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ABC of baking


pattimw
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I'm not that thrilled with Gale Gands recipes. I find her to have a similarity with Martha. When they first started neithers work seemed tested and could be hit or miss. But since those earily days Martha has definately gotten her act together (and is often publishing other well known chef's recipes that are fab.) and I think the same is happening with Gand. She seems to be coming into her own and producing better work. I've made a couple items from her off foodtv that were decent.

BUT Gand has MANY recipes that are clear knock-offs from other published recipes.........with-out making any significant changes. I have the "flour, butter, suger..." cookbook and I look at it so rarely I can't remember it's title.

I still stand by Glisslens book as being the best starting point over all the books mentioned!

P.S. I looked at Nick M's book yesterday at the store. Who ever did his food styling should have been fired. Most of the cakes have a huge crumb and look horribly dry........with the exception of a poppyseed cake that looks almost raw. If photo's speak louder then words-I'd run from that book.

Edited by Sinclair (log)
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I will definitely try the Amaretti soon...maybe tonight if I feel ambitious. :biggrin:

Be sure to tell us how you do.

Ok, I made the almond paste yesterday and tonight I made the Amaretti.

I've never had an Amaretti before so I have nothing to compare. Are they

supposed to be a little hollow underneath?

They rose nicely even though I didn't do the wet cloth thing (too lazy) :laugh:

The dough was already very wet. They tasted very good but a bit too

sweet for my taste. I will make it again if I have to use it in a dessert or

something. In fact that's why I wanted to try these. There are a lot of desserts

which requires Amaretti and I can't find them in the store here. At least now

I know I can make them myself (I think) :raz:

I'll try to reduce the amt of sugar next time.

Edited by BettyK (log)
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Why would anyone laugh Heather? If anyone did, it would be uninformed. That very accessible, very engaging book was co-written by Bill Yosses--a real, talented "working" pastry chef--and Bryan Miller--a real, talented food writer and critic. These guys aren't FoodTV personalities or celebrity authors, aren't dense or convoluted, aren't mailing it in or riding on the coat-tails of a reputation, aren't over-extended, haven't become full-time cookbook factory types, etc. I still recommend it most highly for a true beginner.

Then by some Berenbaum and something French and something Spanish to start broadening your horizons and stretching your mind.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I now have a beautiful shelf full of pastry books, including Lesley C's great book (with excellent pix), and the Roux Bothers on Patisserie, and a grand copy of Lenotre from my mother-in-law to be. What I have been lacking is time, so I have not experimented as much as I would have liked.

I am still a big fan of the Pierre Herme books, both Desserts and Chocolate Desserts, because the pictures are inspiring, the techniques are very clearly explained, and mainly, I am always very please with the results. (As in, I can't believe I actually MADE that!).

The Maglieri books (I have How to Bake, Perfect Pastry, and Perfect Cakes) don't inspire me so much, almost because they have too many choices, and leave too much up to me. The idea of mixing-and-matching cakes, fillings, glazes, etc seems to be better left to more advanced bakers, and many of his ready-made recipes don’t seem to get me going. Also, the cake recipes seem to be mainly cake-with–frosting format, as opposed to the more interesting cakes in the Herme books. (I suspect I need to spend a bit more time on Maglieris before relegating them to the uppermost shelf, though…)

I used Sweet Miniatures a few times and had lovely results. Her little coconut cookies (Cocos) are so lovely, I try to keep a log of the dough in the freezer ALL THE TIME.

After all the advice, I did lots of shopping on e-Bay and got some fabulous deals. Baking with Julia seems to be available all the time.

Thanks for inspiring me to get back to these great books!

BTW, amaretti cookies are wonderful crushed up and mounded over halved peaches, sprinkled with wine, and baked.

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I have not tried Gale Gand's recipes. I thumbed through one or two and they just didn't catch my attention. In the Sweet Kitchen was an odd book, I thought. It does not grace my book shelf, I'm happy to say.

Has anyone else ever tried Emily Luchetti's books? She's coming out with another one soon - I will definitely be buying it. I treasure both of the books I do have, Stars and Four Star Desserts. She certainly doesn't teach you method or anything so basic, just some wonderful flavor-pairings and excellent recipes. I've never had a recipe fail from either book.

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Ditto on Four Star Desserts, it's a fab. book. I don't own the first, but I'm currently looking for it.

