Cookbook: Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio

Ruhlman, Michael. Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. New York: Scribner, 2009.

As you know from the first post in my little cookie experiment, I suspected that there must be information about the ratio of butter to sugar in cookies, and my search led me to Ruhlman’s book. Obviously, I am not in the cookbook-reading loop since it came out years ago and I hadn’t heard of it, but sometimes you just need to know what questions to ask to start off on a new path.

Getting your hands on a ratio is like being given a key to unlock those chains [to recipes]. Ratios free you.

Ruhlman’s book is an affirmation of what all home recipe tweakers suspected all along, that after looking at multiple versions of the same recipe topic, what emerges are some basic formulas. They all do this; some do that; one makes this little change—but there is a basic underlying formula that allows you to do your own version. Ruhlman is not prescriptive, though, in setting down the ratios. He shows what happens when changes are made to the ratios, and I found the cookie section (obviously) enlightening, especially since my own experiment ignored the flour in the ratio. I also, even though I recently, finally purchased a scale, used volume measurements instead of weight. It will take some time for me to shift to that kind of measurement without a second thought, but I know it’s a better way to work.

As the subtitle says, Ruhlman gives us the “simple codes” underlying basic cooking. I always remembered the recipe for basic medium white sauce as a formula from back in Home Ec classes, and it paid off in my being able to put so many dishes together without looking up a recipe. That’s what I’m hoping will happen from this book. I know these ratios are not going to be learned so quickly, so I also bought the chart that goes with the book, which you can find here:


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