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In the Sweet Kitchen: The Definitive Baker's Companion Hardcover – September 1, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the Sweet Kitchen truly is the definitive guide to the baker's pantry. While many cookbooks include chapters on tools and ingredients, Regan Daley's award-winning tome begins with almost 400 pages of introductory information. From her descriptions of ingredients to explanations of food science, it's clear Daley's done her research, and she offers a wealth of information as reference for both the professional and the novice. She covers every ingredient in a baker's pantry, from flours and sugars to eggs, fruits, nuts, spices, and flavorings, in a way that is both interesting and informative. She discusses how to choose them, use them, and why they do the things they do. She's tested tools and shopped around, and even recommends price points for your purchases. She explains myriad techniques, such as how to cook sugar and icing and assemble layer cakes. The writing is clear and intelligent and the instructions are easy to follow.

If she'd stopped at 400 pages, this would already be a must-have for anyone at all interested in the sweet side of the kitchen--but there's more. Daley's collection of recipes follows, and they cover the gamut from simple and straightforward to seductive and exciting. Some are actually quite complicated, but her explanations and descriptions of each step ensure success. Many recipes feature a flavor twist that will take your breath away, such as the Sweet Potato Layer Cake with Rum-Plumped Raisins and a Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting, Lemon Anise Churros, and Caramelized Banana Tart with a Lime Linzer Crust and a Warm Caramel Sauce. Other recipes bring back childhood memories, such as her All-in-the-Pan Chewy Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Butter Icing (mixed right in the baking pan) and Wild Blueberry Pie. This exhaustive volume was the 2001 IACP Cookbook of the Year, an award that it richly deserves. Make a place on your kitchen bookshelf for In the Sweet Kitchen--it's one cookbook that you shouldn't live without. --Leora Y. Bloom

From Publishers Weekly

It is easy to see why the International Association of Culinary Professionals named this title 2001's Cookbook of the Year (published last year in Canada). As a pastry chef at some of the finest eateries in Toronto, Daley became convinced that it was the choice of ingredients that "made the greatest difference between a nice dessert, and one that was explosively flavorful and truly memorable." Fittingly, then, much of her book is devoted to ingredients: shopping guides, storage tips, preparation instructions and an occasional chemistry lesson about what they do. A section on tools is organized according to type and purpose; symbols designate their likely cost range, and Daley advises whether expensive items are necessary. She provides lucid explanations of sifting, folding and creaming, as well as helpful charts listing such items as flavored liqueurs and spirits, ingredient substitutions and compatible flavors. Daley's 140 recipes showcase the best of modern gourmet sensibility by encouraging simplicity and harmony as well as adventure and innovation: she includes classics like Chocolate Raspberry Torte and Wild Blueberry Pie as well as such bold creations as the Poppyseed Angelfood Cake with Grapefruit Curd; Polenta-Almond Cakes with Golden Raspberries and CrŠme FraŒche; Port Wine Jellies with Melon and Fresh Figs; and the humorously decadent S'mores Roulade. First published by Random House Canada, this book is an inspiration to novice and expert alike. Beautiful color photos. Agent, Susan Lescher. (Sept.) ~Forecast: The IACP award, pleasing visuals and authoritative tone will help sell this impressive work.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Artisan; 1st edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579652085
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579652081
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This fascinating volume is actually 2 distinct books in one, so I will deal with the 2 halves separately. The first part is yet another cooking encyclopedia, and the second is a conventional collection of very good recipes.
The author states correctly that there is no real source for all of the information used in baking, even if you have professional training. So, the first part of this book is a comprehensive reference work, which is both good and bad. Tools and techniques occupy almost 90 pages, and ingredients take an amazing 300 pages. On the good side, it is very complete. Some sections are ones where the author has extensive personal experience, and are exemplary, such as the ones on garnishing and fresh fruits. It also has many useful tables. On the down side, the author seems to be cribbing from standard encyclopedias and manufacturers' literature for much of this section; this is true of perhaps as much as half of this section. Plus, I have doubts about whether the author tested ALL of the combinations listed in the "Ingredient Substitution Chart" or "Flavour Pairing Chart". I also have minor quibbles with some of the information, viz: nutmeg and mace are different, but as a practical matter they are interchangeable (in fact, nutmeg is listed as a substitute for mace, but it also works the other way around); a whole Madagascar vanilla bean is worth more than 2 teaspoons-the correct amount is closer to 2 tablespoons. There is also at least one editing error: page 445 states "see page xx".
The 300 page recipe section, however, more than makes up for deficiencies in the reference section. It contains 150 recipes, of which there are very few "throw away" recipes that you will never use.
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Format: Hardcover
If I could only own one cookbook on baking and pastries, this would be it. As a former pastry chef, I'm excited and amazed by all the information in this cookbook, as well as by the delicious and well-written recipes. Not only is it a great cook book, it's a great idea book as well. In the middle of the book she's included a wonderful section on matching flavors together (apples marry well with calvados, caramel, pecans, etc.) that's ideal for those who want to add their own ideas to the recipes. There's so much great knowledge to soak up in these pages that I find myself carrying the book between the kitchen and my night-stand table for late-night reading. In an age where the big trend in publishing seems to be "bibles" on a myriad of subjects, this is the one I'll recommend to anyone who asks me for a definitive cookbook on desserts.
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Format: Hardcover
This book explains every baking ingredient, types of sugars, fats, starches, eggs, flour, etc. Difference between flour variations, why sugar is important and what roles each ingredient performs along with their history. All other baking books give you a couple basic techniques then a ton of recipes, but this one goes a step beyond, with 368 pages packed with useful information before the recipes even start. Very smooth reading too - hard to put it down. Should be a mandatory purchase if you bake at home. You'll go from a standard baker to a spectacular one, armed with knowledge of why and how ingredients work rather than just blindly following recipes.
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Format: Hardcover
A while back, I baked the "all in the pan chewy chocolate cake with butter-chocolate icing". It's probably the easiest & surely one of the most delicious chocolate cakes I've ever tried. I mention this because Regan Daley's book is full of delicious & inventive recipes. Recipes that are, mostly, not that difficult & that taste exceptional. One of the reasons for this is that Daley insists on excellent ingredients, & that surely is one of the basic secrets of good baking.
Her book is much more than a wonderful resource for deserts: it's, mainly, a general baking resource, listing ingredients & talking about each one: how to use, what to substitute with what, what to combine with what etc. The book is full to the brim with information & tips, for the beginning & the experienced baker. As a bonus, the writing delighted me, & I think it will probably make all my other desert books redundunt!! (apart from Nigella Lawson's "Domestic Goddess" which I think has a similar style). It's always great to have a cookbook that you can use not just to throw together quick meals but also to savour, to indulge yourself with, to read & reread...
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Format: Hardcover
I don't usually write reviews on Amazon, but after reading some of the other non-favorable reviews, I felt I had to put my two cents in. This is one of my two favorite cookbooks (the other is the very overlooked Cindy Mushet book). Some of the recipes I made just because I couldn't imagine what the thing must taste like - and it came out wonderful. Her advice has helped me fixed recipes from other books that I could never make work. I wasn't so fond of it when I first got it, but over time this book has become invaluable. Most of the recipes are time consuming and often esoteric, so it's not for busy parents looking to feed the family. It's primarily for making special occasion desserts to wow freinds and family.
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