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French Patisserie Cookbooks


Prawncrackers
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Hi folks, i was looking to get my wife a couple of pastry books for her birthday and have my eye on the following pair:

The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts

and

Paris Patisseries: History, Shops, Recipes (English not out till Feb 2010 but the French very recently published)

Does anyone have these books and what do you think of them? She says she's a beginner and she's been getting into baking cupcakes and cookies recently but is looking to take it to the next level. Of course I would benefit greatly too from her growing interest and am very eager to be her official taster. Any other French patisserie cookbooks suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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The first book was very recently released and I have not had a chance to look at it.

The CIA's most recent Baking & Pastry book (white marble cover) is ok, but, it's oddly lacking in basic recipes. It opts, for example, for banana or chocolate tuile instead of a basic plain one. And, it's got a lot of artisan breads, but no basic white or wheat bread. It's also lacking some classic cake types in favor of modern hybrids. So, I would not recommend it to a beginner attempting to learn on their own.

Are you looking for a book with which to learn the basics of pastry-making (which I suspect) or, is she already comfortable and knowledgeable in things like making croissants, puff pastry, danish dough, cooking custards and creams, tempering chocolate, pulling sugar, assembling entremets, and piping classic forms?

Honestly, the basics haven't changed much over the past 20 years or so. We have a few scientific discoveries on our side (adding all the sugar at the beginning when beating egg whites is best) but they are small finessing touches. I am glancing through my collection of books, and honestly, my first editions of several books (aside form typo issues) hold their own against many newer books. (there's only so many ways to repackage the same basic info)

For a good solid basics book, I'd go with Bo Friberg's The Professional Pastry Chef. For more advanced topics, like sugar showpiece techniques, I'd suggest Friberg's The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef. Gisslen's Professional Baking is also a good way to learn the basics, and it's the text that the Cordon Bleu schools with pastry programs use as their text.

For someone who has graduated from these types of books, I strongly recommend specialty books on individual topics. There are some great books on artisan breads, cake decorating, piping skills, sugar pulling and candy making.

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If she's really a beginner and has only mastered cookies and cupcakes so far, then I'd probably stick to a general baking book that has recipes that range from the simple to the more complex. Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours is an excellent example of such a book. I like Cindy Mushet's the Art and Soul of Baking, too.

But if you're looking for something more studious where she can really learn techniques and know-how, when I borrowed them from the library, I preferred the Bo Friberg book to the Wayne Gisslen one, but I can't remember why.

Personally, I'd go for the Greenspan or Mushet one, and then when she advanced a little more and became more confident, I'd get the Friberg one so she could start doing pastries and more advanced work/techniques.

I've not looked at the Peterson one, but I've heard many good things about it. I'd get that one, too.

Another thing to consider, though, is that since you're in the UK, ingredients (especially flour) may differ from those in the US and many of the books being recommended are for the US market and have been tested with US ingredients. You might want to look for one published in the UK for the UK market, so the recipes have been tested with UK ingredients.

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Hi, here are some more resources:

1. A peek at Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts (it is suited for the home baker). If she is a beginner who really wants specifically French Patisserie Techs, this probably is the best fit.

2. Other eGullet threads:

Favorite Pastry/Baking Books

Books for Pros and Aspiring Pros

Your essential Baking Books

Pastry and baking books

Best baking books for a beginner

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

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Hi, here are some more resources:

1. A peek at Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts (it is suited for the home baker). If she is a beginner who really wants specifically French Patisserie Techs, this probably is the best fit.

Thanks for the heads up on this one. It looks great and it lists for under $50 on amazon.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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Pierre Herme's books always get my cash even when they are in Frog.

But as Prawn asks anyone seen the versión original?

Edited by adey73 (log)

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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I'm leaning towards getting The Fundamental Techniques as it's such a good price on Amazon UK at the moment (£25 for 500+ pages) and seems set at the right level. The Bo Friberg book looks great too.

