This is quite possibly the prettiest cookbook I have ever laid my hands on. The front and back of the book is covered in linen, the golden lettering and the antique-looking logo makes me feel like I am reading a classic cookbook from my moms collection. “Duchess Bake Shop” written by Calgary bakeshop owner Giselle Courteau is a cookbook that you will no doubt want to display in your kitchen or bookshelf just for the look alone!
The Duchess Story began when two friends teaching in Tokyo had dreams of opening up their own bakeshop. With no formal training upon returning to Canada, friends Giselle and Garner opened Duchess and so began what is now a super popular joint in Alberta.
When I first started flipping through the book, I felt a little intimidated by the beautiful pictures. Just looking at all the tasty baked goods made me think of how difficult and time consuming these recipes must be. While some of them may be a little time consuming, they are not all that complicated and they are nonetheless absolutely worth every minute.
This Cookbook is for the adventurous home baker. The recipes range from easy to moderately difficult. I always say that difficulty levels of baking are very subjective though. What I may think is easy may be more challenging to someone else, but the step by step pictures for each recipe simplifies the process that much more.
The book is divided into the following sections:
A Day at Duchess
The Duchess Story
A Note for the Home Baker
Tips & Tricks
Brioche & Bread
Pate a Choux
Each recipe begins with a little story about the particular one mentioned. All recipes are easy to follow and well organized. As mentioned above, each recipe has step-by-step instructional full colour photos which is fantastic. There are also individual pictures for each recipe of the finished product. Ingredients are measured by weight and volume, depending on what it is, some are both. Most ingredients are easily assessable at your local supermarket. At Duchess they use only fresh yeast (where the heck is that?) I’ve never seen fresh yeast but then again I’ve never actively looked for it. She does give options for using dry yeast, which is what I used when making the tartiflette and it turned out great. For some of the recipes you may need a thermometer as well as a scale. The directions are also pretty straightforward, nothing confusing or out of the ordinary. Recipes are cross-referenced in the index (Thank you Jesus!)
I managed to attempt the Tartiflette which is a thin focaccia topped with onions, Gruyere, fresh thyme and thin potato slices. This was SO GOOD. I also baked up the Raspberry White Chocolate Scones which were equally as tasty. I was super impressed with the simplicity of both recipes. These days I rate recipes based on how fast I can get them done. (Terrible I know!) But with my 2 year old, it is constantly a challenge. I have provided the recipe for the Scones below as well as pictures of my experience. If you get the chance to try them out, comment below I would love to know how they turned out!
RASPBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE SCONES
340g (2 cups + 2 Tbsp) all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ baking soda
3 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
130g ( ½ cup + 1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
135g ( ½ cup + 1 Tbsp) buttermilk
75g ( ½ cup) fresh or frozen raspberries
100g ( ½ cup) white chocolate chips
Extra sugar, for finishing
Equipment: You will need a baking sheet, a pastry cutter (optional), and a 3-inch round cookie cutter. If you use a smaller cookie cutter, make sure to decrease the baking time accordingly.
Procedure: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (190 C) Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.
- Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. (**Melissa’s Note: I did the 2 knives technique and it pissed me off so I just used my hands to break apart the butter) You want your mixture to look quite dry with some small lumps of butter remaining. If you use a food processor, you run the risk of turning your mixture into a dough, and making it difficult to incorporate the buttermilk in step 3.
- Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in half the buttermilk. Using your hands, incorporate the buttermilk by pushing the dry mix from the bottom and sides to the centre while gently rubbing the mixture between your hands. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk until incorporated. The mixture should feel slightly dry- which will make for a flaky scone- but if its too dry it wont hold together, add a few tablespoons of buttermilk.
- Add the raspberries and white chocolate chips and gently incorporate. If using frozen raspberries, make sure to work quickly to incorporate them before they thaw. Gently turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
- Press the dough together to form a large circle, about 1 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter dipped in flour, cut scones out of the dough and place on the lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Lightly sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the scones are golden brown.
STORAGE: These scones will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Other great recipes in this Cookbook:
Macaron cake (This is on my to do list… It looks amazing!)
Spinach and Feta Danishes
Apple Crème Brulee Brioche Filling
London Tea Time Muffins
Oatmeal Milk Chocolate Cookies
Dark Chocolate Meringues
Maple Pecan Pie
Banana Cream Pie
Duchess St. Honore
And many more!
I absolutely loved this cookbook. The recipes were simple, tasted great, the layout was clean and easy to follow and I’ve already had numerous compliments and questions about it with it just sitting in my kitchen..that is how pretty it is! This Cookbook is a perfect addition for the savvy baker and an even more perfect gift for the holidays!
**All opinions in this post are 100% my own. A special thank you to Duchess Bake shop for generously sending me this beautiful cookbook to give an honest review. Another special thank you to Nancy from Sandhill Book Marketing for all your time and assistance! http://www.sandhillbooks.com
You can purchase “DUCHESS BAKE SHOP” by Giselle Courteau for $45 at their online shop: http://duchessbakeshop.com/collections/cookbooks/products/duchess-bake-shop
While you are there, check out some other cookbooks they sell. They have a phenomenal selection!! Take it from me, the cookbook hoarder!
Duchess Bake Shop Website: http://duchessbakeshop.com