Saturday, November 7, 2020

Book Review: Petite Patisserie: 180 Easy Recipes for Elegant French Treats


 © Petite Patisserieby Christophe Felder and Camille Lesecq,Rizzoli New York, 2020.Photography ©Laurent Fau.

Petite Patisserie: 180 Easy Recipes for Elegant French Treats is the latest collaboration between Christophe Felder and Camille Lesecq, two renowned pastry chefs whose current ventures include Les P√Ętissiers, a patisserie operating in Mutzig, Alsace.

French-style patisseries are popular around their world for their tendency towards indulgence, whether that indulgence shows itself through a rich tart or a delicate flaky pastry that melts in your mouth. 'Petite Patisserie' features an astonishing 180 recipes that cover a breadth of French and French-inspired patisserie goodies; you will find a seemingly endless list of brioches, cakes, madeleines, napoleons, tarts, petits fours, and even a fanciful children's party cake titled "Madame Chicken Licken." (The fun, silly children’s cakes are listed at the end in a section appropriately titled: Funday.)

Each section of this recipe book is broken up into days of the week, with each ‘day’ evoking a certain culinary theme. As the days continue, the recipes become more complex. Before the proper recipes begin, the book includes a series of basic recipes that you can refer to for creating pastries, creams, pastes and other building-blocks used throughout the book.


 © Petite Patisserieby Christophe Felder and Camille Lesecq,Rizzoli New York, 2020.Photography ©Laurent Fau.

Each recipe is laid out in a simple, informative manner that makes them easy to read, understand and follow along as you bake. I found that the recipes were detailed enough to keep you on track, without being so overly complex that they were overwhelming. The recipes even include notes for substitutions or other helpful hints for the best outcome. Each recipe features a photo of the final product, and if you’re like me, your book will soon be stuffed with bookmarks for delicious goods you want to try next based on the photos alone. (To quote my 4 year old niece, who sat next to me while I did a flip through: “Oh, these look yumm-mmy.”)

Like many others, I’ve spent some of my extended time at home over the past few months practicing my baking skills. With that in mind, I wanted to try a few recipes that intimidated me instead of sticking to ones I know I could (however messily) pull off. There are tons of recipes in this book that I want to try out someday, but fate intervened through a great sale on a bulk bag of nice quality pistachios, so I stuck with three pistachio-heavy recipes. The three I choice were a pistachio custard tart, pistachio blondies, and pistachio panna cotta. The recipes all call for pistachio paste, and the book provides a handy recipe for making your own, although you could certainly do these recipes with a pre-made paste if you wish.

I won’t pretend that my results looked as beautiful as the ones featured in this book (and I did make an amateur mistake with my blondies which promoted a retry!) but I’m not a professional chef nor a food designer, so I didn't expect them to come out picture perfect.

 What matters most to me--the taste!--is what shined through. I love pistachios and pistachio flavors, so these recipes really hit the spot for me. I do recommend that if you are going to make your own pistachio paste and you’ve never done it before (and I certainty hadn’t) you should 1) spring for nice quality pistachios, because they are forming the base of the paste, so the nicer they are the nicer the paste will taste; and 2) make sure your food processor can finely grind down the pistachios, as I ended up having to emergency-borrow a better processor to get the results I needed.

 © Petite Patisserieby Christophe Felder and Camille Lesecq,Rizzoli New York, 2020.Photography ©Laurent Fau.

While many of the recipes do look intimidating, the instructions are clear and helpful enough that I feel that that many of them (particularly the simpler recipes) can be tackled with some patience and the willingness to try, try again.

I recommend this book for anyone with a love of French patisserie and a readiness to try out some delicious, well-planned recipes that are sure to appease your craving for something delicious.

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

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