I’ve noticed over the last while that people have been querying about Pierre Hermé’s PH10. For this post, I’ve decided to write a brief review of this book for those people who are not fortunate enough to own it.
I picked up my copy of PH10 at Kitchen Arts & Letters in New York City several years ago and carted this very heavy (and very expensive!) book back to Asia. PH10 is an advanced level pastry book featuring a compilation of Pierre Hermé’s professional creations over the last ten years. Most of the recipes contained in the book are unique and were created for his Pierre Hermé branded pastry shops in Japan and France while a few of the recipes were featured in his older La Pâtisserie de Pierre Hermé book.
The cover of the book is interesting in that it is actually a blown up picture of the top of one of Pierre Hermé’s cake creations. The cake on the cover is called “Chuao”. Chuao is an ultra high-end chocolate from Italian chocolate manufacturer Amedei that is featured as the main component for this cake. What you see on the book cover is the chocolate glazed cake with two pieces of curved tempered chocolate standing parallel and upright on the glaze.
The introduction section of the book begins with a very brief paragraph from Pierre Hermé followed by short passages by noted personalities in the food industry. Personalities like Ferran Adria (Molecular Gastronomy pioneer and guru), Gaston Lenotre (French pastry legend), and Frédérick e. Grasser-Hermé (his ex-wife) are contributors to the introduction section.
The book is broken up into ten sections: 1. Entrements and Tarts, 2. Chocolates, 3. Transportable cakes and Breads, 4. Ice Creams and Sorbets, 5. Small Cakes and Individual Tarts, 6. Macarons and Petit Fours, 7. Confectionary (Pâte de Fruits), 8. Plated Desserts, 9. Base Recipes, 10. Annexes
This is a book written entirely in French as opposed to the bilingual version offered in La Pâtisserie de Pierre Hermé. As far as I can tell, I do not believe the French publisher Agnès Viénot Éditions will be producing an English version of this book anytime soon (if ever).
All the featured recipes are written with the professional chef in mind. The ingredients used are all extremely high end and many of the items cannot be found outside of professional circles. If you have the proper skills and knowledge, you should be able to make substitutions for those hard to find ingredients and come up with satisfactory results. Many of the pastry techniques in the recipes are sparsely described and it is assumed that the reader has much of the fundamental pastry making skills to decipher the instructions.
Like any successful company that has a strong product marketing sense, Pierre Hermé has taken his unique creations and has offered his recipes in many different forms and textures. For example, the highly acclaimed Ispahan creation is offered as an entremet, a galette, a cake, an ice cream, a petit four, and a plated dessert. As such, many of the components in the recipes are in some way repeated throughout the book with necessary changes to reflect the different forms of each version.
The photographs in the book are beautifully rendered but PH10 does not have a photo for every recipe (about 300 in total). However, there are enough photographs in the book (about 200 photos) to satisfy those who would like to admire most of Pierre Hermé’s creations.
As mentioned earlier, this book is catered to the professional pastry chef but the question on most people’s mind is whether this book will suit home bakers or non-professional pastry cooks. I think the biggest deterrent for most people would be the fact that this book is written in French only. Unless you want to spend roughly USD$270 to acquire PH10 just to look at the pictures, then I would recommend you purchase La Pâtisserie de Pierre Hermé since this book is written in English (although parts of the book is poorly translated) and it provides more foundational pastry making instructions. The Pierre Hermé series written by Dorie Greenspan (Desserts & Chocolate Desserts) is highly recommended for home bakers and beginners since it was written with the idea of French pastry making using common household ingredients typically found in local supermarkets. For the professional, PH10 is highly recommended along with the older and very innovative La Pâtisserie de Pierre Hermé and Plasirs Sucrés.
In the meantime, enjoy the photos of Pierre Hermé’s creations from PH10!