Home baking may be a humble art, but its roots are deeply planted. On an island in Sweden a grandmother teaches her granddaughter how to make slagbrot, a velvety rye bread, just as she was taught to make it by her grandmother many years before. In Portugal, village women meet once each week to bake at a community oven; while the large stone oven heats up, children come running for sweet, sugary flatbreads made specially for them. In Toronto, Naomi makes her grandmother's recipe for treacle tart and Jeffrey makes the truck-stop cinnamon buns he and his father loved.
From savory pies to sweet buns, from crusty loaves to birthday cake, from old-world apple pie to peanut cookies to custard tarts, these recipes capture the age-old rhythm of turning simple ingredients into something wonderful to eat. HomeBaking rekindles the simple pleasure of working with your hands to feed your family. And it ratchets down the competitive demands we place on ourselves as home cooks. Because in striving for professional results we lose touch with the pleasures of the process, with the homey and imperfect, with the satisfaction of knowing that you can, as a matter of course, prepare something lovely and delicious, and always have a full cookie jar or some homemade cake on hand to offer.
Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid collected the recipes in HomeBaking at their source, from farmhouse kitchens in northern France to bazaars in Fez. They traveled tens of thousands of miles, to six continents, in search of everyday gems such as Taipei Coconut Buns, Welsh Cakes, Moroccan Biscotti, and Tibetan Overnight Skillet Breads. They tasted, interpreted, photographed and captured not just the recipes, but the people who made them as well. Then they took these spot-on flavors of far away and put them side by side with cherished recipes from friends and family closer to home. The result is a collection of treasures: cherry strudel from Hungary, stollen from Germany, bread pudding from Vietnam, anise crackers from Barcelona. More than two hundred recipes that resonate with the joys and flavors of everyday baking at home and around the world.
Inexperienced home bakers can confidently pass through the kitchen doors armed with Naomi and Jeffrey's calming and easy-to-follow recipes. A relaxed, easy-handed approach to baking is, they insist, as much a part of home baking traditions as are the recipes themselves. In fact it's often the last-minute recipes—semonlina crackers, a free-form fruit galette, or a banana-coconut loaf—that offer the most unexpected delights. Although many of the sweets and savories included here are the products of age-old oral traditions, the recipes themselves have been carefully developed and tested, designed for the home baker in a home kitchen.
Like the authors' previous books, HomeBaking offers a glorious combination of travel and great tastes, with recipes rich in anecdote, insightful photographs, and an inviting text that explores the diverse baking traditions of the people who share our world. This is a book to have in the kitchen and then again by your bed at night, to revisit over and over.
About Jeffrey Alford
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Published November 15, 2003