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The Patisserie of Pierre Herme Hardcover – 19 Dec 1997
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Pierre Herme's patisserie bible. Provides an in-depth technical description of techniques and covers an immense catalogue of his unique creations that have earned him the title of the Ferra Adria of baking. A must for creative cutting-edge patisserie enthusiasts and professionals.
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The bad: You have to know what you are doing already. The explanations are sparse. For instance, the explanations for pastry cream goes like (this is not real but an example) boil milk + vanilla. Add in whisked yolks/cornstarch. Put back on stove at 120C for a few minutes. Cool to 140 F, then put in butter. So the explanations are very sparse. All recipes are made for 2-4 cakes so you have to scale down. Everything is metric, everything is by weights (so you have to know 1 yolk = 20 g, 1 white = 30 g for instance). Gelatin is used in sheets in the book, so don't forget to put in about 1 T water for every 1/2 t of powder you use (if you're american and use gelatin powder) It helps to have "desserts by pierre herme" by Pierre and Dorie greenspan to "convert" back and forth units, since some cakes are in both books. Sometimes you may want to substitute: ie regular genoise for Pierre's genoise, regular puff pastry for Pierre's inverted puff pastry. In these cases it helps to know what you are doing first.
Overall: The best book period, in my opinion. Definitely worth the extra cost - it is worth 3 regular books. You have to know what you are doing first though, not for beginners. Other recommended books in the same French cake style: "desserts by pierre herme" by Herme and greenspan, and "art of the cake" by bugat and somebody else I forget. Both are great books (and a lot easier), though not as great as this one.
My next experiment will involve chocolate. I am gathering the necessary equipment to be able to temper, shape and cut chocolate.
I highly recommend this book. It is the first time that a professional really shares his art with the general public. Just try it you'll be amazed !