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on February 7, 2001
As an accomplished home baker, I thought I could bake with the best of them, but this book showed me that there's a whole, more advanced world of pies, cakes, pastries, breads, ice cream, chocolates, baking decorations (sugar, icing, etc.)!!!
Best of all, like a textbook, it shows, with step-by-step color pictures, how to do it all. Working with it, I definitely felt like a pastry chef-in-training.
What I loved about it, too was the fact that there are so many basic "formulas" for specific types of bread doughs, cookie doughs, cake batter, etc. Once you master a "formula" and a technique, there are MANY recipes for variations--but you also feel confident enough to improvise!
There's also lots of techniques for advanced things, like sugarwork (I saw Martha Stewart doing a sugar cage once on TV, and they have a "how-to" in here), how to make chocolates (professionals "temper" theirs to make them shiny), how to make cake decorations like flowers, etc. There's even a section on ice cream desserts.
In all, a really good book for anyone who wants a more in-depth knowledge of baking, pastry and other desserts--how to bake like a pro!
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on April 26, 2009
The new edition of Wayne Gisslen's Professional Baking is a make-over, and a good one. Obviously pointed towards the advanced amateur more than previous editions, Gisslen's book gives step-by-step instructions that never fail to produce good product. In older editions, the formulae were professionally scaled, making small batches difficult to produce but not impossible. The new edition starts with small batches, and then provides the large batches in the back. I have to say this new edition is an improvement, with big bright pictures, interesting and complex formulae, and down-to-earth instructions most people can handle. If you buy only one baking book, I think this should be the one.
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on July 9, 2003
The second edition is much better. I bought this (3rd) edition for my culinary school baking class while everyone else was still using the 2nd edition. (My class started in October 2000 just as the 3rd edition was being released. I wanted to be on the cutting edge when compared to my fellow students so I bought the then-new book; everyone else had the 2nd editon.)
None of my recipes turned out compared to those using the same recipe in the second edition. Upon closer examination, we found discrepancies in quantities in nearly every recipe over the second edition. For example, many recipes had differing weight values for metric versus imperial measurments. Unfortunately, this wasn't consistant in that metric was "always" higher than imperial. Sometimes the metric measurement was higher (off), and sometimes it was less (still off). Sometimes one tablespoon equalled 28 grams (it should be 15 grams [rounded]) other times 1 ounce equalled 15 grams (it should be 28 grams).
Buy the used 2nd edition to get a quality book. It's acurate, even if there are fewer photos and recipes.
Note: I have many Wayne Gisslen books and I think very highly of him as a culinarian. I think his other books equal five stars. He is a quality author and we're lucky to have him author so many high-value culinarian books. The problem with this particular book is the editing. This had to have been edited by a rookie editor. There is simply no other excuse for such a highly regarded author to publish a book with so many errors sliding by to publication.
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on March 21, 2001
Very good book, very comprehensive. Just be warned that everything is done by weights and the recipies make really big batches for the standard home cook. You'll probably need to scale them down.
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on March 22, 2001
Before I read this book, I though I knew a little about baking. Now I know I that I knew very little about baking. To me, flour was just flour. Now I know which type of flour is best for which recipe. There is so much information packed into this book, it's a wonder that it doesn't burst.
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on October 1, 2013
I have this book and the advanced baking and pastry by Michel Suas when I took my beginning and advanced baking classes at my Culinary school and I have to say I used this book more. I baked similar products from both books and i like the ones i got from this book. Plus, i think that this book is easier to follow, not because this is for beginners and the other one is for advanced bakers, but because the recipes are laid out much better to read and understand. The ingredients and recipes and procedures are almost the same on both books but this book is just more easier to look at. The advantage of the advanced baking and pastry book is that it goes more in depth on information on some topics like artisan breads, and it has fancier cakes and desserts than the professional baking book.
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on June 28, 2010
This is an excellent book. Many of the recipes are from original the Le Cordon Bleu (Paris)archives. I'm a grad of the Le Cordon Bleu-USA Baking and Pastry program, and this was our primary textbook.

A caveat for the home chef: This book is formatted for the professional pastry chef in that the majority of the recipes give the quantities for the ingredients in METRIC weight, as well as in "baker's percentages" - rather than by quantity (as in: cups/teaspoons/tablespoon/ozs.) - so you'll want to have a kitchen scale handy to make good use of this book, especially if you plan to use it at home.

Also: Le Cordon Bleu's version of "baker's percentages" differs from the version used in some of the Culinary Institute of America (a.k.a)the "C.I.A.")textbooks, AND the C.I.A. textbook also gives their weights U.S. "lbs./ozs.", rather than in metric. This was a surprise to me as well, and so I've learned to double-check...

(SHEESH!: Am I the only one old enough to remember back when the U.S. was supposed switch to metric like the whole rest of the world - or is it just me? ;-)

- The good news is that small kitchen scales are now easily available inexpensively online, in restaurant supply stores, and in some retail kitchenware stores. *Make sure you get one that can be set to metric weight (grams) and not only in lbs./ozs., or it'll make it much more difficult to use this excellent book, especially at home.

BTW: The other great thing about this book is that once you learn the basic principles, as well as the basic master recipes in this book, you can bake like a pro, and you too can have the pleasure of laughing your *whatever* off when "Iron"/"Top"/"Pro"/"Impossible", etc. "savory" chefs on TV cooking shows and contests freak out or cry like babies at the prospect of having to bake a cake or make a simple dessert like a pastry chef - or even like your grandma...

So hey you "pro" TV chef-type guys BobbyMikeyAnthony, and that other guy who didn't cook for the Queen of England after all: How about some props and respect to us pastry chefs - AND to your grandma!
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on September 21, 2012
I bought this for my baking classes in college. This book is so good, I find myself reading way beyond the assigned reading for classes. So much information, excellent step-by-step instructions with pictures, and it explains the science that makes baking work. Definitely a book I'll keep for the rest of my career.
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on September 14, 2012
Book is great, only major changes are that this version does not include method cards and the recipes that call for fresh yeast in the 5th edition have been replaced with instant in this one.
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on February 2, 2013
I like it. Plenty of technical information and fills in the blanks about the 'why' for anything I question that other sources may jot answer. I like the history tidbits given, and the recipes are pretty decent as well. I bought this used for a baking class. We use it every day.
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