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10 May 2012

Non-Fiction Review: Miette Bakery Cookbook

The Miette Bakery Cookbook by Meg Ray
Publication Date: 22 June 2011 by Chronicle Books
ISBN 10/13: 0811875040 | 9780811875042
Source:  Purchased

From Amazon:

Renowned for beautiful cakes and whimsical confections, Miette Patisserie is among the most beloved of San Francisco's culinary destinations for locals and travelers. Miette's pretty Parisian aesthetic enchants visitors with tables piled high with beribboned bags of gingersnaps, homemade marshmallows, fleur de sel caramels, and rainbows of gumballs. This cookbook brings the enchantment home, sharing 100 secret formulas for favorite Miette treats from chef and owner Meg Ray. More than 75 gorgeous color photos capture the unique beauty of Miette desserts and shops. Scalloped edges on the book block enhance the preciousness of this fetching package. Just like the adorable cakes, cookies, clairs and tarts for sale in Miette's case, this book is irresistible!

Thuy's Review:

This is a beautiful book. The layout, photos and even the scalloped page edges are all lovely and feminine and oh so French. I've visited Miette and the bakery itself is bright and charming and everything I've bought there has been delicious. Unfortunately the recipes from the Miette Bakery Cookbook did not yield the results that I was hoping for when I bought this book.

First off, the weight measurements for the recipes are off in the first printing of this book. I usually weigh my ingredients thought that the measurements looked a little off but gave the book the benefit of the doubt and made the Lemon Shortbread cookies per the instructions. My cookies ended up spreading all over the baking sheet and looked nothing like the shortbread cookies from the store. Later I found out that there was errata for the book. I understand that things happen and many books have a small number of errata. However, this one seemed to have more than normal and the mistakes are big ones. I mean, if the weight measurements are off then it means that every recipe is off. If you have a first printing, please do yourself a favor and download the errata here before making anything in this book. I have been told that the next printing of the book will have this mistakes fixed and Amazon is even sending me a copy free of charge.

The Miette philosophy is a unique one. All of the cakes and even cookies are done in a smaller scale than traditional size cakes (8 or 9 inch rounds). All of the cakes are made with a smaller 6 inch round or contour pan. Though adorable, I think that people unused to baking on this scale will find it a little impractical. First, you'll have to get said 6 inch pans before making any of the cakes in the books, which I was not expecting. The cake recipes also make 2 6 inch rounds which means you’ll have to either make two fully decorated cakes or save the extra foundation cake for another time. For some this might be great but, for me, I would have preferred the recipe to be for just one full cake as I have little freezer room to spare.

The recipes themselves are well written and very detailed. Don't expect quick and easy cake recipes. You're meant to take your time with these recipes. The cake recipes are all variations on a core arsenal of cake bases. The fillings, frostings and flavorings change to create an endless number of variations based on only a few simple recipes. I admit that since my shortbread failure haven’t attempted any other recipes in the book, but I want to. I am hoping that having the errata handy will yield better results next time.

While I respect the owner's philosophy and vision, I think it’s a lot to commit to for your average baker. Experienced bakers who have 6 inch pans or who are willing to invest in them and in trying out smaller scale recipes will enjoy this book. I wouldn’t call these every day cake recipes. They take a lot of care and technique and are probably best saved for a special occasion. I don't regret buying this, as it is truly lovely to look at, but it is probably going to be a coffee table book for me. One that I will pull out and look at when I need a little visual inspiration.

Visit the Miette Bakery website at miette.com

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