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Books for Cooks: 5 Must-Read Pastry Cookbooks

Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared lists of my favorite ingredient-focused and vegetable-centric cookbooks, but what kind of pastry chef would I be if I didn’t provide a list of dessert cookbooks? Having authored two cookbooks—Desserts for Every Season and Modern Eclairs—I’m fairly opinionated about what I’m looking for in a great pastry book. From beautiful photos and essential techniques to foolproof recipes, the following texts are among the dog-eared classics I return to time and time again.     

                                                   5 of the best pastry cookbooks for every new chef

The Last Course by Claudia Fleming
This book is no longer in print, despite high demand. As a result, its cost is significantly higher than the original price tag. It’s worth the splurge—or borrowing from your local library—because The Last Course is one of the most celebrated pastry cookbooks of all time. Organized by main ingredient, the book features the desserts of Gramercy Tavern’s James Beard Award-winning pastry chef—and ICE alum!—Claudia Fleming, showcasing American desserts at their finest.

Tartine by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson
San Francisco’s legendary bread mecca, Tartine Bakery, may just be the most famous bread bakery in the country—and with good reason. Happily, the bakery has produced several namesake cookbooks, but it is their first volume that I love best. Every recipe is simple, easy to follow, includes volume and metric measurements, and—above all—the recipes work perfectly every time.

Bread Alone by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik
With hundreds of books on the subject of artisanal bread, how does one know if a book is really good? You ask a professional baker. Bread Alone is a favorite among the best bakers in the country. Even if you never bake a single loaf, you’ll love the introduction to the book, which explains how founding baker Daniel Leader started his career and, eventually, created some of the best bread available on the East Coast.

Frozen Desserts by Francisco Migoya
Not a book for novice chefs, as the information and recipes in this book aim far beyond the average home baker’s repertoire. For accomplished cooks, the book explains the science of frozen desserts—such as ice cream, sorbet, granita and semifreddo—in a manner that is easy to understand and apply in the professional kitchen. It doesn’t hurt that the recipes are phenomenal, and the photography is gorgeous too.

Chocolates and Confectionsby Peter P. Greweling
This book is perfect for those seeking to boost their chocolate knowledge beyond basic tempering techniques and truffles. Including innovative recipes and tricks of the trade from world-class baker and chocolatier Peter P. Greweling, this manual is an excellent foundation for any students feeling inspired by Chef Michael Laiskonis’ experiments in the ICE Chocolate Lab.

Great desserts begin with strong skills. Click here to receive free information about ICE’s award-winning professional pastry program.

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