Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel

Bouchon BakeryBouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven't baked everything in this book, but I think there will be many recipes that get made before long. Thomas Keller is a renowned chef and owner of very upscale restaurants including per se and the French Laundry. He wanted to start baking the breads for his restaurants, and opened the first Bouchon Bakery in 2003. He wanted to provide the bread for the restaurants, of course, but also to have a small cafe to sell pastries and breads similar to the ones he'd loved so working in Paris. He hired Matthew McDonald to run the bakery operation, and Sebastian Rouxel as pastry chef. The Bouchon Bakery has expanded to five bakeries.

Keller is mainly a savory chef, but he grew to love the aroma and flavors of bread and baked goods in Paris, as well as growing up where cookies were an everyday treat. The bakeries recreate some of these childhood memories in their own way. There are versions of Oreos, Nutter Butters, and Pecan Sandies, among others, in the book. I've made the Pecan Sandies, and they are delicious.

The book is beautiful, with clean, white pages, and stunning photography. It is large and a bit heavy. The recipes are clearly written, with ingredient lists in both metric weight measures (which Keller highly recommends using, and I do, too), and the more usual volume measures. Some recipes use specific ingredients, but there is a source listing in the back of the book. There are sections on Cookies, Scones and Muffins, Cakes, Tarts, Pate a Choux, Brioche and Doughnuts, Puff Pastry and Croissants, Breads, and Confections. There is also a chapter on Basics which gives recipes for frostings, fillings, glazes, and other things that don't necessarily fit in the other chapters, but are things every baker should know.

This is not a learn to bake book. Some of the recipes are a bit involved, and some are not, probably, for the novice baker. It certainly has a place on the cookbook shelf of anyone who loves to bake and wants to make some really wonderful treats.

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