In the Sweet Kitchen: The Definitive Baker's Companion


WINNER Cookbook of the Year (the highest cookbook honor from the Interanational Association of Cooking Professionals)

WINNER Best Cookbook in the "Bread, Other Baking and Sweets" Category, IACP

"So arrestingly comprehensive that it redefines definitive....No cookbook shelf will be complete without it." —Quill & Quire

"This whopping cookbook is one of the best investments...

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WINNER Cookbook of the Year (the highest cookbook honor from the Interanational Association of Cooking Professionals)

WINNER Best Cookbook in the "Bread, Other Baking and Sweets" Category, IACP

"So arrestingly comprehensive that it redefines definitive....No cookbook shelf will be complete without it." —Quill & Quire

"This whopping cookbook is one of the best investments anyone interested in baking could make." —Calgary Sun

FOR EVERYONE WHO'S EVER BEEN STUMPED by a problem while baking or has had a question about an ingredient, a piece of equipment or the best technique, here are all the answers in one essential reference, along with recipes to please every baker and results to please every taste.

—More than 250 pages detail the unique qualities of 700 baker's ingredients and how to use them to best advantage.

—Short on a certain ingredient? Missing the right-size baking pan? Consult one of the 50-plus pages of extraordinarily informative substitution and troubleshooting charts and lists.

—Learn the art of layering flavors, using different forms of the same ingredient in one dessert. Move beyond carrots in baking to experience the larger world of sweet vegetables. Pair flavors to create depth, complexity and inspired variations.

—More than 150 recipes from the pastry chef's home kitchen, all flavorful, all sumptuous, all doable.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The 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)

From the Publisher

"Daley's International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Award winner is the definitive guide to all the equipment, techniques, and indgredients a baker uses."

Gourmet Magazine as chunky as the best chocolate chip cookie with information and good recipes.
Los Angeles Times can see for yourself that the award (IACP best cookbook of the year) was deserved.
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 Cr?me Fra?che; 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.
Library Journal
Obviously a labor of love, this ambitious handbook provides a thorough guide to the ingredients, equipment, and techniques used in baking; the 150 or so delectable recipes that make up the second half of the book are an added bonus. Daley, who worked as a pastry chef in some of Toronto's top restaurants, has an engaging conversational style, and even the most inexperienced home cook will find her book as unintimidating as it is informative. Professionals, too, will find it a handy reference. The recipes include both old favorites like Chocolate Chunk Cookies and sophisticated creations like Roasted Clementine and Chocolate Tart, as well as desserts Daley describes as "unashamedly trashy," such as her S'more Roulade. This book won the 2001 Book of the Year Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals this spring, before it had an American publisher. Recommended for all baking collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579652081
  • Publisher: Artisan
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Pages: 704
  • Product dimensions: 7.28 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 2.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Regan Daley is a writer and former pastry chef. During her career in the kitchen, she worked at some of Toronto's most prominent restaurants, including the celebrated Avalon (named by Gourmet magazine as one of the best in North America) where her elegant and original dessert creations, such as the Valrhona Molten Chocolate Cakes, quickly became household words. Her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking, Country Home, and Gourmet magazines, among others. She currently lives in Toronto with her husband, three boys, and a food-phobic dog. Visit her blog at
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Read an Excerpt


Whoever coined the term "plain vanilla" had obviously never experienced the real bean. This I know, for after one encounter, they would have used words like magnificent, peerless and indispensable. The second most costly spice in the world, vanilla beans are actually the fruit of a climbing orchid native to Central America. It was cultivated and processed by the Aztecs, who developed a process of alternately sweating and drying the beans to develop on them the white crystalline substance vanillin, which gives the beans their flavour and perfume. The exquisite blossoms open only one day a year, and then for just a few hours. Their only natural pollinators, the Melipona bee, a few species of ants and hummingbirds, are all native to Mexico (and not terribly reliable workers!), so the orchids must be hand-pollinated in order to bear a bean, hence their hefty price tag. The beans are green and odourless when picked, gradually becoming dark brown, almost black, as they undergo a lengthy fermentation—alternately dried in the sun during the day, then sweated under heavy blankets at night. This process continues for three to six months; the beans are then aged for up to two years.

Like chocolate, vanilla was brought to Europe via Spain by Cortes, but for almost 100 years was used only in chocolate and perfumes. Finally, an English apothecary in the royal court suggested its use as a flavouring. It became all the rage, and was even considered a powerful aphrodisiac by the elite of European society.

