Here is my first suggestion if you are thinking of buying Pâtisserie by William and Suzy Curley -- allow yourself at least an extra day to just look at the marvelous pastries pictured in this book. It seems nowadays that with competition from other media, book publishers have moved to lower grade paper and have overall reduced the quality of publications. Pâtisserie is an exception to this trend. This sumptuous book draws the reader from page to page, amazing creation to amazing creation.
My second suggestion -- plan a trip to your favorite pastry shop, because after looking at Pâtisserie you are going to need a sugar fix.
Finally - prepare to get down to some serious baking.
While the authors of Pâtisserie have definitely put a lot of effort into making this book approachable for the home baker, and mostly they have succeeded, the upscale professional pastry chef will benefit from it too. Instructions are clear, although occasionally a little too 'shorthand' for the beginning home baker, with ample illustrations. I particularly like the way foundations are presented in recipes for various elements, and then combined into sophisticated creations. Many of the foundation recipes show on the page the final recipes that use them. For example, the Sea Slat Caramel recipe says that it is used in the Caramel Chantilly; the Chocolate, Banana and Peanut Caramel Bar; Les Misérable, and Chocolate Macaron.
The book is full of history and stories about the origin of various pastries and ingredients, making it more interesting than an straight recipe book. It also has numerous tips and shortcuts such as freezing the filling for a Pithivier for a couple of hours to make assembly easier. I wish I had known that before!
I know Pâtisserie will have an honored place on my bookshelf, close to hand so that I can reference it often.
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