If you've ever spent too many Google hours typing “Ewald + Notter,” hoping to perfect your pastillage (sculptures made from a powdered sugar “dough”) technique, The Art of the Confectioner is the book of your blown sugar sculpture dreams.
Notter's The Art of the Confectioner is yet another pastry cog in Wiley's “professional” series, the sort of cookbooks that make you wonder why you spent so much on pastry school when $65 ($25 less on Amazon) perhaps would have sufficed.
Then again, you wouldn't have had the pleasure of watching that Boeing engineer, who enrolled just for the NASA sculpture fun of it, blow out such a remarkable space shuttle sugar sculpture, it made up for all of those simple cookie recipes he never could quite master.
But we were supposed to be talking about The Art of the Confectioner.
It's the sort of book that gives the artists of the pastry world detailed sugar pulling step-by-steps to make all the daffodils (p.125), orchids (p.126), and sure, Chinese dragons (p.232) they could ever need to top their competition showpieces (the final chapter is dedicated solely to competition preparations).
Notter begins with pastillage and sugar casting, then gets into more difficult sugar work like pulling and blowing. There's also a chapter on “New Trends,” which covers rough-edged pressed sugar (used to contrast a shiny blown or pulled sugar showpiece), bubble sugar (it looks like water), ice casting (resembles rock candy), sand casting (a sugar sandcastle, essentially), and so forth. That final chapter is devoted to creating your competition design, from simple color selection to architectural advisement.
And so The Art of the Confectioner serves as a gorgeous reminder that pastry chefs fall into several categories: Those who are, first and foremost, concerned with flavor, and those with towering wedding cake artistry and World Pastry Team Championship aspirations.
And then there is Dunkin' Donuts' executive pastry chef, Christopher Boos, who happens to be rather accomplished on the professional pastry competition circuit as well. Boos has even served as captain of the U.S. team for the Coupe Du Monde de la Patisserie.
Imagine the fast food pastillage possibilities.
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