Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets by George Greenstein

Title: The Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets: The Art of Baking Your Own Babka, Danish, Sticky Buns, Strudels and More

Author: George Greenstein

Format: egalley

Pub. Date: April 1st 2009

Source: Ten Speen Press

Book Description via Goodreads:

Draws out master dough recipes for bundt, babka, strudel, gugelhopf, stollen, pressburger, puff pastry, and Danish into more than 200 recipes and variations for pastries (Napoleons), coffee cakes, sweet buns (Cinnamon Babka, Sticky Buns), and miniature pastries (Triple Chocolate Rugelach). This title features step-by-step line illustrations.



I was really excited to get this book, because I love baking and I especially love some of the dishes most associated with Jewish cuisine, like babka. Unfortunately, this book let me down and isn't what I look for in a cook book.

It starts off with an introduction, a list of ingredients and tools, and a section for basic pastry components such as different kinds of fillings and doughs. These are pretty well thought out and useful, especially if one isn't a big baker in their usual kitchen.

The book includes sections like bundt, babka, bread, and Danish pastries, making it a bit difficult to navigate at times if a pastry could be listed on more than one section. There is a nice history throughout the text, and the author makes nice personal connections to the recipes that are included, which makes it a bit nicer to read. The recipes leave a lot of room for varieties and substitutions. There are long, detailed paragraph instructions that get muddled and a bit hard to follow, as they could be a bit more concise.

The ultimate downfall for me is that there are no pictures. None. Not even a little bit. For some of these techniques that aren't necessarily common for every day baking, pictures are crucial for me. It brought down the entire ease and tone of the book because without pictures, it seems more like an instruction manual and less like a cookbook. Had I known this fact, I wouldn't have gotten the book at all.

That being said, there are still some recipes from this book that I would like to try in the future. Some of them include Babka with Three Chocolates, Cherry Strudel, and Raspberry Bow Ties.

All in all, I think this isn't for beginners. You need confidence and skill to not depend on pictures in order to try new things. The recipes are pretty standard, and the instructions could be broken down a bit more. It's an okay book, but I don't plan to keep it in my kitchen.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.


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