Get ready to get very particular about baking, because here comes the Bouchon Bakery cookbook by Thomas Keller, Thomas Keller Restaurant Group's executive pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel, and head bread baker Matthew McDonald. Co-written by food writers Michael Ruhlman, Susie Heller, and Amy Vogler, and with photography by Deborah Jones, the book covers the ins and outs of classic pastry as well as Bouchon Bakery's take on American classics like chocolate chip cookies, sugared doughnuts, and TKOs, their version of the Oreo.
You want to talk perfect pastries? Rouxel's recipes even surprise Keller. In the foreword, Ruhlman recalls watching Keller look through the Bouchon Bakery pastry case: "Look at those eclairs! See how perfect they are? Look at that glaze — so often at bakeries the glaze will be rough or dull or cracked. But look at that!" (Italics Ruhlman's.) But be prepared to work for that perfection: repeatedly throughout the book, Rouxel stresses the philosophy of working clean. Not just cleaning up after yourself — although he means that too — but applying the idea of order to everything you do in the kitchen. This concept is carried out in the recipes; for example, there are four separate versions of the brioche dough. One for sticky buns, one for hot cross buns, one for Tropezienne, and one for Nanterre.
As for the book itself, it is definitely a Keller joint: the gorgeous, complex recipes are accompanied by occasionally goofy photos of the Bakery team having a water fight (see above) or peeping through doughnut holes. (Although it's decidedly not as goofy as the photos in Ad Hoc at Home.) There are also insights to the Bakery: for example, Keller notes that when the first Bouchon Bakery opened, "A number of times I came close to shutting it down and opening a sushi restaurant on the site. Honestly." He clearly didn't end up having to do that (although can you imagine a Keller sushi restaurant?) and today there are locations in the Napa Valley, New York, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills. The Bouchon Bakery cookbook comes out October 23 (pre-order on Amazon).