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The Art of French Pastry Hardcover – Deckle Edge, December 3, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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*Starred Review* Nowhere else do chemistry, physics, and aesthetics combine so elegantly and tastily as in the hands of a great pastry chef. Alsatian-born Pfeiffer now teaches a demanding Chicago culinary program, and his years of experience with classic French baking have come together in a volume that’s the next best thing to actually learning directly from the master’s hands. Rigorously detailed instructions transmit essential techniques for producing not only pastry itself but also concocting custard creams, jams, fillings, sauces, icings, and glazes. Both photographs and graphics show how ingredients come together for each individual creation. Some of the book’s most valuable information appears in sidebars. Here Pfeiffer reveals tricks of the trade and secrets that mere ingredient lists never fully explain, such as how a day’s humidity level can affect a particular pastry’s success or failure. Anyone studying to be a professional baker will profit from Pfeiffer’s guidance, and the amateur cook can vastly improve family desserts. --Mark Knoblauch
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (December 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030795935X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307959355
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an absolutely fantastic book on the fine art of French pastry! Chef Pfeiffer gives the reader all the tips and tricks necessary to turn out very fine pastries. As well, he weaves in little stories of his own life as a pastry chef that elevate this book above the basic pastry texts. The stories are the hidden gems in the book! Do not be dismayed that this book seems a little technical. The science presented is in fact very basic and easy to understand, but it is completely necessary in order to achieve consistency and to avoid mistakes. As an example, all recipes have ingredients scaled by weight. Finally, a pastry text that drives home the need for proper scaling! No more cups, teaspoons, etc. Far too many baking books still use flour measured in volume with no explanation of the exact technique, the result being unreproducible results or a failed recipe. Not so this text!

I consider myself a pastry hobbyist. I am not an expert and I do not bake every day. However, when I do bake I want consistent results. To that end I have taken a fair number of pastry classes. This book is the next best thing to taking a class from a master. And the best thing about this master is that he knows his audience, because he's taught pastry novices for years. He already knows your potential mistakes and points them out before you make them! So do yourself a favor. If you enjoy French pastries and you want to improve your technique, then buy this book! It is the only book on French pastry that you will ever need.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a reasonably good cook, but have always been intimidated by pastry. Cookbooks are often a poor substitute or videos or personal instruction, but this one stands out in all respects. It is crystal clear and logically organized, beginning with the repetitive building blocks that lead to success in the later full recipes. The author seems to anticipate every question that one might have and distills the years of experience as a professional into guidance that an amateur can understand without "dumbing it down" or substituting shortcuts for true technique. I commend the amount of testing that must have gone into the book, for I have yet to find a flawed recipe. It is a challenging book, for it is a complex subject, but It has made me brave and at last, competent, in the pastry kitchen.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I work as a pastry chef and I have a huge library of cookbooks, from culinary texts to home baker-type books. I like this book, I like the descriptions, and the recipes. It's not a definitive collection of pastries from across France, but it does have an easy, accessible style and reliable recipes. I would not hesitate to make this book a gift for a passionate home baker or a professional pastry chef. I'm glad I have it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book and can't stop talking about it to anyone who will listen. I have been a keen cook since childhood and own many, many cookbooks but recently I started to feel stuck in a rut and ready to learn something new. After a couple of trips to France in the past few years, I decided I would like to learn how to replicate some of the delicious pastries my husband and I sampled during our travels. A chocolate eclair in Australia is a far cry from one from Fauchon! Unfortunately with a young child, attending a renowned pastry school is just not possible, nor is the cost. Here is where Jacquy Pfeiffer's wonderful book has filled the void. Part manual, part science book, part autobiography, part delicious cookbook - this book is for the cook that wants to learn the proper French way to make pastry. A bit of advice though, if you want the professional results then you need to buy the right tools and ingredients. If you are not sure about this bit, you should take advantage of the Look Inside feature - luckily it has both the ingredients and tools pages so you know what is required before you purchase the book. Since my purchase I have made choux paste, chocolate creme patissiere and chocolate eclairs. I have also successfully made brioche. I am now reading up on puff pastry and waiting for cooler weather because Jacquy knows best! I have gained a lot of confidence in my baking abilities with this book and hope that if you decide to purchase this book that you get as much enjoyment out of it as I have.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Update on January 18, 2014
I added a star since the original review. I have now tried several of the recipes in the book, and I am pleased to report that the results were fantastic. The most significant discovery for me was the pie crusts. That alone was worth the price of admission. Two pie recipes - wild blueberry and lemon -- were very successful, although I cheated and left out the complex meringue topping on the lemon pie and used lime instead b/c that's what I had handy, the results nonetheless were amazing. Be aware that the chef's approach to technique can be daunting and overly precise, but I prefer that to too lax and imprecise. You can always adjust (as I did witht the lemon pie) thanks to his detailed explanations of the ingredients and reasons for the techniques used. As for the Kindle version, I discovered that when using the desktop computer Kindle app, navigation works nicely. So, the problem is with the software on the Kindle iPad app. Can't fault the book publishers for that.

I still stand by my original criticism about the lack of instructive photos, video links, and the overload on Alsatian-based recipes including pretzels. In the bigger scheme of what the book actually delivers -- beautiful results - those are just nitpicking details. Just ironic for a book called the Art of French Pastry. Funny how a title can effect expectations. Anyway, I look forward to learning more proper pastry technique. I would have given this four and a half stars if that were possible.

The Original Review: I pre-ordered the Kindle version believing that there would be a savings in pre-ordering. Hmm. wrong. Within a few days of the release, the price plunged six dollars. So much for pre-ordering.
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