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  1. Thank you for the detailed comments on each title! I guess I'll finish Professional Baking, then look towards The Professional Pastry Chef and/or French Patisserie. I also actually have RLB's Baking Basics, but of course I'll need to put Baking Bible on my radar for more involved recipes. And the Kaffeehaus suggestion looks wonderful - I'll admit most of my (very limited) knowledge of pastries so far is mainly just French patisserie, but I want to ensure I'm not ignoring the rest of Europe and that looks like exactly what I want. Your suggestions are much appreciated!
  2. Wow, I've checked out some reviews for the book and it seems exactly what I'm looking for! I especially like the concept of having 3 levels for each recipe, with a "classic" base, a more advanced version, and a modern professional version - best of both worlds when people earlier in this thread were talking about recipes in books leaning more classic vs. updated/personal. Have you ever read any of the common other textbooks I've mentioned, and if so how would you compare this to them?
  3. This is an older thread, but I'd like to revive it to ask if anyone has newer or updated suggestions since the last comment here almost 10 years ago. Similarly to the OP, I'm looking for books that cover classic European baking and pastry techniques, moreso textbook than recipe book (but having good recipes is obviously still important!). My interests are primarily in European patisserie, tarts, tortes, and the like (not so much on bread, frozen desserts, confectionary, plated desserts, etc. right now, but those obviously can't be ignored either), but of course I need to establish a good understanding of the base techniques and theory before moving on to more complex pastries. So far, I've read How Baking Works by Paula Figoni and BakeWise by Shirley Corriher. I thought How Baking Works had really good info, but as just a beginner home cook, I haven't found much opportunity to apply many of its concepts to practice yet, and I don't have the resources to do the Exercises & Experiments at the end of each chapter since they're meant for a classroom setting. BakeWise also had some neat tricks (to a beginner like me) such as adding a cornstarch paste to meringue on a pie so it'll cut through easier, but overall it's more of a collection of recipes than actually teaching technique, and it focuses on American desserts rather than classic French and European pastries. I'm currently reading Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen which I've seen recommended in many places since it's a common textbook in culinary schools, but I've also seen some posters warn against it here such as the discussion on the first page of this thread: Does anyone know what Steve may mean by this? I've seen other people mention how some recipes in the book are iffy, but so far (I'm halfway through the book, albeit haven't had the opportunity to actually make any of the recipes) it seems to provide a good overview of techniques. Some other books that I see commonly recommended are: - The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg - Baking and Pastry by the CIA - On Baking by Sarah Labensky - How To Bake by Nick Malgieri I've taken a look at them and it's honestly hard to tell which one would be the best to start with. The book Basic Cooking Techniques: Bakery and Pastry by Lesley Chesterman, mentioned on the first page of this thread, also appealed to me in how Lesley described it not as a dessert book, but a pastry technique book, but unfortunately it appears to be less well known and I can't find much other information about it. So essentially, does anyone have any experience with the books that I've listed or any others, and is able to recommend a direction for me? In a perfect world I'd just read them all haha, but unfortunately I don't have infinite time. To recap, I'm looking for a book that 1) isn't just meant to be for a full student in pastry school but can also be suitable for a beginner home cook; 2) focuses on classic European techniques; and 3) has good recipes so I can be confident in adding them to my repertoire for my own uses.
  4. For those who've tried the Pierre Herme recipe, how would it compare in a lemon meringue pie compared to the traditional cornstarch-thickened filling? My intuition is that it may not set up as well (can always sub whole eggs for yolks and/or add a little bit of gelatin), and it may be a bit too rich (don't know how you could fix that), but the idea of using it instead of the usual cornstarch filling is very appealing to me. On a tangential note, all recipes that I see online for lemon meringue pie use a regular French meringue. They then run into problems like weeping from an undercooked bottom of the meringue, and hence they have to use fixes like putting the meringue on the still-hot filling. Why don't they just use Swiss or Italian meringues, which would also make things simpler since they don't have to bake for as long, thereby also preventing beading from an overcooked top? I'm still just a beginner, so someone please correct me if my intuitions are wrong.
  5. Yes it was for the collar, I know it's traditionally buttercream but I saw a neat idea that toasted the meringue instead so I went with that, which is also why I needed Italian. I've attached a picture of the religieuses and the meringue still set up fine; would you say stiff peaks aren't necessary at all for this application?
