Pastry Love Cookbook Review – Enticing, Thorough, Easy to Understand

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Pastry Love: A Baker's Journal of Favorite Recipes, brings to the pages of this oversize hardback the favorite recipes that have made its author, Joanne Chang, a well-known, award-winning, and internationally respected professional pastry arts Chef.

Bypassing her credentials, which are a bit intimidating, honors graduate from Harvard with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics, and jumping right into the pages that provide introduction and anecdotes from her pastry arts education studying under many respected Pastry Arts leaders, we find she is a James Beard award winning baker, owner of Boston's Flour bakeries and is the author of four other cookbooks.


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After Harvard was deep in the rear view, a passion for culinary caused her to jump off the consultant track and moved full-time into her passion and pleasure, that of working in a professional kitchen. After a year, she says, she "discovered sugar and not salt ran through her veins." Soon it was finding the pathway to creating delicious, edible works of pastry arts.

With a sincerity, Chang presents an introduction that evolves into a Master Class. Tips to be a Better Baker followed by Master Techniques. Beginning in her Tips section, she outlines a baker's dozen of ideas that she has been taught and now teaches offering tricks of the trade that she employees each time she prepares to create.

She begins with "Read the recipe, the whole recipe, and nothing but the recipe," which is the road map to any creation. She follows with "Gather your mise en place," "Use a kitchen scale," "Check your temperature," Confirm the temperature of the ingredients," "Use salt," "Make the recipe yours," and "Test by touch and eye, not just by time."

Number nine "Clean as you go," which is accompanied by an interesting story of her work at the Francois Payard Patisserie, when, after creating a towering Wedding Cake, she is told by the French Baker's she bakes like a home baker, leaving a mess with every step. She explains clean as you go, wipe the counter, put ingredients away, never leave a trial of flour, eggshells and messiness. She finishes the list with "Be patient, "Be presence," "Don't give up," and "Have Fun!"


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Her next section of Master techniques spans ten pages, in alphabetical order, beginning with Blind Baking Shells, Buttering and Flouring Pans, Cooking Sugar, Creaming Butter and Sugar, Crumb Coating a Cake, Cutting Parchment Circles, Docking Dough, Filing a Pastry Bag, Flicking Flour, Folding Ingredients, Fraisage, Making a Cornet, Making Vanilla Sugar, Melting Chocolate, Piping with a Pastry Bag, Rolling out Pastry Dough, Rotating Cake Pans, Baking Sheets and Muffin Tins, Scalding Milk and Cream, Scoring and Slashing Bread, Splitting a Cake, Splitting and Scraping Vanilla Beans, Spreading with an Offset Spatula, Tempering Chocolate, Tempering Ingredients, Toasting Nuts and Whipping Egg Whites.

The next seven pages are filled with equipment and ingredient suggestions. Like most, Chang explains "There is no need to stock your kitchen with every gadget for cooks on the market. In many cases you can get by with a few bowls, a whisk, a wooden spoon, a silicone spatula and baking sheets and pans all items that you may already own."

Finally after the buildup, the anticipation, the cookbook opens into her favorite recipes divided into sections: What's for Breakfast, I Knead Bread, Afternoon Pick-Me-Up, Easy as Pie, Let Them Eat Cake, Time to Show Off, I Made This For You and Master of Your Pastry Domain.

Of course, thumbing through the pages pausing over certain recipes, or the beautiful styled full-size pictures which are featured throughout the 461 pages. Most bakers have a favorite or specialty that instantly draws their attention and inevitably is the first section they go to in any pastry cookbook.

Pastry Love is a pastry arts lover's guide. Chang's skill and passion jumps off the pages making a first choice a difficult one. After taking a slow walk through each of the pages, stopping when the recipe looked interesting or the finished product caused pause, I found the entire book full of attention-grabbing recipes, and decadent, mouthwatering and delicious looking sweet treats.

As these recipes represent her favorites, each section is filled with an array of choices. A sampling of her Breakfast ideas, Gluten-Free Apple Spice Pecan Muffins, Whole Wheat Maple-Blueberry Scones. I Knead Bread, of course, everyone's favorite Challah, Garlicky Cheesy Monkey Bread, Ciabatta, Cranberry-Pecan Bread, Gluten-Free Focaccia and these are only a small selection of the offerings.


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Afternoon Pick Me Up, one can imagine Pecan Sandie's, Walnut Melt-aways, Persian Love Cookies, Raspberry Swirl Meringues. Easy as Pie highlights her use of fruit fillings and thin, flaky crusts and includes recipes for Cherry Crumb Pie, Old fashioned Double Crust Apple Pie, Autumn Pie Tart Tatin, Rhubarb Brown Sugar Pie and French Peach Crostatas.

Let Them Eat Cake showcases the unusual ideas and combination of ingredients to produce wild and wowing flavors such as Japanese Cotton Cheesecake, Hummingbird Cupcakes, Malted Chocolate Cake, Strawberries and Cream Chiffon Cake, Funfetti Angel Food Cake.

In Time to Show Off Chang also utilizes her skills with fruit filings, and her flare for making the usual amazingly unusual. Standouts from this section are Vietnamese Espresso Profiteroles with Spicy Chocolate Ganache, Rum Butterscotch-Pudding Parfait with Ginger-Molasses Crumble and Passion Fruit and Raspberry Pavlovas.

I Made This for You, a section of sweet treat guaranteed to bring a smile to even the hard to please with Billionaires Shortbread, Peppermint Kisses and Maple Pecan Tassies.


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The final section Master of Your Domain, introduces master techniques, if you dare turn the page and take your baking skill to the next level. She introduces, or provides a remedial lesson in, Master Puff Pastry Dough, Master Quick Puff Pastry Dough, Master Ganache, Master Frangipane, Master Pastry Cream, Rick's Master Shortbread, Master Lemon Curd, Master Pate Sucree, Master Single or Double Crust Pata, Brisee and Master Brioche Dough.

Pastry Love: A Baker's Journal of Favorite Recipes for the pastry arts professional, the home-schooled home chef, the spectator, onlooker and all who pause over the idea, even slightly, of baking with passion.

 Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Pastry Love: A Baker's Journal of Favorite Recipes is available at fine bookstores and online retailers everywhere.

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