This high quality book (as is usually the case with Flammarion titles), features what may or may not be Eric Kayser's favourite tarts. Have no illusions, pastry chefs rarely develop a recipe for a product to sell in their shop and then just publish it for the general public!
This work has beautiful photographs, gloss paper, artistic presentation and a very easy to use layout. Each recipe is alloted a full page photograph and in most cases there are photos of the procedures.
Mr Kayser is not a pastry chef but first and foremost a baker. His tarts reflect this as they are rich, hearty affair with a generous rustique appearance. The simple but hearty presentation makes one's mouth water.
As other reviewers have mentioned, we are dealing with a somewhat dodgy translation here. The Metric weights and their volume equivalents are not the same in way too many recipes. Case in point the chocolate short pastry: It sais 400g of cake flour and the volume is stated as 4.5 cups. 4.5 cups is about 600g or more(!) thus transforming the otherwise balanced recipe to a sandstone!
Also some recipes do not correspond to the photos. On page 66, the artichoke,tapenade and parmesan quiche asks for 400g of pate brisee and in the adjacent photo of the product the pastry is bread dough. On the same recipe the 400g are stated as 1Lb in the volume measures, while 1Lb is exactly 454g. Similarly the apple and raisin tart on page 121 calls for puff pastry, but the photo of the product shows what looks like a shortbread base. I don't know if this is a mistake of the original or of the translation, but considering all the other mistakes I lean towards the latter.
Let this not prevent you from buying the book though. The Metric weights, that by sheer Providence have remained in the book after the translation are accurate and proper. I only use Metric so I don't mind the messed volume measures. It is the best way to make pastry, accurate with consistent results. I would advise all aspiring home bakers/pastry chefs out there to acquire a scale and go Metric.
To the contents now. There are 20 savory tarts and quiches, 25 fruit tarts, 10 chocolate tarts and 5 sweet tarts with variable main ingredients. Add to this the many basic recipes for tart and bread doughs, including puff and croissant doughs and you get a pretty good package for the money.
The basic pastry section states the recipes, the method and in small photographs the products made using each dough along with the page to find them. This can be very useful as each recipe is for three 24cm/9.5 inch square pans, or three 26cm/10 inch round pans. So if you make the whole recipe instead of scaling it down you know where to use the leftover dough.
Mr Kayser does not use too much butter to make his doughs flavorful as other authors do. The flavor comes from the quality of the ingredients and the balanced recipes. I have something to note though concerning the yeasted doughs. They are all done in the space of (at the most) 2 hours by using a lot of yeast. My advice is to half the yeast and place the dough, covered, in the refrigerator for about 8 hours, or overnight. This method makes for excellent flavorful dough.
There are instructions and tips dispersed all over the book and they are helpful and very easy to follow.
In the savory section my personal favorites are:
Smoked trout and fennel tart.
Leek, anchovy and tapenade quiche.
Chanterelle and duck breast tart.
Marinated salmon and mozzarella tart (with pesto).
Artichoke, tapenade and parmesan quiche.
From the fruit section I would single out:
Cherry clafoutis tart.
Mirabelle almond tart.
Normandy apple tart.
Apricot pistachio tart.
In the chocolate section the 'White chocolate and raspberry tart' and the 'chocolate trio tart' stand out and from the sweet section I like the Fig and pecan tart.
I have to note that the book has no index.
Despite the faults of the translation I really do like this book and I am not sorry that I bought it. I ordered it together with 'Mes Tarts' by Christine Ferber and although the latter has the name of the translator prominently depicted on the cover, it still has mistakes in the quantities. Between the two books I prefer Eric Kayser's book.