FOOD Demystifying French pastries
t can be argued that French pastries have always been regarded as the crown jewels in the baking world—notoriously difficult to perfect, but extremely rewarding when successfully accomplished. Beaucoup Bakery’s co-owner and pastry chef, Betty Hung, understands that the complexity of French baking can be intimidating, especially because this style of baking extends beyond ingredients and techniques. It also incorporates science, where every measurement and temperature plays a crucial part in the outcome.
Regardless of the high level of attention to detail and skills required for making French pastries, Hung was determined to demystify the baking process for amateurs. She does so in her new cookbook, French Pastry 101: Learn the Art of Classic Baking With 60 Beginner-friendly Recipes.
This is Hung’s first cookbook, and saw her take on the responsibilities of baking, recipe-writing, and photographing each item. It’s not her first foray into writing and photography—she’s the founder of Yummy Workshop, a visually compelling blog dedicated to all things baking—but it was still a challenging task to juggle writing a book and running a bakery.
“After you have the recipe down, you have to make it again and style it and do the photos and edit it,” Hung
Beaucoup’s Betty Hung has a new cookbook, French Pastry 101.
explained to the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “I did it all at home, and the only reason I was able to do it was because I had a little background in graphic design. I was able to envision how I wanted it to be.”
French Pastry 101 features five dozen beginner recipes in nine chapters that highlight everything from cookies to cakes, and from tarts to twice-baked pastries. At the back of the book, Hung has written some notes about ingredients and equipment that will help amateur bakers to better understand the process and science behind French baking. Things like chilling dough in the fridge or using room-temperature eggs can make all the difference when you’re attempting to bake for the first time.
“What sets my book apart is that I do go through the basics and science behind the techniques so people will have a bit more understanding of the baking process or why you need to get it to a specific temperature,” Hung said.
If you’re making French treats for the first time, she suggests trying out sablés Bretons, a classic French cookie with a buttery taste and sandy texture. Other fan-favourite items in her cookbook include Paris-brest, tarte au citron (lemon tart), twice-baked almond croissants, and gougères (cheese puffs made from chou dough).
Many of the recipes that Hung has included will take an hour or less, so readers won’t be spending an excessive amount of time in the kitchen. And if you’re worried about the flavours of certain French pastries, you could always stroll into Beaucoup Bakery for a taste test beforehand.