A Sweet Quartet: Sugar, Almonds, Eggs, and Butter
North Point, 2003 (2002)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
ormerly a baker, Fran Gage believes that sugar, almonds, eggs and butter - singly or all together - form the basis of most sweet recipes. And after reading
A Sweet Quartet
, I have to agree with her. According to Gage, a wild ancestor of sugarcane grew in the fertile valleys of New Guinea nine thousand years ago! It traveled to the Philippines and India about two thousand years later. And sugar was widely used in medicines through the ages.
he author delves into the history of sugar - an account I found fascinating, and full of facts new to me. She notes that Columbus brought sugarcane to the New World and planted it in Santo Domingo, and Milton Hershey made the first milk chocolate bar in 1900. I shall look at my sugar bowl a little differently from now on. Two wonderful recipes for modern pound cakes - one for
Poppy Seed Cake with Chocolate Swirl
, the other for
Pumpkin Swirl Cake
- sound marvelous.
Molasses Spice Cake
Beaujolais and Peach Sorbet
, all make me grateful to the early natives of New Guinea.
he histories of almonds, eggs and butter are also explored with intriguing facts as well as legends. The recipes this knowledgeable baker suggests are as sweet as the words she uses. The
Almond Butter Cookies
substitute almond butter for peanut butter. What a taste thrill. For lovers of coconut, Gage gives a recipe for
. And how about the always impressive
? A time consuming but extremely satisfying
gives step-by-step instructions. Recipes using the Puff Pastry follow, such as
Apricot Tart Tatin
would make a thoughtful gift for a culinary student. I remember my chef daughter, while attending the Culinary Institute of America, spending as much time researching her ingredients as she actually spent in the kitchen. Imagine a textbook written with love.
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