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Cookbook Review: Miette

Fast Review: Get inspired to bake up a storm with photos and recipes from San Francisco’s adorably delicious pastry shop

Miette is on many of San Francisco’s best-loved lists of bakeries. Chef and owner Meg Ray shares some of her most popular recipes in Miette: Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop. While Meg is self-taught she never really considered having a career in baking. She actually studied art and design before going to work in technology. She opened Miette, the French word for “crumb” in 2001 and has since opened more stores. Miette has a heavy focus on local and organic and puts an emphasis on baking in the season. Thumb through this book to be inspired to bake classic American layer cakes, French cookies and pastries sure to impress anyone.

Who’s Kitchen Would You Find It In: Bakers with a passion for presentation, fans of Ladurée and European bakeries


Nuts and Bolts:

To begin: This book is beautiful enough to garner a place on your coffee table. The scalloped edges and stunning photographs help make the book stand out. Meg gives a fantastic introduction to the inspiration behind the shop and her vision before giving the reader exactly what they want…the recipes.

Miette is separated into the following chapters: “Cakes”, “Afternoon Cakes”, “Tarts”, “Cookies/Bars and Pastries”, “Candies and Creams”, “Miette Essentials”, “Essential Ingredients and Essential Tools”. Each chapter begins with an introduction and each recipe has a note from Meg (a story, an anecdote, tips).  The recipes are extremely conscientious of the reader. There are specific instructions for timing, technique, what to look for, and tips for refrigerating or freezing to bake at a later date. Some even include pictures to guide you through certain steps. It’s helpful to be taken through the recipes this way especially if you aren’t very experienced with baking.

“Cakes” takes you through familiar classics. Meg notes that at Miette, there are four essential “base” cakes that are the foundation for elaborate variations- the hot milk cake, the butter cake, the double chocolate cake, and the chiffon cake. “Afternoon Cakes” are more casual cakes. They are made to travel easily and do not require refrigeration. Indeed, Meg refers to them as “picnickers” as they are sturdy enough to throw into a picnic basket and go out for an adventure. The delicate “Tarts” chapter follows and highlights the seasonality of tarts– lemon for a California winter and pecans for autumn. Every delicious filling is tucked into a crisp, buttery shell. “Cookies, Bars, and Pastries” cautions you to handle dough with care and use high quality ingredients. Pay close attention to the recipe yields here– or just go with it and give extras away to happy friends. The next chapter, “Candies and Creams” features Miette’s fleur de sel caramels which remains one of the most popular items in their stores. “Miette Essentials” offers up a variety of frosting and fillings to pair with any cake. Everything gets wrapped together in a nice bow with the “Essential Ingredients and Essential Tools” which will help you achieve the distinctive flavors of Miette and ensure you have the most effective instruments on hand to make any recipe here a success.

This book is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to become more experienced with baking, bakers who want some new variations on tried-and-true favorites, or people who just love having a pretty cookbook on their shelf. If there’s ever a question of what to make when you’re in the mood for sweets the only question that will remain after perusing this book is– what do I want to make first?

What to make:

When you need a chocolate fix: Chocolate Sables (p. 140) a recipe that calls for cocoa and chocolate for a more complex chocolate flavor; Brownies (p. 153) that are both fudgy and cakey, and the Old-Fashioned Cake/Cupcakes (p. 59-60) for a dense cake perfectly paired with a marshmellow-like icing.

For a fancy tea party: Lemon Tea Cake (p. 94) for a romanticized pound cake, Creme Fraiche Scones (p. 156) for a tangy twist on a teatime classic.

For when you need to bring dessert: Gingersnaps (p. 142) or Chocolate Chip Cookies (p. 130) for the winter months, try Carrot Cake (p. 88) in the Spring, Rose Geranium Macarons (p. 145) to celebrate Summer, Fall calls for Pumpkin-Walnut Cake (p. 85)

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What to pair with this book at Relish:

Portion Control Plate:

Batter Bowl Measuring Cups in Pastel:

Miette is by Meg Ray with Leslie Jonath

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