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The Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts [Hardcover]

Sherry Yard , Jacques Pepin
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 4 2003
The Secrets of Baking is a comprehensive primer that guides the cook through the world of baked goods and other desserts, from time-honored classics of the French patisserie to the inspired and fanciful creations that made Spago the famous restaurant it is today. At the same time, it advances a radically new understanding of these recipes, one that will give the baker greater flexibility and confidence in the kitchen.
Instead of grouping desserts into traditional categories (pies, cakes, cookies), Sherry Yard arranges them around crucial master recipes. Starting with these recipes -- simple, basic guidelines for making caramel, chocolate sauce, lemon curd, pound cake, and brioche, to name just a few -- Yard shows the cook how to create dozens of variations. Knowing how ingredients interact opens the door to a multitude of baking possibilities. For example, cream puff dough forms the foundation for éclairs, profiteroles, and the caramel-coated tower the French call croquembouche, but understanding how and why it behaves the way it does allows the cook to create deep-fried beignets, mascarpone-filled cannolis, or simmering-hot dumplings.
This authoritative, friendly bake-shop bible contains fascinating mini-lessons on food science, illuminating bits of baking history, and time-saving tips. Newcomers to the world of baking will feel at ease with such simple, homey desserts as Banana Bread and Mississippi Mud Pie, and elaborate show-stoppers like Chocolate Brioche Sandwich with Espresso Gelato and Blackberry-Lime-Filled Doughnuts with Blackberry Sorbet and Berries will transform amateur bakers into expert pastry chefs.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

With an air of authority and an enthusiastic tone, Yard sets out to prove that pastry making need not be a complicated affair. Yard, the executive pastry chef at Spago Beverly Hills, has an easy didactic style that comes across in her spunky text and straightforward recipes. She divides her book into 12 master recipe chapters (such as Ganache, Vanilla Sauce and Brioche) instead of sticking to the conventional sections on cookies, cakes and tarts. This refreshing approach brings to light the relationships between certain recipes-how, for example, the chocolate and cream in the Master Ganache can be transformed into Campton Place Hot Chocolate, with minor adjustments in ingredient quantities and cooking methods. Yard also is generous with variations, offering a handful of optional approaches to most recipes. Her desire is to teach the reader the fundamentals, and then apply them to more complicated (but often very doable) dishes. Headnotes are peppered with encouragements like "Remember, whisking by hand burns calories." Sometimes, the text can become cumbersome with scientific explanations, such as the pH scale discussion in the Curds chapter. But as Yard explains in her introduction, "I show you how the ingredients interact with one another, so you'll know the reasons behind the steps you're following." A wide range of recipes makes the book accessible to all levels, allowing novices to become comfortable with pastry basics and professionals to combine multiple recipes to create more complicated impressive confections.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Yard...has an easy didactic style that comes across in her spunky text and straightforward recipes. A wide range of recipes makes the book accessible to all level, allowing novices to become comfortable with pastry basics and professional to combine multiple recipes to create more complicated confections." Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly

"A sensational sweet treat . . . A practical paean to premier pastries." Bookpage

"Yard gives us the lowdown on how to make restaurant-glamorous desserts at home. What a treat to be let in on the secrets of one of L.A.'s best pastry chefs." Los Angeles Times

"Immensly appealing...Detailed and clearly written...Yard's book is approachable enough for the novice and even challenging enough for the experienced baker." Library Journal Starred

"likely to be as influential for the next generation of pastry chefs as that of her fellow Angelena Nancy Silverton."-New York Times Book Review

New York Times Book Review Notable Book

"The tone of Sherry Yard's book makes her feel like a new best friend who just happens to be the pastry chef at the most famous restaurant in tinsletown.....she takes the well-codified genre of desserts and sets it down in a new way, using recipes and techniques as building blocks....I'm not a pastry chef, but I find this volume almost empowering" -- Gourmet Gourmet

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Baking I Have Seen. Highly Recommended April 27 2004
Sherry Yard, pastry chef at Spago Beverly Hills, has written the very best book for the amateur baker. If you bake, I advise you to stop reading this review and order this book from Amazon. Do it now ....
If you are still here, I'll tell you why I believe this book is so good.
First, there is the simple, illuminating organization which breaks major baking products down into twelve master recipes and explains all the things which distinguish each category from others and explains the factors which make these preparations work and which actions can lead to unsatisfactory results. There are so many good books on baking that promise this kind of systematic treatment but don't deliver. I was disappointed, for example, in reading Nick Malgieri's book, 'How to Bake' when I saw that it was not much more than an organized collection of good recipes. Another recently reviewed book did an excellent job of presenting 'modular' recipes where various preparations could be mixed and matched, yet they failed to advance our understanding of baking technique by proper grouping of, for example, cheesecake with custards rather than with cakes.
The twelve topics in this book are Ganache, Caramel, Curd, Vanilla Sauce, Pate a Choux, Pound Cake and Genoise, Financier, Cookies, Pie and Tart Dough, Brioche, Laminated Dough, and Fruit.
Second, the grouping of recipes makes learning several recipes within a group much easier than if each were tackled independently. The discussion of each preparation begins with a 'family tree' which shows the relation between different recipes which fall within that method and the variation to the method which produces the branches to the tree. The first general method, ganache, has three variations.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Sherry Yard, 2002 James Beard winner for Best Pastry Chef and Executive Pastry Chef for Wolfgang Puck Worldwide has absolutely scored an A+ with this book. Forget everything you know about cookbooks - chapter after chapter organized by type of dessert or flavor with little instruction or explanation of the science involved and the inspiration behind the dish - this book is a revolution. She has organized the book in chapters based on the basics that every pastry chef needs in their repetoire. She teaches you those basics (master recipes as she calls them) and then lets you vary and combine them to make signature desserts of your own. She throws in a few signature desserts of her own just to get you started. Beautifully photographed by Ron Manville (James Beard and IACP Winning photographer) and expertly explained in terms that normal folk will not only understand but absorb. Her generous personality and infectious charm are evident throughout. The recipies are simply explained and all totally do-able. She is cheeky, irreverant, fun and entirely dedicated to her craft. I can't wait for another book from this author!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Way to go, Sherry! May 3 2004
By A Customer
I love this book. And I've read it cover to cover. I'm an amateur baker, this book had given me a lot of tips that no other books had detailed. If you're a baker and would like to get serious with your baking skill, this is the book for you! The only negative comment I have for this book is; the book is organized in such a way that if you'd like to bake a fruit tart, you have to look up sweet dough, and pastry cream in different chapters. You have to really have to figure out what exactly you'd like to bake and find the pieces of puzzle in the book and put them together. That's why I've given it a 4 stars instead of 5!
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By A Customer
This is a WONDERFUL book for anyone who enjoys baking. Ms. Yard does an excellent job of simplifying and explaining complicated techniques that would normally send a novice baker running to the nearest supermarket for a pre-made dessert. Different degrees of difficulty are found throughout the book, and one may feel comfortable trying all. The results are amazing, and I have never received such compliments at dinner parties. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to bake and entertain. With a little patience and work, you won't be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the Cake Mix Doctor...This Is It!!!!! Nov. 1 2003
I love this book. Fellow chocolate lovers, just look at the ready to eat cover!
I was hooked when I viewed the Buttermilk Birthday Cupcakes...so simple, yet so inspired (p. 156). They look like fairy cakes. My daughter's birthday is fast approaching and I have been looking for a fast, simple dessert with panache!
This is the best dessert book for the cook who wants to make an impact on her guests without disrupting her busy schedule.
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