Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets

This book should come with a warning label: May Cause Drooling and/or Hunger Pangs.

I will be the first to admit I have a problem passing up pastries. So it is my own fault I found it hard to put this book down. I grew up with a grandmother who baked and I miss her cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes, Christmas bread, and pastries. Discovering this book is like wandering into her kitchen while she was in the throws of kneading the dough or forming the rolls. What a treasure!

If you haven't baked pastries or been around others who do, one thing that you may find surprising about this book is that several different creations can be made from each "master dough". The main difference in results comes from the fillings and the way the dough is formed or shaped.

Greenstein, and his off-spring who helped compile this book following his death, offers readers detailed instructions not only on each recipe, but also on things such as why measuring is most important in baking and how to "read" your oven and adapt your baking to maximize what's going on in your particular kitchen. (I found this insight most helpful!)

Two drawbacks I discovered while enjoying this book: 1) I began to feel sorry for myself for not having a stand mixer (this would make the job of producing yeast bread doughs infinitely easier!) and 2) I found myself hating the fact I live in the middle of Iowa in a place devoid of a bakery (other than what you can find at the local grocery store. Which is better than nothing, I know.) I found myself ruminating on what it must be like to live in New York or another metropolis where neighborhood bakeries abound, and you come to know what day the baker is going to have your favorite pastries fresh in the display case just waiting for you to stop in and pick one up. A girl can dream, can't she?

If you have the slightest interest in learning to bake, you NEED this book! It'd be crazy to pass on the lifetime of insights a professional baker is offering you! Many of the treats are of Eastern European or German descent, which is a plus in my book since that is a big part of my own heritage. I am going to pass this free copy (which I received from Blogging For Books for this review) on to my daughter (who does have a stand mixer and a love of baking!) in hopes she will bake me something, ANYTHING from it!

From the Publisher . . .

This follow-up to the author’s James Beard award-winning Secrets of a Jewish Baker is a charming collection of European-style bakery classics, such as coffee cake and strudel.

George Greenstein had a gift for teaching home bakers to think, work, and bake like the pros with his evocative and tactile descriptions of baking. In A Jewish Baker’s Pastry Secrets, he crafts master dough recipes for Jewish holiday baking and European classics, creating a comprehensive set of building blocks for both beginners and baking enthusiasts. Greenstein’s expert guidance for making doughs like bundt, babka, strudel, gugelhopf, stollen, pressburger, puff pastry, and Danish create a jumping-off point for more than 200 variations of classic pastries, including napoleons, coffee cakes, and sweet buns. The book also offers an in-depth guide to ingredients and equipment, including both professional and home ovens, as well as basic recipes for fillings, icings, and glazes. With Greenstein’s steady guidance and familiar voice, home bakers and professionals alike will be encouraged to turn out flawless pastry creations for any occasion.

About the Author . . .

GEORGE GREENSTEIN is a third-generation professional baker, now retired. For twenty years he owned and operated a Jewish bakery, The Cheesecake King, on Long Island. He lives in Monroe Township, New Jersey. This is his second book.

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