Book review: The Pastry School

05 March 2020 by
Book review: The Pastry School

  • The Pastry School
  • By Julie Jones
  • Kyle Books, £25

With the popularity of Holborn Dining Room chef Calum Franklin's pies as just one example, Julie Jones isn't wrong when she says a pastry revival is taking the world by storm. Pies and pithiviers are back on restaurant menus and artisan bakeries seem to be popping up everywhere.

Tired of office jobs, Jones retrained as a chef at the age of 30. After winning the Nestle Toque d'Or competition and completing a stage at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, her dream was to work in a Michelin-starred kitchen. However, soon after completing her studies, her mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of dementia.

While caring for her mother, Jones started baking with her as a form of therapy, sharing the photos on Instagram. Her eye-catching bakes and emotional outpourings soon gained a large fan base, and Jones now runs supper clubs and cookery classes.

The Pastry School follows on from her first book, Soulful Baker, published in 2017. Chapters include fruit, cream and cheese, nuts, vegetables, meat and fish, and crunch and crumbs, with more than 50 sweet and savoury recipes and 10 different types of pastry. The book encourages experimentation and includes a key to the different varieties of pastry that can work with each of the 50 recipes.

The recipes themselves range from the classics – treacle tart, lemon meringue pie – to some with twists, such as gluten-free aniseed pastry scales on a fish pie, to the more unusual – lychee and violet craquelin choux buns and chamomile panna cotta tarts. And alongside homely comfort food, such as a slow-braised pork cheek and mushroom pie, are more refined recipes, such as delicate mango and coconut cream petits fours.

Although aimed at the home baker, the book could serve as a source of inspiration for the professional chef, particularly in how to bring pastry presentation up to a truly exquisite standard.

With its easy-to-follow recipes and beautifully styled photography, the only real issue with The Pastry School is that many of the creations within are just too beautiful to eat.

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