THE SECRETS OF BAKING: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts

Sherry Yard, Author, Jacques Pepin, Foreword by , foreword by Jacques Pépin. Houghton Mifflin $35.95 (395p) ISBN 978-0-618-13892-0

With an air of authority and an enthusiastic tone, Yard sets out to prove that pastry making need not be a complicated affair. Yard, the executive pastry chef at Spago Beverly Hills, has an easy didactic style that comes across in her spunky text and straightforward recipes. She divides her book into 12 master recipe chapters (such as Ganache, Vanilla Sauce and Brioche) instead of sticking to the conventional sections on cookies, cakes and tarts. This refreshing approach brings to light the relationships between certain recipes—how, for example, the chocolate and cream in the Master Ganache can be transformed into Campton Place Hot Chocolate, with minor adjustments in ingredient quantities and cooking methods. Yard also is generous with variations, offering a handful of optional approaches to most recipes. Her desire is to teach the reader the fundamentals, and then apply them to more complicated (but often very doable) dishes. Headnotes are peppered with encouragements like "Remember, whisking by hand burns calories." Sometimes, the text can become cumbersome with scientific explanations, such as the pH scale discussion in the Curds chapter. But as Yard explains in her introduction, "I show you how the ingredients interact with one another, so you'll know the reasons behind the steps you're following." A wide range of recipes makes the book accessible to all levels, allowing novices to become comfortable with pastry basics and professionals to combine multiple recipes to create more complicated impressive confections. (Nov. 4)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
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