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A World of Cake Paperback – October 15, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


If ever decided to do a cake-version of "Around the World in 80 Dishes," Krystina Castella's A World of Cake (Storey) would be a good book to have on hand. Truly global in her coverage, Castella's book is a great resource for anyone with a sweet tooth and particularly, a penchant for cakes.

The introductory chapter includes a year's worth of cake-appropriate holidays (October 2 for Gandhi's birthday; late May/early June for Lazybones Day in the Netherlands). My favorite part of the introduction is where Castella discusses cake categories: Chiffons, doughnuts, honey cakes, rice cakes, and more all have their place in the larger cake family. With 150 cake recipes showcased by region, there are some that are definitely familiar: King Cake, Black Forest Cake, Panettone, Mochi. And then there are the unfamiliar, and that's when things get really exciting. Malpuas from India, Nutmeg Cake from Armenia, Bolognese Rice Cake from Italy, Simnel from Ireland―the list goes on and on. Options for fillings, icings, and other flavors are presented with each recipe and interesting factoids about the specific recipe help put the cake in context. So if cakes have a special place in your heart and on your palate, you'll appreciate Castella's passion and knowledge about cakes and its world wide appeal.

Recipes to try:
- M'hanncha (Snake Cake) from Morocco
- Pan de Muerto from Mexico
- Vasilopita from Greece


. . . a well researched, thoughtfully organized, almost documentary-like survey of cakes around the world by someone who has written several dessert books (Booze Cakes, Crazy About Cupcakes), perhaps best politely described as whimsical, was exactly -- but then again not quite -- what we expected. But this is a good book, a great one, even.
(LA Weekly Blog)

"...this book is a distinctive contribution to the world of baking, and armchair bakers will delight in flipping through the pages of this colorful and engaging volume."
(Library Journal)

Chosen as Best International Baking Book in the lineup of the twenty five Best Cookbooks of 2010!

"Pictures of marzipan-covered fruitcakes are gorgeous, and sidebars on such topics as street cakes make this an educational book in addition to a holiday workhorse."
(Publisher's Weekly)

"This extraordinary new cake book by Krystina Castella is a perfect gift for anyone who loves cake even if he or she doesn't plan ever to bake one. It is an in depth study of myriad cakes from all around the world. It is fascinating to see how each cake, beautifully photographed in color, reflects the history, ingredients, and technology of its culture. As a cake baker I love seeing the world through cake colored eyes.I feel somewhat remiss that my emphasis over the years has been focused mainly on flavor, texture, and personal history and less on the wider historical origins of my creations. This well-researched book will serve as a handy reference guide. It takes cakes to a whole new level of significance and presents them, both visually and historically within the context of their creation."
(Rose Levy Beranbaum, expert baker)

From the Inside Flap

Travel with Krystina Castella on a sweet journey of cake discovery. Enjoyed by cultures the world over, cakes are as varied and fascinating as the pastry chefs, home bakers, and street vendors who prepare them. In France, patisseries offer edible works of art. England gives us puddings, which are really often cakes, and a bite-size lamington is a treat with tea in Australia. In Africa, golden fritters bursting with sweet fruit are popular street snacks. honey cakes celebrate new beginnings in Jewish tradition, and peach buns are a symbol of longevity in Taiwan. Fruitcakes, from Germany's stollen to Italy's panettone, are popular Christmas fare throughout much of the world.

For these desserts and many more, A World of Cake offers recipes, variations, and entertaining historical and cultural facts. Cake family trees, "world tours" of cakes served for holiday celebrations, and a centuries-long cake timeline offer fresh perspectives on cake and the place of honor it holds on the worldwide dessert table. Lovingly baked everywhere for life's special occasions, cakes are enjoyed where families and friends gather. Adopt a tradition from another country for your next cake gathering. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (October 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603425764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603425766
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.9 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Krystina Castella is obsessed with playing in the kitchen and sharing recipes with others that are tasty and beautiful. Krystina is the author of Crazy about Cupcakes (Sterling 2006), Crazy about Cookies (Sterling 2010, Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone (Quirk Books, 2008) and co-author of Booze Cakes (Quirk Books 2010). She is also co-author/ photographer of the children's book Discovering Nature's Alphabet (Heyday 2006). She lives and works near Los Angeles as a writer, industrial designer, and professor at Art Center College of Design.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Palindrome202 on December 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
I received this book as a reward for sending in my pledge to NPR (National Public Radio). The author was being interviewed by a local Wisconsin Public Radio host who was cooing over all of the beautiful pictures and interesting history contained in this tome. I cannot deny the beautiful and inspiring pictures and interesting historical tidbits in this book. But if you want to make any of the beautiful cakes pictured within, look elsewhere for your recipes.

