Nick Malgieri has been at the pastry game for decades. He's been teaching classes on the topic in Phoenix for nearly 20 years at Les Gourmettes. From baking at home and watching Julia Child as a kid, he's come a long way and is now releasing a new cookbook simply titled Pastry. He spoke about his new recipes and some of the common misconceptions people have with baking.
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One of the first things you'll notice about Pastry is the beautiful, crisp photography, but it is also a comprehensive guide to pastry doughs, from more basic recipes to complex laminated or filo dough. His focus was to give something for any skill level, but beyond that, he says that also wanted to explore some of the new techniques he's learned from other countries' classic pastry recipes. In particular, Malgieri says Viennese and Turkish pastry have made an impact recently.
Compared to his original cookbook Perfect Pastry, which came out 25 years ago, Malgieri says the new book is a reflection of his personal growth.
"Back then I was interested in teaching everybody about French technique," Malgieri says. "25 years later, I have certainly changed... I'm getting to the point where I could learn and experiment with other things."
Though his book includes standard apple pies, he says he's been "tweeking and innovating" classic over the years, so it also has unique takes like apple and cheddar pie or apple and blueberry pie. Of course, it also covers the French technique he started with.
"The new book is a keynote of what I do. I like to mix it up," he explains. "It's more of a reflection of me--I have a lot of likes and interests."
For beginners, he recommends starting with pies or tartes and working up to more complicated puff pastry or Danish doughs. However, he says it all really isn't as difficult as people assume and is more a matter of practice.
"Have a little patience," he says. "And don't make cover book recipe as your first try."
He says before World War II, pastry was a common household skill, but afterwards the advent of pre-made "baking convenience products" made it less common to learn pastry, thus making it seem unapproachable. Now he sees people coming back to wanting to know how to make things from scratch.
"People want the real flavor of home," Malgieri explains simply.
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When he comes to Phoenix, unfortunately both of his events on October 27 and 28 are booked full. He plans to showcase five recipes, including an apple, bacon, and gruyere quiche, chocolate raspberry tarte, and Argentinean spinach empanadas. He says the focus, though, like his book will be teaching, rather than just offering attendees something to eat.
"I'm going to try to give really specific hints and instructions for baking all of the things I make," Malgieri says.
If you didn't get into his Les Gourmettes classes, don't be sad. He comes back often and you can always pick up a copy of Pastry until then.