There has been a lot of buzz about Pastry Love online, and with good reason. It’s a very impressive set of recipes, made possible by collaboration with the many bakers and pastry chefs Ms. Chang employs. A little corner of my heart warms every time she mentions someone’s contribution. Even more than that, she talks about things her employees have taught her, which is refreshingly humble.
Now, the cookbook. I loved it. It has inspired me to make things, like honeycomb candy and English toffee, that I had never made before. The pecan sandies are to die for— so light and crisp and buttery and perfect. The brown butter cinnamon rolls are fantastic—I made a half recipe, and they were gone within an hour. I really appreciate her frequent incorporation of whole grains, even more so because the whole grain recipes I made were absolutely delicious. The whole wheat maple-blueberry scones are genuinely wheaty—but also cakey, and so good that my husband and I ruined our appetites for dinner after we ate three of them in ‘the interest of testing.’ The multigrain English muffins were, according to my own taste buds and our 4 year old neighbor Cal: “The best English muffins ever. The best English muffins ever. Ever! EVER!”
I made: Whole wheat maple blueberry scones (p. 69), Brown butter cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting (p. 97), Vinal Bakery Multigrain English muffins (p. 143), Pecan sandies (p. 160), Lemon polenta cookies (p. 165), Jessi’s caramel popcorn cookies (p. 191), Plum (but with pear) frangipane tart (p. 230), Almond joy tart (p. 233), Almond panna cotta (p. 355), Vanilla mint marshmallows (p. 408), Christopher’s honeycomb (p. 411), Butterscotch caramels (p. 413), English toffee (p. 419).
Would make again: Whole wheat maple blueberry scones (p. 69), Brown butter cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting (p. 97), Vinal Bakery multigrain english muffins (p. 143), Pecan sandies (p. 160), Plum (but with pear) frangipane tart (p. 230), Vanilla mint marshmallows (p. 408), Christopher’s honeycomb (p. 411), Butterscotch caramels (p. 413), English toffee (p. 419).
Standout Star Recipe: There are so many I could choose. But, after careful consideration, it’s a tie between the Vinal Bakery multigrain english muffins and the Pecan sandies.
Tips and Advice
- Read the ‘Tips to be a better baker’ at the beginning of the book. Great reminders, even for experienced bakers. Also, if you have time, go through the other introductory sections. In the ‘Ingredients’ section, I was surprised and very happy to find a recipe for homemade crème fraîche. Will definitely be trying it—crème fraîche is delicious, but expensive!
- The kosher salt that is used in these recipes is Diamond Crystal. If you are using Morton’s kosher salt, use half as much as called for in the recipe. Do the same if you’d like to use fine sea salt.
- Christopher’s honeycomb (p. 411): the recipe gives visual cues, but to be sure, check with an instant read thermometer and cook the sugar syrup to 300° F.
- Brown butter butterscotch caramels (p. 413): For me, taking the caramel to 252° F was too far, the caramels were inedibly hard. 245° F and they were perfectly soft.
TLDR: Pastry Love by Joanne Chang is a fabulous baking book. Warm, lovely feeling to it, and absolutely delicious baked goods will result. Pick it up for yourself or gift it, you won’t be sorry.
If you love this book, and want more Joanne Chang in your life, check out: