Desserts By Michel Roux
Some recipe books are all about coffee table appeal. Weighty tomes by celebrated chefs featuring stunning photography of spectacular dishes with recipes too complex for the average cook to attempt.
Desserts, the latest collection of pudding and pastry recipes by the culinary hero that is Michel Roux, is not one of those books.
Roux, with his older brother Albert, came to England 40 years ago to open the original Le Gavroche in Lower Sloane Street, London. In 1972 they opened the Waterside Inn in Bray, which in 2010 was awarded three Michelin stars for the 25th consecutive year becoming the only restaurant outside France to achieve such a distinction.
Despite these lofty credentials, Roux has always written recipe books that are practical and easy to follow, and Desserts, with beautiful photography by Martin Brigdale, is no exception.
Roux's stated intention in the book's introduction is to demonstrate that desserts are not the "poor cousin of the culinary world" but that in fact the opposite is true. There follows several pages of practical advice on the types of ingredients and equipment to use, giving the reader a helpful insight into what turns a good dessert into a great one.
Don't be fooled by its compact size - it's just a little larger than A5 - Desserts packs a punch in terms of content. It's broken down into 10 chapters that each focus on a particular type of pud, each featuring recipes to suit most skill levels from simple fruit desserts, ice-creams and sorbets through to meringues, pastries and gateaux.
The classically trained and well-travelled French chef is clearly inspired by countless influences. Classic recipes are given a modern twist and Roux has reinvented original recipes with new combinations of flavours, such as white chocolate mousse with kaffir lime.
Even the most majestic of dessert centrepieces is made achievable - I've always wanted to attempt a croquembouche, for example, and Roux's recipe gives me the confidence to give it a whirl.
The chapters are peppered with step-by-step photographic sequences to guide you through specific techniques, which are both welcome and reassuring, and there's a very real sense of support from the master chef that permeates the pages.
A recipe book that aims to appeal to too broad an audience can sometimes end up not really appealing to anyone but confident home bakers and seasoned pastry chefs alike will get good use out of Desserts.
By Janie Stamford
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