  6. @pastrygirl It was for a toasted meringue topping for religieuses. Fortunately the consistency was still thick enough to be piped and not run, but I was just hoping for a bit stiffer meringue! I have seen it made with hand mixers too; I wasn't actually even beating on high since I was afraid of deflating it after my first attempt. @teonzo I'll try your and pastrygirl's suggestion of a higher temperature for the syrup next time. I didn't know that whipping whites first in advance could also cause issues, but that might've also contributed to it! The reason for my question with stiff peaks specifically for Italian meringue is that I know what they're supposed to look like in general, as that was also the stage I got my egg whites to initially (tips remain straight up when whip was flipped upside down). However, most images I see for Italian meringue just show it with the tips curved down like in Serious Eats page linked. I also read this thread where my meringue also looked exactly like the OP's: where someone in the comments says that Italian meringue is supposed to look like that.
  7. I'm back with another couple questions on a basic technique! Straight up, they're 1) What do stiff peaks for Italian meringue actually look like? 2) I've seen 2:1 ratio of sugar:egg whites commonly cited, but is there also a standard ratio of the sugar:water for the syrup? Recipes I've looked at seem to be all over the place in regards to that. For context, I attempted to make Italian meringue 3 times last night. The recipe was following had ratios of 1.67:1 sugar to egg whites, and 5:1 sugar to water for the syrup. I wiped down my bowl and whisk each time (though not with lemon juice), and used a hand mixer since I don't have a stand mixer. Method was fairly standard: whip egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar then whip until around stiff peaks. Heat syrup to 240-244F, then slowly drizzle into egg whites, while continuously beating (on medium speed) at the location where the syrup was landing in the bowl. The first time, the meringue remained a puddle after adding the syrup, and I'm guessing this might've happened because (a) I didn't actually beat egg whites enough before adding syrup, or (b) added syrup too quickly. Next two times however, I made sure to beat to stiff peaks beforehand (and they were stiff enough that they were approaching overbeaten while the syrup was being added), and veryyy slowly added the syrup, but they never seemed to get past soft-firm peaks, even after beating for 20+ minutes. I didn't take a picture, but they looked pretty much like the picture here: https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/06/basic-italian-meringue-recipe.html, with the tip drooping back down instead of standing up straight. So this makes me wonder, did I screw something up, or is that what "stiff peaks" is actually supposed to look like after the syrup is added?
  8. Thanks for the clarification Teo! So essentially I should add less cornstarch to avoid having to blitz it after chilling, OR use an immersion blender/food processor instead of an electric mixer? Might be a dumb followup question, but how come an immersion blender or food processor would work to smooth out the cream, but an electric mixer can't - or would it still work as long as I used the flat beater attachments and not the whisk attachment? And in general, assuming you're not aiming for a "hard" pastry cream, what consistency do people cook it to? Most recipes just specify the amount of time, but that's not very useful when factoring in different levels of heat, different ratios of ingredients, etc. Of course I can/should test more to learn from personal experience, but I'd also like to minimize the amount of failed batches I make haha.
  9. I've some questions about the consistency of pastry cream after chilling. In the past, I used it after just chilling for a couple hours after making it, and it was a perfect consistency for piping as a filling. This time, I chilled it overnight using a slightly different recipe, and thoroughly whipped with an electric mixer it after taking it out of the fridge since it turned had into a single gelatinous mass after it set. Unfortunately, after whipping it, it turned from the solid mass into soup. I'm now trying to pinpoint exactly what caused this issue here and where I went wrong. 1) Should (proper) pastry cream be just one solid mass after an overnight chill? 2) I heated the tempered egg-milk mixture until boiling then whisked for a couple minutes after, so I don't think it was a problem of not deactivating the amylase. However, there's the possibility I cooked it for too long and caused it to un-gel. In either case (undercooked or overcooked), would the pastry cream still have set in the fridge like it did? 3) Am I not supposed to whip it afterwards before using it, or just whisk it less? I was thinking of just doing it by hand, but it was so gelatinous that I just decided to go with the electric mixer. For reference, I used what I thought was a pretty standard ratio of ingredients: 250ml milk (1 cup) 3 egg yolks 50g sugar 14g cornstarch 1 tsp vanilla extract
  10. Hey everyone, I'm a university student from Ontario, Canada. Although I'm still very new to it, I'm mainly interested in pastry & baking. I started out making basic cookies, brownies, pies, etc. but I'm now trying to get into classic pastries. My current goal is getting comfortable with pate a choux and all the recipes you can do with it! In addition to actually baking itself, I love reading about techniques and food science, so I can also understand why things are done in recipes. It's so rewarding to get better at this and making things that months ago you never thought you'd have been able to pull off.
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