The recipes in this book are not to be trusted, and based off of the other reviews I've glanced at, I'm not the only one to have issue with this book. I've tried 2 recipes out of this book, and have been led astray both times. My first attempt was making the Australian Frog Cakes. The recipe had caught my girlfriend's eye as she is a frog nut, so I decided to give it a go.

The Frog Cake base is a French Genoise. Easy enough, but I blindly followed the recipe proportions. Big mistake. The main culprits here are the proportions of egg to flour. 12 eggs to 1 and 1/3 cups of cake flour. Let me tell you what the result was...soup. For the uninitiated, genoise is a cake, not a soup. I suppose it was my fault. What stupid human being would think that 12 eggs to 1 and 1/3 cups of flour would make a beautiful cake? Me for one, and any other person who likes to follow recipes to the "t" the first time trying them. Well after wasting a dozen eggs and some flour and sugar on the first try, I made Julia Child's genoise recipe for the cake and plodded on. Oh, and Julia's worked out well by the way, look it up. She actually tested her recipes before putting them in a published book.

The other issues with the Frog Cakes are lost to the sands of time, but there were others. Fast forward to today...
Read more ›
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
I got this book a few months ago, and have tried a few of the cake recipes out. Every one of them (even the simple ones) did not have the expected turnout.

I'm pretty savvy in following recipes and cooking in general, but after trying the flour-less chocolate cake, Vietnamese coconut cake, and Red Velvet Cake recipes to no avail, it set off some red flags. For example, I followed the Red Velvet recipe to a T and it didn't even turn out red! I question the accuracy of the ingredients and instructions.

The other thing that annoyed me about this book is that the author makes this big deal in discussing the origins and history of a lot of these cakes and recipes, but then goes out of her way to add in her own "special touches" to almost all of them. If you're a purist, this book is not for you. I really wanted to make an original, basic carrot cake, but the author throws in so much extra stuff, it's unclear to me as to what is a "true" carrot cake ingredient, vs. an add-on.

If you want a good coffee table book full of lovely cake pictures, get this book. However, if you want precise cake recipes (serious business), go elsewhere. It makes me angry when I think of how much money I blew following these recipes only to have them turn out as complete failures.

* I have several recipe books, and only this one compelled me to write a review.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By William J. Wright on September 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We made the German Chocolate cake this weekend- It was a 10 out of 10. The combination of textures between the filling and the frosting were sublime.

The histories of the cakes within their cultural origins created "an experience" beyond making a dessert for our dinner party. Everyone left a little more enlightened and insisted on taking a piece home for a family member. My Fiance's mom loved it too. One can only hope all history books are this exciting to read and fun to experience. Bravo Ms. Castella!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Alsunaid on February 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like this book. Great information and history and beautiful pictures. However, I have tried "basbosa", the Egyptian cake and it tasted nothing like the real basbosa I grew up eating. I think this will be a great resource about different cakes backgrounds and history, but not an authentic recipe book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
`A World of Cake' takes you from 5,000 BC to today, giving the history of cake, cake holidays with a chart from around the world and the cakes needed to celebrate these days. There is an informative field guide to cakes telling how cakes differ in diverse countries and the names of the kinds of cakes, i.e. fruitcakes, flat cakes, fried cakes. There are techniques, bake ware, illustrations and terms, histories of cakes such as angel food and lots of pictures of the cakes and the people and the surroundings appropriate to each kind.
Most of the cakes do not seem difficult to make. What would be the hard part, would be the decorating shown.

There are 150 recipes here from North America, Latin America, Western and Central Europe, Britain, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, The Mediterranean, Africa, The Middle East, Indian subcontinent, the Far East, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. An appendix gives toppings and fillings from around the world.

This is perhaps a cookbook with a higher degree of difficulty than for a cook who is used to having simple receipes but certainly not impossible. Collectors of cookbooks would definitely want this, as well as lovers of cake, even educators would have a use for this book that is really a more unusual kind of cookbook than the normal baking volume.
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