Greetings! I will be joining the culinary arts academy in Switzerland for the pastry and chocolate art. I would love to practise for the next 6 months before I join in Jan 2014. Can someone please recommend a good pastry book where I can acquire some skills. Thanks in advance,
Good book to practise pastry?
Try contacting the school to find out which book(s) they require students to buy. You don't need to start out with multiple books, one good general one is the place to begin, so you might as well use the same one you will in class. Here are the ones I have found useful, in the general pastry category:
My suggestions: don't be afraid to get a used copy, just check the edition so it is somewhat current. Many of the cookbooks I have were bought used and they still came to me in very good condition at a fraction of the price. This has allowed me to get a larger collection than I otherwise would have. Depending on your current skills, just practicing some of the basics, like pastry cream, anglaise and sponge cakes will certainly be things you use throughout your career.
It is also helpful to stay informed in professional trends. Use the internet to follow successful chefs in the fields you are most interested in. Subscribe to blogs or facebook pages. Save pictures or recipes of anything that catches your interest. Over the years, these will come in very handy.
I'd recommend Le Cordon Bleu Pâtisserie and Baking Foundations. It is very detailed, made for the amature/home cook that wants to know in depth how to properly make pastry. It has step by step instructions with pictures on making your basic doughs, shortbreads, creams, anglais, fillings, glazes, you name it. It is one of the few books that concentrates on techniques and informing you the history in pastry instead of just recipes after recipes after recipes.
But you can only go so far with a book. I recommend if you really want to get to know your stuff before you go into culinary school, go to a restaurant or pastry shop and ask if you can do a stage (work for free) for a couple of days or weeks in pastry and learn from them.
You can never know what it's really like until you have been shown to do it the right way. and only then can you SEE the product in its proper form, and FEEL and taste the proper consistency and texture.
But, If you insist on practicing from a book, when you're making most things, look for smooth and/or shiny consistency. It usually doesn't go wrong when something is smooth and shiny.