Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook 2011

Book Review: Momofuku Milk Bar by Chef Christina Tosi

I own a lot of cookbooks and it’s time I share some of them with you. This is my new series for the month, sharing my favourite baking books with you and why I love them! There is a book out there for every level of baking skill out there. First up….

Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook 2011Book:  Momofuku MilkBar
Author: Chef Christina Tosi
Publication date: 2011
Baking skill level: Intermediate to advanced

My story for this cookbook begins when I first visited New York a few years ago on an Easter long weekend. Among the many recommendations received, Momofuku’s Milkbar was a hot my list!

Momofuku Milkbar did not disappoint at all! Even though I was tragically recovering from a case of food poisoning the day before, I put on my big-girl-pants and forced myself to make it to MilkBar before leaving New York.

The visit made up for my diet of soda cracker and apple juice that day, I was feeling better enough to enjoy one of their compost cookies – which truly are to die for. And their crack pie is, well, appropriately named! During our late night visit to the shop, these were the items we knew to try. Little did I realize at the time that their cakes are unreal, I wish I had brought back so much more in my suitcase!

Fast forward to 2014, and I’m in pastry school. I finally learned about their cookbook Milk Bar, and knew a few of my classmates were fans too. I ordered it online and still remember when it arrived, as I always feel when a new cookbook arrives – it’s like Christmas for me. I love reading and exploring cookbooks – or more accurately, baking books!

Chef Tosi’s fame has been rising for a long time, and this year she is one of the judges on Master Chef, which I have watched and also love. This year she also published her sequel book: Milkbar Life.

So the indulgent journey continues for Milkbar fans everywhere. But, I have yet to get my hands on a copy of her new book (I will eventually), because I am still loving her first book: Milkbar!

Tosi warns in her opening real talk section of Milk Bar, “This cookbook is designed to help make your life in the kitchen easy. Get yourself organized before you start.” Later she adds,  “Baking can seem difficult when you try to do too much at once. Some recipes take a little longer to execute, but they’re well worth the commitment. Plan for this when you clock in [to your own kitchen].”

I could not agree more, and loved her opening remarks. She explains how to prepare yourself for the book.

During my pastry school experience, we learned a lot about being prepared for the day’s recipes and how prep is just as important as any other stage of the baking – it’s your mise en place.  I have always been an organized and detail-oriented person, so I love this about baking, and that is also why I love this book. It’s well-organized.

Be sure to start with their trademark cereal milk, to get you started with their way of thinking outside the (cereal) box! Then dive into their crunch, crumb, and liquid cheesecake recipes… Oh, and don’t forget their compost cookie, and infamous crack pie (read Tosi’s story about the creation of this epic recipe too).

I recently made her carrot layer cake, which included five recipes in one! It was delicious, and very rich. For preparation to make this cake I made: 1) the liquid cheesecake, 2) the carrot cake, 3) the milk crumb (for the crunch texture), 4) the graham crust, which is needed for 5) the graham frosting (heavenly)! Once you have made all the components, then you can assemble the cake. It is not a quick recipe to make, and it needs to be made ahead, which I did.  I will be making this recipe again though, for sure.

Tosi does share recipes that you could easily make in the same time and enjoy, like the cookies. But be sure to read your recipes in full before you start, as part of being prepared!

After having this book for a year and making a number of the recipes, I do highly recommend this book. To recap, I have summarized my pros and cons for you here.

Milk bar book Pros

  • What I love about this book as that the recipes are listed in both metric and imperial measurements, so it saves you having to convert a recipe if you prefer one method.
  • The recipes are very detailed and clearly explain the method, with added detail for texture and consistencies to look for as you bake and mix.
  • The story the pairs along with the recipes throughout the book offered a fun read, validating all those nostalgic baking experiences I too had as a kid. Tosi shares her story, and you feel inspired.
  • The photography is drool-worthy, and makes me feel like I am in a baking science lab, close-ups on texture and colour, and ingredients, you just want to lick the page.
  • I repeat, you will wish this book comes with a scratch-n-sniff!
  • For the opening, Tosi outlines lots of great tips for preparing yourself and your kitchen for baking through this book including ingredient definitions, equipment overviews, and baking techniques.
  • Personally, I love her section on Real Talk. At Milkbar they cut to the chase and get sh!t done, they need to be efficient because they have become a global baking powerhouse. If you want to be a part of their kitchen, you need to mean business – Milk bar business. But at the same time, I get the impression they have a lot of fun and are a solid team.

This is one of my favourite photos in the book, the graham crust. I love graham crackers. I always have, and I always will! Learning how to make graham frosting was the best part above for me. SO GOOD.


Milkbar book cons

  • You need to have some special equipment to execute her recipes in true Milkbar style. For example, cake rings, acetate, a stand mixer is ideal to have too (and not everyone may have one).
  • Some of the recipes require five or more components/recipes before you can assemble, like the carrot layer cake (you need the carrot cake, liquid cheesecake, graham crust to then make the graham frosting, and the milk crunch). Don’t get me wrong, every recipe is worth the effort, and the flavour profile is going to light your taste buds up! …. but it’s more labour intensive than many home bakers may want to get into (you’ve been warned).

Final Recommendation

In the end, this book covers a wide range of baking fundamentals and quality recipes for the eager baker in your life, or maybe that is you! It’s a must on my baking book shelf.

From the sweet beginnings to the savoury dough recipes that conclude the book, a big part of me wants to pull a Julie & Julia and bake-blog my way through this whole book.

….Dare I?

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