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56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This book loves certain ingredients, gingers and almonds in particular. If you do not like these two flavors overly much than you might want to hesitate buying the book right away. For those of you who do love those flavors than this book is for you. Graced with ginger cakes, ginger cookies and a variety of almond delights mixed with luscious fruit recipes you will be pleased. Not as technically exhaustive as _Breads of the LaBrea Bakery_ this is a nice collection of recipes with some baking tips thrown in. The Breads book was exhaustive in its detail and devotion to the making of bread whereas, this book is a nice collection that is much less daunting. All the recipes can be done the same day and are not as painstaking as a multi-day day artisan bread process using starters or special equipment.On the design -- the design is done in pretty font style with a little introduction by Ms. Silverton, list of ingredients and then instructions. BE SURE to read the instructions all the way through before starting. The instructions are done in long paragraph style and you can easily lose your place if you are not careful. The recipes are fun and quite delicious -- try the ginger lemon muffins or the almond chocolate tart. The sugar levels are not too high, but nothing has been stinted in butter, heavy whipping cream or any of those ingredients that makes baking fun. The ingredients are pretty attainable at any supermarket though I was surprised that she did not give a recipe for almond paste which is an ingredient that she uses in more than one recipe. She does, however, provide a vendor in almond paste. Recipes include the use of home made puff pastry, cobblers, rumbles, scones, tarts, cakes and sweets. These are great treats and her book may make you start investing in more specialized items like cake rings but they are not necessary to enjoy this book.Highly recommended.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This would have been a delightful cookbook, but the careful eye of an editor was needed. None of the recipes I have used have been free of errors. By way of example, the author indicates that the recipe for the yummy Banana-Cocoa Muffins yields 12 muffins. Actually, there is sufficient batter for 30 good-sized muffins - but only enough garnish for 12! If followed carefully, the recipe for cannele - which should produce tender little French cakes - produces rock-hard pellets. Most of the time, an accomplished cook can work with the many many mistakes - a novice will have a great deal of trouble using this book.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I recently purchased Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery and while I'm very excited and intrigued by many of the recipes and flavor combinations, I have a few issues with some of the directions given. for example, I tried the recipe for "Viennese Cream Brioche" - a circle of rich brioche filled with creme fraiche. For one thing the directions say to divide the dough into 12 parts and roll into five-inch rounds, then place the rounds on a baking sheet to rise. Obviously 12 five-inch rounds will not fit on a standard home cookie sheet, so you will have to use at least two pans and bake in shifts. OK, I can deal with this oversight, but when baked the filling did not "set" as the recipe indicated. In fact it separated into a greasy mess and never set up. Very frustrating and waste of good brioche dough.
Some of these issues could be cleared up with a few extra photos or diagrams. Another example: in a recipe for a "Princess Ring" you are instructed to roll croissant dough around a filling and then form it into a ring, then "along the inside of the ring, about 2 inches from where the 2 ends meet, make a cut 2 inches deep, cutting 3/4 of the way through to the outside edge. Make 5 more cuts evenly spaced along the inside of the ring". I re-read this direction many times and still can't figure out what I'm supposed to do or what the finished pastry should look like. I'm an experienced baker who doesn't need a photo of a scone or muffin to know what one looks like, and I certainly wasn't expecting a glossy coffee table show piece, but a couple line drawings or photos of key steps would have really helped this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2004
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I have baked my way through this fabulous cookbook for the last couple of years and have yet to come across a better cookbook for baking. Actually, I have to respectfully disagree with the reviewer who recommends Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie & Pastry Bible over Pastries from the La Brea Bakery. Though I love Beranbaum's Cake Bible, I have found the recipes in The Pie & Pastry Bible to be fussy and rarely turn out as promised.
I consider myself a fairly experienced baker, but have always been intimidated by pastry. Yet I have tried several pastries from this cookbook and all have turned out beautifully (including the Pumpkin Pie, which is indeed the best I have ever had and got rave reviews from my Thanksgiving guests). The directions are clear and easy to follow and the sections on muffins, quickbreads, and scones will keep the novice baker busy for a while until she or he gets up the courage to try the croissants and tarts. Pity not the poor bride who gets this for a wedding gift --maybe her husband will give it a try while she's at work.
