Why buy it?
If you don’t recall the best-selling author’s name, you will recognise the cover of Alison Thompson’s new baking book Sweet, which continues with the same eye-catching typographic design as her former hit, Bake. Thompson, a pastry chef who has worked with the craft’s finest in Melbourne and the UK, and now runs a cake business in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, is also the author of other sweet tomes Macaron and Popsicle. If it’s sugar-laced, she’s into it, and has spent years perfecting its recipe.
In Sweet, Thompson shares her favourite desserts. She’s clearly enamoured with the classics, from rhubarb clafoutis and coconut tapioca with caramelised banana, but her takes comes with twists, driven by seasonal ingredients and favourite flavour combinations, and she sources inspiration from around the world.
The recipe introductions could do with more substance, but her abundant enthusiasm for baking makes up for it. As do the images, photographed by Sharon Cairns, who has injected her signature moody style into each luscious image. There are some useful tips upfront on baking basics, but it’s a recipe book at heart – one that’s smart, compact yet broad ranging, and filled with sweet treats that you will invariably ear mark and cook.
Thompson’s style will appeal to baking newbies with uncomplicated ingredient lists and clear, detailed methods. It’ll also hook in more advanced bakers with the sophisticated flavours. Think fig tarte fines with ginger ice-cream and profiteroles with honeycomb ice-cream and dark chocolate sauce.
With its custard-style filling and brulée top, Thompson’s honey, mascarpone and date tart epitomises her simple but mature style. Her raspberry meringue tarts, a twist on lemon meringue pie, are another example. One look at the mesmerising deep fuscia colour of the curd, and you’re in.
Most surprising dish
Doughnuts are all the rage right now and Thompson is clearly a sucker for them like the rest of us, with three recipes for the soft round balls featured, including one for ‘potato doughnuts’. Who knew? Thompson serves hers with affogato for even more indulgence.
In step-by-step instructions accompanied with images for blind baking, Thompson takes a different approach to the norm and suggests cutting the chilled pastry into eight pieces, squashing the pieces to make them pliable, then pressing the pieces together and kneading into a ball before rolling out the pastry with a rolling pin.
Fans of Bake, new and experienced bakers, dessert lovers.
Sweet, Alison Thompson (Lantern, $49.99, hbk)