Baking is the most punctilious of the culinary arts and Thomas Keller is among the most punctilious of the culinary artists. Put the two together and you might wind up with a cookbook that would make strong cooks quake in fear.
Happily, that’s not the case with the “Bouchon Bakery” cookbook that’s now available for pre-order with a fall publication date. Written by the French Laundry boss and his pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel with help from baker Matthew McDonald (his bread section is definitive), along with Keller’s usual gang (writer Michael Ruhlman, recipe tester Susie Heller, photographer Deborah Jones and project manager Amy Vogler), it manages to be at the same time rigorous and friendly.
No, Keller hasn’t gone soft, at least beyond the recipe headnotes and descriptions, which tend to be in the Cuddly Thomas mode from 2009’s “Ad Hoc at Home” -- mugging for the camera and in this book he seems to be very much into demonstrating how many of the Bakery’s sophisticated treats stem from his childhood snacks.
And there’s certainly no compromising with the recipes. So many “finesse points” are demonstrated and explained that one could conceivably start a bakery by cooking your way through it. From simple pâtes brisée and sucrée to laminated doughs and (gasp) croissants, you’ll find detailed recipes and step-by-step photographs explaining all of the basic techniques. The croissant section alone is nine pages.