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"Long ago and far away" I lived in Germany for several years. I brought back a baby, a stereo and a cuckoo clock, as the saying went at the time, a deep understanding of the phrase "hurry up and wait" and a huge love of German/Austrian baked goods and desserts, so I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Austrian Desserts: Over 400 Cakes, Pastries, Strudels, Tortes, and Candies. It arrived on publication day and I've been wading through it ever since.
Let me get one thing out of the way immediately: Austrian Desserts: Over 400 Cakes, Pastries, Strudels, Tortes, and Candies was written by two of Austria's most well known pastry chefs. This is absolutely not a book for beginners. If you do not have at least some familiarity with the basics of baking, you will find most (by far) of the recipes in this book beyond your ability to reproduce successfully, not because of the level of difficulty of the item but because of the presumption that certain things need no explanation. Save yourself the frustration and come back after you've learned to bake.
At 445 pages and more than 400 recipes, the book is actually much smaller than I thought it would be, with dimensions just slightly smaller than Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a book that echoes across time in the layout of the pages - ingredients in one column, directions in a clearly delineated adjacent column, a format that is very easy to use and follow. The typeface is generally easy to read, but I did find that I needed my reading glasses for the ingredients lists. Sadly, most of the German names for the various included dishes have been removed in favor of an English translation, something I consider a near-travesty. When I want to make a famous Austrian dessert, I may not know it as "Chocolate Vanilla Torte" and neither may anyone else.
There are many color photographs, quite often full page. Noting another reviewer's complaint, I carefully checked all of them. Photographs of specific dishes included in the book are invariably opposite the recipe for the pictured items. Note that there are also some small placeholder graphics of things like red currants or walnuts (sometimes repeated) that are used to fill spaces that are otherwise too small for a detailed photograph of a dish but too big to be aesthetically pleasing if left blank. Do note, however, that not every recipe has a photograph. Several series of "how to" photographs for various techniques are included.
One of the things that I particularly liked about Austrian Desserts: Over 400 Cakes, Pastries, Strudels, Tortes, and Candies is that it very much follows a Paula Peck style of baking. (If you don't know Paula Peck, she is considered by many the Grande Dame of Fine Baking, producing what is still considered to be one of the finest treatises on fine baking ever written. She was James Beard's assistant for many years.) Paula's essential premise was that certain recipes are used over and over in fine baking. Genius arises from putting the basics together in different ways. Thus, the first chapter of Austrian Desserts: Over 400 Cakes, Pastries, Strudels, Tortes, and Candies is chock-full of base recipes for various pastry doughs, cake batters, meringues, glazes and icings that are used in recipes later in the book - and "later in the book" cuts a wide swath.
Inside you'll find everything from fruit preserves to ice cream, cakes large, small and bite-sized; there are puddings, dumplings and candies along with donuts, gelatin desserts (which include instructions for substituting agar agar), strudels, coffee cakes, Danish pastries - so much of such variety that it would take a tremendous amount of time just to list them all, including an extensive chapter on baking with whole wheat flour.
Now, there are some things I particularly noticed you should know about. The book contains 11 recipes for fruit marmalades - really what we would call jam or preserves. These recipes all call for "preserving sugar", a sugar + pectin product widely available in the UK and Europe that is unavailable in the US. You may be able to adapt the flavors of these recipes to US materials and methodologies, but you will not be able to use them as written.
Austrian Desserts: Over 400 Cakes, Pastries, Strudels, Tortes, and Candies gives measurements in both ounces/cups and metrics. I did notice a number of places where I questioned the ounces/cups given as the equivalent of the metric measurements. Since the German original would have been written in metrics, I would strongly urge you to stick to the metric measurements. Note that volumetric metric measures in the US are given in mL rather than the cL the book uses. You can either use the teaspoon/tablespoon measure given or simply multiple the cL value by 10. (1 cL = 10 mL, so 2 cL = 20 mL). Ordinary Pyrex glass measuring cups have mL on one side and have done for at least a couple of decades. You will, however, need a digital scale if you do not already own one.
Baking temperatures are given in near-exact conversions to Fahrenheit, numbers which do not appear on most US stoves. You will want to use the nearest multiple of 25 - i.e. use 350F instead of the 340F specified for Poppy Squares. Note that this may change your baking time a teeny bit.
Grandma's $0.02 - Austrian Desserts: Over 400 Cakes, Pastries, Strudels, Tortes, and Candies is a real treasure trove for those with a bit of baking experience.