When I was browsing through Chocolat by Eric Lanlard in order to write the review I posted recently, I was caught by his recipe for chocolate waffles. I knew I would have to make them in the not too distant future. When I came back from a preserving course at River Cottage, laden with lemon curd (amongst other things), I knew the time had come. Chocolate waffles with a big dollop of lemon curd had my name written all over it.
Last year, I won a copy of William Curley’s book Couture Chocolate. It’s an excellent tome giving insights and detailed instructions on making chocolates and chocolate pâtisserie. Every aspiring chocolatier should have one. William Curley was the youngest ever Chef Pâtissier at The Savoy and has won numerous awards in the world of chocolate and pastry. This year I was sent a copy of his newest book Pâtisserie. This one is written jointly with his wife Suzue Curley, a pâtissiere whose work is influenced by her Japanese background. Endorsed by renowned pâtissier, Pierre Hermé who writes the Foreword, we get the idea that William is a very talented man indeed.
Twice the size of his last book, but in a similar vain, this is a detailed manual on the art of modern pâtisserie. The history of pastry making is not forgotten and makes a fine start to the proceeding chapters. Perusing the mini biographies of various influential pâtissiers, I have to admit I was only familiar with the names of Marie-Antoine Carême and August Escoffier. A detailed twenty page guide covering ingredients, equipment and basic techniques prepares us for the two main parts of the book: The Foundation and The Pâtisserie.
The Foundation covers all of the basic recipes that are needed in order to create pâtisserie. Comprising nearly half of the 344 pages, it covers all sorts of recipes and techniques for making pastries, doughs, sponges, meringues, creams, custards, mousses, syrups, glazes, compotes and caramels. Each recipe tells you what patisserie it is linked to in the second part of the book and the accompanying page numbers make it very handy to have a quick look. Precision is a key factor and even the eggs and baking powder are measured in grams rather than being left to the vagaries of teaspoons and differently sized eggs.
The Pâtisserie part of the book is where the creativity comes in and succulent tarts, pretty little gâteaux, dainty macarons and various magnificent structures can be seen in all their glory. Each entry refers you back to the basic recipes but includes any additional requirements. Step by step instructions are given throughout, with accompanying informative photographs for all but the simplest creations. The recipes are detailed, often going into four pages. With my love of matcha for baking purposes, I was pleased to see a number of recipes where it featured, including some vibrant green matcha eclairs and Les Misérables – a stacked affair of matcha and almond sponges layered with a Japanese muscovado caramel buttercream. My mouth is watering just at the thought of it and I’m feeling just a little bit miserable that I can’t eat one right now. The photographs of the finished articles, by Spanish photographer and artist Jose Lasheras are works of art in themselves. For the visually orientated and those that like to see what they might make before they attempt it, you will not be disappointed – photographs abound.
As someone who is always in a hurry, elegant pâtisserie is something I very much appreciate but I’m doubtful that I’d have the patience to make myself. So I was glad to see that not everything in the book is complicated. The Baked Cakes section is more in line with what I’m used to and I’m looking forward to trying out some of these slightly more prosaic recipes. The bakes are a mix of traditional with a Curley twist and new creations. The cannelés de Bordeaux au rhum, a recipe I’ve long wanted to make, looked fairly traditional, but I suspect the pâtissiers of old would have been perplexed by the houji cha & hazelnut financiers. It was in this section that I found out that madeleines were much older than I expected and dated back to 1661. Amongst the French fancies, I was surprised to see a Dundee cake. I’m not sure what the good folks of Dundee would think of this version, containing rum-marinated sultanas and decorated with crystallised pistachios, but it sounds very tasty to me. The carrot and chocolate chip cakes, one of Suzue’s recipes, soon caught my eye and I decided those would be my introduction. As usual, I didn’t quite follow the recipe; I suspect my reluctance to embark on some of the more complicated recipes is the need I feel to go my own way and keep things as simple as possible.
This is how I made:
Carrot and Chocolate Chip Cakes
- Melted 150g unsalted butter and left to cool slightly.
- Grated 150g carrots and mixed in a bowl with two medium eggs.
- Stirred in 150g golden caster sugar.
- Sifted in 150g flour (half wholemeal, half white), 25g ground almonds, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.
- Stirred gently until just incorporated, then stirred in the butter and 75g chopped 70% dark chocolate.
- Spooned the mixture into 24 mini cupcake moulds, filling them to about ¾ full.
- Left to rest for 30 minutes, then baked at 180℃ for about 12 minutes.
I do not have the originals to compare these to, but I absolutely adored these cakes and they didn’t last nearly as long as they should have done. But hey, I was only following the Curley advice to eat them within one or two days.
This book would make a fantastic reference work for anyone interested in learning the techniques and recipes involved in pâtisserie or just wanting to improve their presentation skills. Many of the creations in this book are so magnificent, they are beyond what I even aspire too, but there are so many useful tips and techniques given here I know I shall be referring to it and using it as inspiration for many years to come. If nothing else, it’s a fabulous book to browse through, dream over and treasure.
Patisserie by William Curley and Suzue Curley. Photographs by Jose Lasheras. Published by Jacqui Small in 2014. 9781909342217. It has an RRP of £40. Reviewed by Choclette on 1 July 2014.
To give a flavour of what you will find inside, here is a video of William and Suzue demonstrating one of the recipes: Strawberry and Pistachio Breton Tart.
Thanks to Jacqui Small for the copy of Pâtisserie. There was no requirement to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.
Prizes are offered and provided by Jacqui Small and Chocolate Log Blog accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of said third party.