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In the Sweet Kitchen: The Definitive Guide to the Baker’s Pantry

by Regan Daley

Never mind that the second 340 pages of Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen hold enough recipes to encompass most (though not all) baking techniques. A comprehensive treatment of baking and dessert-cookery technique was not, Daley informs us in her introduction, her goal with this, her first cookbook. That’s been done before. Her goal was to compile a definitive guide to all the baker’s ingredients and tools, something which, surprisingly, had not been done before.

And oh my, does she succeed!

Blowtorches, kumquats, dental floss (unflavoured, please, for cutting cheesecake), gas ranges, butter, eggs, flours, ice-cream makers, Chartreuse, knives, partridgeberries – you name it, it’s here. Daley, a pastry chef and a contributing editor at President’s Choice Magazine, has written a baker’s encyclopedia that is so arrestingly comprehensive that it redefines definitive with regard to baking cookbooks. No other single volume offers as much information about buying, using, and eating the stuff of the baker’s pantry, and it is unlikely that any ever will.

And remember, that is only the book’s first half.

The second half, the recipe half, is where Daley really shines. Page after page, Daley’s brilliant recipes – like poppy-seed angel food cake with grapefruit curd, Medjool date and spiced ricotta strudel, strawberry-filled brioche doughnuts, and lychee and coconut milk sorbet – make one want to run to the kitchen to raid that Platonic pantry of the book’s first half.

It is deeply satisfying to see such a cookbook from a Canadian chef. Profuse with information, clearly written, wholly unaffected and masterfully artistic, In the Sweet Kitchen will almost undoubtedly become an instant classic. Like Julia Child’s Baking with Julia and Rose Levy Berenbaum’s The Cake Bible, no cookbook shelf will be complete without it.