Monday, January 29, 2018

Book Review: French Patisserie: Master Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts

Even a casual browse through French Pâtisserie: Master Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts will make you want to give up your next free afternoon and spend it in the kitchen crafting flaky croissants, rich chocolate desserts, berry tarts and countless other classical French recipes offered in this newly published 656-page tome from Flammarion.

Before French Pâtisserie delves into its many masterful recipes, it provides readers with a solid foundation for using the book by providing basic information about essential equipment, techniques and--most importantly--ingredients. The informational ingredient section of this book is absolutely essential for anyone who wants to make pastries or bake, because it delves into often-ignored aspects of pastry making, such as explaining why certain types of butter are better for some recipes over others, tips for purchasing the best types of cream, and so on. It is such a useful section that I've turned to it even when making recipes outside the book!

credit: p. 83 Lemon Tart, Level 1 © Rina Nurra, from French Pâtisserie (Ferrandi) (Flammarion, 2017).

The way that the recipes in the French Pâtisserie are presented is what truly makes this book innovative for readers of all skill levels. The introduction to each recipe section provides a wealth of knowledge from Ferrandi chefs, including cultural information about the recipes, as well as tips and tricks to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls. Specific recipes are presented with three different tiers: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. Level 1 is the traditional or classical French version of the pastry, which is often the most approachable version for beginners to pastry and dessert making. Level 2  recipes are elevated versions of the classic recipes. And Level 3 recipes are direct from renowned pastry chefs and feature more sophisticated techniques and unique twists. What level you choose will depend on your experience, skill level and personal preference.

In addition to an extremely extensive repertoire of recipes and an innovative approach to skill levels, French Pâtisserie also offers something that is shockingly unique in the realm of cook books: illustrations. There are 1,087 color illustrations in this book, and many of those illustrations provide readers with informative and useful visuals, such as how to roll certain types of dough, what your mixtures should look like at various stages of the recipe process, placement guides and much more.

I would consider French Pâtisserie highly valuable for professional and aspiring-professional pastry chefs who can benefit immeasurably from this thorough guide to the best techniques, tricks and recipes that Ferrandi has to offer.

But I also heartily recommend French Pâtisserie to home chefs, and even people like me with little baking and pastry experience, because the detailed step-by-step presentation which makes following the recipes (especially the Level 1 recipes) very straightforward. So far, I've used the book to make waffles, jam, homemade marshmallows and a somewhat unsuccessful but still delicious take on the book's recipe for caramel and vanilla religieuses. 

French Pâtisserie: Master Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts is currently in print and available from most online retailers.

 [A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher]

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