The Art of French Pastry

The Art of French Pastry

Book - 2013
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Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c2013
ISBN: 9780307959355
Branch Call Number: 641.865 PFE
Characteristics: xxxi, 395 p. :,col. ill. ;,25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Strabbing, Paul
Shulman, Martha Rose

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ksoles Mar 15, 2014

Part instruction manual, part personal history and part science lesson, "The Art of French Pastry" puts intricate confections within the reach of the experienced home baker. In his opening chapter, Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer lays out foundation recipes upon which he bases the rest of the creations in his book. He instructs readers on how to work with yeast, a piping bag, sugar, eggs, meringue, chocolate and fruit; then, he launches into five more chapters of stunning, meticulous recipes for eclairs, tarts, cookies, cakes and Alsatian specialties.

But even before Chapter One, Pfeiffer pleads home pastry cooks to throw away their measuring spoons and cups and weigh all ingredients on a digital scale. He displays equal passion for quality ingredients, extolling the virtues of European butter over lower fat American butter. For puff pastry, he recommends King Arthur all-purpose flour with a midrange level of gluten. Only whole milk (preferably organic) will suffice and any unseasonal fruit will ruin the finished product. Picky? Yes. But precision, Pfeiffer argues, results in perfection.

Every recipe begins with an estimate of yield and time commitment along with a section called “Before You Begin,” which lists equipment requirements. Each recipe also has a table of ingredients listed in order of use in addition to notes, tips, and both a reminder to weigh the ingredients and to read everything twice before you begin. And the chef proves correct: once broken down into steps, a four page recipe requiring two days of effort becomes logical, efficient and possible.

Geared towards neither the faint of heart nor the inexperienced, "The Art of French Pastry" provides beautifully organized, systematically written, and well-photographed recipes for those willing to commit. Jacquy Pfeiffer has truly mastered the art of teaching French pastry and his book offers readers the opportunity to become his students.

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