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The Best Pastry Books: Chefs Pick Their Favorites

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Welcome once again to the Eater Library, in which chefs and other culinary professionals recommend their favorite cookbooks from their particular specialty.

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Today, pastry chefs recommend the best French pastry cookbooks, in case you feel inspired to get some bûche up in your Noël this holiday. Chefs including Michael Laiskonis, Dominique Ansel, Nadège Nourian and Kelly Fields have recommended a smattering of books for casual and professional pâtissiers alike. (Pastry not your thing? Perhaps you'd care for some cocktails?) Below, the Eater Library: French Pastry.


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Nadège Nourian, Nadège, Toronto

The Pastry Books of Yves Thuries
The first, is a series of books from a famous pastry chef named Yves Thuries. The books include recipes from some very well known pastry chefs, and they opened my eyes to the high level of pastry cooking that exists in France. It led me to work with these beautiful and interesting pastry recipes and was a part of a very important turn in my career as a chef.
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Natura by Albert Adria
The cookbook Natura by Albert Adria taught me that some people are truly above others in their knowledge, he is a true genius in this field.
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Au Coeur Des Saveurs by Frederic Bau
A personal favorite, and one of my first pastry books was titled Au Coeur Des Saveurs by Frederic Bau, such a beautifully done book.
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Kelly Fields, Restaurant August, New Orleans

Le Grand Livre De Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries by Alain Ducasse
My favorite french pastry book without hesitation is Le Grand Livre De Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries. It provides a thorough foundation of techniques and flavors that is as approachable for a serious home cook as it is a professional. Everything from simple fruit preparations to step-by-step lessons on doughs and composed desserts make this one of the most important and informative books in the world of pastry. The recipes work with ease, but are also very easily adaptable to different situations, ingredients, flavors and geographical influence.
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The Last Course by Claudia Fleming
Another favorite pastry book of mine is The Last Course by Claudia Fleming. As a young pastry cook not interested in the architectural plating fads, this book was released in the midst of it all, 2001 and became a compass, a lighthouse, showing me every time I picked it up that I wasn't at all lost. The script and aesthetic of the book are absolutely beautiful, the recipes and flavors are all crave-able and comforting. Twelve years later it is still my most cherished book, I know the recipes by heart, I can see the images in my mind and it continues to inspire and speak to me. Timeless perfection.
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Michael Laiskonis, ICE, New York City

Professional French Pastry Series and Special and Decorative Breads
When I started out as a young cook some twenty years ago, our sources for inspiration were far more limited than they are today; before the internet we had to patiently wait on monthly magazines and the sluggish book publishing cycle in order to see new ideas. But I was hungry for anything I could get my hands on, and this set helped provide for me an extensive base of fundamentals; cooking my way through these books and applying their recipes to wherever I was working at the time was, in a sense, my culinary school. They weren't cheap, either, for the day - it took me a few months to save up for each volume before acquiring the complete set. And I still love looking back through them from time to time to calibrate and to appreciate the books for their decidedly low-fi 80s' glory.
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Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery, New York City

Le Larousse des Desserts by Pierre Herme

Le Larousse des Desserts, which is the pastry offshoot of the Larousse Gastronomique, a real encyclopedic bible of French cooking and was compiled by Pierre Herme. I like two types of pastry books: the ones with wonderful photos for inspiration, and then the very straight forward ones that have those tried-and-true recipes. This one is both. And it goes through the real French classics in a very comprehensive way. Cooking through the pages is like taking a pre-professional French pastry school.
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