Cookbook review: Philippa Sibley’s PS Dessert

Posted on November 23, 2011

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The sweet guru behind Melbourne’s infamous Snickers dessert, Phillipa’s Sibley’s new book is a beginners bible for creating dessert masterpieces at home. For baking virgins alike, this book is a great introduction to techniques and tips which are usually left out of glossy photographic cookbooks. In short its three-quarters technique, the rest is made up of  recipes. For avid bakers, this may seem insufficient, and I did feel that I would have liked more recipes to try once I had mastered the technique section. Avoid purchasing if you are after a large range of baking recipes. For beginners, it is the type of cookbook which will soon have torn pages, chocolate stains, and strained binding, a saviour in the kitchen. Sibley seeks to remove the veil which protects the much sought after techniques of patisseries and bakers, the type of information which can only be learned ‘on the inside’.

The book is organised into four sections: equipment & ingredients, basics, traditional recipes and signature desserts. I have only tried the pate sucrée and shortbread recipes so far, but have already learnt that I need to improve basic baking skills and increase my small range of baking equipment. Sibley shows that baking well, is about understanding the basics fist and foremost, before moving on to more complex techniques. Alas a book which will hold your hand along the way to becoming a baking extraordinaire. What I love about the book, is that Sibley provides her golden rules on picking chocolate, fruit, eggs etc, while she teaches her techniques. Unsure whether your brioche dough is mixed well, or whether your puff pastry has risen, all of the technique recipes have step by step pictures to help along the way.

Once you have conquered pâtes and pastries, cakes, sponges and meringues, move on to creams and mousse, fruits and ice cream and chocolate work. These skills will enable you to make her famous Snickers dessert, her peach Melba she made for Oprah, lemon tart and tiramisu. Along the way she has added inspiring quotes to share her passion for all things sweet, despite the fact that in her daily life she  actually prefers savoury food. One of my favourite quotes was ‘I want a good body, but not as much as I want dessert’ (Jason Love). Summing up my love of dessert and how happy I am to be able to work my way through such a well written cookbook. To purchase try Books for Cooks and Readings. Be sure to check out her new food store/cafe/wine bar Albert Street Foodstore, opening mid December in Brunswick.

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