Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Book review of Teatime in Paris by Jill Colonna

My review today is for the brand new cookery book Teatime in Paris!: A Walk Through Easy French Patisserie Recipes by Jill Colonna. Jill is the author of the Mad About Macarons! Make Macarons Like the French cookery book and the informative website of the same name, see here.

French Village Diaries book review Teatime in Paris Jill Colonna2015 is fast becoming my year of the patisserie. As part of my weekly challenge I’ve sampled new flavours and textures, I’ve learned interesting and amusing facts about French culture and I’ve been doing my bit for our local village economy. Much as I love baking, I’m a basic home cook not a patisserie chef and so I’ve never really thought about abandoning Bernadette at the boulangerie and trying to make my own. However, my blogging friend Jill Colonna arranged for me to receive an advance copy of Teatime in Paris in the hope she could tempt me to be brave and give her easy patisserie baking a try.

When my prettily wrapped book arrived the first thing I did was to have a good look at the pictures, as a recipe book can be so much more with great pictures. This book not only has beautiful hand drawn illustrations but stunning photography too, of Paris and of the patisseries Jill assures the reader are easy peasy to make. I decided the best test of this book would be to choose something I’ve never attempted to make, something that isn’t available at our boulangerie and something that really appealed to me.

The first hurdle to jump was an attitude one as I am a lazy baker. I don’t like time consuming faffs or fancy details and I’m notoriously bad at following a recipe without omitting/substituting something along the way. Add in my notoriously grumpy (but lovable all the same) oven, who is hot or off and I really wasn’t sure I would be able to produce anything that resembled the photos in the book without losing the plot. With over fifty recipes there was plenty to choose from, but it didn’t take much to decide it had to be the Double Chocolate Tartlets.

French Village Diaries Teatime in Paris Jill Colonna book review
Chocolate tartlet cases
It was my first attempt at chocolate pastry and also the first time I’ve used the Magimix to make pastry as I'm usually a do it by hand pastry maker. I even had to dig out the instructions to see which paddle was the pastry making one, but I’ll definitely be making it this way again, it was so simple. I put the pastry in the fridge, feeling it was a little more crumbly than the picture in the book, but I was still hopeful. While it rested I dug out my tartlet cases that had been relegated to the back of the cupboard for years, as the only time I used them they stuck. It was a bit of a nail biting wait to see if they would stick or pop out of the cases this time, but you have no idea how pleased I was that by following Jill’s instructions they worked and I had four beautiful tartlet shells waiting to be topped with a chocolate ganache filling. I will admit that it took me slightly longer to prepare than the book stated, but I was being careful and cautious and ensuring I followed the recipe correctly.

French Village Diaries Teatime in Paris Jill Colonna book review
Double chocolate tartlet
The finished tartlets got and 8/10 from both my husband and my son and if I’d have had some fresh strawberries to add to the top I think it would have been a 10/10. There were certainly no soggy bottoms, but there was plenty of crunch, an intense chocolate flavour and  a smooth silkiness from the ganache. I added stewed rhubarb to the top of my tartlet and I thought it worked really well adding a fruity tartness to the rich chocolate.

I will be making these again and experimenting with flavours from our orchard. I can see these becoming a regular topped with our cherries, red currents, strawberries, raspberries and walnuts. Thanks Jill, this really is an easy walk through guide to some delicious French patisseries. I can't wait to try more recipes and I even think I'm brave enough to have a first attempt at choux pastry. If I can have success at a first attempt, anyone can! This book would be a fantastic gift for anyone who enjoys baking.

Teatime in Paris!: A Walk Through Easy French Patisserie Recipes is published by Waverley Books and is available in hardback format from Amazon and all good book shops.

You can follow Jill on Facebook, Twitter and her website and read my interview with her here.