French Pastry 101: Learn the Art of Classic Baking with 60 Beginner-Friendly Recipes

French Pastry 101: Learn the Art of Classic Baking with 60 Beginner-Friendly Recipes

by Betty Hung


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French Pastry is as Easy as Un, Deux, Trois

French baking is now more approachable than ever with Beaucoup Bakery co-owner and Yummy Workshop founder Betty Hung’s beginner-friendly, easy-to-follow recipes.

Start with basics like pastry cream and pâté sucrée, then work your way up to indulgent all-time favorites such as Lemon Madeleines, Crème Brûlée, Éclairs, Lady Fingers and Chocolate Torte. You’ll learn how to simplify recipes without sacrificing taste—like using ready-made puff pastry—or, if you prefer, how to whip up these sweet treats from scratch.

Whether you’re new to baking or looking to expand your skills, with French Pastry 101 you’re only a recipe away from delighting your family and friends with incredible French desserts.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624146510
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 11/06/2018
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 167,397
Product dimensions: 7.96(w) x 9.05(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Betty Hung is the co-owner of Beaucoup Bakery and also runs the blog Yummy Workshop. Her bakery has been featured in Forbes, Lonely Planet, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and many others. She lives in Vancouver, BC.

Read an Excerpt



These are some of the fundamental recipes for French pastries. For starters, learning these will lay the foundation for some of the more difficult recipes. One recipe I often revisit isPâte Sucrée, which I use for most of my tarts. The Almond Frangipane is a versatile filling that is used to fill a variety of pastries such as tarts and even croissants. Crème Pâtissière is indispensible when it comes to French pastries; it's used to fill anything from choux puffs to a mille-feuille.

The Creaming Method for Making Pâte Sucrée and Sablés

To have a good foundation for any pastry, you need to learn the basic techniques for making butter-based doughs using the creaming method. A good example is the Pâte Sucrée in this chapter and the Spiced Pecan Sablés in the Cookies chapter.

To start, make sure your butter is at a good temperature. Cold butter will result in hard chunks in the dough that will melt out as it bakes. If the butter is too soft (as soft as mayonnaise), you'll incorporate too much air in the dough, and it may crumble when you roll it out. The butter is at the perfect temperature when it is soft yet pliable; if you pressed it down with your finger, it should leave a clean dent yet shouldn't stick to your finger.

When creaming the butter and sugar, use the paddle attachment if you are using a stand mixer. Cream it for about 2 minutes at low speed just until the sugar and butter are well incorporated. The key here is not incorporating too much air as mentioned above. When beating in the egg, make sure it is well combined and that the side of the bowl is scraped to ensure all the ingredients are well distributed. After adding the flour, avoid over-mixing the dough. You want to mix it just until there is no more dryness. You can finish mixing by kneading the dough 2 to 3 times with your hands on the counter. Over-mixing will make the gluten bonds stronger, therefore the final product will shrink more and become tough.

It is generally recommended that this type of dough rest in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours or overnight before proceeding. The gluten bonds will relax and the dough becomes easier to roll out and more tender. The sugar will also fully dissolve and result in a more even color after baking.


Prep Time: 20 minutes - Makes 1 cup (480 g)

This vanilla pastry cream is a versatile filling used in many French pastries such as tarts, éclairs, mille-feuille and more. This recipe is thickened with cornstarch, though some use flour. You can easily infuse other flavors when warming the milk by adding tea leaves and spices. I love using strong teas like English Breakfast or Earl Grey because they give the pastry cream a rich flavor. You can make a spiced pastry cream by infusing a cinnamon stick and a few cardamom pods while warming the milk. This is used in many recipes, such as Coffee Éclairs, Paris-Brest and Mille-Feuille.

1¼ cups (300 g) whole milk
2 tbsp + 1½ tbsp (52 g) granulated sugar, divided
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp (25 g) cornstarch A pinch of salt
2 tbsp (30 g) unsalted butter, softened

In a small saucepan, heat the milk on medium heat with 2 tablespoons (30 g) of sugar and the vanilla bean and its seeds until it starts to simmer, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let it steep while you prepare the egg portion of the recipe.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the remaining sugar, cornstarch and salt. Slowly pour in the hot milk while whisking the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the pot, and turn the heat back on to medium-low. Keep whisking the mixture to keep it from burning on the bottom of the pot, for about 3 to 4 minutes. The pastry cream will start to thicken, and when it starts to boil, it is ready.

