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Everyone Can Bake

Simple Recipes to Master and Mix

Named one of the best cookbooks of the season by The New York Times, Chowhound, Eater, Food & Wine, Forbes, and more.

Acclaimed pastry chef Dominique Ansel shares his simple, foolproof recipes for tarts, cakes, jams, buttercreams, and more “building blocks” of desserts for home cooks to master and mix as they please.

Dominique Ansel is the creator of beautiful, innovative, and delicious desserts, from the Frozen S’More to the Cronut®, the croissant-doughnut hybrid that took the world by storm. He has been called the world’s best pastry chef. But this wasn’t always the case.

Raised in a large, working-class family in rural France, Ansel could not afford college and instead began work as a baker’s apprentice at age sixteen. There, he learned the basics—how to make tender chocolate cakes, silky custards, buttery shortbread, and more.

Ansel shares these essential, go-to recipes for the first time. With easy-to-follow instructions and kitchen tips, home cooks can master the building-blocks of desserts. These crucial components can be mixed in a variety of ways, and Ansel will show you how: his vanilla tart shell can be rolled out and stamped into cookies; shaped and filled with lemon curd; or even crumbled into a topping for ice cream.

This cookbook will inspire beginners and experienced home cooks alike to bake as imaginatively as Ansel himself.

Base MY GO-TO VANILLA SABLÉ TART SHELL
A proper tart shell should be golden brown, uniformly thin, crispy, and have smooth, clean edges. When you bite into it, it should melt in your mouth as you chew. I’m practical when it comes to tart shells. To me, a tart shell must serve a purpose: it should carry as much fresh fruit as possible. During the summer in France, this means a punnet of ripe woodland strawberries—they taste so sweet, they could be candy—arranged on top of a layer of whipped vanilla ganache. I add as many as I can, so there’s not a sliver of ganache visible. A little strawberry jam piped on top deepens the tart’s flavor.

MAKES: One 8-inch (20 cm) tart shell

TIME: 1 hour (including time to blind bake)

INGREDIENTS

185 grams

1½ cups

all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

85 grams

? cup

confectioners’ sugar

50 grams

5¼ tablespoons

cornstarch

1 gram

¼ teaspoon

Kosher salt

3 grams

½

Tahitian vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped

130 grams

10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks)

unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature

50 grams

1 large

egg

EQUIPMENT

8-inch (20 cm) tart ring or pan

  1. 1. Make the dough: Combine the flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla seeds in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your hands until the butter is broken down into pieces the size of peas and the ingredients are well combined. (Alternatively, use a stand mixer or hand mixer to combine the ingredients.) Add the egg and mix with a spatula until the dough is smooth and the egg is fully incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  2. 2. Chill the dough: Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gently shape it into a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight, until cold but still pliable. It should have the texture of clay.* (At this point, the dough can be refrigerated or frozen for later use—see Storage.)
    * Flattening the dough into a disc will help it chill faster. You’ll want to make sure the dough is cold before rolling it out. Working with dough that’s too warm will cause the tart shell to shrink as it bakes.
  3. 3. Preheat the oven: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  4. 4. Roll out the dough: Flour your work surface and rolling pin. Unwrap the dough and place it on your work surface. Roll it out into a rectangle about ? inch (3 mm) thick.* Make sure to work quickly so the dough doesn’t get too warm.
    * If you find that your dough is sticking to the rolling pin or work surface, add some more flour. Then roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper. Parchment paper also makes it easier to lift the rolled-out dough onto the sheet pan later on.
  5. 5. Shape the dough: Using an 8-inch (20 cm) tart ring or pan as a guide, cut the dough into a round that’s 1 inch (2.5 cm) wider than the ring (this ensures the dough will come up the sides of the tart ring).*
    * Don’t throw out your dough scraps! Sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar (I make mine with 3 grams (1 teaspoon) of cinnamon to 100 grams (½ cup) of granulated sugar) and bake them, then enjoy them as buttery sugar cookies or crumbled over your morning yogurt.
  6. 6. Now the fun part: you’re going to “fonçage” the tart dough, or form it into a tart shape. (Don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds!) Butter the tart ring or pan. If you’re using a tart ring, line a sheet pan with parchment paper, then set the tart ring in the center (no need to do this if you’re using a tart pan with a bottom). Place the round of dough on top of the tart ring or pan and push down gently with your fingers, pressing the dough along the inside of the ring or pan and into the inside edge. Don’t press too hard, and try to keep the dough an even thickness so that it bakes evenly. Use a paring knife to trim any dough hanging over the sides of the ring or pan.*
    * If your dough is starting to feel warm, return it to the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking. Remember, warm or overworked dough will shrink as it bakes. If the dough is cool to the touch, you can bake it right away.
  7. 7. Blind bake the tart shell*: Line the tart shell with a round of parchment or a large coffee filter; the surface of the dough should be completely covered.* Fill the tart shell with uncooked rice or dried beans to keep the dough in place. Bake on the center rack until the tart shell is light golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
    * Since many tarts are filled with creams or mousses (which aren’t baked), you’ll have to bake the tart shell in advance of filling it. This is called blind baking. If you’re planning to fill your tart shell with Almond Frangipane, however, DO NOT blind bake the tart shell first. The almond frangipane contains raw eggs, so it needs to be baked, too. Pipe the almond frangipane into an unbaked tart shell first and then bake.

