In the Bobbette & Belle: Classic Recipes from the Celebrated Pastry Shop cookbook, Allyson Bobbitt and Sarah Bell share over 100 recipes from their French-inspired pastry shop. This stunning cookbook is filled with beautiful colour photos accompanying the recipes.
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When you open the cookbook, you’re introduced to Bobbette & Belle and to the journey leading up to opening their pastry shop. There are also sections on Essential Tools & Ingredients, General Baking Tips, Tips for Specific Pastries such as French Macarons, Alternative Baking & Dietary Restrictions and a source guide, conversion chart and index.
The recipes are spread out over nine chapters:
- Classic Cookies and Bars
- Layer Cakes
- Loaves, Scones, Bundts and Tortes,
- Crumbles, Tarts and Pies,
- French Macarons
- Chilled Crème Desserts
- Confections and Sweets
- Buttercreams, Frostings and Fillings
The recipes are well written and easy to follow with the ingredients listed on the left of the page and numbered instructions listed on the right. Recipes are preceded by headnotes and include useful tips. There are so many recipes I’ve bookmarked with post-it notes that I want to make, including the following:
- Double Chocolate Cupcakes, Salted Caramel Cupcakes, Pink Champagne Cupcakes
- Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie, The World’s Best Shortbread Cookies, Date Squares
- Banana Chocolate Fudge Cake, Caramel Apple Cake, Gilded Fleur de Sel Caramel Cake
- Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Holiday Gingerbread Bundt, Blueberry Scones with Clotted Cream
- Mixed Berry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream, Classic Canadian Butter Tarts, Mile-High Lemon Pie
- Madagascar Vanilla Macarons, Salted Caramel Macarons, Pistachio Cream Macarons
- Drunken Mixed Berry Pavlovas, Classic Vanilla Crème Brûlée, Classic Vanilla Cheesecake
- French Meringue Kisses, Fleur de Sel Caramel Pop Corn, Double Chocolate Marshmallows
- Classic Vanilla Frosting, Mascarpone Cream, Crème Anglaise
Vanilla Birthday Cupcakes (Page 60) and Classic Vanilla Frosting (229)
After looking at the single vanilla cupcake decorated with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles, topped with a lit pink and white stripped candle photographed against a pale pink background, I couldn’t resist making these cupcakes for my birthday.
The recipe was easy to make but called for only 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour to make 12 cupcakes. According to the instructions, there should be enough batter to fill the cupcake liners approximately three-quarters full. I managed to fill only nine liners and the cupcakes turned out smaller than an average cupcake. Nevertheless, topped with the Classic Vanilla Frosting and sprinkles, they were delicious but not as fluffy as I thought they would be.
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread (Page 118) with Cream Cheese Glaze (Page 240)
I almost passed up making this recipe because of my hit-or-miss experiences making yeast dough. In my quest to conquer my fear — and then there’s the fact that I love cinnamon bread — I decided to go for it.
I followed all the steps of the recipe carefully and, as a result, this wonderful loaf of cinnamon-scented bread with pull-apart caramelized dough came out of the oven. It looked like deconstructed cinnamon rolls. The ingredients are about the same but the method of preparing the dough for baking is different. Instead of rolling the filled rectangle of dough, it is cut into long strips and then stacked. Then the stacks are cut horizontally into rectangles before placing them in a loaf pan.
The Cream Cheese Glaze brought it over the top. I couldn’t stop eating it. One of my nieces came over while I still had some left and once she tasted it, she asked me if I bought it from a bakery. That’s how good it was. The loaf can be stored in the fridge for three days... if it lasts that long!
Lemon Madeleines (Page 38)
I love the taste of madeleines, the sponge-like little cakes. They were part of the cookie tray when I hosted my annual Downton Abbey tea party in early February where we binge-watched the new season.
Since I had so many Meyer lemons on hand, I used them to make these madeleines. The 24 madeleines had a wonderful lemon scent with a light texture. Some of them did not have the signature bump, even though I placed the pans in the freezer and the batter in the fridge. That did not deter anyone from eating them, two or three at a time
Caramelized Almond Torte (Page 122)
This torte is a spin on the Swedish Toscakaka. Not only does it make an impressive presentation, but it’s easy to make. The torte is made with ground almonds as well as flour and topped with salty-sweet caramelized almonds.
I used a 9-inch spring form pan instead of an 8-inch, so the torte was not as high as it should have been. I also used about 1 cup of ground almonds instead of grinding the ¾ cup with the ¼ cup sugar as specified in the recipe. I brought the torte to my daughter’s house for dessert and we all loved the well-balanced flavour of the almond topping with the torte.
The torte is best eaten the day it’s made. Well... that happened.
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup raw almonds
- ¼ cup + ⅓ cup granulated sugar, divided
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup loosely packed brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon fleur de sel
- 4½ teaspoons whole milk
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch springform pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
- To make the torte, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Combine the almonds and the ¼ cup sugar in a food processor and grind until a fine blend. Do not overmix or a nut paste will form.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, vanilla, almond extract and the ⅓ cup sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Add the ground almond mixture and mix until just combined Remove th bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the flour mixture by hand. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the centre comes out clean. For even baking, rotate the pan front to back halfway through. Allow the torte to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Do not loosen the sides of the pan.
- Once the torte has cooled, put an oven rack one level above the middle and preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Meanwhile, prepare the almond topping. In a small saucepan, combine the almonds, butter, brown sugar, flour de sel and milk. Stir continuously over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is golden and has the consistency of a thick caramel sauce. Immediately spoon the topping over the almond cake. Spread the topping evenly out to the sides of the pan.
- Return the torte to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, checking it frequently after the first 5 minutes to make sure the top doesn't get any burnt pieces. It is done when the almond topping is a dark golden colour and looks caramelized like a piece of toffee.
- Allow the torte to cool completely on a wire rack before removing the sides of the pan. Use a sharp knife to cut into wedges. The torte can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Do not refrigerate it, as that would soften the caramelized top.
I really like that there is a whole chapter dedicated to making Macarons and that in the Tips for Specific Pastries section there are two pages dedicated to the process of making them. This has encouraged me to give them a try. I wish there would have been more than one bundt cake recipe. Three out of the four recipes I made were a great success, so I’m looking forward to making the ones I’ve bookmarked.
I also like the soft pastel colour palette used throughout the cookbook. Next time I’m in Toronto, I will definitely go visit one of the Bobbette & Belle pastry shops for the décor and, of course, to sample the pastries.
Bobbette & Belle: Classic Recipes from the Celebrated Pastry Shop
Authors: Allyson Bobbitt & Sarah Bell
Publisher: Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited
Hardcover: 256 pages
Excerpted from Bobbette & Belle: Classic Recipes from the Celebrated Pastry Shop by Allyson Bobbitt & Sarah Bell. Copyright 2016 Bobbette & Belle Inc. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
The Bobbette and Belle cookbook review was written by Liliana Tommasini, author of the aptly named blog My Cookbook Addiction. Her passion for baking and cooking began at an early age. Liliana grew up in an Italian household where each meal was made from scratch with fresh ingredients and Sunday family lunches were always a celebration. She has a passion for collecting and reading cookbooks as she believes that every recipe tells a story. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.