Take the pot off the heat, whisk in the butter and strain the cream into a clean bowl. It will be thick, so use a spatula to push it through the strainer. This is to remove the vanilla pod and any impurities such as egg shells. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming, cool it and store it in the fridge. This can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Tip: This recipe makes a relatively small amount, so it cooks very quickly. Keep whisking the pastry cream as you are cooking to avoid burning it.


Prep Time: 15 minutes - Makes 2 cups (280 g)

Crème Chantilly may sound fancy, but it is simply whipped cream. However, we often neglect it and over-whip it so it's not enjoyed at its perfect texture. For small batches like this, I like to whip it by hand because there is less chance of over-whipping. Be sure to use a heavy cream or whipping cream. This is used in many recipes such as Frangipane Pear Tart, Chocolate Torte and Praliné Brioche Bread Pudding.

1 cup (250 g) heavy cream or whipping cream
2 tbsp (30 g) granulated sugar
¼ vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all the ingredients in a medium chilled bowl, and beat vigorously for about 4 minutes — it should start to thicken and form soft peaks. When you lift up your whisk, the tip of the cream should fall over a little, forming a soft peak.

Whipped cream is best enjoyed at this stage. It is also perfect to fold into mousses because it has the right texture. At firm-peak stage, it is stable enough to be piped into different shapes. If you beat it any further, the fat will start to separate from the moisture and you will eventually get butter and a watery milk.

Tip: Whipped cream has a short shelf life and will deflate rather quickly. A great way to stabilize whipped cream is to add skimmed milk powder. Simply add 2 teaspoons (3 g) of milk powder to the above recipe before you whip it.


Prep Time: 30 minutes - Makes two 9-inch (23-cm) tarts or twelve 3-inch (8-cm) tarts

Pâte sucrée is a cookie-like base that can be used for many sweet tarts. It translates to "sweet paste" in English. This recipe is made using the creaming method. The key is to avoid incorporating too much air into the dough. Pâte sucrée is often formed in the tart pan and blind-baked before adding prepared fillings. This recipe is used in Chocolate Ganache Tart, Tarte au Citron, Frangipane Pear Tart and Fresh Fig and Orange Tarts.

1 cup (120 g) powdered sugar
½ tsp salt
¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2½ cups (350 g) all-purpose flour

Sift together the powdered sugar and salt into a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on low speed with the sifted powdered sugar for about 2 minutes, until the butter is pale.

Add in the egg and vanilla extract, beat it on medium speed for 2 minutes and scrape down the sides of the bowl. It will look separated, but it will come together once you add the flour. When creaming the butter with the sugar and eggs, avoid incorporating too much air or the dough will crumble easily when you roll it out. The goal is to make a flexible and pliable dough to form into your tart pans.

Mix in the flour at low speed for 30 seconds, or until there is no more dry flour and a dough starts to form. Avoid over-mixing the dough, otherwise it will shrink when baked and yield a tough pastry.

Transfer the dough onto a clean work surface, gather and form it into a disk, wrap it in plastic and let it chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. You can also make this up to 3 days in advance.

Tip: The dough scraps can be either re-rolled into more tarts or made into cookies.


Prep Time: 30 minutes - Makes one 9-inch (23-cm) crust

Pâte brisée is a tender shortcrust dough that is typically used in tarts. It yields a buttery and sturdy yet flaky crust for pastries such as fruit tarts and quiches. This recipe also works beautifully as crusts for your favorite pies. In this book, it is used for the Flan Pâtissier,Tarte aux Pommes and Quiche Lorraine. The pâte brisée can be made in a mixer, food processor or by hand. The following method is by hand; it's very easy to do and you have less chance of over-mixing the dough.

1¾ cups (245 g) all-purpose flour 1 tbsp (15 g) granulated sugar 1 tsp salt 1 large egg, cold 3 tbsp (45 g) whole milk, cold 1 cup (227 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk.

Place the cold butter into the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your hands, quickly cut the butter into small chunks.

Pour in the wet ingredients. Blend the ingredients with a scraper or your hands to form coarse chunks. Transfer it to a clean work surface and knead the dough with your hands by pushing the dough and folding it. Repeat this process about 10 times, until you have a cohesive dough. Avoid over-kneading, otherwise it will shrink when baked and yield a tough pastry. Streaks of butter in the dough is what you are looking for; this is what makes the pastry flaky and tender. If you can't see the butter streaks, you may have over-mixed it.

Form the dough into a round disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight, before using it.


