My top baking book: the fundamental techniques of classic pastry arts – The French Culinary Institute

Yup, there’s not much fluff to that one – except silky creme pats and other buttercreams…
But this is my go to, my bible, my carta magna. The thing with pastry is that it is an exact and exacting discipline. There are precise measurements and sequenced steps and they are all there for very good reasons. After all, think about it, the basics of patisserie involve the same ingredients over and over again – fat, flour, eggs, sugar – but in infinite combinations from thin crepe batter to crumbly sponges. So no wonder that any small variation will affect the end result, let alone big ones!
How many times have you read a recipe and thought: ok, it says to whisk the egg whites now, but why and am I doing this right?
And as a beginner in the recipe writing game, I can see how there it much to this art.
And so this is why I love this imposing but inviting tome. It is a complete (if not exhaustive) patisserie course – follow it to the letter is a sure way to turn anyone into a very proficient pastry master. But it doesn’t have to be that involved either, I can’t pretend that I’ve done the above!
This was on my Christmas list while i was last on maternity leave and desperate for creative things to do at home – having two wee ones made me much less mobile! So although I’d already been a keen baker, it’s only then that I truly made the step to really learn how to bake.
What I love about this book is that it is very detailed but to the point, offers method, clarity and real pro tips. Yes, it’s crucial to truly follow instructions, but the important things is that they WORK. Madeleines turn proustian, ganaches rich and silky, meringues hold their own, and so on. It also gives background info about were recipes come from which really help understand them.

I’m not going to detail any recipes here, I just wanted to declare my love and loyalty to this epic volume.

If you ever feel that you really want to progress and understand baking, this is my top recommendation…IMG_0857.JPG

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