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Jason Atherton's Social Sweets book review

Jason Atherton's Social Sweets book review

by Sally Abé 22 July 2015

Social Sweets, Jason Atherton's latest offering, focuses on the endless possibilities of desserts. From hot, stodgy comfort foods to refreshing sorbet and ice cream ideas, there are plenty of dessert ideas whatever your talents and tastes.

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After a five-year stint in the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurant, The Ledbury, Sally is now technical food editor at Great British Chefs.

Jason Atherton’s latest offering, Social Sweets, brings us the latest in an ever increasing line of publications from the multi-Michelin-starred chef, this time focusing on the pastry side of the kitchen with sections on bread, classics, restaurant desserts and ice creams. There is also a cheese section tagged on the end for good measure.

The bread section focuses on simple British and French breads such as the classic baguette, brioche, English muffins and scones. Recipes are easy to follow and are given in sensible quantities for cooking at home.

The classics section really does what it says on the tin – all the bases are covered with recipes for lemon tart, sticky toffee pudding, bread and butter pudding and even sherry trifle. Atherton is quick to reference the great chefs that taught him these desserts – Marco Pierre White and Nico Ladenis to name but a few are thanked for their part in his journey.

The restaurant desserts are somewhat more advanced; however, they are kept within reach of the home cook as specialist equipment is not essential for the creation of any of Atherton’s dishes and neither are hard-to-source ingredients which are too often cited in chefs’ books. The flavours are strong but simple with delicate decoration on the plate. There are desserts for both warmer and cooler months; Peaches with raspberry, granola and puff pastry ice cream being a particular stand -out dish for summer and Hot chocolate moelleux with sea salt and almond ice cream sure to be a firm favourite in colder weather. The desserts are, for the most part, quite light and refreshing; Atherton clearly has a lot of influence from Asia in his Green tea cake, yuzu and raspberries and also Coconut meringue with mango sorbet, pineapple, coconut and curry crumble but also nods to Spain with recipes for both Crema Catalana and irresistible Churros.

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With no less than 30 ice cream and sorbet recipes provided, the reader is spoilt for choice; again the basics are covered with vanilla and chocolate ice creams and Atherton gives detailed explanations to help achieve the best set for ice cream with the least ice crystals. Sorbets sound appealing too – Lychee is a firm favourite as is the more interesting Lemon verbena and olive oil.

An interesting, if a little confusing, addition to the book is the cheese section, a collection of recipes centred around cheese that don’t really fit into the ‘sweet’ or ‘dessert’ category but look delicious nonetheless and are a good alternative for those lacking a sweet tooth. Baked Vacherin would make a great centrepiece at a dinner party while Cashel blue, roasted endive and roasted pear in a spiced syrup would be happily received in place of the traditional cheeseboard.

Atherton covers the basics of patisserie with easy to follow recipes for crème anglaise, curds, jams and different types of pastry giving the home cook a good base for all things sweet. All in all this is a sturdy dessert book which welcomes the novice and more advanced cook alike.

Social Sweets by Jason Atherton is available now. Published by Absolute Press.

 
 
 

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