By Nick Malgieri
Among the latest crop of new baking books, the hands-down winner is undoubtedly "Warm Bread and Honey Cake: Home Baking from Around the World," by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra (Interlink Books).
Painstakingly researched and lovingly written, "Warm Bread" deserves a place on the bookshelf of everyone who loves to bake.
Exposed to multi-cultural influences at an early age in her native Guyana, Pagrach-Chandra developed both a love of baking and a fascination with investigating the cultural background of the recipes she collected. And though she is a winner of the prestigious Sophie Coe Prize (the Oscars of the food history world) for outstanding research, there is no high-handed academic prose here. She has written in a friendly and informative tone -- like a favorite cousin giving you the background of a family recipe and then accurately describing the steps to a perfect result.
The dizzying assortment of recipes covers everything from Indian breads through Dutch cookies to Chilean cakes.
Savory pastries occupy an important place along with traditional sweets, and there is an entire chapter devoted to leaf and thread pastries, including real Turkish baklava, strudel and shredded wheat-style kadayif.
Appetizing photos of many of the recipes are styled to look homey rather than slick and are interspersed with some location shots of baked goods in their native environment.
"Warm Bread and Honey Cake" provides not only a fascinating read but also a collection of recipes that you -- or the baker on your holiday gift list -- will return to for years to come.
Available at Amazon.com:
© Nick Maglieri