Miette Book Review
The nature of my work as a freelance writer, blogger and favourite hobby (baking!) means I’ve thumbed and leafed through so many baking books that it can take much to impress me the first time. Then once in a while there’s one that comes along like ‘m i e t t e’—recipes from San Francisco’s most charming pastry shop, that just arrests the baker within me. Instantly and with great delight, what with its show-stopping cover and those beautifully scalloped-edged pages. Who could help but judge its credibility by that visually stunning cover? The star was a most petite pink rose made of sugar paste topped on the most delectable-looking triple-layered dark chocolate cake piped with rosy pastel pink buttercream.
And once you venture in, your eyes get to feast on a banquet of delightful sweet morsels and baked goods so well-styled and photographed that you feel like you’re standing right there. I can see myself unwrapping a Fleur de Sel Caramel or licking a pillowy, powdered, artisan hand-cut marshmallow. Except everything’s too pretty to eat—ribboned bags of gingersnaps, caramel popcorn, delicate shortbread cookies, gloriously perfect meringue tartlets, tall jars of liquorice pipes, fleur de sel caramels and vintage-looking rainbow gumballs.
Pate Sucre Tart Shells To Die For
I’ve made the pate sucre tart shells to house my mixed berries with custard and it’s magnificent: the crust is just sturdy enough in your hand as an edible bowl for fruit and oozy custard cream just before it melts in your mouth, unlike any other shortcrust pastry recipe I’ve ever tried.
The other recipe I’ve replicated is the cake on its cover design, aptly named the Tomboy cake. It’s a heavenly dark chocolate ‘double chocolate cake’ recipe originally created by Miette in three six-inch layers which I’ve modified as a three-tiered eight-inch cake using the raspberry buttercream icing with sugar paste rose. Read my verdict here.
It continues to be delightful page after page with promising Parisian macarons, enticing old fashioned cupcakes, traditional truffle tarts and English toffees, candies and creams. It feels like a guilty privilege to savour and be privy to the secret formulas and recipes that allow us to reproduce at home, the delectable sweets that capture the classy allure and style of a gorgeous boutique patisserie such as Miette.
What Miette Means
Miette means ‘crumb’ in French; also a baker’s term for describing the texture of a cake. The elegant book tells us the sweet story behind self-taught American baker Meg Ray’s cute pastel-pink tent which grew from a farmer’s market pop-up to her first brick and mortar store. Meg’s philosophy is to create simple cakes that allow people to savour their true flavours rather than extend a simple minimal menu beyond ‘delicious’. This is evident throughout this good-enough-to-eat recipe book, one of the most well-produced I’ve come across. The techniques can astonish you as well as intrigue. There are definitely some surprises here! There are as many American as there are French classics present in the generous recipes that range from traditional to creative. Needless to say, recipes from San Francisco’s most charming pastry shop? I’m suitably charmed. Very charmed, I might add.
Other surprise: Miette in Brissie!
In doing my research I was surprised to find a quaint bakery in Brisbane at Graceville that goes by an almost similar name but has nothing to do with Miette based in San Francisco, the subject of this review. The one in Graceville, Brisbane is named Miettes Boulangerie Patisserie and is in no way related to the original Miette. I’m yet to sample anything from the Graceville bakery, but if I do, you’ll hear about it!
I give complete credit, by the way, to the good man I married who so thoughtfully got me this wonderful recipe book as part of my birthday gift earlier this March–to add to my ever-growing library of gorgeous baking and cookery books. It takes pride of place as ‘flavour of the month’.
Miette (hardcover), Meg Ray with Leslie Jonath, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 223 pages
This is not a paid or sponsored review; neither has a copy of ‘Miette’ been received by the reviewer as a sponsored gift or payment for this review.
If you wish to contact Kat Ngoi for book reviews, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org