Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
An beautiful reference book for both classic and modern French pastry
on February 19, 2012
Other reviewers have noticed some typos and omissions in this book; clearly there are some, and I hope that the publisher will produce an errata sheet as soon as possible.
Still, in sum, this is just a fantastic work in every other way and I'm not regretting having bought it at all; in fact, I'd recommend that anyone interested in French pastry buy it immediately. I was thinking of docking the book one star for these problems, but in retrospect, I decided that this book is so outstanding on other dimensions, that I still think its worth five stars to its intended audience.
To give you some background about me, I went to cooking school in France and have been a fan of Pierre Herme's for years. I have a number of his French language books as well.
There are simply very few English language publications that go through the entire oeuvre of French pastry and give carefully refined and well thought out versions of every one of the classics. This book does that, and it does it very well. It's just really nice having a definitive recipe for basic things like chocolate eclairs and vanilla mille feuilles. But, I just love the way he's structured it. For each 'classic,' there's also Pierre Herme's modern interpretation of the recipe, with new flavors and methods.
I have no doubt that these are the precise and actual recipes used by Herme himself. It does not appear that anything has been left out or 'dumbed down' for the US audience. Sometimes this means that you may have go to a professional ingredient supplier to get certain items, but these days with the internet, this is not really a problem.
All of the recipes are laid out with metric, weight measurements. As some have mentioned, the conversions to volume measures might be off in certain cases. If I were making one of these recipes, I would rely on the weight measurements and ignore the volumes. I think anyone tackling professional recipes like these probably owns a scale.
Ultimately, this is a professional book, or for people with a very intense interest in pastry. These are time consuming but extremely interesting recipes which pass on many 'tips of the trade' that are missing from most American publications. It is also a beautiful coffee table book for those who don't plan to make any of the recipes (and those people won't care about the occasional typo.)
About the only thing I wish this book had were some line drawing diagrams that show how the elements of each recipe actually get put together. Many of the more complex desserts have 6-8 different elements, and seeing visually how they come together would make it much easier to produce the recipe.