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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 29 May 2016
Excellent as a reference book. Probably too bulky to be at hand all the time but if you ever have a question about anything you might imagine in pastry the answer is probably there. It covers most techniques you will ever encounter and clearly explains why we do things this way.
The recipes and presentation of certain pastries are a little outdated to my taste but it is probably the best book on techniques, tools and ingredients I currently own. And I don't think after buying this one I'd need any other to cover this part of the domain.
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on 16 September 2003
This book is worth its considerable weight in vanilla pods.
Pitched squarely at the catering professional, but written in an accessible style that makes it equally useful for the serious (and motivated) amateur, The Professional Pastry Chef is a comprehensive reference work that will enable you to get the best out of your existing skills and will lead you to acquire new ones.
I bought this book because I'm a professional chef; I also have a love of good food writing, and this book has elements that appeal to both parts of me.
Professional cooking is all about reaching a certain standard of competency - when that standard has been reached, then most instructions in print will be understandable and useful. This book keeps that threshold low without being patronising or losing its usefulness to the professional, and is definitely of use to the amateur as well as we galley-rats.
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on 2 November 2013
The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg is a must-have reference for all serious bakers / pastry chefs. It appears frequently as part of baking / pastry arts curriculums for good reason: Chef Bo clearly explains techniques and plating suggestions with a healthy (and entertaining) dash of food science along the way. The first of two volumes (the second being The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef), this gorgeous (and hefty) tome walks the novice pastry chef through glazes, meringues, basic doughs (short dough, puff pastry, pate a choux, pasta), yeast breads, breakfast breads and pastries, quick breads / pound cakes, sponge cakes, decorated cakes, individual pastries, ice cream, and custard-type desserts. The section on plated desserts is worth the price of the book alone, as you'll find templates for pastry cutouts, piping instructions, etc.

First and foremost, this is NOT a book for the average home baker. In most cases, the yields (and quantities, which are given in weights, not volume) are geared towards restaurants / foodservice, although certain bread recipes are scaled down for smaller yields, such as the small-batch Black Forest bread with cocoa and dried cherries, challah, and Southwestern corn and cheese bread.

The included line drawings are enormously helpful to illustrate techniques. The Chef's Tips and sidebars further explain techniques or recipe-specific advice. Several in-depth charts like cookie recipes categorized by texture, production method, and storage capability provide an at-a-glance guide to what would be an otherwise overwhelming number of recipes to juggle.

The book particularly excels in its treatment of European (French/Italian/Viennese) pastries. Even the ice cream chapter yields unique flavor surprises, like the macadamia nut ice cream, banana-poppy seed ice cream, and avocado-mango ice cream. You'll find unusual frozen yogurts as well, like black-pepper honey, gingered pineapple, and strawberry-rhubarb frozen yogurt with ginger, that provide a welcome change.

The comprehensive appendices cover nearly 150 pages alone, including an extremely thorough glossary of ingredients and tools, precise metric conversions and metric equivalents, metric/US length, weight, and volume equivalents, and a particularly helpful section on yields, baker's percentages, and Baumé / Brix scale readings.

Despite owning several dozen baking books, I find myself coming back time and again to "The Professional Pastry Chef" for its clear instructions, charts, and fascinating food science tidbits. Chef Bo makes for a most pleasant and patient instructor, and his thorough explanations of techniques and ingredients will serve you well whether you're an advanced home baker or an experienced pastry chef.

(Many thanks to Wiley for the review copy)
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on 12 April 2009
This is a substantial book, a full 1000 A4 pages of probably a good 900 recipes - it's more like a dessert bible rather than a Jamie/ Gordon/ Hugo cookbook. I am a not particularly able amateur and so far I have tried around 5 recipes and each has been wonderful (flourless spice cake, danish pastries, shoehorn pastries, almond macaroons and chocolate gugelhupfs). The instructions are clear and easy to follow, there are plenty of photographs littered through so you can compare your efforts to Bo's and (what was my favourite bit) a marvellous little introductory to each recipe, detailing some of the history of the cake, some personal anecdotes, descriptions of the end result, etc. I have frequently sat down and just skimmed through the book reading these.

Obviously this has been written primarily with the professional in mind and so each recipe is generally for 90 pastries or some other such huge number but all it takes is a calculator and digital scales and this is easily overcome. Another thing to bear in mind is that some recipes can take a while, especially yeast based ones as (no shortcuts) Bo will have you leavig them to prove three times for around an hour each. This isn't true for all of them, the macaroons in fact being turned out in less than half an hour, cooking time included.

