Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Au Coeurs Des Saveurs – A Review

May 17, 2008

It’s been heartening to see such positive interest from my previous blog posting on professional pastry books. For this posting, I thought I would continue with my series of book reviews by providing my thoughts on one of my favourite pastry books in my collection – Au Coeurs Des Saveurs by Frédéric Bau.

First published in 1997 by Montagud Editores, Au Coeurs Des Saveurs was one of the very few bilingual (French/English) professional pastry books during that time to delve into the area of baking science. In the early chapters of his book, Bau focuses on incisive topics related to cake ingredients, the intricacies of making a chocolate mousse, and revealing discussions on the roles and effects of textures, temperatures and flavours in making entremets. Subsequent chapters focus on many creative entremets recipes, recipes for restaurant plated desserts, recipes for chocolate bonbons, and finally, base recipes for many of his creations in his book

Here’s a short excerpt from his chapter “What is a Chocolate Mousse?”

(Reprinted from Au Coeurs Des Saveurs by Frédéric Bau)
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Why are some mousses successful and tasty and others only “eatable”?

The basic composition of the mousse is an important factor, made up of any of the following:

– “Bombe” mixture
– Custard cream
– Chantilly cream
– “Raw” with egg whites
– Bavarois cream

Most recipes contain identical ingredients, but integrated in different proportions. By definition, a chocolate mousse is a very greasy product. Chocolate, whipped cream, and eventually egg yolks, added in various forms are all greasy products. There is also a high percentage of moisture. Whipping cream contains approximately 65% moisture, and custard cream or whipped egg whites contain even more. The need to obtain a perfect water/fat mixture is then essential. We know that a water/fat mixture is difficult to handle. However, through emulsion we’ll be able to obtain a perfect union between the two elements, with a homogeneous and smooth result, “short in texture”.

I personally believe that a texture is pleasant only when short-lived, otherwise, a melting texture can become sticky or greasy if it lingers in the mouth too long.

Mayonnaise is the best example. It is difficult to swallow four tablespoons of oil that have not been made up in the course of a meal. But this same oil, emulsified with some moisture, a touch of mustard and lemon juice, becomes a prized condiment, even though very greasy.

One of the small “miracles” of our profession is to obtain smooth, creamy, and light textures from greasy ingredients. To be able to control my own work better and above all for the pleasure of passing on my conclusions, I studied the performance of mousses, so I think I can offer you the chance of avoiding some of the problems that you may come across.

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Additional topics of significant interest is Bau’s analysis on the inner architecture of an entremet, the different types of chocolate bonbons, correct tempering of chocolate couverture, and a revealing discussion on how to obtain a successful ganache. Each of these topics is explained in precise detail with deep insight into the inner workings and interactions between different ingredients to achieve a balanced end product.

Bau’s willingness to share his findings from his laboratory tests and his industry experience is what makes this book truly shine. His recipes in his book are very innovative and esthetically beautiful.

Au Coeurs Des Saveurs is catered to professional readers and the recipes in the book are written in such a way that the reader should have the proper foundation to interpret the sparse instructions. Novice readers will have difficulty following the recipes and will find the technical discussions rather challenging to understand.

The only real negative thing I can say about this book is that it is poorly translated and edited (as evidenced by the excerpt shown above). Spelling and grammatical errors are found throughout the book and at times, it can be quite difficult to understand some of the translated passages. There were many times where I had to resort to reading the original French text to understand what the English translations meant! La Patisserie of Pierre Hermé suffered similar translation and editorial problems under the same publisher, Montagud Editores.

Nevertheless, Au Coeurs Des Saveurs is truly a classic book that should belong on the shelf of every pastry chef. I highly recommend it.