Vanilla is perhaps the most versatile flavouring in the sweet kitchen. In small amounts, it has the ability to blend with and support myriad other ingredients, mellowing harshness and deepening the richness of other flavours. It can be a perfect and equal partner or even a primary flavour all on its own. Although vanilla is often used in recipes as a supportive flavour, not detectable in the final product, it can also be used to create a new spin on a recipe—a cornmeal cake that calls for a teaspoon of vanilla becomes a cornmeal-vanilla cake when the vanilla is increased to two or three teaspoons. I occasionally use up to twice as much vanilla as is called for in a recipe if vanilla would really complement the other flavours in the dessert, or if the dessert is quite plain. Vanilla in all of its forms is great for enhancing recipes that have little sweetness and/or fat, as it imparts a distinct richness and voluptuous flavour.

Vanilla pairs beautifully with chocolate—it was a key ingredient in the warm chocolate drink xocolatl so adored by the Aztecs; their king Montezuma is said to have drunk fifty goblets a day! This perfect marriage has withstood the test of time—the best chocolates are today made with pure vanilla, and almost every good chocolate dessert also calls for some form of the bean. Rich nuts such as toasted hazelnuts and almonds; caramel; coffee; tropical fruit, as well as fruits such as pears, peaches, and raspberries; cinnamon, ginger and other sweet spices; even alternative grains and flours such as cornmeal and oats, all are enhanced with a benediction of vanilla.

Vanilla's immense popularity has led to its production in four major regions around the world, each producing a distinctive variety. Like coffee beans and chocolate pods, vanilla beans' flavour is deeply affected by the climate and soil in which they are grown.

MEXICAN VANILLA BEANS are thick and dark, with a strong, intense fragrance and a flavour that is deeper and more robust than that of other vanilla beans. They are quite scarce today, but are considered by many to be the finest vanilla beans in the world. Sadly, some Mexican producers have recently begun to compromise their vanilla extract with the addition of coumarin, a potentially toxic substance that has a similar aroma to vanilla but that is illegal in the rest of North America. To be safe, buy Mexican vanilla products only from a reputable supplier.

BOURBON VANILLA BEANS are grown off the coast of Africa on the island of Madagascar, as well as on the neighbouring isle of Reunion. Also called Madagascar or Bourbon-Madagascar vanilla beans, they are smooth, rich and sweet, the slenderest variety of vanilla bean. Madagascar vanilla makes up more than 70 percent of the world's vanilla, making it much more widely available and generally less expensive than its Mexican or Tahitian counterparts.

INDONESIAN OR JAVA VANILLA is the second most commonly available type of vanilla in the world. Its flavour is smooth and earthy, with a slightly smoky note.

TAHITIAN VANILLA BEANS are the darkest of the three and are longer and fatter than their Mexican or Madagascan cousins, with a complex, floral aroma. Not as intense as the other two varieties, their delicate and slightly fruity flavour is perfect for using in poaching syrups and light desserts with fruit, fragile pastry and other subtle tastes.

Several forms of vanilla are available, each with its own suitability and uses in baked goods and desserts. Vanilla beans are the most costly form of the flavouring, but are without question the best. I love splitting open a fat bean in front of friends and watching their faces as they are overwhelmed by the aroma. This is an opponent worthy of chocolate! Though their flavour is very rich and mellow when baked, a fresh vanilla bean's aroma is powerful: sensuous and intoxicating, and deliciously warm. This form has the added advantage of being able to be used in many different ways, and more than once. Scraped-out seeds can be used to flavour cakes and puddings; hulls can be used to infuse milk or cream for custards or sugar syrups for poaching fruit. Whole beans can be used to flavour liquids, then rinsed, dried and reused, sometimes several times.

When buying vanilla beans, look for dark brown, almost black beans that are plump, tender, shiny, and that feel moist and even sticky to the touch. They should not be leathery and dry--if they are they have been improperly stored or are past their prime. They should be supple and very fragrant. A dusting of white crystalline dust on the beans is not a sign of deterioration, but is actually desirable.

To use in cakes, doughs and cookies, split the bean lengthwise and with the tip of a small knife scrape out the mass of sticky black seeds into the batter, reserving the hulls for another purpose. Hulls can be used to flavour custards for ice cream, souffles and desserts such as creme brulee. Place one or both halves of a scraped out hull in the milk before scalding, then let it infuse anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, or until the custard is strained. Using beans in these two different ways will allow you to get the most value for your investment. Vanilla beans and scraped out pods should be wrapped in plastic wrap and placed in a sealed glass jar at room temperature, in a cool dark place. Stored this way, they should keep for 6 months. If a recipe does not require the bean to be split, it may be rinsed after infusing, dried and stored for reuse.

