Dominique Ansel is the pastry genius behind the viral pastry phenomenon – the Cronut®, a croissant-donut hybrid – that had people queuing for hours just to get one. The French pastry chef is a James Beard award winner, bakery owner, cookbook author and casually known as the world’s best pastry chef.
His latest cookbook, Everyone Can Bake, acts more like a masterclass with Ansel than just a recipe book. It is a cookbook in which he teaches the building blocks of baking, that once mastered, allows you to mix and match to create your own unique delicious creation.
The book is split into three sections – bases (cakes, tarts, brownies, cookies), fillings (pastry creams, jams, mousses, curds) and finishes (meringues, glazes, ganaches). Each recipe starts off with his go-to base – the foundation. He then explains how to take that base and alter it with different flavours and applications. He explains in detail techniques like how to foncage a tart shell, preserve jam and build a cake. He also includes a list of equipment – both his essentials and extras, as well has how to time your baking.
I love to bake and get enjoyment from learning new techniques, understanding ingredients and the actual process of baking. Spending days working on a pastry is time well spent for me. Everyone can Bake is one of the few cookbooks I have read cover to cover absorbing his lessons, instead of flipping through and tagging the recipes I want to make. I didn’t actually tag anything – I’m using it as my baking guide and anytime I bake something, I check to see if he has a base or a technique I can use. While I’ve been using it to create my own baking creations, he has a number of ideas like his peanut butter crunch cake, pavlova (I’m taken by how he shapes it) and fragipan tart that I’m just waiting for the right occasion to bake. It’s a brilliant cookbook and a cookbook that would make a wonderful gift for someone who loves to bake, in fact if you love to bake this is the cookbook you need.
After reading about his croissant test – the test any pastry chef who wants to work at one his bakeries must undergo, I frantically flipped through the pages to see if he included a recipe. There is no recipe in Anyone Can Bake but I did find his croissant recipe here which I made and while my honeycomb crumb needs work, taste wise it’s the best I have made.
The recipe I’m sharing is actually two recipes that I’ve combined to create my own fruit tart. I don’t really make tarts; but the tarts in Everyone can Bake made me want to make a proper tart. That and I wanted a 20cm not fluted tart pan as he suggests, and this was the perfect chance to purchase one.
For the tart shell, I used his go-to vanilla sablé tart shell, removing the vanilla and adding in some lemon zest because I love the combination of lemon and berries. The filling was his go to pastry cream, recipe halved, and the topping, fresh berries. You’ll have left over dough from the shell and Dominique adds tips on how to use up scraps as food waste is his big no-no. I rolled the leftover out and cut it into cookies.
Measurements are all in grams, which means you need a kitchen scale. A kitchen scale is one of Ansel’s essential and as I’ve said before it’s the kitchen item you don’t know you need until you get it and then you’ll never know how you managed without it. In terms of timing, I made the tart shell and pastry cream on Day 1 and assembled on Day 2.
Everyone Can Bake was given to us by Jonathan Ball Publishers and is available here. Jonathan Ball Publishers nor the author approved or reviewed this piece prior to publication. Opinions + images are our own. Recipe is reprinted with permission.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.