Synopses & Reviews
What's a cake? If you're living in the United States, a cake is a sweet, often layered dessert treat, usually frosted and served at a celebration such as a birthday, a wedding, or an anniversary. In France, patisseries offer edible works of art, combining architectural skill with a facility in combining sugar and flour. China is home to the mooncake, England gives us puddings (which are often cakes ), Australia perfected the Pavlova meringue cake in honor of the Russian prima ballerina, and bite-sized fruit fritters are popular in West Africa.
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, A World Tour of Cake Holidays, and Family Trees for each kind of cake. Clear instructions, illustrations, and hundreds of color 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.
"...this book is a distinctive contribution to the world of baking, and armchair bakers will delight in flipping through the pages of this colorful and engaging volume." Library Journal
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 Epicurious.com
. . . a well researched, thoughtfully organized, almost documentary-like survey of cakes around the world by someone who has written several dessert books (Booze Cakes
, Crazy About Cupcakes
), perhaps best politely described as whimsical, was exactly -- but then again not quite -- what we expected. But this is a good book, a great one, even.
LA Weekly Blog
Chosen as Best International Baking Book in the lineup of the twenty five Best Cookbooks of 2010!
"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
"This extraordinary new cake book by Krystina Castella is a perfect gift for anyone who loves cake even if he or she doesn't plan ever to bake one. It is an in depth study of myriad cakes from all around the world. It is fascinating to see how each cake, beautifully photographed in color, reflects the history, ingredients, and technology of its culture. As a cake baker I love seeing the world through cake colored eyes.I feel somewhat remiss that my emphasis over the years has been focused mainly on flavor, texture, and personal history and less on the wider historical origins of my creations. This well-researched book will serve as a handy reference guide. It takes cakes to a whole new level of significance and presents them, both visually and historically within the context of their creation." Rose Levy Beranbaum, expert baker
An adventurous exploration of global cake culture, "A World of Cake" takes readers on a fascinating culinary, cultural journey with fun facts, clear instructions, full-color photos, and 150 recipes.
Tour the world of cake! Cakes are at the center of life's celebrations in every corner of the globe. A bite-size lamington is a treat with tea in Australia. In Africa, golden fritters bursting with sweet fruit are popular street snacks. Honey cakes celebrate new beginnings in Jewish tradition, and peach buns are a symbol of longevity in Taiwan. Fruitcakes, from Germany's stollen to Italy's panettone, are popular Christmas fare. This delectable cookbook offers more than 150 irresistible recipes accompanied by mouthwatering photographs, ideas for delicious variations, and fascinating historical and cultural facts. This is a must-have for anyone who loves making (or eating!) cake.
Travel with Krystina Castella on a sweet journey of cake discovery. Enjoyed by cultures the world over, cakes are as varied and fascinating as the pastry chefs, home bakers, and street vendors who prepare them. In France, patisseries offer edible works of art. England gives us puddings, which are really often cakes, and a bite-size lamington is a treat with tea in Australia. In Africa, golden fritters bursting with sweet fruit are popular street snacks. honey cakes celebrate new beginnings in Jewish tradition, and peach buns are a symbol of longevity in Taiwan. Fruitcakes, from Germany's stollen to Italy's panettone, are popular Christmas fare throughout much of the world.
For these desserts and many more, A World of Cake offers recipes, variations, and entertaining historical and cultural facts. Cake family trees, "world tours" of cakes served for holiday celebrations, and a centuries-long cake timeline offer fresh perspectives on cake and the place of honor it holds on the worldwide dessert table. Lovingly baked everywhere for life's special occasions, cakes are enjoyed where families and friends gather. Adopt a tradition from another country for your next cake gathering.
About the Author
Krystina Castella is a professor at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. She is the author of A World of Cake, Pops!, Crazy About Cupcakes, and Discovering Nature’s Alphabet, and she has been published in Craft magazine.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Cake Walk. A Sweet Tour of Cake History, Culture, and Language
Chapter 2: North America. Sugar and Spice and Doughnuts Are Nice
Chapter 3: Latin America. Street Sweets and Festive Quinceanera Cakes
Chapter 4: Western and Central Europe. Pastry Artistry and Cafe Culture Get Married
Chapter 5: The British Isles. Comfort Cakes and High-Society Delights
Chapter 6: Scandinavia. The Romance of Berries and Liqueur, Topped with Cream
Chapter 7: Eastern Europe. Marzipan, Gingerbread, and Other Fairy-Tale Cakes
Chapter 8: The Mediterranean. Epic Confections from Balmy Climates and Ancient Cultures
Chapter 9: Africa. Deep-Fried Nibbles and Crunchy Bananas
Chapter 10: The Middle East. Ancient Treats and Sacred Sweets
Chapter 11: The Indian Subcontinent. Milk Sweets, Dumplings, and Candy Confections
Chapter 12: The Far East. Good-for-Your-Soul Sweets
Chapter 13: Southeast Asia. Welcome to the Spice Islands
Chapter 14: Australia and New Zealand. Cakes with Character