Prep Time: 15 minutes - Makes 1¾ cups (360 g)

Almond frangipane is a very versatile filling. It is used in tarts, croissants and pastries. It has a texture between cake, marzipan and custard. With its wonderful almond flavor, it makes a great companion to apples, pears, stone fruits and berries. Have all the ingredients at room temperature and you will have no problem making this delicious filling. This recipe is used in Frangipane Pear Tart, Galette des Rois and Almond Croissants.

1 cup (100 g) almond flour, preferably very fine
¾ cup + 2 tbsp (100 g) powdered sugar
1 tbsp (10 g) cornstarch
½ tsp salt
7 tbsp (100 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch and salt into a medium bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a rubber spatula until soft, then add in the sifted almond flour and sugar mixture. Continue mixing the ingredients by hand until everything is incorporated. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until the frangipane is fluffy.

Transfer the finished frangipane to a clean container or directly into a piping bag, and store it in the fridge until ready to use. You can make this up to 3 days in advance.

Tip: You can replace the almond flour with other nut flours such as hazelnuts or use a combination of different nuts.


Prep Time: 45 minutes - Makes 1 cup (250 g)

Praliné is the base for many French pastry fillings, most notably Paris-Brest. It is a paste made by grinding caramelized nuts, and this recipe uses hazelnuts. It could also be used in chocolate ganache, or as a bonbon filling. You may be able to find praliné in specialty food stores, but professional pastry kitchens often get it from their suppliers. I think it is worth making at home, and once you taste it, you'll understand why. This recipe is used inParis-Brest and Praliné Brioche Bread Pudding.

1½ cups (200 g) skinned hazelnuts ½ cup + 2 tbsp (140 g) sugar 2 tbsp (30 g) water ½ tsp salt ¼ vanilla bean, seeds scraped

If you can't find skinned hazelnuts, roast hazelnuts in a 325°F (160°C) oven for about 10 minutes, until the skin can be easily rubbed off. While the nuts are warm, rub off the skin with a clean, dry tea towel or with your fingers. Don't worry about getting all the skin off, as long as most of the nuts are skinned.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set it aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat the sugar on medium heat until it boils, for about 3 minutes. Add the nuts and stir to coat them with the syrup. Don't stop mixing the nuts. The sugar will start to crystallize, covering the nuts after about 5 to 7 minutes. This is normal, but it is important to keep stirring the nuts because the sugar will eventually caramelize and you don't want them to burn.

As the sugar caramelizes, keep an eye on it; you want to cook it to a deep amber color, not too dark. When the sugar has reached a deep amber, about 7 to 8 minutes, take the pot off the heat and spread the nuts onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure you do this quickly as the caramel will harden as it cools. The caramel will be hot, so be careful not to burn yourself.

After cooling, process the nuts with the salt and vanilla seeds in a food processor. It will take about 5 minutes for the nuts to become powdery and then turn into a paste.

Store the paste in a clean, dry jar in the fridge for up to a month.

Tip: This recipe contains about a 60 percent nuts to 40 percent sugar ratio, which is considered high. You can decrease the nuts to a 50/50 ratio, but it will be a sweeter paste. You can also use other nuts such as almonds or walnuts, but nuts vary in their oil content, which will yield different consistencies.

This recipe uses only the vanilla bean seeds, but save the pod and use it to flavor sugar or even salt.



Sablés are some of the most common cookies found in French bakeries. In fact, in France, the term cookie refers to North American–style cookies. In this chapter, you will start by learning the basic sablé (Spiced Pecan Sablés), and then how to turn them into different variations. Vanilla Madeleines and Financiers are some of my favorite French pastries to make; they are so simple and delicious. If you are ready for a challenge, try theFlorentines; their complexity is well worth the time.

Most cookies in this chapter bake at a lower temperature for a longer time. This is to bake out all the moisture so the cookies have a sandy and crisp texture. If the temperature is too high, you risk burning the edges while the center may still be raw.

Piping Batter into Straight Lines

The Ladyfingers and Langues de Chat recipes in this chapter are great for practicing your piping skills. Don't focus on getting them perfect the first few tries. Once you practice more, this skill can be transferred to many other pastries. Remember to keep your piping tip at a 90-degree angle and at a short distance from the tray. Pipe slowly and gently; let the batter lie onto the sheet instead of pressing the tip onto the tray when you pipe. That way you will get straight and consistent lines. If you are after a specific measurement or shape, mark the dimensions on a piece of parchment paper. Prior to making your batter, flip the paper over to line your tray and use the markings as a guide when piping. Aim to pipe a consistent size because larger cookies will take longer to cook while smaller ones will cook faster.


