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Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World Hardcover – November 15, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Artisan (November 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579651747
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579651749
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 1.3 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This new book by husband and wife team Jeffrey Alford and Duguid succeeds in being that one in a hundred culinary works which both integrates ones knowledge of cooking and inspires one to press on to new and more interesting achievements.
The object of the book is to examine home baking around the world with recipe and anecdote and to encourage its preservation. As such, the book makes a rare good use of large, lush photographs to evoke a sense of time and place in this oversize format. The publisher, Artisan, has used this format several times before with works authored by Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller. While these volumes have been attractive, they have not succeeded quite as well as this volume.
Needless to say, all this good eye candy would have been of little value in a $40 book without good content. And this content is very, very good. This book will easily join my other favorite `go to' baking book `Baking With Julia' as the first stop when I want to try something new.
It is not surprising to find a book of such quality from these authors, as they have produced other books that have received high critical praise. What may be surprising is their subject, after having done two books centered on Asian savory cooking. The surprise disappears when you realize that their very first book, less well known than `Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet' and `Seductions of Rice' was a book on flatbreads of the world.
As good as this book is, it is important to be aware of its range. At about 440 pages, it is smaller than the shortest of Rose Levy Beranbaum's three `Bibles' of baking. It is also shorter by far than the very good King Arthur `Baking Companion'.
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By A Customer on November 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
HomeBaking delights in many ways - art book photos, human-scale geography and life stories, which acknowledge those whose recipes we can make our own. I wander happily from crisp portrait to kitchen shot to mountain vista. The functional groupings following the table of contents are brilliant - to dazzle guests, child-friendly recipes to make together, campfire baking, whole grains, celiac recipes and so on. Want recipes using sweet potatoes, or something to use up puff pastry? Use the index.
There's a straightforward bread lesson, explaining why a slow rise in a cool place produces better tasting bread that can be made around your schedule. Snowshoe Breads, a favourite of mine from Flatbreads and Flavours, is reworked in an improved version to brown the top. I love the Bread Baker's Fruit Tart - rinsing the rhubarb as directed reduces the tartness, meaning you need much less sugar. This book will join the other books by Alford and Duguid on my everyday cookbook shelf, but for now, is out on the table because it's too alluring to put away!
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Format: Hardcover
While I'm not as accomplished a baker and reviewer as others who have written here, I have done a good amount of baking, which has been pretty successful. The two recipes I've tried from this book, however, have both presented problems. The Russian apple pancake took much, much longer to bake on the stove than the recipe indicated, and the gingerbread was just a failure -- done on the outside, doughy on the inside. My conclusion is that the recipes are not that reliable for this home baker, although I will continue to try others, encouraged by the excellent reviews the book has gotten.
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Format: Hardcover
I kind of have to take exception to the previous review that described this as a good introduction to baking; in some ways it's a mile wide and a foot deep, covering baking from all over the world without really going in depth. I don't see anything wrong with that, but it does change the apparent focus of the book. Now, the review.

Alford and Duguid first came to my attention as contributors on Julia Child's last great series, Baking with Julia, in the late 1990s. For the most part, they were her flatbread specialists on the show, and while it's hardly their focus, flatbreads do get a whole chapter in this book (along with an entirely different chapter on skillet breads). What this book excels at is the startling variety of baking-related cultural microcosms it presents, in the form of recipes, essays, and photography -- as I type this sentence, for example, two facing pages present a roomful of loaves proofing in a bakery in Crete and a series of salt evaporation pools in France, and other parts of the book include authors' remniscences of growing up and their travels, as well as product shots of styles of baked goods as varied as Amish pies, Montreal bagels, French pissaladière, and Vietnamese baguettes.

The necessary technical data is all there, but also an entire specialized recipe index with the recipes categorized by occasion. The downside here, if there is one, is the above-mentioned diversity -- by showing a couple recipes from here, a couple recipes from there, the book does not wind up going in depth into any particular style of baking. To the extent that this is true, it doesn't really represent a real problem, except perhaps to a beginning baker who might need more of a focus on the basics.
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