Pure vanilla extract is made by macerating crushed or chopped beans in an alcohol-water solution for several months. The dark clear liquid that results is rich, intensely flavoured and highly aromatic. Vanilla extract is the most commonly used form of the flavouring used in North America and has become an essential ingredient in almost every cake and cookie recipe! However, its deep, rich fragrance and flavour are easily dissipated by direct or prolonged heating, making it unsuitable for long-cooked dishes such as poached fruit. It does retain its potency when used in baked goods, though, and has the advantage over vanilla seeds in that it disperses thoroughly throughout a batter. When buying vanilla extract, look for products bearing the label "Pure," "Real," or "Natural." Vanilla extract may be stored indefinitely in an opaque, airtight bottle in a cool, dark cupboard.

Vanilla essences, also called double- or triple-strength extracts, are products usually available only to professionals. They are highly concentrated forms of vanilla extract, so intense that only a drop or two may be needed to impart a strong vanilla flavour. They are particularly useful in industrial and professional kitchens, where their high potency and concentrated form mean fewer steps in the preparation of large recipes. Vanilla essence and high-strength extracts can sometimes be found at bakery or cake decorating supply stores and through some professional mail-order sources.

Imitation or artificial vanilla extract contains no real vanilla at all. It is made from 100% artificial ingredients, mostly by-products of the pulp and paper industry, that have been treated with chemicals and supplemented with feeble flavourings. Artificial vanilla has a harsh, one-dimensional flavour that can come across as medicinal, cloying and even almost bitter in some cases. At best, it is rough and dull and absolutely incomparable to any other form of real vanilla. Avoid it at all costs, as it will do neither you nor your precious baking any good! If you have only ever used the artificial stuff, the difference pure vanilla will make to your favourite recipes is worth the price of this book, not to mention the vanilla itself.

Vanilla powder is made by pulverizing the whole dried beans to a fine powder. Read the list of ingredients to make sure it is pure, as sweeteners and fillers are sometimes added. Vanilla in this state is well suited to incorporation into liquid-sensitive mixtures, such as some icings and melted chocolate, where even a small amount of liquid could create a problem; and into uncooked mixtures in which vanilla seeds would not have a chance to impart their flavour evenly and thoroughly. In addition, the flavour of vanilla powder is more intense than that of most extracts and does not dissipate even with prolonged cooking. For these reasons, it can be used to an advantage in many cooked custards, sauces and baked goods. Vanilla powder will keep indefinitely, stored in an opaque, airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Vanilla sugar is a lovely, fragrant product, easily made by burying one bean in two cups of granulated or superfine sugar for at least two weeks. I like to store my scraped out vanilla bean hulls in a canister of sugar, replenishing the sugar as I deplete it and adding new hulls when I have them left over. Vanilla sugar is a luxurious sweetener for coffee or hot chocolate and a great addition to all sorts of baked goods and desserts. I love using it as a garnishing sugar, sprinkling it on cookies, cakes, pie and tart crusts, as well as confections. For a simple, easy and divinely flavoured summer dessert, toss fresh berries or peaches in a little vanilla-scented sugar and serve with a little vanilla sugar¹sweetened whipped cream. Divine! Vanilla sugar will keep indefinitely, stored in an airtight container.

Really, REALLY Fudgy Brownies

Makes: 28 large squares

Very dense, very rich, very moist, very chocolatey, these brownies are not for the faint of heart. After tasting them at our house, friends who were getting married soon asked that these be the only gift at their wedding...the only gift--they had asked everyone else not to bring any gifts at all! Almost more of a confection than a cake, these are great as part of a dessert assortment, or packaged as a gift. In theory, these should keep very well, but I have never been able to keep them around long enough to find out.

7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, in small pieces

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 1/3 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa

1/8 teaspoon salt

Additional unsalted butter, at room temperature, or vegetable oil cooking spray, for greasing pan

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, preferably aluminum. Line the bottom and up two sides with a single sheet of parchment paper, letting the paper overhang the two long sides by an inch or so. Not only will this prevent any sticking, but it will also make removing the cooled brownies from the pan easy and neat.

