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Professional Pastry Chef
cookbook reviewsprofessional pastry chef
The Professional Pastry Chef, Third Edition
by Bo Friberg
List Price: $65.00
Price with $45.50
You Save: $19.50 (30%)

Reviewed by Dana Lipkin

Click Here to Buy It On Line!

November 2003
During my first two months in the pastry kitchen, I relied solely on my chef for instruction. "Make a swiss meringue," she would tell me, and then together we would review the steps, as her "recipes" listed only amounts of ingredients, never procedure. Just out of cooking school - and with a specialization in culinary, rather than pastry - I was often in need of more than a list of ingredients in order to successfully carry out a recipe. One night, working alone, I telephoned a friend to ask her to look up the technique for genoise batter for me.

Then, in search of a recipe for Danish butter cookies, my chef brought in a copy of Bo Friberg's The Professional Pastry Chef, Third Edition. The cookies turned out perfectly (and in fact, with the addition of lemon zest and a lemon curd center, have ended up in our cookie plate). I asked if we could keep the book in the kitchen, and she agreed - and it has stayed there since, an encyclopedic resource I find invaluable as an instructor when my chef has gone home for the day. Though she never seems to need help with technique, my chef often refers to the book's copious recipes for pastries and desserts, which have not yet disappointed.

It's no coincidence that this text, which we revere as our work bible, is considered such in pastry kitchens nationwide. Friberg is both a pastry chef as well as a cooking school instructor, and both vocations are apparent in this volume, which shows gorgeous plated desserts along with precise instructions for creating them.

In its latest incarnation, The Professional Pastry Chef has been updated and expanded into two volumes: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry and The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef. According to Friberg, in revising his classic book for a fourth edition, he realized had more new material than he had space for. Splitting the text into two volumes allowed him to "add dozens of new recipes, illustrations, templates, and color photographs" that "reflect the latest industry trends" and to augment the appendices on Ingredients, Equipment, and Weights and Measures.

The photographs in the new editions attest to Friberg's skill at creating plated desserts, all of which, whether simple or elaborate, are exquisitely presented and fully conceived. I would be proud to be the inventor of just about any of them - and pleased to be the diner who gets to enjoy them.

The two new volumes are so rich in detail, so very precise, the I am assured that I in competent hands as I follow the instructions. Both books are replete with diagrams and procedure photos that help me to visualize procedures. They're also loaded with background information. For example, The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef's chapter on Wedding Cakes contains pages on "Traditional Wedding Cakes of Different Cultures," "The History of Wedding Cakes," Contemporary Wedding Cakes," "Logistics" (such as number of servings, flavors, dietary restrictions, and pricing), "Wedding Cake Assembly," and "Suggested Cake Combinations"-- in short, the equivalent of a book on everything you ever needed to know about the topic.

The Professional Pastry Chef and The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef also contain informational inserts like "About Sugar" - a few pages on the chemical composition and process of refining the all important ingredient. Though not the reason that I like to have Friberg's guidance within reach when I'm working, this feature makes the books a worthwhile armchair read.

I'd hate to be without my copy of The Professional Pastry Chef, Third Edition when I'm at work. But now I'm thinking about asking my chef if we can squeeze the new, expanded version into our shelf.

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