Welcome to this month’s instalment of The Everyday Baker review (I’m spreading it out over the course of a year because with over 170 recipes and 600+ pages, it’s a little hard to cover unless you divide it up into chapters!). This month, we’re looking at the “Pastry” chapter.
It’s funny you know, just a few short years ago, the thought of working my way through a baking book and having to make pastry from scratch would have caused me a lot of stress. It speaks volumes of my past few years (and how much I have learned in the kitchen) that this chapter didn’t faze me at all – in fact, I dipped into it as I was deep in recipe development for my own book and it felt like a holiday. I mean, make someone else’s recipes? Recipes I don’t have to develop and test? Recipes with fabulously detailed instructions and even step-by-step images? I’m all over that right now!!
There are 16 recipes in this chapter and while that might not sound like a lot, they cover a huge variety of pastry varieties and a lot of different techniques. From baklava and turnovers to galettes, éclairs and croissants, there’s definitely something for many different skill levels. What I found looking through the recipes in this chapter was that even things I had never dreamed of baking looked “do-able” thanks to Abby’s clear instructions and images that walk you through some of the more challenging techniques and recipes.
Pastry Bakers’ Wisdom and Techniques and Tips
This chapter is full of useful tips for the budding pastry enthusiast. You’ll learn how to shape tart dough, roll pastry spirals, assemble turnovers, make pastry cups, form empanadas, bake and assemble Napoleons, work with phyllo, roll and shape croissants, make and pipe choux pastry and so much more, both in the recipes themselves but also in the detailed step-by-step images for these techniques. Abby’s details are very precise (as someone who is writing recipes in her sleep right now, I’m quite “demanding” when it comes to recipes, always putting myself in the shoes of my intended readers (who are children and their parents) and wonder how people who “don’t bake or cook” would interpret the directions). But for those people who are more visual learners, Abby’s got you covered with the images which walk you through many of the trickier steps. I really like the fact that (not just in this chapter but all through the book) other important techniques listed or outlined in other chapters are bolded throughout the recipe, calling your attention to them before you even start so you can mark them to refer to.
Which recipe from Pastry did I make?
It was actually really hard to choose what recipe I wanted to make from this chapter but in the end, I had to let the contents of my refrigerator guide me. I had a half jar of olive tapenade and a bit of soft goat’s cheese that needed to be used up so it had to be Goat Cheese Olive Spirals.
In this way I got to test Abby’s rough puff (which was so interesting for me because just last week, I literally JUST finalised my own rough puff recipe (and had told myself I wouldn’t look at any other recipes – it’s so hard! I’m so curious!) and make a lovely snack that was just as welcome at 5pm on a Sunday with a small glass of wine as it was in the staffroom on a regular weekday!
Abby’s directions for the “rough puff” were spot on and the pastry, as you can see, turned out very flaky indeed! It was warm the day I was making this so I had to refrigerate the pastry once it was rolled up around the filling so it was possible to cut it and retain the shape (when the pastry is too warm it squishes the pastry and it’s hard to cut. 20 minutes in the freezer fixed that!). They baked up beautifully. You always hear you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and I’m a bit leery about judging a chapter by one recipe alone. In this case, however, I say that if a “rough puff” turns out like this, well you’re safe in thinking all the rest of the recipes will be spot on too!
Please note: The product links from Amazon and The Book Depository are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: Abby is a friend but she didn’t ask me to write about the book. In fact, she didn’t even know I had a copy until I told her!