Photographs by T. Mike Fletcher
aSubtitle: Divinely Doable Desserts with Little or No Baking
Although James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and baking expert Rose Levy Beranbaum has called Fletcher a “goddess of pastry” she didn't always love food and baking.
Unlike most pastry chefs and bakers, Helen did not start out loving to bake – or cook. In fact, she downright hated eating as a child – a problem she presently doesn’t have. It was only after she was married that she went to her mother and grandmother to learn about cooking and baking.
Her career didn’t really start until her two boys we well on their way. Her articles appeared in newspapers, Bon Appetit, Chocolatier, and The Pleasures of Cooking. As a consultant to Cuisinart Food Processors in their early years, she had the opportunity to work with professionals in, by then, her chosen field of food. In 1986, her authored her first book, “The New Pastry Cook” which focused on modern methods of pastry making.
Shortly after that, she opened her wholesale bakery, Truffes, Inc, in St. Louis where she sold upscale pastries to hotels, restaurants and caterers whether it was one pastry or a banquet of 1500 people. With no formal training, the learning curve was steep and she almost fell off several times. However, a love of what she was doing and an intense desire to succeed kept on the path through three
expansions culminating in 23 years in business.
With retirement an unknown word to Helen, she became the pastry chef at Tony’s restaurant, a four-star, four-diamond award winner and the most acclaimed restaurant in St. Louis.. With her love of sharing her knowledge of food, both pastry and cooking, she has been a regular on KMOV-TV’s “Great Day St. Louis” going on her third year. In addition to her own blog, www.theardentcook.com, she blogs for St. Louis at Home
“European Tarts, Divinely Doable Desserts with Little or No Baking” is in keeping with her love of sharing and teaching. A blog, which accompanies the book, www.europeantarts.com, holds the how-to photography of key parts to many of the desserts to assist beginners or anyone looking for more help. All of these recipes were part of the repertoire from her bakery and were sold to her clients. Uncomplicated desserts that require little or no baking but have bold tastes are beautifully finished with little or no experience.
She lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her photographer husband who provided
all of the photographs.
About the Author
From 1986 until 2009 Helen Fletcher operated Truffes, an upscale, wholesale speciality bakery providing pastries and desserts to hotels, restaurants and caterers. In addition to the wholesale arm of the business, the bakery was also known for it's exceptional wedding cakes. After closing the bakery, she became the pastry chef at Tony's, St. Louis' most acclaimed restaurant where she works today. Cookbook author and baking expert Rose Levy Beranbaum has called her a "goddess of pastry". Fletcher has previously been a contributor to many major food magazines including "Bon Appetit", Chocolatier and "The Pleasures of Cooking". She also served as a consultant to Cuisinarts during the early years of the introduction of the seminal processor to the American cooking marketplace. "European Tarts" is Fletcher's second cookbook, following "The New Pastry Cook" (William Morrow, 1986). An interactive blog, www.europeantarts.com, was set up to hold the many how-to photographs that accompany the recipes in the book making this book a valuable teaching/learning experience.