If you can flip past the pages of Thomas Keller's new Bouchon Bakery cookbook and not get excited about the gorgeous macarons, bacon-cheddar scones, pistachio Madelines and “Oh Ohs,” Keller's stunning take on Hostess Ho Hos, all the more for us (Did we really just use the word “stunning” and Ho Hos in the same sentence?).
This is one glorious pastry book, as to be expected from Keller. But it's also surprisingly approachable, even when those shortbread and chocolate chip recipes in the early chapters give way to French classics like palmiers (here, rectangular-shaped with raspberry jam) and allumettes glacées — a simple pastry that becomes so much more than its puff pastry and royal icing components.
If you're a bread baker, Keller and his executive pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel haven't left you out, either. Get more, and Keller's must-have pastry tip, after the jump.
The chapter on those majestically crusty-chewy Bouchon loaves even comes with a “bread timeline” (when to get started if you are making batards versus rye or pain-au-lait). Candy buff? There are plenty of peppermint patties, layered fruit marshmallows, and pâtes de fruit recipes in the “Confections” chapter. Nor does Keller forget our canine friends (“Your pet may never go back to Milk-Bones again”). Hey, if we were a pooch that got to hang out at the Beverly Hills bistro, we'd likely snub commercial treats, too.
We could go on. But if you're a baker, we'll spare you the temptation. You already knew you wanted this book, months ago. And in hard copy form, it lives up to those meticulous dulce de leche éclair expectations that we've come to expect from Keller and his bakery. And so instead, we leave you with what Keller considers the two most important pastry tools for every cook. It might just surprise you.
The most important tool for pastry chef? The oven. What's the second? The freezer. By far.
It's ironic to me that freezing food has a negative connotation – that people think food is invariably compromised when it's frozen. For me, a pastry chef, it actually makes my food better. It allows me more control over the food and my production schedule. When the kitchen is very hot and you are rolling out dough, the freezer can help you chill the dough quickly. It allows me great precision in shaping cakes by enabling me to slice perfect, clean right angles…
In the savory kitchen, the freezer is a way to preserve raw and cooked food. In the pastry kitchen, the freezer is like a cherished colleague.
One of Keller's favorites to freeze? Macarons. “After a stint in the cold, their flavor will be at their peak.” Freezing also makes them “chewier and more fun to eat.”
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