Some cookbooks just give you photos and recipes and leave you to your own devices to figure out exactly what ingredients to use and exactly how the baking process works on your own. This is usually a fine way to go because the books that offer more hand-holding are usually geared towards beginning bakers and get a bit dull when you already play around in the kitchen a lot.
In The Sweet Kitchen is a cookbook that offers a different approach. It is a comprehensive baking resource that offers more than the basic A, B, C’s of baking, although it certainly does cover technique. It’s a resource about baking ingredients. Well over half of the book is dedicated to detailed discussions of over 700 ingredients, describing how to get the best ingredients, how to use them and how to show them off to their best advantage. The approach will appeal to bakers of all levels, from beginners who want to expand their knowledge to pastry chefs looking for ideas to take their favorite desserts from good to amazing.
Although much of the book’s real estate is a reference guide, there are still well over 100 recipes here to choose from. There is a good variety of recipes, from cakes to custards to breads, and they all come with a set of very detailed instructions. There are, of course, many suggestions for particular ingredients with each recipe, in keeping with the ingredient suggestions made earlier in the book. There are just a handful of photos in the paperback version, but by the time you read through the rest of the book, you’ll have a feeling of confidence in the recipes and the ingredients that will definitely inspire you to bake with or without photos to prompt you.