Books for Chefs by Kitchen Arts & Letters

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Several of the books I’ve highlighted straddle the professional and home markets. Christina Tosi’s All About Cake has its roots in Tosi’s own home baking adventures as a teen and the publisher has bent over backward to attract enthusiastic home bakers. But despite its almost kitschy over-the-top design this book is a full-scale demonstration of a professionally rigorous approach to dessert creation by one of the more creative minds at work the in the US these days.

Lisa Ludwinski’s Sister Pie showcases the work of another highly professional bakery, and though it tries to tempt serious home bakers, its spirit is that of a successful bake shop, and Ludwinski’s introduction makes it clear just how carefully she’s navigating issues that any business owner faces when it comes to employee participation, community relevance, and other social issues on the front burner.

In Food52 Genius Dessert, Kristin Miglore is mining the ideas of great bakers ranging from Maida Heatter to Pierre Herme to find techniques that do traditional jobs better. She’s plugging you in to the innovation that other professional bakers have already achieved, and that’s why this apparently homey book has importance from professional kitchens.

Postres Mugaritz by Andoni Luis Aduriz

Montagud, 2018; $39.95

Dessert over the years from the famed Michelin 3-star, Mugaritz

From the publisher of Apicius, Pastry Revolution, and Melba, with a similar vibe. This is a collection of dessert recipes that appeared on the menu between 1998 and 2016 at the famed Mugaritz in Basque country. It has recipes for over 50 creations, some with process shots. It also includes drawings from the chef’s notebooks, giving a look into the creative genius of Andoni Luis Aduriz.

A few of the dishes include: Sobre Una Financiera de Almendra from 2002; El Gajo de Calabaza Confitado Sobre Una Crema de Vainilla y Calabaza from 2004; and Lienzo Plegado, Crema de Leche Agria y Dulce de Caramelo from 2012.

In Spanish only. Paperback. 220 glossy pages of high-resolution color photography.

Melba #3

Editors of Montagud Editores, 2018; $49.95

A pastry and bread periodical from the team behind Apicius and Pastry Revolution magazines

Montagud Editores of Barcelona and the team behind Apicius magazine have just begun this new pastry and bread periodical, named for the last dish served at elBulli (which was in turn named for the dessert created by Escoffier). Fans of the long-running Pastry Revolution will recognize this as a collection of that magazine’s best pieces. But while PR is published only in Spanish, Melba is in English and French.

Among the many leading chefs bakers featured in this issue are Albert Adrià, Eneko Atxa, Claire Damon, Yann Duytsche, Jordi Roca, Rhian Shellshear, and Toni Vera. Each dish is accompanied by a full-page presentation photo so that a wide variety of styles are on display.

Color photographs throughout. Paperback.

All About Cake by Christina Tosi

Clarkson Potter, 2018; $35.00

Cakes and more cakes from the genius chef who created Momofuku Milk Bar

 Christina Tosi is the mad genius of funky baking, turning out goods that are inspired by childhood nostalgia but executed with precision and know-how that allow a whimsical idea to succeed when, in other hands, it might never had been more than an unfulfilled flash of inspiration.

Despite some platitudes dispensed by the publisher’s copywriter about this being a book for “bakers of all levels,” this is an ambitious book that assumes you’re a comfortable baker, with a kitchen stocked with the likes of cake rings, acetate for assembling layer cakes, silicone baking mats, and a good scale. Yes, there are some quickly assembled microwave mug cakes and some (bizarre) cakes made in a slow cooker that are pretty fuss-free. But let’s be honest: if you’re interested in a Christina Tosi book about cakes, it’s because Tosi is known for going all-in when it comes to baking.

You’re interested because you want rhubarb-elderflower pound cake; you want corn and blueberry sheetcake. And banana-chocolate-hazelnut cupcakes, key lime pie layer cake, and lemon layer cake with pickled strawberry jam and pickled strawberry frosting. You’ll get these and many, many more. And even before your oven cools off, you’ll be happy.

Hardcover. Color photographs throughout. 288 pages

Food52 Genius Desserts by Kristin Miglore

Ten Speed Press, 2018; $35.00

Recipe-changing sweet recipes featured on the popular blog

The original Food52 Genius Recipes is a delight to use, a collection of inspired recipes that offer some kind of clarification or simplification of a traditional cooking method or recipe which you can readily adapt to other things you make. So imagine the pleasures of Food52 Genius Desserts!

Editor Kristin Miglore has gathered material from legendary bakers, intrepid bloggers, professional pastry cooks, and others who have followed an insight into exciting new baking territory. Some are means of treating everyday ingredients so that they deliver extra flavor power; others turn established techniques on their head, and still others do something so simple that you might not really think it qualifies as a recipe, even if it makes an astounding dessert.

Here you’ll find ideas from Madhur Jaffrey, Pierre Hermé, Maida Heatter, Marcella Hazan, Nick Malgieri, Claudia Fleming, Stella Parks, Brooks Headley, Lindsay Shere, Jim Dodge, and so many other remarkable contributors. The vegan chocolate chip cookies will become your instant go-to, regardless of whether you are vegan yourself. And the only thing that will stop you from making them again and again is the enticing array of other choices here.

Slam dunk.

Color photographs throughout, Hardcover.

Article created by Matt Sartwell, Managing Partner of Kitchen Arts & Letters, New York, NY, and appeared in the Winter Issue of Pastry Arts Magazine. 

All of the preceding books are available at Kitchen Arts & Letters (www.kitchenartsandletters.com).