I think the Pierre Hermé ones are more for pastry porn purposes at the moment but what's confusing is the Paris Patisseries book on Amazon France has an extra author noted - Julia Hung. But the English version on Amazon UK doesn't, any clue if they are different? Same number of pages though which suggests that taking into account translation, they should have the same content.

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My biggest reservation about The Fundamental Techniques is that usually, in America, talk of books for the home cook invariably means that the recipes are written in volume measure with cups and tablespoons instead of weight measure. I have heard that most UK cooks have scales at home, which is an excellent situation to be in. I would not take a step backwards to the outdated use of volume measurement.

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Lisa, that's a great point. A close look at the recipe featured from The Fundamental Techniques shows that it uses weights. I would have been disappointed to order it and find I had to convert everything.

I love Pierre Herme's books and use a number of his recipes regularly. I own Desserts and Chocolate Desserts.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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For those curious about the Paris Patisseries books, here's the official summary from the US publisher:

linky

Pierre Herme provides only the foreword. There are 20 recipes which I bet are classics, but the focus will probably be on the history and culture of Paris Patisseries. Nice supplement to the original poster's wife's learning but not a good primary source, I'd bet.

My very first cookbook (I started baking in 2007) was Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme, after I'd followed the thread here on eGullet. Do I wish I had a more basic or more structured (beginner-friendly) book? Maybe, but I think I turned out okay. I guess everyone has their own path to follow :)

But I wouldn't start with Desserts by Pierre Herme. Eww volume measurements!

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

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One that's been sitting on my shelf for a few months waiting to get used is Paris Boulangerie Patisserie by Linda Dannenberg. It's a collection of recipes and tales from thirteen well-known bakeries in Paris--Lenotre, Laduree, Maison du Chocolat, Max Poilane, and others. The recipes range from the simple to the complex, and the photography is gorgeous. While I haven't yet used it (not sure why not), I'm a fan of another cookbook she published, a similar collection of brasserie/bistro recipes and stories, with recipes I've found to be very reliable. It is certainly not as comprehensive a volume as others which have been suggested, but it is one of those cookbooks that makes for great reading and inspiration.


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One that's been sitting on my shelf ... is Paris Boulangerie Patisserie by Linda Dannenberg. It's a collection of recipes and tales from thirteen well-known bakeries in Paris ... I'm a fan of another cookbook she published, a similar collection of brasserie/bistro recipes and stories, with recipes I've found to be very reliable. ...

I gather that Ms Dannenberg writes for a (primarily) US readership.

Could I therefore ask whether she specifies quantities by weight (as the originals undoubtedly would), or whether these books have been 'translated' into cups?

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I have Paris Boulangerie Patisserie, and though I'm away from home right now and can't double-check, I'm pretty sure she gives measurements in both. The book is also a great read if you are a big fan of patisseries. It discusses the history and philosophy (er, it sounds deep but it isn't really) of a few (but not Pierre Herme!).

The original thread with the list of chapters and patisseries covered is here:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/67742-dannenbergs-paris-boulangerie-patisserie/

The photography has that endearing early late 90's-early 2000's (though it was not published that far back) feel to it, but the pastries look as beautiful as ever. However, I haven't made any of the recipes. A few have been simplified (I recall a macaron layer for an entremet being omitted). Some Amazon reports say that the brioche was a disaster. The eG thread seems to be happy with it for the most part, so it's probably worth checking out.

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

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I think the Pierre Hermé ones are more for pastry porn purposes at the moment but what's confusing is the Paris Patisseries book on Amazon France has an extra author noted - Julia Hung. But the English version on Amazon UK doesn't, any clue if they are different?

I'm not familiar with this book, but a similar thing happened with Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Originally it was developed by Les Trois Gourmandes (sp?) - Julia, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. But somewhere in the process Louisette drifted away from the project and in later editions, the decision was taken to remove her name. I actually have two editions on my bookshelf. One with Louisette listed and one without.

But speaking of Mastering the Art..., if she doesn't already have it, she should. It's one of the 'bibles', IMHO. And it does include some pastry. My pate a choux came out perfectly the first time. A warning though - there were originally two volumes, as well as an anniversary edition that combined them. If you'd like to get it, make sure you know which one you're buying.