I'm not familar with Lesley C's book, would someone please expound on it?

Wow - :blink: You may have to wait a long time for that copy of Stars!

I just went spelunking through E-Bay, then Half-Price Books to see if I could find a copy for you (I like to shop on-line! :smile:) and I found one! But - WOW! - It's $139.50. For the PAPERBACK!!! :laugh::laugh: I can't believe it!!! That's - just - outrageous!

I'm always on the look for some copy of something or other, Sinclair. If I locate a copy of Stars I'll post a message for you with the information. Perhaps I should say - a reasonably priced copy of Stars! :biggrin:

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If you find a copy will you pm me, I'd love the help? I really want it-but 140. is too much.

Tell me about Lesley's book?????????????

P.S. Remember the original poster was looking for a beginning book. Are you still picking Luchetti's books for a beginner (not that they are difficult, just a little more sophisticated in MO)?

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If you find a copy will you pm me, I'd love the help? I really want it-but 140. is too much.

Tell me about Lesley's book?????????????

P.S. Remember the original poster was looking for a beginning book. Are you still picking Luchetti's books for a beginner (not that they are difficult, just a little more sophisticated in MO)?

No, you're right. I think I just got carried away. :biggrin: More like "intermediate" books. I think in order to properly use the Star's books you really need to know the basics, since her books assume you do know the basics.

Although - I don't really think of the person who began this thread as a beginner really. She obviously has some kitchen time, and I would think she has picked up more baking skills than she is probably aware of.

It's hard for me to pin-point a good beginning baking book because I never used one. I found the best thing for a beginner is to watch/learn from someone more experienced. That way you can actually SEE how a genoise should come together, you can SEE what a creme anglais should look like just before it's done, you can WATCH how caramel goes from not done to done in the blink of an eye, you can actually see what a custard looks like when it's finished, and so on. I'm not sure any book does an adequate job with those types of issues that are so visual and tactile.

I would still put my money on Baking with Julia, though, I think. The directions in there for Brioche are so good that I know someone who never even baked a single loaf of bread before follow them with good results. That's saying something about the directions.

Sinclair, if I see a Stars book for less than $60 I'll post to you. I'm really shocked how expensive they are.

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Lesley C's book is called "Baking & Pastry: Basic Techniques" by Lesley Chesterman and Bertrand Bazin. It's a fairly slim volume aimed at the home baker covering a good representative range of classic french pastry techniques and recipes. Chapters cover: equipment; basic techniques; doughs; basic cakes; creams, fillings and frostings; pies and tarts; classic cakes; petits fours; yeast breads; and quick breads. It's most valuable feature is the detailed step by step photographs accompanying almost every recipe. It's really a pastry class in a book. I've only made one item from it so far - the Chocolate Mascarpone buche de noel - but it was a huge success. It's basically impossible to find the english version, but Lesley was kind enough to sell me one of her copies.

Sinclair - if I had know you were looking for the Stars book before I packed away all my stuff in storage I would have sent you my copy - I didn't really care for it other than the pretty photos. Unfortunately it is still in Seattle while I'm now in Chicago.

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Maybe Understanding Baking by Joseph Amendoula. That was one of my little bibles for a while.

Nightscotsman - I tried to look for Lesley Chesterman's book, but alas, none to be found on Amazon or Jessica's Biscuit. It sounds like a great book. You say it's British? Perhaps I can have an English friend of mine get me a copy.

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Nightscotsman - I tried to look for Lesley Chesterman's book, but alas, none to be found on Amazon or Jessica's Biscuit.  It sounds like a great book.  You say it's British?  Perhaps I can have an English friend of mine get me a copy.

Actually, Lesley is Canadian and the main edition of the book was in French. As I understand it, the English lanugage version had limited availability since it was published in Toronto. The ISBN is: 0-7715-7711-7.

Edited by nightscotsman (log)
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Nightscotsman - I tried to look for Lesley Chesterman's book, but alas, none to be found on Amazon or Jessica's Biscuit.  It sounds like a great book.  You say it's British?  Perhaps I can have an English friend of mine get me a copy.

Actually, Lesley is Canadian and the main edition of the book was in French. As I understand it, the English lanugage version had limited availability since it was published in Toronto. The ISBN is: 0-7715-7711-7.

