Le Cordon Bleu’s Pastry School is a hefty 512-page how-to of all things pastry, detailing everything from the creation of basic shortcrust to beautiful pâtisserie. The book contains 100 step-by-step recipes illustrated by a staggering 1,400 pictures, with some recipes extending over as many as eight pages. Recipe instructions are carefully broken down and accompanied by simple images detailing each stage of preparation and assembly.
The book has wide appeal. For beginners, its detailed instructions will give them the confidence to try something new, while for the more experienced chef it is a reference of classic techniques as well as ideas for their use.
Each recipe is introduced with details of preparation and cooking time, the equipment needed and a difficulty rating ranging from one chef hat for a lemon pound cake to three for a chocolate, tonka bean and berry prestige with mirror glaze.
The book is divided into seven chapters: gâteaux, cakes and entremets; individual pastries and plated desserts; tarts and tartlets; special and festive desserts; biscuits and mini cakes; sweets and little treats; and pastry basics.
The chapter devoted to the basics of the discipline details useful utensils, frequently used ingredients and key recipes, such as puff, shortcrust and sweet pastry, crème anglaise, choux and Genoise sponge, as well as French, Italian and Swiss meringues.
Le Cordon Bleu has for 120 years sought to share the skills of the masters of French cuisine and the recipes detailed within Pastry School show its commitment to these traditions. Intricate recipes include a macaronnade topped with sugar-frosted rose petals or a beautifully delicate mille-feuilles, but there are also modern interpretations, including a revisited Paris-Brest with a tropical fruit centre and crunchy éclairs with salted butter caramel.
In Pastry School Le Cordon Bleu has once again produced a book destined to become a well-thumbed and slightly dog-eared staple of many kitchens.
Pastry School, by Le Cordon Bleu (Grub Street, £35)