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Author Krystina Castella became intrigued by the cultural history of cake when she hosted a bake sale with the international students she teaches and each student brought a cake from his or her family's heritage. This collection of international cakes was the beginning of "A World of Cake", an adventurous exploration of global cake culture. The fascinating culinary journey includes all kinds of fun-to-read facts, such as 'A Field Guide to Cakes', 'World Tour of Cake Holidays', and 'Family Trees' for each kind of cake. Clear instructions, illustrations, and hundreds of colour photos accompany the recipes. Who knew that edification could be this much fun? Or this delicious? Including doughnuts, fritters, dumplings, milk treats, candy, and frosting, "A World of Cake" is more than a cookbook, more than an anthropology lesson, and way more fun than a textbook. Where else could readers find an entire section devoted to cakes named after famous people? With subcategories? Castella embraces the spirit of celebration with this big, must-have book for anyone who loves making, eating, or just enjoying any version of a sweet treat.
If Epicurious.com ever decided to do a cake-version of "Around the World in 80 Dishes," Krystina Castella's A World of Cake (Storey) would be a good book to have on hand. Truly global in her coverage, Castella's book is a great resource for anyone with a sweet tooth and particularly, a penchant for cakes.
The introductory chapter includes a year's worth of cake-appropriate holidays (October 2 for Gandhi's birthday; late May/early June for Lazybones Day in the Netherlands). My favorite part of the introduction is where Castella discusses cake categories: Chiffons, doughnuts, honey cakes, rice cakes, and more all have their place in the larger cake family. With 150 cake recipes showcased by region, there are some that are definitely familiar: King Cake, Black Forest Cake, Panettone, Mochi. And then there are the unfamiliar, and that's when things get really exciting. Malpuas from India, Nutmeg Cake from Armenia, Bolognese Rice Cake from Italy, Simnel from Ireland--the list goes on and on. Options for fillings, icings, and other flavors are presented with each recipe and interesting factoids about the specific recipe help put the cake in context. So if cakes have a special place in your heart and on your palate, you'll appreciate Castella's passion and knowledge about cakes and its world wide appeal.
Recipes to try:
- M'hanncha (Snake Cake) from Morocco
- Pan de Muerto from Mexico
- Vasilopita from Greece
"Pictures of marzipan-covered fruitcakes are gorgeous, and sidebars on such topics as street cakes make this an educational book in addition to a holiday workhorse."--Publisher's Weekly
Krystina Castella, a professor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena,California, was inspired to begin work on A World of Cake when a fundraising bake sale was held on campus. American students contributed the usual bake-sale treats, but the sales tables were also filled with a veritable United Nations of sweets. Foreign students had brought in cakes from all over the world, and many were far from the American concept of what "cake" looks like. Steamed rice cakes, mooncakes, corn meal cakes, tamales, fritters and tortes...these treats, and so many more, inspired Castella to learn the history of each cake, its place in the culture of its origin, what the cakes celebrated, and how they involved.
Honey cakes to flat cakes, fritters to chiffons, tartes to tortes, meringues to mooncakes, fruit cakes to spice cakes