cover image Everyone Can Bake: Simple Recipes to Master and Mix

Everyone Can Bake: Simple Recipes to Master and Mix

Dominique Ansel. Simon & Schuster, $35 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9471-9

Ansel (Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes)—famous for his invention of the Cronut—primes bakers’ creativity in this posh guide to sophisticated cakes and tarts. Chapters are divided into bases, fillings (a dessert’s “personality”), and embellishments. For each there is a classic recipe and then riffs: ladyfingers may be flavored with citrus or soaked in syrup, for example. The final section contains instructions for assembling complete desserts, with tips such as piping curd into a tart crust rather than spreading with a spatula to avoid dirtying the rim. Recipes are professional (with both metric weight and volume measurements) and precise, and, indeed, these are largely ambitious projects, requiring equipment such as metal rings and acetate. A brief chart suggests possible building combinations (for example, an olive oil mousse can rest on an almond-molasses base and be topped with figs and vanilla whipped cream), but true beginners will have a steep hill to climb. Ansel’s own imagination is a delight: in a brownie base variation, melted butter is infused with rosemary and Ansel suggests dousing the brownie slab in soft caramel. Mini-essays on Ansel’s education (in kindergarten he drilled himself on the alphabet song) serve as reminders that practice makes perfect. Pastry-chef-wannabes will thrill to this challenge. (Apr.)