2. Place a large pot filled with an inch or two of water over low heat and bring the water to a very gentle simmer. Combine the two chocolates and the diced butter in a stainless steel or glass bowl and set the bowl over the pot. Stir the chocolate occasionally until it is about three-quarters melted, then turn off the heat under the pot and stir until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the top of the pot and set it aside to cool slightly.

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs slightly just to blend the yolks and the whites. Whisk in the sugar and beat until the mixture is thickened and pale, about 2 minutes if beating by hand, 1 minute if using beaters or a stand mixer. Stir in the vanilla. In a small bowl, sift the flour, cocoa and salt together.

4. When the chocolate is just warm but not hot, pour it into the egg and sugar mixture, stirring to blend well. Sift the flour mixture over the batter in three additions, using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to gently fold in each addition before adding the next.

5. Scrape the batter into the pan and place it in the centre of the oven. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the centre of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, and the surface is set, shiny, and perhaps beginning to crack slightly at the edges. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely before cutting into bars. Don't overbake these brownies! A gooey, chewy texture is part of their allure. The whole cake can be lifted out of the pan onto a cutting surface using the overhang of parchment paper, or you can cut the bars right in the pan. A thin-bladed knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry between cuts makes cutting these sticky, gooey bars much easier! Makes enough for, oh, three or four chocoholics, or several more mere mortals. Store brownies well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for gooier brownies, or in the refrigerator for denser, fudgier bars, for up to 5 days (they'll never last that long). I find keeping the leftover bars in the pan and covering the whole pan with wrap keeps the brownies fresh and soft.

Pears Poached in Gewurztraminer with Tahitian Vanilla and Ginger


This is one of my favourite desserts, and it's deceptively simple--not the kind you get wildly excited fantasizing about, but the kind that seems so perfect when you eat it. Its great beauty lies in its wonderfully complementary flavours: floral, tropical and delicate. The pears are great accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the Macadamia Nut Biscotti (page 506) or Sugar Cookies with Rock Sugar Borders (page 491). Seckel pears are small, seasonally available pears that are perfect for poaching: firm, flavourful and too hard to eat raw. The beautiful Forelle pears are similar, but slightly softer and sweeter, so won't need as long to poach. Adjust the cooking time depending on the variety, size and ripeness of the fruit.

1 bottle (750 ml.) good-quality Gewurztraminer wine

1 cup water, preferably filtered or still spring water

1 cup granulated sugar

1 plump Tahitian vanilla bean, split lengthwise

One (1 1/2 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch thick slices

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 medium-sized, ripe but firm pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou; or 10 to 12 small firm dessert pears, such as Sugar, Seckel or Forelle

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (page 553), to serve

1. In a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan just large enough to hold the pears with about 2 inches of headspace to spare, combine the wine, water and sugar. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove the syrup from the heat and add the vanilla bean, ginger slices and lemon juice. Peel the pears, removing the skin as thinly as possible, leaving the stems intact. Follow the gentle curves of the pears as you peel them so they retain their beautiful shape.

2. Add the pears all at once to the pot of syrup and press a small, clean dishcloth directly onto the surface of the mixture, soaking the cloth. Place a circle of parchment paper onto the cloth; this will prevent the pears from poaching unevenly or drying out on one side. (If you find the pears are still floating, you can place a little plate or saucer onto the cloth to weigh them down. The trick is to keep the fruit under the syrup, without having it rest on the bottom of the pot! Do your best; I have found one side plate that is the perfect size and weight--heavy enough to hold the fruit under, but not so heavy that the pears are squashed against the bottom. Experiment! Somewhere in your kitchen is the ideal dish!)

3. Return the pot to the element over medium-low heat and slowly bring the syrup to a bare simmer. Watch closely: you don't want the mixture to boil too vigorously at any point, or the fruit will cook too quickly and begin to break down in the syrup. Reduce the heat slightly and keep the syrup just below the simmer. Tiny bubbles should dance up around the pears and just break the surface. Too low is better than too high a heat; the pears may take a little longer to poach, but will remain intact and tender.

4. Poach the fruit until the tip of a very sharp knife slips in and out easily. Let the pears cool in their syrup, then refrigerate until needed. If the pears are extremely soft, carefully remove them from the syrup into a shallow container and refrigerate until cool. Cool the syrup separately, then pour it over the pears and refrigerate together until needed. (The pears can be poached up to 4 days ahead of time and refrigerated, submerged in their syrup.)

