In books including Seductions of Rice
and the award-winning Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet
, authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid offered a new kind of cookbook--part anthropological portrait, part recipe source, part travel memoir (with photos taken by the pair), and in all, fascinating as well as useful. Their Home Baking
is differently pitched. Though the authors have traveled to places including Russia, Hong Kong, and Australia, to bring back traditional baking formulas from their sources, they've also relied on home favorites plus other cookbooks whose recipes they admire. If the book lacks the layered scope, depth, and something of the interest of their former works, it nonetheless delivers unique goods--over 200 accessible recipes for savory and sweet goods like Nigella-Date Hearth Breads, Provincial Quince Loaf, Silk Road Non (a version of nan), Taipei Coconut Buns, and There-Layer Walnut Torte Whipped Cream. Fans of the authors, plus those new to the Alford and Duguid approach, will find much to explore and bake from here, as well as a beautiful, color-photo-studded volume in the A. and D. tradition.
Arranged by concepts such as Family Breads and All-Around-the-World Cookies, the book also offers food and travel asides such as Kisses from Brazil (about the skillet bread called beji, "kiss" in Portuguese), as well as informative headnotes that set each dish in context. (It should be mentioned that these notes and others are written in the first-person singular, but are unsigned or otherwise credited.) There are technical notes like those for bread making that guide bakers in the relaxed Alford and Duguid fashion, and where necessary, useful equipment discussion. There is also an eccentric entry or two, including a high-altitude recipe for chocolate chip cookies. But, ultimately, it's the unusual, traveled-derived formulas that make the book so worthy. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
In their previous award-winning books (Flatbreads & Flavors; Seductions of Rice; Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet) Alford and Duguid combined anthropology and food to remarkable results. Their latest title is more of a stay-at-home. Alford and Duguid still draw from their globetrotting (Russian Apple Pancakes; Lebanese Sajj Bread), but many recipes come from their own domestic kitchen. This includes delightful ideas like Naomi's Any-day Skillet Cake, an easy take on clafoutis, and puzzling appearances like High-altitude Chocolate Chip Cookies, to be baked "at elevations between five thousand and seventy-five hundred feet," apparently included for sentimental reasons. The recipes themselves are accessible and, as promised in the title, represent dishes that home bakers craft around the world rather than fancy bakery rigmarole: Easy Cheese and Bean Rounds or Cranberry-Chocolate Sweet Buns. While the authors' previous books have arranged recipes by country in a logical, geographical progression, this one groups them by vague concepts such as "Family Breads." And although there are on balance more savory recipes than sweet, the book opens with a chapter of sweets, such as Treacle Tart and Ricotta Pie Topped with Streusel. While recipes are concise, the writing is less sharp. Headnotes to some recipes are unfocused; the one for Leekie Pie, made with bacon, begins with praise of a vegetarian cookbook from the 1970s. Still, even a middling offering from these two pros stands above many cookbooks in the field.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.