Learning Pastry from Le Cordon Bleu’s 100 Step by Step Recipes

When I came across Le Cordon Bleu’s Pastry School cookbook, I was excited to advance my baking knowledge. I thought it may even a cool gift for fellow cooks and bakers. It was full of colorful photographs of the creations along with photos depicting each step of the process. Each recipe was labeled with a taste description along with a difficulty level. So with my baking level only at the beginner’s stage, I started with something easy. Or was it…?

I was surprised to read the ingredient list of the chocolate praline tart and see ingredient names I have never heard of. For example, one of the ingredients was praline paste. Never had I heard of it, but sounded delicious. After looking in several grocery stores, I turned to the internet since I had yet to find a single can of praline paste. Thanks to King Arthur Flour for selling this item, which you can buy here. So I order this item, and a week later I had the needed ingredients.

I started to put together this tart step by step. I used their rubbing method to create their tart base. I didn’t have a tart ring so I used a spring release cake pan that I could separate from the base later. I didn’t have glucose, but found out that light corn syrup could be used instead, much to my relief. I really didn’t want to hunt down another ingredient over the web. Otherwise I followed the instructions pretty much by the letter. However, the tart making drove me crazy.

The base was very fragile so I couldn’t move it to the pan. I ended up using cling film under the rolled out base to move it and fix the cracks later. I spent a bit of time trying to convert the g to oz. Also, caramel is a pain to make. It can take several tries to get it just perfect. It is finicky. Then, it was awhile for each step to set up. It was well into the afternoon before the tart was finished.

When presenting it before family members, I was happy to see their shock and awe. They loved the taste of the tart and claimed it reminded them of Nutella. However at the end of the day, I think I wouldn’t make this again. I would just buy it from the bakery and leave it to the professionals.

If you have read any of my other cookbook reviews, this would be the point of introducing the other recipes I tried to accomplish. But… I didn’t try another recipe. Despite the photographs and clear instructions, the pastry making was time consuming and the key flavor ingredients needed were not easily found in your local store. So I only tested one recipe and that was enough for me. I wouldn’t recommend this cookbook for the average home cook. If you know someone, who wants to be a professional baker then maybe this is the book for them. Otherwise, skip this book when it comes to possible Christmas gifts.

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