Standard Baking Co. Pastries Hardcover – 16 Oct 2012
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About the Author
Alison Pray opened Standard Baking Co. in 1995 with her husband, Matt James. Charmed by the neighborhood boulangeries and open-air markets of France, the two were inspired to bake their own artisanal breads and pastries, and recreate that same sense of community in Portland. Standard Baking Co. has been recognized in Bon Appetit, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Travel & Leisure, and featured on National Public Radio. Tara Smith is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduation, she served as a teaching assistant at the school's award winning Apple Pie Cafe. She now is head pastry chef at Standard Baking Co. Illustrator: Photographer Sean Alonzo Harris works as a fine art, commercial, and editorial photographer based in Portland. He has been published in many magazines, including The Paris Review and Boston Magazine. He is a faculty member at the Maine Media Workshops.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book contains mostly sweet pastry recipes: croissants/scones/coffecake like pastries, then tarts, then "cakes" and cookies. There is also a small section of savory and snack items (like granola bars). The "cakes" section contains brownies, bundt cakes, tea cakes and the like - no frosted airy cakes or anything like that, a fact that they point out in their commentary as their bakery does not have a refrigerated case. There are also no bread recipes.
I have tried three of the four pastry dough recipes (the sweet, perfect and rustic tart pastries - there is a chocolate pastry recipe I have yet to try) and am so happy with them I am going to adopt them as my standby pie doughs. I was very impressed with them for three reasons, 1) two of the recipes (the sweet and perfect) use a stand mixer which worked surprisingly well and I found to be easier than 'cutting' the butter into the flour and less hassle than blending in the food processor, not to mention the results were wonderful; 2) all of the doughs came out very well, and; 3) all of the doughs came out very differently: the sweet dough is like a cookie crust, the 'perfect' dough is light and flaky, almost like a puff pastry except without the height, and the rustic dough is just that, lots of rough character and flavor in a crisp and crumbly crust.
The tarts I made with the doughs were also very good. The Irish whiskey chocolate tarts are deadly - extremely rich, tender and chocolaty. The 'perfect' pastry that goes with it both balances the chocolate flavor and also helps it stand out through the flavor contrast. The frangipane is lovely but intense and very buttery. This is the only recipe I probably won't make again, but not because I don't like it. I have another recipe that I prefer because it is more subtle. However, I will always use the poached pear recipe from this book for any frangipane I do, as it intensifies the pear flavor. Finally, the rustic apple tart has become our new apple pie standby, and my husband has stated that it the best tart he's ever had.
Finally, the brownies. I made these the day before yesterday, and they did not disappoint. They are as rich and decadent as the ones you buy at the bakery. They say in the recipe description that while everyone goes back and forth about cake-like brownies versus fudge-like brownies, these brownies are simply the best. I completely agree. The density and texture are very pleasing, however when you eat one of these brownies those thoughts only come after the pure chocolate bliss passes. These brownies are beyond cake-like or fudge-like being a concern.
I don't usually write reviews, but have been so impressed with this cookbook I was compelled to do so. It has been rare for me to find a cook book where the recipes come out consistently well. If you are looking for a collection of delicious pastry recipes, then this is the book for you.
So far I baked rugalachs and croissants, also the almond croissant variation. The instructions are detailled, and easy to follow, and the results outstanding! The book's layout is clean and pleasing, and easy to work with. The matte paper that one reviewer attributed to the publishers need to save a buck (have you ever seen their gorgeous glossy "DownEast Magazine"?), contributes, in my opinion, to the books's attractive look, indicating that it's meant for the kitchen, and not the tea table.
As a European, I would have liked to see also weight measurements in all recipes, but this is a minor gripe compared to the overall quality of "Pastries".
I bake by weight, not volume. This book is by volume only. But the authors do tell how to measure the flour. So using their method, I converted 1c of flour to 130g of unbleached flour. After making the two recipes, I realized that the croissant recipe (I did not look at the recipe because Tartine's croissant recipe makes the most perfect croissants for me) has both volume and weight. The croissant dough uses 140g per 1c unbleached flour. But because both recipes worked so well with 130g, I think I will stay with that.
Look forward to trying more recipes.