Book Review: Pâtisserie at Home by Will Torrent

Book Review: Pâtisserie at Home by Will Torrent

Pâtisserie at Home
By Will Torrent
Ryland Peters & Small, £19.99
ISBN 978-1-84975-354-8

Recent years have seen the resurgence of baking as a great British pastime. There's no shortage of lads and lasses prepared to roll up their sleeves to knock out a clutch of cupcakes or a batch of brownies. But home baking and the art of pâtisserie are very different beasts, with the latter requiring a lot more in the way of precision and skill.

I've no doubt that Pâtisserie at Home, the debut book by the young and accomplished Will Torrent, aims to bridge that gap. Here, the former Acorn award winner and Young Chef of the Year 2009 hopes to make the seemingly impossible skill of French pastry not only accessible, but also achievable by the seasoned amateur and less-experienced pro.

There is stunning photography by Jonathan Gregson to accompany every recipe, which lends the book an air of style over substance. This is absolutely not the case.

Torrent, as all craftsmen should be, is very conscientious. Beginning with basic techniques to produce all the types of pastry doughs and creams that are the essential foundations of pâtisserie, the book is crammed full of step-by-step instructions with illustrative photos.

Included are all the traditional French classics, many with modern flavour combinations and finishes, such as Paris-Brest with roasted hazelnuts rather than slivered almonds, and bûche de Noël made with pear, ginger and chocolate.

The gÁ¢teau Saint-Honoré, for example, has elements that need to be produced from three other recipes, with some of those going a step further and sending you off to yet another page. This isn't a criticism as such, because Torrent has worked very hard to make the intricacies of French pastry achievable, but I suggest you keep post-it notes handy to mark the pages.

Perhaps the only thing this book is missing is a recommended kit list. You can't make proper madeleines without a madeleine pan or proper savarins without the right ring-shaped moulds - but these things can, and should, be acquired over time.

PÁ¢tisserie at Home is certainly not limited to the domestic market at which it is primarily targeted, but is an essential cookbook for any chef looking to expanding their pastry repertoire.

By Janie Manzoori-Stamford

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