In The Sweet Kitchen: A Review With Recipes


Joined Apr 4, 2000
Dessert primer proves to be a sweet success
By William Rice
Tribune Food and Wine Columnist
Published January 16, 2002

Looking through "In the Sweet Kitchen," the milestone first book by Canadian baker Regan Daley, you wonder when she found time to perfect the 150 or so recipes she presents. Because for 368 pages you are not asked to turn on an oven or melt a single square of chocolate. Instead you are taken on a guided tour through an amazingly dense forest of "Ingredients in the Sweet Kitchen" that the author presents in remarkably informative and readable original essays. She is just as thorough in listing techniques that include an extensive "Cake Troubleshooting Chart" and reviewing "Tools for the Baker"

For example, Daley has this to say about ceramic pie plates:

"I love these heavy glazed plates for baking, as they are unequalled in their ability to retain heat and bake evenly. They often have lovely fluted edges, making crimping and decorating your pies unnecessary. Make sure the bottoms are unglazed, and the pans are of a standard size. Not essential, but definitely a favorite piece of any pie baker's arsenal. $$." (She grades tools on a $, $$, $$$ scale. $$ means, seek out the mid-price range for this item.)

As for the recipes, not since Maida Heatter began her remarkable series of baking books has an author been so prescient a teacher, anticipating problems and pitfalls and pausing patiently to explain the ways to move over, through or around any challenges the recipe presents.

Read through her instructions for making sugar cookies and take note of all the helpful detail. This may strike veteran bakers as unnecessary verbiage, but even they may benefit from a quick review of these points.

Originally published in Canada, "In the Sweet Kitchen" was chosen Book of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. It retains the Canadian spelling of words such as "centre" and "colour," but the author promises the recipes have been reviewed and retooled where necessary to work in American kitchens.

Her recipe presentation begins with "Cakes and Tea Cakes" and goes on to "Pies and Tarts," "Cookies and Bars" and other categories, including custards, ice creams, fruit desserts, quick breads and an invaluable chapter on "Garnishes, Sauces and Basic Recipes."

Among recipes that catch the eye are the sugar cookies, pear and bittersweet chocolate tart, pistachio-cranberry florentines with white chocolate and orange, oatmeal stout cake, and pumpkin and orange breakfast cake.

Daley writes that she set out to craft a book "that would be a reliable, accessible, easy-to-use and relevant resource." That she has done with skill and grace.

Sugar cookies with rock sugar borders
40 cookies

Regan Daley writes that these cookies "are more delicate and less rich than shortbread, making them a perfect accompaniment to other desserts, such as poached pears, chocolate mousse, fruit compotes and ice creams." From "In the Sweet Kitchen." Raw sugar, also called turbinado, is sold as large, tan crystals at many supermarkets and natural food stores.

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup raw or crystal sugar, clear or golden

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour; mix lightly on low speed, so as not to overwork the flour.

Divide the dough into 2 portions. For long rectangular "finger" cookies, form each portion into a smooth square, about 41/2-by-41/2 inches and about 1-inch thick. For round cookies, form each portion into a firm roll about 12 inches long and 1 to 11/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. (The dough may be frozen at this stage, wrapped securely, for up to 4 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator without removing the wrapping before proceeding with the recipe.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two heavy, not nonstick, baking sheets with parchment paper. Work with one portion of dough at a time, leaving the other in the refrigerator. Brush the first slab or cylinder of cold dough with the lightly beaten egg yolks, coating all sides, corners and crevices. Spread the raw sugar on a flat plate; press or roll the dough in the sugar to coat all of the surfaces. Use your hand to press sugar into any slight hollows; it should cover the dough in a single, even layer. Gently brush off any excess sugar. With a long, thin-bladed knife, slice the dough into 3/8-inch wide slices. Lay them 3/4-inch apart on baking sheets. If slicing from a log, rotate the log every few slices to avoid flattening the roll on any one side.

Bake 12 to 18 minutes, or until the bottoms are just barely beginning to color and the sugar borders are turning just slightly golden. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets 10 minutes; carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining portion of dough. The cookies may be stored up to 1 week, in an airtight container, at room temperature.

Nutrition information per cookie (calculated by the Tribune):

85 calories, 51% of calories from fat, 4.9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 23 mg cholesterol, 10 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 5 mg sodium, 0.2 g fiber

Pumpkin and orange breakfast cake with a fresh orange syrup
10 servings

For the cake:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
3 large eggs, two of them separated, all at room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree, homemade or pure canned solid-pack pumpkin (not "pumpkin pie filling")
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the syrup:

Juice of 1 large juice orange, such as Seville
1/2 cup granulated sugar

In addition:

Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pan
Thick vanilla yogurt or vanilla ice cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch fluted tube pan and set it aside. Cream the butter, sugar and orange zest together until light and fluffy. Add the whole egg and the two egg yolks, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Beat in the pumpkin puree.

Sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. Add to the pumpkin batter in three or four stages, blending gently but thoroughly after each. Stir in the final addition of dry ingredients by hand if you have been using a mixer, so as not to overwork the batter. In a clean, small bowl, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold in the batter, then scrape all the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is springy when lightly touched, the sides are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan and a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely. This cake keeps very well for several days, well wrapped, and it freezes beautifully for up to 2 months.

For the syrup, combine the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat, bringing the syrup to a boil. Boil without stirring for 2 minutes, then use immediately, or allow to cool and refrigerate up to 3 days (reheat gently).

To serve, place one slice of the pumpkin orange cake on each plate. Spoon a few tablespoons of the warm syrup over each piece, and accompany with a scoop of thick vanilla yogurt (for breakfast) or ice cream (for dessert).

Nutrition information per serving (calculated by the Tribune):

400 calories, 44% of calories from fat, 20 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 115 mg cholesterol, 52 g carbohydrates, 4.8 g protein, 235 mg sodium, 1.5 g fiber
Joined Aug 14, 2000
I finally caved in Isa :) I love the fact that there are no recipes in the first half of the book. Just lots of great info. I love the flavor pairing charts.


Joined Apr 4, 2000
Now you know why I like this book so much. ;)

When you are done reading, take it into the kitchen, her recipes are great!
Joined Apr 19, 2001
I got the book out of the library about two weeks before Christmas - read about 10 pages, and put it on my Santa list! It really is an amazing tutorial as well as excellent recipes! Love it, love it! (Santa did bring me my own copy!)

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