5. To serve, remove the fruit from the refrigerator about 1 hour before you plan to serve them. Pare off a little slice from the bottom of each pear to create a flat plane for the fruit to stand on and place one in each of 6 shallow dessert bowls. Spoon some of the syrup over top and accompany with a scoop of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and a flavourful biscuit. Creme anglaise also makes a lovely accompaniment.

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Table of Contents

Dear Reader (XII)

Introduction (I)


Tools for the Baker (5)

Baking Pan Substitution Chart (41)

A few Tips and Techniques for Better Baking (44)

Cake Troubleshooting Chart (66)

Sugar Syrup Cookery Chart (72)

A Simple Guide to Garnishing (76)


Ingredients in the Sweet Kitchen (91)

Flours, Grains, and Gelling Agents (93)

Sugar and Other Sweeteners (119)

Fats (142)

Dairy Products (162)

Eggs (178)

Leaveners (193)

Liquids in Baking (202)

Salt (206)

Flavourings (209)

Nuts, Fruits and Sweet Vegetables (251)

Ingredient Substitution Chart (335)

Flavour Pairing Chart (352)


Recipes from the Sweet Kitchen (371)

Cakes and Tea Cakes (373)

Pies and Tarts (443)

Cookies and Bars (483)

Custards, Puddings and Mousses (527)

Ice Cream and Other Frozen Desserts (551)

Fruit Desserts (567)

Quick Breads, Sweet Yeast Breads and Fritters (601)

Garnishes, Sauces and Basic Recipes (631)

Appendices (661)

Bibliography (669)

Index (675)

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Serves 10 to 12

Hazelnut oil is a wonderful product, available in gourmet and specialty food stores. It is highly perishable, however, and goes rancid quickly. Buy it from a shop with a high turnover and once opened, store it in the refrigerator and use promptly. Here, hazelnut oil contributes another dimension to the already intense flavor of the roasted nuts. I love bringing one of these fine-crumbed cakes on picnics, cutting big rough wedges for everyone after the meal. But it is just as at home as the finale for an elegant formal dinner; a glass of dessert wine or Frangelico, the hazelnut liqueur, is a lovely partner.

1-1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream (36%)
1 tablespoon pure hazelnut oil, optional, but highly recommended
Additional unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pan

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch spring form pan and set aside. In a food processor, pulse the toasted hazelnuts with 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar until finely ground. Take care not to over grind the hazelnuts to the point where they become nut butter, or the cake will be oily and heavy. Set the nut mixture aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, cream the butter until light, then add the white and brown sugars and cream the mixture until it is light, pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically. Don't worry if the mixture looks separated and broken; it will come together perfectly when the flour is incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together, then stir in the nut mixture. Add this to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix only enough to mostly incorporate each addition, and if you are using a mixer, switch to a rubber spatula or flat wooden spoon for the last addition of flour. Add the hazelnut oil with the last addition of cream. As soon as the dry ingredients are completely moistened, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and place the pan in the center of the oven.
  4. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched, the sides are just beginning to pull away from the pan and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool 20 to 30 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife around the outside of the cake, then remove the sides of the pan. Cool the cake on the rack completely before serving or wrapping and storing. This cake is actually better the second day, stored well wrapped at room temperature, and can be kept for up to 5 days, stored in the refrigerator. Either way, it needs no accompaniment, not even a dusting of confectioners' sugar.
50 3-inch fingers

Perhaps the most decadent cookie I have ever had. Awfully impressive, and dead easy, this is just a good basic brown sugar Scottish shortbread recipe, enhanced with butterscotch and toffee bits. As with any shortbread, the quality and freshness of the butter and flour make all the differences in the flavor and texture. Use the best, and make sure they're fresh. This makes a large batch, perfect for giving, and the shortbread keeps very well in airtight tins. If desired, the recipe can be reduced by half.

2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup rice flour, or substitute cornstarch if rice flour is unavailable
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups (3/4 pound) fresh unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons fruit sugar or superfine sugar
6 tablespoons tightly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup miniature butterscotch chips
2/3 cups English toffee pieces for baking such as Skor Bits (available in the baking sections of most supermarkets)
Additional unsalted butter for greasing pan

