HOME BAKING: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World
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. (Nov.)
Forecast: The latest title from this award-winning duo reflects some curious choices, but their reputation and the book's esthetic value should support the 55,000-copy first printing.