Thank you. With that information I have a Canadian friend who's a cooking instructor who may be able to find it for me. Hopefully, the English version! :smile:

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Wow -  You may have to wait a long time for that copy of Stars!

I just went spelunking through E-Bay, then Half-Price Books to see if I could find a copy for you (I like to shop on-line! ) and I found one! But - WOW! - It's $139.50. For the PAPERBACK!!! I can't believe it!!! That's - just - outrageous!

Wow. I gave mine away a few years ago in a paperback book exchange :wacko:

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Hi.

Thanks for the interest in my book.

I think it's being reprinted in French so it might be available again in Canadian bookstores soon, but only in French. I'm thinking of rewriting it in English if I find a publisher. I didn't think beginner-type pastry books were that popular, but considering the number of threads about these kinds of books, I might think again. :unsure:

I have a few English copies on hand, so you can PM me if you're interested. It's a book geared to technique with pictures of each step in the recipe. This isn't a book for recipe gatherers. Though the recipes are solid and original (as in, all mine :smile: ).

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I know it has probably been said about the Sweet Kitchen but...

I liked the book for it's very comprehensive coverage of ingredients. She covers everything from a million fruits to different types of flour. Her recipes usually ran into what I like to call the "I can't make that because where the hell in Alaska am I going to find extract of yak, fresh no less!" category. I don't think it would be a very good book for beginning bakers as it covers much more than baking and I think it expects a certain level of mastery.

The Bread Baker's Apprentice is something my boyfriend bought as a beginning bread baker. The book has some wonderful photos and some wonderful recipes but, judging from the number of cuss words coming from the kitchen, it may not be a good book with which to start.

Edited by Foam Pants (log)

9 out of 10 dentists recommend wild Alaska salmon.

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Has anyone heard anything about Sherry Yard's book coming out on this topic?

i have a copy of the galleys on my desk. i think there's still some last-minute work being done on it, but if it lives up to what is promised in the earlier work, it should be amazing. actually, it's just the baking book i've always wanted: it takes things systematically and explains how things work. sherry is a great pastry chef and it should be pointed out that my friend martha rose shulman is doing the ghosting on it.

for what it's worth, i probably should disclose that it is edited by rux martin, who is a friend as well and edited my book. you can take my advice wiht a grain of salt, if you'd like.

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Russ,

This seems to confirm my take from reading the description at the B and N website. I actually went ahead and pre-ordered. If it lives up to the way its described it would seem to fill a niche. It seems like a different approach from that taken in many chef books, based more on instruction and technique than a recipe review. I wasn't sure what Ms Yard's reputation was with the professionals on the site.

Tony

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I wasn't sure what Ms Yard's reputation was with the professionals on the site.

steve can answer this better than i can. but i find her somewhere between the american classic hominess of nancy silverton (albeit, perfectly done) and the more experimental chefs. more than cobblers, but not necessarily chocolate arrows for garnishes. i'd say classic, clean, and up to date.

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Hi Pattimw, regardless of which book you decide to buy I would recommend that you buy it from a bookstore that has a liberal return policy. Don't make the mistake like I did and buy a book in another city or over the internet and then get it home and decide that its not for you. :sad: As you can see this site is a good source of information. :smile:

Fred Rowe

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Russ--I can only report on the things I've had when Sherry has come east to NYC for demos and things, and her stuff has been very good. really good. I'm really looking forward to the book now that I hear there is additional food and writing talent on the project as well--thank you for sharing that with us. As far as helping define her style, for those who are interested, that's something I'm not that interested in. I don't like forcing definitions and fitting chefs into boxes. I would say that the work of hers that I have seen and tasted is not what I'd call innovative or progressive--but that isn't important and isn't necessarily related to how good the book will be. Chocolate arrows have been passe for a while and certainly don't have any place on elite chef's desserts, experimental or otherwise, but I know what you mean. What's good is good and I'm looking forward to checking the book out and seeing what the meat of the book is. We need more good pastry/dessert/baking books.

