The other day it occurred to me that the majority of my patisserie books are from Japan. It’s not that there aren’t any good English language books on classic French pastry making, but few seem to cover every intricate detail of croissantary (I just made that word up) and making things like joconde imprime (what?) as meticulously, yet simply, as the Japanese. Then along came Emmanuel Mollois’ latest book Pâtissier which does all that and more.
People outside of Perth would know Chef Mollois from his engaging appearances on Poh’s Kitchen, where he flexed his skills in the realm of pastry and chocolate making. To us locals, he is the master of desserts at Bistro des Artistes, and former owner of Choux Cafe. Given such accomplishments, I was most excited to attend a special masterclass presented by Emmanuel as a part of Eat Drink Blog last November. It was a personal highlight of the conference.
Watching Emmanuel effortlessly work with various types of pâte (pastry dough) as he explained the fundamentals of making gorgeous cakes and pastries was very educational. He also demystified the art of patisserie by demonstrating how delectable desserts can be made just with a few basic components. Yes, you can go crazy with layers, colours and flavours but Emmanuel’s approach is, as you’d expect, quintessentially French: Keep it simple! Respect and embrace the basics, then move on from there if you feel you must.
That philosophy of keeping things simple and sticking to basics is certainly apparent in Pâtissier. The book heads straight into the foundations of patisserie and doesn’t deviate off course until every basic pâte, dough and pastry cream has been fully introduced to the reader. Next comes basic, classic desserts, then finishing up with a full flight of fancy into the world of dazzling gateaux. By the end, you either close the book and sigh, or you march into your kitchen to whip up a creme brulee.
Pâtissier is intended to be a comprehensive guide to making every imaginable type of French pastry and peripheral items such as ganaches and glazes. Emmanuel suggests it’s best suited to the more experienced home cooks or an apprentice chef but as far as I’m concerned, if you’re interested in the subject, this is a fantastic resource book to have in your cookbook collection. Everything is explained in a very matter-of-fact way so newbie cooks should have no trouble whipping up some creme caramels and biscuits. Being an intermediate cook, the book presents oodles of challenges which I’m looking forward to taking on during this year.
I think a lot of people are frightened by the elaborateness of some patisserie creations such as those we see on TV (ie: croquembouche, Snow Egg etc), but Emmanuel’s book clearly and simply explains every process involved in making the various celebrated desserts we all generally imagine being much too difficult to make at home. Of course, it helps to have a good amount of experience to tackle something like an Opera cake but the foundations are there for you to have fun with first beforehand. Every basic component can be a dessert on its own so there’s much fun to be had on your way to making the more complex desserts.
Overall though, what I absolutely loved the most about Pâtissier was the endearingly personal touch Emmanuel shares with readers: a gorgeous selection of gateaux dedicated to his loved ones. These lovely recipes are accompanied by stunning, hand-drawn designs along with photos of the finished cake. So beautiful!
I’ve had a lot of fun so far with this book (check out my Rum Baba!) and I’m looking forward to learning more techniques as I go along.
Pâtissier can be found at or ordered via good book stores (probably mediocre ones too…), and retails for 55 AUD. My copy was purchased personally so this review purely reflects my personal opinion.