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Book Review: Pastry Love

December 2019/January 2020 Issue
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Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favorite Recipes
by Joanne Chang (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

When my daughter started working in suburban Boston earlier this year, it was a #winning moment for me, because I knew visiting her would also give me a chance to indulge at Joanne Chang’s amazing bakery, Flour. I’m a longtime fan of Flour—and of Chang’s first two books (Flour and Flour, Too), which draw from the bakery’s delicious offerings.

Chang’s new book, Pastry Love, shows her evolution both as a baker and as a business owner, attentive to her customers’ desires as well as wider food trends. Along with traditionally prepared baked goods, Pastry Love features vegan and gluten-free recipes. And in Chang’s able hands, these recipes produce top-notch results. (Chang gets bonus points from me for specifying a store-bought flour blend for her gluten-free recipes instead of creating her own special concoction.) As someone who bakes a lot—and occasionally makes things for friends on special diets—I appreciate a book like Pastry Love for including these recipes as a matter of course in its pages. Also making the book feel right on trend is Chang’s use of alternative flours to enhance flavors: rye flour in cookies, soda bread, and chocolate cake; spelt flour in scones; tapioca flour in gougères.

My two favorite chapters in the book are Time to Show Off and I Made This for You, because I’m always game for making a showpiece dessert to cap off a spectacular meal (Matcha Cream Puffs, for instance, or Rum Butterscotch Pudding Parfait). Anyone who knows me knows that I give away pretty much everything I bake. I must confess, though, that Chang’s recipes for gift-worthy treats are unusually hard for me to part with. In fact, I find it almost unbearable to share the Brown Butter Peanut Rice Crispy Treats. I sure am grateful to Chang for sharing that recipe, and all the others in Pastry Love. They will definitely tide me over between visits to Flour.

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