Baking and dessert cookbooks

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Perfect your cupcakes and pastries with the best baking cookbooks

Warm Bread and Honey Cake

Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra Pavilion, £25

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Bakery recipes go straight to the heart of a cuisine. They bookend both ends of the edible spectrum: at one end the basic staff of life, in the form of plain, everyday flatbreads or sourdough loaves, and at the other, the most indulgent and extravagant special-occasion and celebration cakes. This book brings together that whole spectrum, and layers it all richly with well researched historical reference.

The author is Guyanese, of Hindu ancestry, educated in North America and married into a Dutch Jewish family. She is also a respected food historian, so she ably puts this collection of recipes from the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas into a historical context, all the while enticing the reader with the conjured-up aromas and flavours of coconut, chocolate, honey and spices.

There are carefully written recipes for Indian-style flatbreads, intricate Dutch-style festive cakes, Chinese moon cakes and Turkish-style yoghurt cakes, as well as old British favourites such as lardy cake, and a whole chapter on chocolate cakes.

Recipes such as that for layered ‘drunken’ apple cake, which is Chilean-German in origin, and Azorean spice cake (the Portuguese went to Guyana, via Madeira and the Azores, as labourers in the sugar industry), trace the complicated patterns of emigration that food so plainly reflects.

There are savoury recipes, too, such as Caribbean chicken patties, Hungarian cheese and parsley buns and Turkish pide, topped with minced lamb or beef, as well as sumptuous photography. An intelligent and beautiful book that rewards both reading and eating.

Susan Low, Time Out London Issue 2066: March 25-31 2010

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