The New French Baker: Perfect Pastries and Beautiful Breads from Your Kitchen

Sheila Linderman, Author, Shelia Linderman, Author, Lisa Koenig, Author William Morrow Cookbooks $35 (320p) ISBN 978-0-688-14325-1
Having spent three years working in Parisian pastry shops, Los Angles-based professional chef and baker Linderman promises a ""French baking book adapted to the American kitchen"" with recipes that ""anyone, even inexperienced bakers, can make."" It's an ambitious premise, but one that falls short on delivery. Her instructions read much like a professional culinary textbook, offering little hand-holding for tentative dessert-makers, as techniques include working with a blowtorch (for Creme Brulee), decorative piping, tricky French pastry doughs (e.g., puff pastry) and demanding creams, fillings and sauces. The chapters are organized into ""the different sections of a French bakery,"" and brief, crisply informational anecdotes regarding dessert origins (e.g., creme brulee is actually a New Orleans creation) preface recipes. Simple, straightforward directions (e.g., classic Crepes, Cat Tongues) are the exception, not the rule; many entries (e.g., Lemon Tart, Napoleans, Gateau Saint-Honore) tend to be layered, multistep preparations. While Linderman's effort to uphold and share the grand tradition (and quality) of French baking is laudable, novice home bakers may be daunted by the time and effort required by these recipes. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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