    * Here’s an easy trick to cut a perfect circle: Fold a square of parchment paper in half, then in half again. Fold it in half diagonally to form a triangle, then fold the triangle in half once more. Flip your pan upside down and place the folded paper triangle with the narrow tip at the center of the pan. Using scissors, cut the base of the triangle (the side opposite the tip) into a curve, following the curve of the pan. Unfold the paper: it should now be a circle slightly larger than the tart ring or pan.
  8. 8. Unmold the tart shell: Cool for 2 to 3 minutes, then unmold the tart shell while still warm (it’s easier to remove from the pan when it’s warm). If you’re using a tart pan with a removable bottom, set the pan on an upside-down pint container or a small bowl and push down gently on the sides of the pan to unmold the tart shell. If you’re using a tart ring, lift the ring up and off the tart shell. Let cool completely before filling.* Wait until just before serving to add the filling so the shell stays nice and crispy.
    * Before you start assembling a cream-filled tart, always make sure the tart shell is fully cooled. If the shell is too hot, the pastry cream will melt and soak into the crust, giving you a soggy-bottomed tart.

STORAGE

The tart shell is best enjoyed the day it’s baked, but can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days before filling and serving.

The unbaked tart dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 weeks. Thaw the frozen dough in the refrigerator for a few hours before using.

PAIR IT WITH
  • RECOMMENDED FILLINGS: pastry cream, lemon curd, jam, compote, ganache, whipped ganache
  • RECOMMENDED FINISHINGS: meringue, fresh fruit, Chantilly cream, streusel

TWO IDEAS TO GET YOU STARTED


SHOWSTOPPERS

STRAWBERRY HONEY CRÈME FRAÎCHE TART: Vanilla Sablé Tart Shell filled with Strawberry Jam, Pastry Cream, and Crème Fraîche Whipped Ganache and finished with fresh strawberries, honeycomb, and Nappage Glaze

MIXED FRUIT TART: Vanilla Sablé Tart Shell filled with Pastry Cream and finished with assorted fresh fruits

FLAN: Vanilla Sablé Tart Shell filled with Pastry Cream

LINZER COOKIES: Vanilla Sablé Tart Shell filled with Raspberry Jam and finished with confectioners’ sugar

LINZER COOKIES

Roll the dough slightly thicker than a tart shell, ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Use your favorite cookie cutter to cut shapes from the dough. With a smaller cookie cutter, cut a smaller shape from the center of half the cookies. Arrange all the cookies on a parchment paper–lined sheet pan and bake in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for 10 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan. Turn the cookies without the center hole bottom-side up and dollop a teaspoon of your favorite jam (the classic choice is Raspberry Jam, onto each. Dust the cookies with the center hole with confectioners’ sugar and place on top of the jam. Push down slightly to make a sandwich. Once assembled, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

Dominique Ansel, a James Beard Award–winning Pastry Chef, is the chef and owner of eponymous bakeries in New York, London, and Los Angeles, as well as his first-ever restaurant in Los Angeles. Ansel has been responsible for creating some of the most celebrated pastries in the world, including: the Cronut® (named one of TIME Magazine’s “25 Best inventions of 2013”), The Cookie Shot, Frozen S’more, Blossoming Hot Chocolate, and many more. He was named the World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2017 by the World’s Best Restaurants awards. Food & Wine has called him a “Culinary Van Gogh” while the New York Post coined him “the Willy Wonka of New York.” He was also named one of Business Insider’s “Most Innovative People Under 40,” one of Crain’s “40 under 40,” and was bestowed the prestigious l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole, France’s second highest honor.

“When it comes to baking, Dominique Ansel is the ultimate perfectionist. Now we can all create picture-perfect desserts by mastering his baking basics. Thank you, Dominique, this is a gift to all home bakers!” —MARTHA STEWART

"What a privilege it is to learn to bake alongside Dominique Ansel – a true original, whose building blocks of baking will give home cooks endless inspiration to create rousing desserts that express personal taste and delight loved ones."—DANNY MEYER, author of Setting the Table

"This is the most encouraging book!  Chef Ansel takes you by the hand and makes you believe that you are capable of making pastries as beautiful as his. And with his help, you actually are. I'm giving this to every aspiring baker I know."—RUTH REICHL, author of Garlic and Sapphires

“As the title of this book says, everyone can bake—but not everyone can bake without this book. Dominique Ansel has created a guide that works as well for beginners as for experts, and he’s built it to last, with mix-and-match features that let you use it not just once or twice but forever. If you have never approached baking before, why not learn from one of the best!”—QUESTLOVE

“A book that will help you take next steps as a baker… Choose your own adventure, guided by Mr. Ansel’s experience and lively voice.”—THE NEW YORK TIMES

"A manual for how to make just about any dessert the reader’s heart desires, whatever their skill level. With Everyone Can Bake, Ansel asserts that armed with the “building blocks of baking” he provides, baking is achievable for even the most intimidated novice...they’re in good hands with Ansel’s Everyone Can Bake." EATER

“As you flip through these chapters, you’ll gain the confidence to mix and match these recipes to create something completely unique.”—BAKE FROM SCRATCH

Pastry-chef-wannabes will thrill to this challenge.—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Full of robust flavors and creative combinations . . . A solid and satisfying ‘next steps’ cookbook.”— BOOKLIST

“A delightful and inspiring cookbook that guides bakers of all levels through the mix-and-match mentality of experienced pastry chefs. Highly recommended for established fans of Ansel and creative recipe construction.” LIBRARY JOURNAL

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