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The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts Hardcover – Nov 1 2009
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Keep in mind that the ingredients are listed in grams and ounces -- you'll need a kitchen scale. It's easy to get used to, but if you don't have one you can't even begin.
I do have one big complaint. As another reviewer mentioned, there are ERRORS in the recipes. (At the end of the genoise recipe, in the "tips" section, it says that for a 6-inch cake you use x amount of flour and an 8-inch cake, y amount...but shouldn't that be in the ingredients section? And if not there, shouldn't it say, in the ingredients section, "see page z for flour amounts"? I would think so.) An example is the lemon cake recipe. In the body it mentions adding sugar twice, but it's only listed once. I worried I'd get a sickeningly sweet cake if I added too much, so I only put in the amount listed...and got a blah, boring cake. (Though the light-as-a-cloud texture was delightful. Too bad it wasn't tasty, too.) And then sometimes equipment is in the ingredients section...line breaks are off... there are pictures of the execution of recipes that contradict the directions in the recipe... I found it very strange.
For an art that is as exacting as French pastries are, it's all the more striking that there are so many errors in the book. Most of the final products are AMAZING. But I wish they had paid as much attention to detail in the editing as you need to do to make pastries.
This is a BIG book, and though I initially read the book all the way through, it's obviously better suited as a reference book, not a read-it-in-bed-as-you-fall-asleep book. It's just too heavy & bulky to read easily as a bedside book! I also liked the inclusion of not one, but *two* ribbon bookmarks to help mark pages for easy reference. Beautiful book, and worth every dime!
I am not a professional, but I do have quite a bit of experience.
I tried the Frazier Victoria (FV). This recipe requires Creme Moussiline (CM) which is Creme Patissiere (CP) with butter incorporated after completing the CP. The recipe never specifically explains that a double batch of the CP recipe is needed to properly make the CP (and complete the two cakes the FV recipe makes). I figured this out while assembling the cakes and being able to complete only one cake (and later realizing I had made the CM with twice the butter!)! I went back and checked the yield required for the CM and then saw that the yield for the CP needed to be doubled to obtain the final yield of the CM. Pretty obscure way to do it, but maybe a pro would know this........although, the CM yield is shown in grams and pounds; the CP yield is shown in liters ~ thank you very much!
Although there are a lot of pictures, there are more recipes without than with. Some of those with, don't show the completed pastry (if unfamiliar with that particular one, how do you do it!?!). Also, written instructions do not always sync with the pictures shown.
My impression of the book is that the FCI chefs contributed recipes, but no one ever checked them for the "not" professional Pastry Chef and no one went through the book so they were presented in a consistent, step-by-step manner to increase one's success rate.
If there is a second printing, and I think there should be (and hope there will be), they should take the time to re-work the book and send everyone that bought the first printing new one, at no charge!!!