Mother to three young children, Kate lives in Orange, New South Wales, where she is working towards running her own B&B – an establishment that will no doubt feature exquisite food, and (I am hoping) some of the tempting recipes from this beautiful book.
I’m loving the recent spate of smaller-format cookbooks available on the market, and The Sweet Life is no exception. Yes, readers still want gorgeous; they still want quality, but gone is the desire to plonk down an 8kg, foot-wide tome, which ends up serving no greater purpose than a catchall for flour and oil.
A neat, dust-jacketed size, The Sweet Life has an embossed cover and is beautifully designed and laid out, with gorgeous typefacing and simple yet striking photography.
For starters, we have author’s notes and an intro, and then we launch straight into sauces and syrups, including The Basics – sugar syrup, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce – and Beyond the Basics – strawberries in dessert wine syrup with crushed amaretti, vincotto figs with caramelised walnuts and mascarpone, among other stunning delights.
Next up is meringue – and once again, we are treated to both basic and beyond basic delights – French, Swiss and Italian meringue, orange blossom and pistachio meringues, and little lime meringue pies (my fave) just to name a few. Kate also includes tips for meringue-making success, that will virtually ensure cloudlike poufs of Opera House sails rise from your baking dish.
From here, we move onto custards and sabayons (the lime curd and coconut slice is so on my radar) then onto ice creams and sorbets, again with extra tips and that very special division between simple and more complicated. You can even learn how to make your own home-made ‘ice magic’ topping in this chapter, and the picture of the zesty lemon sorbet had me quite literally drooling all over my keyboard (let’s not even mention the rose, raspberry and pistachio frozen nougat, oh my . . .).
Kate also covers gelatine desserts (strawberry mousse is her daughter Maya’s favourite and I’m already prepping a Turkish delight-making session with my daughter), pastry, cakes and puddings, and baked treats – biscuits, muffins, slices, brownies, et al.
In her last chapter, Kate offers a handful of super special delights for the wanna-be chef – designed to test skills – including her personal favourite chocolate terrine with spiced praline, mandarin oil and crème fraîche. She then ends the book with a conversion chart and special dietary requirements, with notes on gluten-, dairy- and egg-free recipes.
What I really like about this book is that it’s unashamedly sophisticated in a mum-and-three-kids way. Just because you don’t have French pastry training and an industrial kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t concoct some seriously gorgeous recipes that are both easy to make, ultra palate-pleasing and delightfully chic, all at the same time.