Ever wandered the streets of Paris looking longingly in the pâtisserie windows and wondered how easy some of those delectable desserts might be to recreate in your own kitchen? Well wonder no longer because here’s just the book for you – Pâtisserie Made Simple by Edd Kimber , released in the US/ Canada this week. In this, Edd’s third book, he takes us on a tour of France through pâtisserie, sharing recipes, techniques and tips for creating some classic French recipes and some modern interpretations as well.
The book includes helpful sections (Equipment and Ingredients)at the beginning to get you set up. As a home baker with a small kitchen and budget, I appreciate that Edd mostly avoids recommending (sometimes costly) specialty equipment items that you might only use once or twice. The book is aimed at home bakers so all the equipment he recommends is easy to find – his goal is for people to actually use the book, not just swoon over the gorgeous images! He recommends the highest quality ingredients you can afford, as in certain cases (like butter) it really can make a big difference, taste-wise. Recipes that require so few ingredients (like many pastries) really rely on those being high quality. Edd includes a useful section listing online sources for some of the ingredients, as well as s short list of reliable pâtisseries all around France.
The book is divided into chapters covering Pastry, Cakes and desserts, Sweet Treats, Masterclass and Basics. As someone who does a fair amount of French baking, I immediately flipped to the Basics section where you’ll find recipes for various pastries (choux, shortcrust, sweet pastry, rough puff pastry), croissant dough, brioche, genoise, meringue, macarons (I LOVE the idea that this is a “basic”!), creams including buttercream and pastry cream, pralines and nut pastes, sauces and tempering chocolate. With some of the more technical recipes, there are step-by step photographs and each recipe includes a helpful tips about technique, equipment or ingredients.
The book really reads like a primer in French pastries – if you’ve ever wondered about making something you ate in France at home, the recipe is most likely in this book. All the classics you would expect are included in the first few chapters: Lemon Tart, Paris Brest, Choux Buns, Eclairs, Millefeuille, Croissants, Pain aux Raisins, Tarte Tatin (a banana version!), Soufflés, Fondants, Crème Brûlée, Chocolate Mousse, Mont Blanc, Ile Flottante, Madeleines, Canelés, Brioche, Sablés, Chouquettes…. the list goes on. You’re all set to get baking some of your French favourites at home as Edd’s straightforward, clearly written recipes will hold your hand virtually through the process. The Masterclass chapter teaches you how to make some of the showstopping cakes and desserts like Gâteau St Honoré, Opéra, Croquembouche. This is a shorter chapter than the others as it’s aimed at a more experienced home baker, though nothing about the recipes in this chapter is complicated. These recipes involve more steps, more components so they are likely something you would tackle after getting comfortable with the basics.
What I like about the recipes in the book is that they make these recipes seem totally do-able for a home baker. They are written in plain language that’s easy to understand, even for a less experienced baker, and there are a lot of step-by-step photos in the Basics section to show you exactly what a “uniform dough” for rough puff pastry looks like, for example. Most of the recipes fit onto one page which, when I am baking, I find important – I like to have all the information accessible in one place so I don’t have to turn the pages with floury/ buttery/ chocolately hands. The headnotes include some information about the background of the dish, where it’s from, how it’s best eaten etc… I find them informative rather than overly (and unnecessarily) wordy – it’s obvious Edd just wants you to get in your kitchen and bake. Like with any baking project, if you give yourself enough time, these recipes are totally achievable for a home baker.
Recipes aside, the gorgeous photography by Laura Edwards might be reason enough to buy the book even if you don’t intend to work your way through it. The photos of the dishes mingle with photos of little slices of French (pastry) life making this just as much a coffee table read as it is a cookery book.
So far, I’ve made Edd’s rough puff pastry with my boys’ cooking club:
Of course I had to try the macarons…
And just this week I made chouquettes with the boys in cooking club:
(brilliant! Also “the best thing I have ever eaten” according to one boy!)
Edd’s publisher has been kind enough to allow me to share a couple of recipes with you – chouquettes yesterday and today, the classic lemon madeleines!
I could talk about Proust and his love and affection for these cakes—I could talk about how well these go with a cup of tea, but all that has been very well covered many times before. For me, these little cakes are brilliant, because the batter can be prepared a couple of days in advance and then baked in no time at all—the perfect prepare-ahead recipe. They are also really versatile. I have flavored them in all sorts of ways, from mixing cacao nibs into the batter to using a blood orange glaze, and even dipping them in tempered chocolate. To get that characteristic shape there are a few things you can do to help. Firstly, chill the batter for at least 3 hours and chill the madeleine pan for an hour before baking. Secondly, don’t overfill the mold, as this will result in a plain, domed madeleine without that classic hump. And thirdly, baking at a relatively high temperature also helps.
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 1/2 cup / 100g superfine sugar
- 3/4 cup / 100g all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 1/2 ounces (scant 1 stick / 100g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus extra for greasing
- For the lemon glaze
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons / 160g powdered sugar, sifted
- Put the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat until thick and pale, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Put the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and beat together to combine. Sift a third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture, carefully folding to combine using a spatula, then add the remaining mixture in two additions in the same way.
- Take a large spoonful of the batter and add this to a small bowl along with the butter, mixing them together to lighten the butter.
- Pour the butter mixture into the batter and gently fold together to combine.
- Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of the batter, then put it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours before baking. (The mixture can be chilled for up to two days at this stage.)
- To make the lemon glaze, put the lemon juice, zest, and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and mix together using a wooden spoon until you have a smooth, pourable glaze. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the glaze until needed—this will help to prevent it from forming a crust.
- An hour before baking, grease a 12-hole madeleine pan very well and dust with a little flour, tapping out the excess. Transfer the pan to the freezer to chill.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- When you are ready to bake, spoon the batter into the madeleine molds. You don’t need to spread it out, as this will happen as the madeleines bake.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the edges have started to brown.
- Remove from the oven and immediately turn out onto a wire rack. Let cool for 10 minutes, before dipping into the glaze, coating fully.
- Allow the excess to drip back into the bowl before setting on the wire rack, set over a piece of parchment paper, to set.
- These are best served as close to baking as possible—they are great the day they are baked.
(Full disclosure: I have been following Edd’s blog for years now, even before he won The Great British Bake Off and wrote three books and I’ve met up with him a couple of times in Paris and London. Edd did not ask me to write this review or promote the book and I purchased it myself, this was not a review copy. I like to support friends doing amazing things, especially with pastry, and couldn’t recommend Edd’s work more highly. He’s “good people” and he knows his pastry!)
US/Canadian readers – win a copy of Pâtisserie made Simple! Details here.
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