Home bakers and dessert lovers will be disappointed in Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert as this volume is a huge academic study by food historian Michael Krondl. It is very extensive and well beyond the interest of most home cooks, even perhaps most professional pastry chefs yet it may be a useful addition to professional collections. It certainly will be a good reference book in baking schools and food-related libraries.
“…dessert could be a great deal more than merely a pleasant ending to a meal…”
Krondl is a good, seasoned writer, nevertheless his frequent use of parentheses, complicated sentences and replacing simple words with difficult ones slow down reading and comprehension. The book doesn’t include any illustrations but Krondl adds one or more (rather unnecessary) recipes at the end of each chapter. He deals with the history of six nations in painstaking details, the ones he considers the most significant in the history of desserts: India, Middle East, Italy, France, Vienna and United States. The research and writing he put into this project is remarkable and exhausting yet who is the targeted readership? The text has many superscript numbers referring to chapter-by-chapter notes. He also includes many insets throughout (like essays on gur, doughnuts, ice cream, etc); these are interesting to read and mercifully brief.