Overall, this is a brilliant book and one of my most treasured cookery reference books. I only wish it came on Sony Ebook reader.
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on 19 May 2010
I have a collection of aprox 400 modern and vintage cookery/recipe books.
Perfect for someone who wants to expand on their baking skills, if you are a beginner it may be complicated, but will still inspire you.
I would recommend this for people who as well as bakeing want to know more about the process, how the ingredients in a recipe interact and react . If you have an understanding already of the basics eg. gluten in pastry then you will find out more here.
I was looking for a book that had an authentic recipe for strawberry tartlets made with french pastry and fresh strawberries. I did not anticipate spending so much on a modern book and there are other books that had what i needed.
However i am stunned by this book and will keep it forever. I am considering another copy so that i can use one and keep one perfect.
You will find explanations of why you are following the recipe in such a way and how the ingredient effects the outcome.
The photographs are outstanding. I would buy this book just to read it and look at the photos .
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on 29 September 1998
I purchased this book a couple of years ago and have used it for baking everything from dog biscuits and breads to sponge cakes and pastry cream. Although I am only an avid amateur, I find the recipes easy to follow and easy to convert for use in the home kitchen. The Author has included equivalency tables in the back of the book (ingredients are listed by weight rather than volume measures).
I have given away many of my other pastry and desert books since purchasing this book since everything that I could possible dream of is covered in this book
I would strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys baking and aspires to create something outside the ordinary, regardless of skill level.
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on 5 March 2014
I really like this book. It takes a little getting used, I didn't open and go "wow! I love it!" but it's a grower and I think they are the best. It's dense, there are very few coloured pictures. It's very big and it is intended as an accompaniment to a pastry student. I am a keen novice and home cook but for me I want to know the hows and whys and I want to be able to recreate the best things at home. It would take a long time to work your way through this book but it's great to dip into in the mean time.

There are tons of recipes, as another reviewer mentioned you will likely need to sclae down if you're a home cook but it does offer you quanties for a half batch for many recipes, so if you have a large family or hungry friends this may suffice. It's very clear, it offers you background to some well known bakes. It tells you how to make pastries, doughs and fillings, it explains things like the bakers percentage/ratio, it explains what you are looking for and encourages you to bake in order and plan ahead to create efficiency. It's got a nice explanation on getting a good rise and flavour from your bread and lots more!

I'm only beginning to scratch the surface of this book and I have not yet baked many recipes from it but I have used the fundemental priciples it explains in recipes from my other books and it's really making a difference. It gives you tips on how to do so many things, it's not colourful, it's not instant gratfication spoon fed to you but once you get beneath the surface of this book it's a gem.
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on 1 June 1999
This beautiful book covers almost everything you need to know about bread making and deserts. However, be prepared to spend 15 minutes to one half hour converting measurements into teaspoons, tablespoons, half cups, etc. To add to the confusion, one pound of flour equals four cups but one pound of bread flour equals four and one half cups. Figgure that one out. Also, the book is designed for a professional restaurant kitchen. For instance: Bo tells us to mix the bread dough with the dough hook. I find it easier to mix it with the paddle, a bit at a time and finish with the hook.
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on 10 August 1998
This book is a fabulous resource! I had the opportunity to take a series of pastry classes with Bo Friberg at the California Culinary Academy several years ago when he was working on an earlier edition of this book. I learned a great deal from him and find his book invaluable. I have also purchased the most recent edition, and have found it an even better treasure!
As a person who someday hopes to open my own bakery, I consider this a textbook for baking success!
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on 10 April 2011
This book (combined with the "Advanced Professional Pastry Chef") covers everything you would ever need to know about baking - step by step techniques with thorough instructions, variations on recipes, sugar work, chocolate work, decorative techniques, substitutions and advice on how to adapt recipes to better suit your needs. The recipes work - that's a rarity.

The content is definitely suitable for a home-cook; no industrial (or just generally unusual) equipment is required in order to complete any of the processes. They only reason this book does not get five stars from me is the illustrations - for me, as a (decent) homecook I find that a picture of what I am aiming for helps immeasurably during the baking process - especially if it is unclear what the recipe is for. Around half of the finished products are photographed in this book, but the pictures are not beside the recipe - instead the book is divided into quarters by a set of 3-4 pages of images per every 100 or so pages of recipes. The pictures are captioned with what the name of the recipe, but not a page number, which I find slightly irritating (although conversely, the recipes do give the page number of the photo, if one is included). Also, the way in which some of the final products are plated (i.e. arranged and displayed) is slightly old-fashioned for my tastes.
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