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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful recipes for beautiful pastries, 3 Mar. 2001
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This review is from: Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery (Hardcover)
I bought this book because I loved her previous book on sourdough breads. This one is much more approachable and many of the recipes are simple enough for inexperienced bakers. The book contains more than 150 recipes for cakes, cookies, tarts, fruit desserts, savories, morning pastries, doughnuts and much more. There's something for everyone unless you want something highly decorated. Some of the recipes I tried are Banana Puffs(tart made with puff pastry, banana and caramel), Parma Braids(croissant dough, prosciutto, parmesan), Savory Brioche Pockets(with potato, spinach and cheese)and they turned out almost as beautiful as Nancy's and tasted great. Much as I love this book, it is not perfect. For example, the recipe for Banana-Cocoa Muffins gives the yield as 12 ordinary-sized muffins, but it made more than 12 although I halved the recipe. I suspect there are some more errors like this. It is also a pity most recipes are not accompanied by photos as I found it difficult shaping some of the pastries.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe every word that Nancy Silverton says, 1 July 2010
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This review is from: Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery (Hardcover)
Like the previous reviewer, I bought this book because I liked Nancy Silverton's sourdough breads so much. This is very different with no bread or sourdough in sight; instead, it provides you with some excellent recipes in the following sections: quick cakes and quickbreads, savouries, crisps and crumbles, cookies, scones, muffins, tarts, morning pastries, doughnuts and confections.

I have made a fair number of the muffins, quick breads and tarts and have enjoyed the majority of them. Try the sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce - this is the best dessert/pudding I have EVER baked. The book is worth buying for this one recipe alone. It also turned out to be the very first recipe I made from the book and set very high expectations. Unfortunately the book did not live up to them; and while the recipes did result in some lovely, tasty goodies such as the banana-cocoa muffins, the onion tart on puff pastry, or the hazelnut-banana tart, a number of the things I tried were just mediocre (like the country feta pies) or downright unpleasant (like the bran muffins. And yes, it must have been sheer stupidity on my part to imagine that bran muffins can possibly taste of anything other than cardboard shavings. But the problem with Nancy Silverton is that she has a very self-eulogising, self-satisfied, arrogant tone when introducing the recipes. It is also very convincing. So when she said that the "muffin maven herself" has said that her bran muffins are "the best she's ever had" I believed her and was sorely disappointed). This tone persists throughtout the book - most of her recipes start with her criticising other inferior specimens she's eaten and then of course blowing her own trumpet and saying how hers is far superior. It would be fine if this were consistently true, but sadly with a number of recipes this is not the case. It is of course perfectly acceptable in the sticky toffee pudding recipe!!

I can safely say that Nancy Silverton is top class when it comes to breads; not so when it comes to cakes, cookies and tarts. Although a fair number really are lovely and suitable for entertaining, many of her recipes sound far better than they taste. However, it is a beautiful book, on thick, yellowing paper, with sepia-tinted photographs to introduce each chapter, and has a wonderful, domestic, old-fashioned feel to it. Just the style and presentation of it merits an extra star (I would have given it 3 just for the content). If you like arty cook books and don't care too much for spectacular results, you will love this one. But if you're after mind-blowing baked goods, you will find quite a few comme-ci comme-cas among a couple of gems.
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Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery
Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery by Nancy Silverton (Hardcover - Sept. 2000)
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