Authors: Joanne Chang
To Christopher, my everything.
Text copyright Â© 2015 by Joanne Chang.
Photographs copyright Â© 2015 by Joseph De Leo.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.
ISBN 978-1-4521-3960-9 (epub, mobi)
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication
ISBN 978-1-4521-3300-3 (hc)
Designed by Alice Chau
Food styling by Molly Shuster
Chronicle Books LLC
680 Second Street
San Francisco, California 94107
Life is sweet. It is. It's not always easy. It's not without ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. But LIFE
SWEET. Why do I make this declaration? Because I've taken these simple words, swallowed them whole, and used them as words to live by. For as long as I can remember, no matter what my mood or what I'm feeling, it only takes
bite of something wonderful and sweet to make all seem right in the world. Baking is my life and I choose it every day as my path and my passion. On some level, my life is simply that simple.
Every morning, I walk into Flour and I stop for a moment to take in the full breadth of our morning bake-off. It's fourteen years and running, and it still makes me giddy at how gorgeous a full counter of beautifully prepared baked goods can be. It never gets old. I look around and I truly want to eat
of it. The counter is overrun with warm brioche neatly arranged on serving trays, sugary fruity muffins piled high in baskets, chewy oversized cookies lined up on platters, comforting quick breads stacked one on top of another. I look to the bakers and see the most lovely facesâfocused, serious, committed, sometimes silly, sometimes exhaustedâand I think Willy Wonka is alive and well at Flour Bakery. I'm happy.
Maybe the complexities of life can't all be reduced to a cookieÂ .Â .Â .Â but a well-made cookie can sure bring some music into it. For me, the connection between baking sweets and happiness runs long and strong and it is indelible. If you're holding this book, then that connectionâsweetness and happinessâmore than likely is a powerful one for you as well. Whether you start the day with coffee and a brioche, or reward yourself for making it through three-quarters of your work day with a cookie or half cupcake, or maybe you commemorate a friend's new venture with a gussied-up and decadent midnight chocolate cakeâeach of these situations shows how naturally we intertwine sweetness and happiness. Even in sorrow we might take refuge in a bowl (okay, pint) of HÃ¤agen-Dazs coffee. Sometimes the sweetness of that ice cream is exactly what it takes to wait out that agonizing soon-to-be ex's %#^$ phone call.
I am and always have been so committed to the notion that bringing sweetness into the world simply makes life better that I have made it my life's work. I had a moreâthan-stable and respectable job in business consulting. I traded it in to peddle pastry and desserts. NOT what you do when your parents immigrate to America, work their tails off to give you the best education on the planet, scrimp and save and sacrifice. No matter what I tried to focus on or what my parents subtlyâor not so subtlyâsuggested (be a doctor, be a lawyer, what about medicine? what about law?), my dreams persistently ran to mounds of butter, mountains of flour, and ultimately, hills of sugar: the glorious trifecta of baked goods. It's such a part of my DNA to indulge in sweetness from the moment I wake up until I fall asleep that I made it my bakery's motto: Make Life Sweeter, Eat Dessert First!
A connection that runs just as deeply as that between sweetness and happiness is the relationship between sugar and sweetness. And, by the transitive property, then sugar must be the sine qua non of creating happiness, right? Well if
you're a classically trained pastry chef, then yes. Absolutely. Of course. Or at least so I thought.