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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
If you love baking -- or even just like baking -- please go and clear 2-1/4 inches on your cookbook shelf right away. You'll need it for Regan Daley's stunning book for the baker.
Daley, a Canadian pastry chef, wanted to create a reliable resource that would help people with all the little problems that come up in the kitchen. In fact, she created a remarkable reference that took the IACP (International Association of Cooking Professionals) Awards by storm, winning best book in its category (Bread, Baking) and winning Cookbook of the Year as well.
Cookbooks with a lot of reference material are often more weighty than helpful, but this one is eminently practical. For example, what do you do when the recipe calls for whole milk, but you only have skim? I always wing it and hope for the best. But, thanks to the handy Ingredient Substitution Chart, I now know that 1 cup skim (nonfat) milk plus 2 tablespoons butter = 1 cup of whole milk. I think I'll get a lot of use out of the Cake Troubleshooting Chart and the Baking Pan Substitution Chart, too.
Daley thinks the key to the best desserts is using the best and freshest ingredients, and she devotes many pages to a discussion of their different qualities and best uses. (You'll find out which is the best cocoa to use for dark, fudgy brownies, and which vanilla bean is best in poached pears.) Daley guides you through all the cooking techniques, too, and her tone, while authoritative, is anything but dry. For example, in a discussion on whipping egg whites: "Egg whites hate fat. Not for the same reasons as Californians do, of course, but because lipids inhibit the whites' ability to expand and retain the most air."
I also loved reading about which baking equipment Daley thinks you shouldn't spend much money on, and those that require a real investment to be worthwhile.
There are more than 150 recipes in Daley's book, and I see a lot I want to try out, from the traditional Ultimate Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies to the kitschy S'mores Roulade to the elegant Quince and Brioche Bread Pudding with Dried Sour Cherries. (Ginger Curwen)