As an example, if you read about Regan Daley's Sweet Kitchen book on paper you'd think it should be a must purchase. It sure fooled all the initialed organizations like the IACP but aside from the glossary, which just cribbed from the work of other books and magazines and Google, and was then re-worked without any personality or style, the leaden book is pretty much folksy home baker underwhelming crap from a home baker masquerading as a professional pastry chef. For her (and that book) to have come out of Canada and been given the play it got here in the US just shows how starving we are here for material on the subject. (It also reinforces that even the level of professional awareness of desserts and baking is still pretty low here--that we pastry chefs have to do a better job--and that there are still far too many boring perfunctory desserts being passed on to hopeful diners. If we aren't careful, our diners will lose hope altogether.)

My hope with the Yard book is that it proves at least as valuable as Claudia Fleming's recent book did--both Yard and Fleming won the Beard best pastry chef award--and her book was also done with a talented co-author. I find Claudia's book very inspirational and a very good representation of her work and her philosophy though not necessarily the best "beginner" book. And that's OK. Fleming is perhaps the most influential, most widely emulated pastry chef in the US. Again--deservedly so because she shows US pastry chefs and bakers that 1) they don't have to be content with the "very good for its decade (two decades ago) but now pretty tired" Emily Luchetti/Nancy Silverton/Flo Braker level of published work which I feel doesn't raise the bar enough (though Luchetti/Silverton ably led the way to Claudia) and 2) that they don't have to accept the level of way over-praised mediocrity achieved in books by the likes of Marcel Desaulnier, Eleanor Klivans, Alice Medrich, David Lebovitz, etc. which I feel actually lowers the bar.

Russ, you've featured Claudia in your paper so you know exactly what I'm talking about: she had a West Coast pastry chef spirit with the skill and talent to work in an East Coast sense of refinement and elegance of presentation. She was one of the first people in NY to break the hold French pastry chefs had on the city, to say hey, you don't have to do these rigid, formal Pastry Art & Design-promoted architectural monstrosities for dessert--full of chocolate slings and arrows--and you don't have to do the same-old/same-old bread pudding/tart/brownie crap either, you can do things cleanly, elegantly, with purity, with seemingly exotic fresh ingredients yet present them with little or no artifice. (Essentially what the best chefs and pastry chefs in Spain have been saying for years and years before people starting listening.) While I don't feel Claudia's book is the best for a very "beginning" beginner, it is a must purchase as a stepping stone. It is not a "dumb down to the lowest common denominator-style" of book. It has personality--and I hope the Yard book follows in that vein, as some of the recent very good chef's cookbooks have--like Jody Adams "In the Hands of a Chef" and Judy Rodgers' Zuni Cafe book.

(By the way, a dessert book from that West coast group which has flown largely under the radar but that I do recommend highly is "Desserts: Mediterranean Flavors, California Style" by Cindy Mushnet. I find it a winning blend of enthusiasm, style and information; it's charming and valuable in every way that the books by Regan Daley and David Lebovitz are not. Mushnet, like most of the West coast group, is not strong presentation-wise so I don't mind that there aren't many pictures. No West coast pastry chef or baker or cookbook author is going to teach us anything about creating visual interest, though new blood out West is starting to change that.)

I worry sometimes, though, about cookbook writers and chef writers trying to be systematic, trying to channel the spirit of Rose L. Beranbaum, because there is only one RLB and sometimes (oftentimes) systematic loses sight of what is also really important--taste, flavor, communication, connecting, etc. That's the fatal flaw with might be called the Cook's Illustrated approach, which I find pretty useless and pedestrian out of its context. That approach doesn't communicate the fragile magic and ethereal nature--the reasons why some dishes and desserts taste better in certain hands. It's not just technique or collections of recipes it is also palate, mentality, spirit and understanding ingredients and combinations of ingredients.

I did not recommend Lesley's fantastic lean book on this thread because I knew it wasn't available in English anymore from the last thread--but anyone who has read the previous pastry book threads knows I adore its very clean, clear instruction and photography. It's the best short course in all the French pastry and baking basics you need to know--it's always better to begin with the classics and then go forward-- and is only rivaled by the Roux Brothers on Pastry book--which Lesley admits was her inspiration for her book, what she held herself up to. If you can get your hands on her book in English, do so, or if you are a very beginner buy the fun Bill Yosses book.

Spanish books we've also talked about--Oriol Balaguer's absolutely wonderful book is in English and is most non-Spanish speakers best bet, his book is the best "Adria" available in English, followed by the Adria book CD-ROM and the Adria Postres book, of course. None of these are beginner's books, however.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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