I would like to get to a point where I can trust my instinct. It seems like this book would help with that. They say that cooking is a science. I appreciate the feedback.:)
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
-Maya Angelou
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I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
-Maya Angelou
Reply
post #5 of 15
I'm buying the Ratio book for no.2 son. I'll be browsing too.

Ruhlman's innovative methods really strike a chord with me. In the same way that i was inspired by Raymon Blanc. ( French michelin star chef )
His original, Self taught ,scientific approach to, Why does this happen when i do that. And What makes this rise, helped me many years ago to realise that - x must happen to enable a cake to rise etc.

I'm not au fait with Ruhlmans methods yet, but feel that we in the UK may have an advantage, in that we are far more used to using weighing scales, rather than the US method of cups.

Looking forward to being enlightened
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #6 of 15
I've just googled Ruhlman. So impressed that i've ordered 4 used copies on Amazon for myself and a couple of freinds
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #7 of 15
Great book, for veterans and neophytes alike.

I saw it coming (prepub) and marked it to hold at my local public library--which got it in and on the shelf before the CIA's Conrad N. Hilton library could say "Fibonacci sequence." As a CIA grad, I often tell people we (chefs) don't generally use recipes, but are guided by ratios. I had been thinking about some kind of book dealing with this for some time. Thanks Michael!

Still, they are just guides. Temperature (abient), relative humidity, and quality of ingredients cannot be overlooked.

Otherwise, killer book......highly recommended!!!

1.6180555555555555555555555555555............flash
"Do not be careless with poor ingredients and do not depend on fine ingredients to do your work for you but work with everything with the same sincerity." --from the Tenzo Kyokun
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"Do not be careless with poor ingredients and do not depend on fine ingredients to do your work for you but work with everything with the same sincerity." --from the Tenzo Kyokun
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post #8 of 15

Ratio Chart: Doughs and Batters

Having bought the book, I ran a search which showed that the author of this book, in partnership with his Wife, has produced a Ratio chart which compliments the book.

Here on the Michael Ruhlman's site you can see the preview of that chart:-

Ratio Chart - Ruhlman.com

The link below was one I found after running a Google search and links directly to the .pdf document shown in the preview. For the new or casual computer user who may not be familiar with direct links, basically this means that in this case it won't take you to a normal page on the author's site. Instead, depending on your setup, you may find that you are given the option to save or open this .pdf document, or alternatively, you may find that your .pdf reader (eg. Acrobat Reader) launches automatically either separately from, or within your browser and opens the document for you.

http://ruhlman.com/files/dough-and-batter-ratios.pdf
post #9 of 15
Thanks for the info Andy.

I received my copies from Amazon this week. Still reading batters so far, but i was trying to figure out a clever way to copy the diagrams at the begining of each chapter. (theyre too dark to photocopy)
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #10 of 15
You're welcome bughut.

I'm presently looking over some of his basic ratios that I'm used to seeing presented in a different way and seeing how they compare. My usual pastry is a shortcrust pastry that works on a 2:1 flour to fat ratio - adding water as required on the day - so not as rich as the 3:2:1 mix that's in the book. At the same time, the pasta ratio 3:2 flour to egg by weight, works out practically the same as doing it my usual way of 1 egg to 100g flour - for example as it happened, one large egg I weighed was a healthy 66g which would require 99g of flour.

If that principle continues throughout the book, then the balance will be about right for me, as if all his ratios once translated worked out the same as the ones I already use and know how to scale, it probably wouldn't encourage me to experiment further. On the other hand - if while scanning through the chapters I noticed that they were all different from those I'm familiar with seeing, I suspect it would be a little discouraging.

It will be interesting to see how ratios which may trip of the tongue quite lightly, work out in practice. I definitely agree with the principle of an earlier comment of yours, in that measuring by`weight as opposed to using by volume measurements like cups, does make it a more accessible book for me.
post #11 of 15
>if while scanning through the chapters I noticed that they were all different from those I'm familiar with seeing, I suspect it would be a little discouraging.<


Why discouraging Andy?

I don't know how college works in America, but in bakery class here we learn by weighing everything. ( I still hate working in grams. Give me Lbs & oz anyday) But yeah, 8oz flour to 8oz everything else including eggs for a Victoria sponge etc. Recipes were basic, adaptable ratios, which helped in the real world, where you were under pressure to show how diverse you could be.

I'm enjoying the book, but cant help picking holes in it. I'm a cynic at heart and sometimes it seems a bit obvious. But it is meant for all ranges of ability and begginers would find it a marvelous way to learn
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #12 of 15
Hi bughut

Better start off with saying I'm English, living in Derbyshire, and a little older than I'd like to be.

I only meant that as someone still fairly new to the idea of trying to understand how I cook and why things do or don't work, I'm still a little on the back foot when it comes to technique and confidence in the kitchen. As a result, I feel more comfortable if I can find some common ground with an author.
post #13 of 15
Silly me. I didnt notice your location.
Mature student then?
I was 28 when i eventually got the chance to go to college. Thought id feel odd amongst a class of 18 year olds, but it was great.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #14 of 15
I should start off by saying that it wasn't your fault that you didn't see my UK location entry, I only added that today as a result of the misunderstanding.

I'm not a student bughut. I'm just a fella in my 40's, who due to how our hours fall at home, has found it makes sense for me to do the lion's share in the kitchen. I grew tired of turning out the same stuff and so here I am, trying to raise my game.

I don't really need any more general purpose, recipe books etc. so much as I need practice and discipline, however 'Ratio' seemed like it might be an interesting variation on a theme. To be fair, I wouldn't even attempt to review it as such unless I'd gone through all the ratios and seen how they worked out for me in practice.

The tongue in cheek idea Alton Brown promotes that somehow Ruhlman is akin to a modern day Prometheus divulging secret ratios to the masses, is for me a tad overkill - but I can't bring myself to begrudge the author his publicity angle if there's a chance that I'll learn something that's less accessibly taught elsewhere.

I do look forward to experimenting with his ratios.... and if nothing else, then I think for me the style of the book lends itself to encouraging that.
post #15 of 15
It may be interesting to see how the book develops. I've bought it for my son and 2 other chefs. Looking forward to feedback. I like that others see things you might miss yourself. Or it may be a crock???
Anyway send me a private message if you want to share.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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