One word of caution --get ready to spend some money on kitchen equipment if you get addicted to Nancy Silverton's fabulous recipes. Some of them require cake rings and molds most home bakers don't have on hand. However, lest you be discouraged by that warning, I also have to say that many of the recipes require basic pans and tools.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book distinguishes itself by offering perfected, sophisticated recipes for rustic and gratifying sweets. Everything offered here has been thoroughly thought through-there is no haphazard combination of ingredients, instead it seeks subtle tastes and refined texture. It is an immensely valuable addition to my kitchen. I have made several items from the book since buying it (and they are many many more to go, this book doesn't skimp on the number recipes), and I would say that after years of baking, many of the recipes here are the best I've ever come across. I was introduced to Ms Silverton on the PBS series, Baking with Julia, where she made not only awesome brioche, but then used the dough for other treats, like her divine sticky buns. More recently I enjoyed seeing her in Gourmet magazine where she made French croissants seem doable. I can since attest that they are indeed-and from there I bought her new Pastries. For all its many qualities, to me to the most notable is that it brings me several yeast-risen pastries that resonate with my eastern European roots, and are immensely satisfying, to bake, share and eat.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I've made numerous recipes out of this cookbook, and have had great results with most all of them. The author provides very clear and concise instructions that are easy enough for virtually anyone to follow and produce good results. Admittedly, some of the ingredients / equipment are specialty items, but the result is well worth the extra effort. The Creme Fraiche Coffee Cake, touted as the best coffee cake ever, was indeed just that; the Breakfast Bars, while somewhat time-consuming, were fabulous, and the Farmhouse Tortes, a recipe so quick and simple that I whipped it up in just minutes, were simply divine. If you enjoy baking, this is a must for your collection. BTW - King Arthur Flour (kingarthurflour.com) is a great source for some of the specialty ingredients (including unbleached pastry flour) and tools required for some of these recipes.
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35 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the LaBrea Bakery is a mouthwatering delight. The book is divided into ten sections: quickcakes and quickbreads; savories; cobblers, crisps, and crumbles; cookies; scones; muffins; tarts; morning pastries; doughnuts; and confections. The recipes all sounded delicious, and I was eager to start making many of them.
However, I found the recipes to be overly complex, particularly for the more rustic offerings. Most recipes require unbleached pastry flour, which can be difficult to find (unbleached all-purpose flour is an acceptable alternative). Ms. Silverton uses extra large eggs, while most other cookbooks use large (no recommendations are made on how to substitute one for the other).
Most vexing was the repeated use of odd measurements, such as "1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar". When making an apple crisp, is it really necessary to measure ingredients that precisely? I suspect that these odd measurements come either from scaling down larger recipes, or from converting ingredients measured by weight to volume equivalents (with the exception of butter and a few other ingredients, weights are not provided).
This is a good book for ideas and as reference. It could have been much better with more consideration of the needs of the home baker.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Starting with the raspberry bars and going through the book, Silverton does a great job in bringing classic American favorites to our tables. I'm an experienced baker, educated by Maida Heatter's books. In between then and now I have collected hundreds of cookbooks and Pastries From LaBrea Bakery is up there in my top 10. It's takes time and patience to learn any craft. You have to collect good equipment and have a pantry ready. But why bother making it if it's not great???
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing book. Not for the beginner. This is serious pastry making. Everything I made is incomparable! Probably because her basic doughs (puff pastry, croissant, streusel, bobka, etc.)are unbeatable. Try her classic croissants, prosciutto pie, breakfast bars, ginger scones, chocolate almond cake...everything is probably just a little better that what you had been doing until then!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I was so excited to get this book and have been really disappointed with it. First off, a lot of these recipes call for special equipment like cake rings, flan molds, etc. And not just one of these items, but several for one recipe. Even through wholesale supply stores, the cost to make one of her recipes is ridiculous. Secondly, the flavors are meh. I made her cake donuts as well as her pretty pear cookies and found both to be bland and tasteless. I threw away both, and those pear cookies took hours just in prep work. Also, with the exception of a few "antiqued" ones, there are no pictures. Most of the time, I don't really need pictures to follow a recipe, but some of her instructions are unclear and a picture of what the final product is supposed to look like would be helpful.
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