BOOK REVIEW: Patisserie by William and Suzue Curley

by - July 06, 2014

Are you a hardcore baker? And I mean HARDCORE. I don't mean Victoria sponges and cupcakes, no matter how good they are. As for those that like to make cute cake pops which look like little pandas with teeny tiny icing ears, you may as well stop reading now.

This is a serious book on the highest quality patisserie. It's almost as if William & Suzue Curley have written this to mock the majority of home bakers. It contains page after page of incredible French Patisserie that defies gravity and sometimes reality. Glossy, bejewelled beauties that look too good to eat. The recipes generally span multiple pages and cross reference elements which have recipes themselves in the foundation part of the book, which in itself if half an inch thick. You will need bespoke equipment in precise measurements (what the hell is a savarin entrement mould?!), and some hard to find ingredients like shiso (isn't that the dude that sang the Thong Song?). You may weep, almost definitely weep, creating these recipes.

But although these recipes are very involved, and quite long, each has clear step-by-step instructions with plenty of images to guide you through and are absolutely necessary.

As I said, this book is for those that wish to take that leap from being "good at cakes" to being incredible. If you have a real passion for sweet treats and an eye for beauty, if you want to push yourself to that next level then this is for you. It's essentially a course book, starting with ingredients and equipment to the core techniques like custards, pralines and feuilletage that really you should master before attempting the main recipes. And it's an interesting read too. This book contains plenty of historical information and the origins of some of the classic patisserie. And along with these classics, there is a good balance of Curley's contemporary creations, some with Japanese twists clearly taken from the heritage of his wife and partner Suzue. There are sections on pastries, gateaux, macaron, verrines, cakes and petit fours.

Although well written and clear, design-wise, I'm not a fan of the old fashioned style, type and layout of the book. But the cakes are jaw droppingly beautiful, pure works of art despite being given a slight 80s feel with graded coloured backgrounds.

Personally, I'm not even close to creating the recipes here and I really do not have the time to dedicate to them but I adore this book as much as I adore fine patisserie. Even the fact that it gives me a glimpse into the magic of their creation, the hard work and incredible technique behind each one is worth the read.

If you are passionate about cakes, then you will learn an incredible amount from this book. If you attempt to make anything then I salute you oh cake warrior.

Patisserie by William and Suzue Curley is published by Jacqui Small and costs £40.

I was sent this book for review.

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