Edited by IndyRob (log)
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One of the definitive books was put out by the San Francisco Baking Institute a year or so ago.

Advanced Bread and Pastry

Limited Editions Available Now!


Signed by Author, Michel Suas, SFBI Founder


We are happy to announce the publication of our first book, Advanced Bread and Pastry: 
A Professional Approach.

www.sfbi.com

I purchase 6 copies for my staff. Great on technique. I've also taken Artisan bread 1 and 2 and they were fantastic.

Randy Erickson

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Linda Dannenberg's "Paris Boulangerie-Patisserie" has measurements only in volume such as teaspoons and cups.

Perhaps you have the 1994 Clarkson Potter edition. The 2005 Gramercy edition has weight measures. (or the other way round.)

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

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One of the definitive books was put out by the San Francisco Baking Institute a year or so ago.

Advanced Bread and Pastry

...

I purchase 6 copies for my staff. ...

Welcome to eGullet!

You seem VERY enthusiastic about the book (and the school).

But do you really think it would be helpful to one such as the original poster on this thread, seeking an introductory patisserie book for home use?

I think we can safely assume that the poster does not possess a sheeter or have any interest in producing thousands of pieces at a time.

AB&P appears to be intended as a textbook for commercial (not quite artisan) practice. Most artisan bakers would run away from the book's enthusiasm for additives, trans-fats and suchlike. In fact, I'd suggest that avoiding such things was one defining characteristic of true artisan baking.

I remain convinced that (the first edition of) that particular book is too full of errors, and by turns too dogmatic, too vague and too disjointed to be considered "definitive" - even as a school-book for production operatives.

Is there yet an online errata listing?

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Linda Dannenberg's "Paris Boulangerie-Patisserie" has measurements only in volume such as teaspoons and cups.

Perhaps you have the 1994 Clarkson Potter edition. The 2005 Gramercy edition has weight measures. (or the other way round.)

Thanks, however, it'd be really good to clear that one up! :biggrin:

Nevertheless, the book does seem to be currently out of print, and distinctly expensive for a used copy.

Sounds like one to look out for - but some patience is going to be needed.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Take a look at the "French professional pastry series" by Roland Bilheux and Alain Excoffier. These volumes are classic French pastisserie. The two basic volumes are 1: Doughs, Batters and Meringues and 2:Creams, Confections and Finished Desserts. There are several other volumes that cover petit fours, chocolate, frozen desserts, sugar work, marzipan etc. They used to be availabe at Jessica's Biscuit and were inexpensive. The ciriculum I had at L'Acadamie de Cuisine was very similar to what is presented in these books. Woods

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Linda Dannenberg's "Paris Boulangerie-Patisserie" has measurements only in volume such as teaspoons and cups.

Perhaps you have the 1994 Clarkson Potter edition. The 2005 Gramercy edition has weight measures. (or the other way round.)

Thanks, however, it'd be really good to clear that one up! :biggrin:

Nevertheless, the book does seem to be currently out of print, and distinctly expensive for a used copy.

Sounds like one to look out for - but some patience is going to be needed.

The cookbook was originally released in 1994 but was reprinted in 2005. The later edition is the one I have and should be available. Recipes have both english (?) volume and metric weight measurements.


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Thanks for the advice folks, The Fundamentals Techniques book (the first one mentioned in this thread) has arrived today and my wife is very enamoured with it. I've had a flick through and it very definitely looks the business. Can't wait to sample the goods soon. Will let you know how we actually get on with the recipes.

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I'm so excited for you Prawncrackers! We've wanted to review that for The Gastronomer's Bookshelf but the stars didn't (haven't?) align(ed). I did, however, manage a long peek at the book at a Barnes and Noble (quite a workout for my bicep as the seats were occupied -- I've yet to master propping large books on the marginal shelf area!) and it looks very impressively comprehensive for a home cook book, yet still completely doable.

Mark

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - Collaborative book reviews about food and food culture. Submit a review today! :)

No Special Effects - my reader-friendly blog about food and life.

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