Collecting cookbooks has become something of a hobby for myself and Craig, with a third of our bookshelf dedicated to the art of cooking – both savoury and sweet. We’ve got books dedicated solely to chocolate, bread and even European baking and when ever I go to a friends house one of the first things I do is peruse their cookbook selection.
So, I thought why not showcase each book on my baking bookshelf with a review and a peek at my favourite recipes from each! I’ve broken it down into a few sections; my must bake recipe, three challenging bakes and three bakes more suited to a beginner. Hopefully this will give a good insight into each cookbook for any baker!
So to kick all this off, I thought I’d start with one of my favourite cookbooks; Patisserie Made Simple by Edd Kimber. I bought this back in 2014 at the London Cake and Bake Show, and managed to bump into the man himself whilst purchasing! Slightly awkward, but it was awesome to meet him and he signed my book which was so lovely.
The book is essentially a love letter to France, with both traditional and more modern recipes included. French patisserie is somewhat of an art form, but this book is totally accessible. Its not full of complicated recipes that you’ll coo at but never try. Edd makes you feel like you can tackle an opera cake, or a paris brest without wasting a load of expensive ingredients!
So, what’s my favourite recipe you ask? It’s mine (and my nans!) much loved Pear Tart. This is such a fail-safe recipe. Pastry has never been my strong suit, but I’ve always produced a gorgeously crisp pastry, fluffy frangipane and perfectly done pear with this recipe. Its a total crowdpleaser, so much so that I’ve gotten on the train with this tart still warm from the oven just so my family could have it again! You can check out my blog post dedicated to this recipe here.
Now onto the more challenging recipes from the book. First up, a coffee tart that I made with my best friend one New Years Eve. Though it has many stages; chocolate pastry, sponge fingers, a ganache and mascarpone cream its actually pretty easy to put together. The piped cream finish also looks so impressive.
Secondly, is a Christmas favourite the buche de noel. I made this twice for one Christmas it was that good. The sponge is so gorgeously light, and the frangelico syrup gives just the right warmth. Again, it’s not as hard as you’d expect to make, you just have to trust yourself with the sponge rolling!!
Finally, I’m talking about the glorious gateau opera! So far I haven’t actually plucked up the courage to make this, though its next on my list for a special occasion! The key to an opera cake is precision. Something that I struggle with a little aesthetically. The recipe goes across two pages, but I wouldn’t let that put you off. Its all about breaking it down into stages!
So, now we’re onto the bakes that are a little easier and more accessible to the occasional baker. The first two are not bakes in the traditional sense. Pate de Fruit (essentially amazing fruit pastilles) and chai tea caramels, both of which I made as presents last Christmas. The pate de fruit can be quite time consuming as the fruit needs to passed through a sieve, but the fact that you’re making fruit pastilles totally makes up for it! A childhood sweet reborn!
Caramels are deceptively easy to make, but everyone is always so impressed when they find out you’ve made them. A win win situation in my eyes! Chai tea gives a unique flavour to the caramels that you would only really find in a posh sweet shop. Wrapping them up in baking paper makes them adorable presents too!
Finally, the financier. Theres a market stall in Borough Market that first introduced me to the financier, and life has been better for it ever since! A treat first made to be eaten on the go by workers in the financial district of Paris, is a slightly denser and therefore crumb-free cake! My favourite is a pistachio version!
So thats it! A glance in at one of my favourite cookbooks Patisserie Made Simple which I hope has enticed you to give French baking a try! I must also say, the photography and food styling throughout the book is gorgeous – which for someone aspiring to improve my food photography is a great inspiration!
I’ll be back in two weeks with another review 🙂
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