Nothing says birthday, holiday or even casual get-together quite like a piece of cake. Indeed, across the globe, cake represents friendship and celebration, a fact made manifest in Krystina Castella's "A World of Cake." The book reveals cake-baking traditions from medieval England to modern-day Tokyo and divulges the secrets to making perfect kransekake (Scandinavia), croquembouche (France) and rehrurcken (Austria).
Castella opens with a "Cake Walk," in which she explores cake history, culture and language. Readers will learn that many ancient civilizations prepared cakes as offerings for the gods. As soon as sugar and spice found their way to Europe, cake-making exploded in popularity, branching out to become one of the most varied and ubiquitous culinary activities in the world.
The book's chapters correspond to regions of the globe: North America, Latin America, The British Isles, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, the far East, Southeast Asia and Australia and New Zealand. In each chapter, family trees show how different cakes evolved and recipes inspire everything from Sachertorte, Pan de Muerto and King Cake to more exotic fare like Kanafeh and Sugared-Flower Hwajeon.
Beautifully photographed, this book provides hours of browsing entertainment. Unfortunately, readers may not want to take the book from living room to kitchen. As other reviewers have noted (amazon.com), many recipes have dubious proportions; the genoise base of Frog Cake, for example, calls for 12 eggs to 1 1/3 cups flour, a ratio producing not cake but egg soup! Additionally, Castella often varies traditional recipes, rendering them inauthentic. Yucca cake from Brazil, for example, uses coconut milk, not cow's milk as this book's recipe indicates.
An excellent, superficial coffee table book but lacking the substance and proper instruction of a well-written cookbook.
It's a great book full of fun, easy to follow recipes to try accompanied with lots of colourful photos! I would highly recommend this book to anyone that has a sweet tooth.
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