The Secrets of Baking is a comprehensive primer that guides the cook through the world of baked goods and other desserts, from time-honored classics of the French patisserie to the inspired and fanciful creations that made Spago the famous restaurant it is today. At the same time, it advances a radically new understanding of these recipes, one that will give the baker greater flexibility and confidence in the kitchen. Instead of grouping desserts into traditional categories (pies, cakes, cookies), Sherry Yard arranges them around crucial master recipes. Starting with these recipes -- simple, basic guidelines for making caramel, chocolate sauce, lemon curd, pound cake, and brioche, to name just a few -- Yard shows the cook how to create dozens of variations. Knowing how ingredients interact opens the door to a multitude of baking possibilities. For example, cream puff dough forms the foundation for éclairs, profiteroles, and the caramel-coated tower the French call croquembouche, but understanding how and why it behaves the way it does allows the cook to create deep-fried beignets, mascarpone-filled cannolis, or simmering-hot dumplings. This authoritative, friendly bake-shop bible contains fascinating mini-lessons on food science, illuminating bits of baking history, and time-saving tips. Newcomers to the world of baking will feel at ease with such simple, homey desserts as Banana Bread and Mississippi Mud Pie, and elaborate show-stoppers like Chocolate Brioche Sandwich with Espresso Gelato and Blackberry-Lime-Filled Doughnuts with Blackberry Sorbet and Berries will transform amateur bakers into expert pastry chefs.