By Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel
When food lovers hear the name Thomas Keller, most automatically think of the chef's fine-dining establishments - particularly his first, The French Laundry, in Yountville, California, and Per Se, in New York. For those who don't want to book a table months in advance or spend about US$300 per person on a meal, Keller also runs more casual establishments, such as Bouchon Bistro and Bouchon Bakery, of which there are branches in Yountville, New York, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills.
In the introduction to this book, Keller attributes his love for baked goods with the time he spent in France in 1983 and 1984.
"[France] was where I first worked with foie gras … It's where I had my first macaron … where I tasted my first real croissant and mille-feuille … But looking back on it now, from an emotional standpoint, my most enduring memory is of waking up every morning to that smell of baking bread. It quickly became clear to me how central bread was to life in Paris … I also learned that a bakery is an anchor - it draws a community around it.
"Per Se and The French Laundry, highly refined restaurants, speak to only a small segment of the population. Even our bistro, Bouchon, and our family-style restaurant, Ad Hoc, have specific, somewhat narrow audiences. Bread does not. Pastries do not. They are universal. And that is one source of my desire to offer baked goods to as many people as possible."
While Keller is an American chef using French techniques, the executive pastry chef for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group is Frenchman Sebastien Rouxel, who makes French pastries and breads, with the occasional foray into American (and other) products.
Their book includes recipes for American-style cookies (such as oatmeal-raisin, better nutters [with peanut butter] and one that resembles a very elegant Oreo) as well as macarons, Florentines and speculoos. American-style muffins segue into madeleines, financiers and pain d'epices. American snack cake the Hostess Ho Ho gets an update (and much better quality ingredients) and is renamed the Oh Ohs. Other recipes include chocolate, praline and cocoa nib tart; lemon meringue tart; dulce de leche eclairs; palmiers a la framboise; croissants; pain de campagne; pain au lait; English muffins; pates de fruits; and caramel apples.