cover image Damon Lee Fowler's New Southern Baking: Classic Flavors for Today's Cook

Damon Lee Fowler's New Southern Baking: Classic Flavors for Today's Cook

Damon Lee Fowler, . . Simon & Schuster, $26 (360pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-5058-0

Cookbook author and food historian Fowler believes "each recipe tells a story." Happily for readers, the author of Classical Southern Cooking and New Southern Kitchen is an excellent storyteller. With focused intensity and depth of knowledge, Fowler presents a rich, colorful and amusing overview of Southern baking from historical, cultural and social perspectives. In engaging prose, Damon traces the influences of Southern mamas; African-American domestic workers and cooks; English, German and French settlers; and Native Americans in his introduction, while his chapter openers delve deeper into specifics, distinguishing between, say, soft winter wheat and red summer wheat and the different flours derived from them. Educational and enticing recipes for quick breads, cookies, cakes, pies, pastries and breads include detailed instructions and tips. The stories, appearing mostly in the recipes' head notes, range from personal to technical, detailing, for example, the origins of Mrs. Hill's Crumpets, small, airy, yeast-leavened buns derived from an 1867 cookbook; Pecan Upside-Down Cake, a cross between upside-down cakes (derived from French tarte tatin) and monkey bread (a sweet, pecan-studded biscuit); and the secret to MaMa's moist Coconut Cake (from Fowler's maternal grandmother). This cookbook is a treat, equally satisfying to cook from or to read. Photos. Agent, Goodman Associates . (Oct.)