Prep Time: 30 minutes - Makes 20 cookies

Sablé Breton originated in the Brittany region of France, an area known for its delicious butter and salt. Sablé means "sandy" while Breton means Brittany. A shiny top with a crisscross pattern is the signature of these French butter cookies. Their rich buttery flavor and sandy texture are simply irresistible, perfect with a cup of hot coffee. Try using a high-fat or "European style" butter for this recipe; the cookies will be even more buttery and tender. This can also be used as a base for tarts (here).

2 egg yolks, room temperature
½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup + 2 tbsp (125 g) granulated sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp (160 g) all-purpose flour
1¾ tsp (6 g) baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature (if using salted butter, reduce added salt by ½ tsp)
Egg wash (1 egg yolk whisked with 1 tbsp [15 g] of water and a pinch of salt)

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks, vanilla seeds or extract and sugar on medium speed for about a minute. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.

Stop the mixer, add the butter and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds, until the mixture comes together.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and add the sifted flour mixture. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, until there are no more dry flour bits. Avoid over-mixing, which will make the cookies turn out hard and tough.

Transfer the dough onto a work surface, gather and pat it into a disk (about 6 inches [15 cm] across). Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before rolling. You can prepare the dough up to 3 days in advance and store it in the fridge; let the dough sit out at room temperature for 20 minutes to soften before rolling.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C), and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

To roll and cut the cookies, lightly dust the work surface with flour, just enough so the dough won't stick to your rolling pin. Gently roll out the slab, turning it 90 degrees after each roll, until it's about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Cut with a 2½-inch (6-cm) round cutter. Gather any scraps to re-roll and cut out more cookies.

Place the cookies on the parchment-lined baking sheets about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Lightly brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash. Score a crosshatch pattern with a fork on each cookie. Bake, one tray at a time, for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the edges are golden brown. Cool the cookies completely before serving, and store them in an airtight container for up to a week.


Excerpted from "French Pastry 101"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Betty Hung.
Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Introduction - Patisserie for Beginners 7

Basics 9

Crème Pâtissière 11

Crème Chantilly 12

Pâte Sucrée 15

Pâte Brisée 16

Almond Frangipane 19

Hazelnut Praliné 20

Cookies 23

Sablé Breton 25

Spiced Pecan Sablés 26

Pistachio Raspberry Sandwich Cookies 29

Langues de Chat 30

Brown Butter Almond Tuiles 33

Ladyfingers 34

Vanilla Madeleines 37

Financiers 38

Raspberry Hazelnut Financiers 41

Florentines 43

Custards 47

Flan Pâtissier 49

Plum Raspberry Clafoutis 52

Earl Grey Crème Caramel 55

Crème Brûlée 56

Choux 59

Pâte à Choux 61

Chouquettes and Choux au Craquelin 62

Gougères 65

Coffee Éclairs 66

Gâteau St. Honoré 69

Paris-Brest 72

Tarts 75

Mango Raspberry Sablé Breton Tart 79

Chocolate Ganache Tart 80

Tarte au Citron 83

Tarte aux Pommes 84

Frangipane Pear Tart 87

Fresh Fig and Orange Tarts 88

Quiche Lorraine 91

Pâte Feuilletée 93

Traditional Pâte Feuilletée 95

Palmiers 99

Chausson aux Pommes 100

Galette des Rois 103

Tarte Tatin 104

Mille-Feuille 107

Cakes 109

Vanilla Roulade 111

Pain d'Epices 114

Gâteau de Voyage 117

Chocolate Torte 118

Fondant au Chocolat 121

Gâteau Basque 122

Charlotte with Citrus 125

Fraisier 127

Yeasted Pastries 131

Pain de Mie 135

Brioche Nanterre 136

Brioche à Tête and Brioche au Sucre 139

Kugelhopf 141

Tarte Tropezienne 145

Brioche Cinnamon Scrolls 146

Kouign Amann 149

Twice-Baked Pastries 153

Bostock 155

Lemon Poppy Seed Bostock 156

Almond Croissants 159

Pistachio Cherry Croissants 160

Ham and Gruyère Croissants 163

Praliné Brioche Bread Pudding 164

Notes on Ingredients and Equipment 166

Acknowledgments 171

About the Author 172

Index 173

Customer Reviews