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch metal baking pan. Line the bottom and up the two long sides with a piece of parchment paper. Leave about a 1-inch overhang over the sides to make removing the cooled shortbread easier. Sift the all-purpose and rice flour together with the salt and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, beat the butter until very smooth. Gradually add the sugars and cream the mixture until it is very light and fluffy. If using a mixer, transfer the creamed butter-sugar mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, fully incorporating each addition before adding the next. Use your fingers to knead the final portion of dry ingredients into the dough, keeping your palms off the dough as much as possible, so the warmth doesn't turn the butter oily. When the last of the flour is fully blended, add the butterscotch and toffee bits and knead them into the dough until they are evenly distributed. I should warn you at this point, that this dough now smells better than any cookie dough you have ever experienced. Restrain yourself; you will do yourself no favors devouring the entire mess at this point, and the baking doesn't take that long.
  3. Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan and use the back of a metal spoon to smooth the surface. Prick the dough all over with a fork and set the pan in the center of the oven. Bake the shortbread for about 45 minutes, then prick the dough again to release any trapped air. Return the pan to the oven for another 15 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are light golden brown, and the center feels just firm to the touch.
  4. The shortbread will set to a very firm biscuit as it cooks, so it must be cut while it is still warm. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 7 to 8 minutes, then run a sharp paring knife around the outside of the dough to loosen the edges. Make two long cuts in the shortbread, dividing it evenly into three rectangles, each cut beginning and ending at a short side of the pan. Cutting from long side to long side, cut the rectangles into about ¾-inch wide fingers, wiping the knife on a clean towel between each cut, as it gets sticky and can pull and tear the cooling shortbread.
  5. Leave the fingers to cool completely in the pan, then re-cut and transfer them to airtight tins. This shortbread can be frozen before or after it is baked. Freeze the dough pressed into the prepared pan, well wrapped with plastic and aluminum foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, without disturbing the wrapping, and bake directly from the refrigerator. The baking time may have to be increased by a few minutes to compensate for the chilled dough. Freeze the cooled fingers in airtight bags or containers, layering between sheets of waxed or parchment paper and wrapping the whole tin or container with aluminum foil. Thaw the entire package, without removing the wrapping, at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.
Serves 6

I debated calling this something other than tapioca, because so many people seem to have such dreadful memories of gloppy, bland pudding they were forced to eat as children. A tragedy, as good tapioca pudding is truly wonderful: Sweet and delicate and creamy. It is super on its own, but the cinnamon toast makes it just about the best comfort food going.

3-1/3 cups whole milk (3.5%)
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
4-1/2 tablespoons minute or instant tapioca
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split

1/4 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 thick slices brioche, challah, or other soft, rich, white bread, preferably a day old
Unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup heavy cream (36%), whipped with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, for garnish

  1. Combine the milk, egg yolk, tapioca, sugar, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan, and whisk to blend. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the seeds and the hull to the pot. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, then place the pot over medium heat.
  2. Whisk slowly but constantly until the mixture just barely reaches the boil, about 13 to 18 minutes. Don't let the custard truly boil, but remove it from the heat just as the bubbles begin to surface. The grains of tapioca should be plump and very soft. Pour the pudding into a clean bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface, poking a few holes in the plastic with a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until cooled. Divide the custard between 6 dessert goblets or bowls. Cover the dishes with plastic wrap and chill until set, at least 4 hours.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Blend together the brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Lay the slices of bread on a baking sheet and place under the broiler. Watch closely and remove the sheet when the bread looks pale gold. Turn the slices over and return the sheet to the broiler until golden on this side as well. Lightly butter one side of each slice and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar. Cut the slices in half or quarters and serve immediately with the tapioca, which has been topped with a dollop of the lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Copyright © 2001 by Regan Daley
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2006

    375 pages before the first recipe

    Very disappointing. The first 375 pages are text on why ingredients work like they do. Then finally some recipes but very few pictures. The recipes are all odd...poppyseed angelfood cake with grapefruit people really make recipes like that? The first part might be helpful if you have never baked before but if you are looking for recipes this isnt the book you want.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2001


    This book is absolutely scrumptious in every way. I'm a novice baker myself, so the sections on techniques and ingredients are awesome. They totally take the guesswork out of making desserts. And the recipes are great... so far I've made the Valrhona Molten Chocolate Cake and the Damn Fine Apple Pie... This book is so easy to read and follow and doesn't make you feel like an idiot... she walks you through step by step... Highly recommended for anyone learning to bake!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2001

    A MUST have; amazing, informative book on baking!

    I am a 16 year old girl who loves to bake, so when I saw this brand new book on the shelf at my local library, I immediately checked it out. It is seriously the absolute best book on baking to own. There is so much information on every aspect of baking, with an extraodinary emphasis on the background on different ingredients, such as liquid and solid fats, eggs, chocolate, flour, milk, sugars and many more. Totally worth to buy. ;)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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