Pierre Herme is acknowledged to be the greatest pastry chef in France and, at long last, he divulges his recipes for more than 100 divinely delicious and stunning desserts - many surprisingly easy to prepare. There are cakes, cookies, tarts, sweets for special occasions and traditional holiday creations. His chapter on dessert fundamentals, such as perfect tart dough, buttercream and meringue, will prove indispensible for any baker.
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The art of translating recipes for the American home kitchen
I am sorry that "a reader from Weehawken" is distressed that "Desserts by Pierre Herme" does not include measurements in weight, but his concern gives me the opportunity to present one of the most fascinating responsibilities a serious cookbook author has when working with a professional chef’s recipes – translating and adapting the recipes for an American home kitchen. And, indeed, although professionals have shown a tremendous interest in this book, "Desserts" was written with the American home baker in mind. Thus, it was an editorial decision to present all the measurements in the standard way, which in America means by volume, using cups and tablespoons.
Pierre Herme’s recipes were given to me in French, tested in France with French ingredients, which were measured in grams and liters. To make them suitable for the American kitchen took intensive testing of each recipe, an interesting process since many of the ingredients Pierre uses in France are not manufactured in the same way in America. For example, French butter typically has less water than American butter does; all-purpose flour has less gluten; and a French chef’s supply of confectioner’s sugar never contains cornstarch, as ours does.
Knowing these differences, I began the collaboration with Pierre by reviewing all of the recipes with him, discussing the flavor combinations, the construction and the techniques. We then tasted all of the recipes in Paris. Naturally, Pierre’s recipes were in weights. I then went back to the United States and set about recreating these recipes for the American home baker. The first step was to weigh out – in grams (I own four different scales) – all of the American ingredients. Each of these carefully weighed ingredients was then converted to volume measurement by actually transferring the ingredient itself to a cup or tablespoon or combination that most accurately reflected the original weight. The dessert was then constructed. If the recipe came out as it was in France, the volume measurements stayed as they were – this means that sometimes there are awkward measurements, such as 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon. But often the recipes had to be modified in some small way to account for American ingredients. When this occurred, the changes were made to the volume measurements, since this was the way the book was to be printed. The recipes were then given to two testers for them to make in their own kitchens.
Then, we took the most important step: The finished desserts were given to Pierre Herme for him to taste. He tasted the desserts, made in my kitchen, using the final volume measurements in the book, and approved the results. Pierre is too serious about his work to allow someone to be frivolous with his recipes.
I can appreciate that somebody who is accustomed to using the metric system of weights enjoys the logic and ease of that system, but volume is the American way. In The Chef column in The New York Times that I am currently collaborating on with celebrated New York pastry chef, Francois Payard, I used that same method I used with Pierre Herme, and The Times testers had no problems with the recipes. And, when I wrote "Baking with Julia", I "translated" the recipes of the 26 bread bakers and pastry chefs whose work appears in the book: Not one of them – nor Julia Child – found fault with the conversions nor questioned the logic. The system works.Book Description:
* 100 fabulous desserts that are surprisingly simple to prepare.
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Book Description Little, Brown and Company, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110316357200
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Book Description Little, Brown and Company, Boston - New York, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: Fine. 1st Edition. First edition stated 1998, first printing, number line starts with 1. Hardcover on black laminated boards with DJ. Condition new inside, square tight and crisp book, no edgewear no names no underlinings no highlights, not a reminder. DJ fine, bright and shiny, no tears, no chips, slight crease at lower edge, small spot on front panel, Price Not clipped, fine overall. 4to, XVI + 288 pages, well illustrated. Large book will require additional postage for priority or international orders. Bookseller Inventory # 013103
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