The Art of the Cake: Modern French Baking and Decorating

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9780688141998: The Art of the Cake: Modern French Baking and Decorating

French cakes are among the most luscious and spectacular in the pantheon of cake baking. In The Art of the Cake, authors Healy and Bugat simplify the art form and bring together more than 100 classic cakes, from the Marquis (kirsch-soaked chocolate genoise cake rounds stuffed with ripe peaches and whipped cream) to the Moka, made from vanilla genoise brushed with espresso, filled with coffee buttercream, and topped with chopped roasted almonds.

There are recipes for poundcake-, spongecake-, and meringue-based gbteaux,in addition to bavarians, charlottes, mousse cakes, and loaf and log cakes (like the classic Chocolate Yule Log). There are also over 40 recipes for frostings, glazes, sauces, and fillings. In addition, there are detailed ingredient and equipment sections, and comprehensive instructions on general baking techniques--everything from separating and whipping eggs to working with a pastry tube to the correct way to temper chocolate. The more than 400 step-by-step illustrations (penned by Paul Bugat) that accompany the recipes and the 32 pages of color photographs of these magnificent cakes will be enough to tempt any baker, amateur or pro, into the kitchen.

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Review:

French cakes comprise a luscious repertoire. From the simplest pound and sponge cakes to more elaborate confections like the Délicieux (génoise layers filled with Grand Marnier-flavored buttercream and topped with a dark chocolate glaze) or the Moka (vanilla cake brushed with espresso, layered with coffee buttercream, and capped with roasted almonds), each gâteau is heaven to eat.

But how to reproduce these marvels at home? Recognizing the need for a technically comprehensive yet approachable introduction to French cake making for the home baker, cooking-school owner Bruce Healy and French pastry chef Paul Bugat have created a true teaching book. The Art of the Cake will appeal to anyone interested in French cake making, but will be of particular importance to serious bakers who have, perhaps, sought just this kind of work.

In the first of three parts, the book explores plain cakes, sponge and nut-meringue gâteaux, bavarians, charlottes, mousse cakes, logs, loaves, and more. Healy and Bugnat then offer more than 40 recipes for fillings, frostings, and finishes; notes on ingredients and equipment; a discussion of general techniques; and source listings. More than 400 step-by-step illustrations help readers assemble a sponge log or pipe meringues, for example, and 32 pages of color photos reveal the finished products in all their platonic glory. The authors occasionally overdilate on procedures and other matters, but in general provide just the right balance of detail and concision. Dipping into this near-encyclopedic but seductive guide, it would be difficult not to feel the call of the gâteaux and make a beeline for the kitchen. --Arthur Boehm

About the Author:

Bruce Healy, a former theoretical physicist, left that career path to pursue his passion for French food, particularly French pastry. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, where he runs the Healy-Lucullus School of French Cooking. Bruce and paul Bugat are also the authors of Mastering the Art of French Pastry andThe French Cookie Book.

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