My favourite things

“La Pâtisserie comme un chef” by William and Suzue Curley

Lcurleyove this book. If anyone asked me if I buy recipe books, I do. But most people nowadays just google for recipes. That choice is definitely less expensive and  less cumbersome. But I adore books and this includes recipe books. I have also learned that good recipe books just don’t dish out the ingredients and the baking time. Rather, it should have a minimum of technical information so an amateur pâtissier can actually learn the “science” of pastry. It starts with the basics and Curley’s book is an amazing combination of basic techniques that one can re-use with a multitude of other recipes. This is a well-illustrated recipe book, with step-by-step pictures and procedures explained in an orderly and clear manner. The Curleys, who have always believed in passing on the knowledge, gives the first lesson: how to start (this means making sure that you have all the ingredients and the tools). Now this sounds soooo basic but sometimes people are just disorganized in their kitchen when in fact organization is vital. The recipes were also tested in a professional kitchen but the book bares out the plan where you can replicate the work in a home kitchen, looking for alternatives for utensils that you don’t have, without buying an artillery of fancy gadgets. Curley outlines the basics: the different kinds of pastry dough (let it rest…that’s the secret!), how to fill up a piping bag or how to prepare a mould,  making syrups and icings, caramels and compote, mousses and bavarois. Each of this basic recipe can be used in a number of his recipes. Beware, however, because his recipes are in reality, a series of recipes (For example: to make Saint Honoré, you have to make a portion of puff pastry, a portion of pralin, a portion of pastry cream, a portion of choux pastry, 2 portions of crème chiboust, apricot jelly, poached apricots, a neutral topping and caramel.)  The recipes, which are a mix of the classics and the trendy with new ingredients like kinako and yuzu, promise delicious, mouth-watering pastries. However, this might be a bit difficult for beginners. (Found a simple one which I’m sure everyone can do. Check out recipe page for Curley’s “Little almond and fruit cakes.”) This book is only available in French. Published by Larousse. 33 euros

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