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A Baker's Odyssey: Celebrating…

A Baker's Odyssey: Celebrating Time-Honored Recipes from…

by Greg Patent

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(Alistair) I like to bake. More specifically, I like to bake interesting things, and since there's a whole world of interesting things out there, I like finding out about them and especially how to make them.

Thus, for me, this is an awesome food book. A Baker's Odyssey advertises itself, on its cover, to be "celebrating time-honored recipes from America's rich immigrant heritage".

Which it does very well indeed. It includes recipes coming from 30 cultures, from Australian Lamingtons to Swedish Mazariner, Hungarian Piskóta to Syrian Kleecha, Chinese Jian Bing to Mexican Buñuelos. Myself, I was very pleased to find quite a lot of mouthwatering - quite literally, as I was reading it - dishes that I was not previously familiar with, even by name, and I look forward to cooking them immensely. The recipes given are very thorough and easy to follow, so there should be no great difficulty there.

(I will confess that I have not viewed very much of the DVD that comes along with it, yet, but from what I have seen of the technique demonstrations thereon, it's pretty useful in respect of technique demonstration, too.)

I was also rather pleased to find, at the front, a reference to the bakers from whom the author learnt the recipes, with a paragraph of "mini-biography" about each one. Always nice to have the context to place them in, I find.
( http://weblog.siliconcerebrate.com/cerebrate/2008/03/a-bakers-odyssey-greg-paten... ) ( )
  libraryofus | Apr 11, 2008 |
"A Baker's Odyssey" is thick with recipes of all kinds---fried sweet pastries and doughs, flatbreads, savory & sweet pastries, yeast breads & pies (both sweet and savory), cookies, cakes, tortes, and more.

There are plenty of notes on ingredients, which is incredibly helpful given that, for example, you might not have worked with lard before. Mr. Patent even includes instructions for rendering your own so it'll be of better quality than that found in your average grocery. There are also plenty of notes on equipment; just because these are traditional recipes doesn't mean you have to forgo modern convenience appliances!

A Baker's Odyssey includes recipes from all over the world---Kahk from Iraq; Puff Puff from Nigeria; Casatelli from Italy; Lebanese pita; Norwegian lefse; and on and on. I'd say that hands-down the biggest hit out of the recipes we've made so far was the Kachauri, fried flatbreads stuffed with a spiced split pea mixture. Cheese Sambouseks were quite popular as well---pockets stuffed with an egg-and-cheese mixture. We made a delightful whole wheat oatmeal bread as well as the tasty, crunchy little Kahk nibbles.

The recipes are clear and easy to read. So far I've only found one editing snafu (two slightly different sets of instructions to divide up a dough in one paragraph, such that it took a moment to realize I wasn't supposed to try to divide up the dough multiple times) and it was easily recognized and dealt with. All in all, I expect this will become one of our more treasured bread books. I just love being able to try out the vast wealth of recipes from around the world.

View full review at ErrantDreams. ( )
  errantdreams | Jan 23, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0764572814, Hardcover)

"In this book, I'm embarking on a different path, focusing on finding recipes that preserve the tastes and memories of a long-departed place."
Greg Patent

A Baker's Odyssey is a rich collection of recipes and culinary history, all gleaned from Patent's exhaustive research in the American home kitchens of immigrants from around the world. Through his travels across the country, Patent learned the secrets to traditional baked goods originating from thirty-two different nations. From Scotland and Austria to India and Thailand to Mexico, Norway, and West Africa, the recipes represent the best of each culture's beloved culinary traditions. Chapters are organized by categories of baked goods, and include Fried Pastries and Doughs, Flatbreads and More, Savory Pastries, Sweet Pastries, Savory Yeast Breads and Pies, Sweet Yeast Breads, Cookies and Cookie-Like Pastries, and Dessert Cakes, Tortes, and Pies. Patent provides detailed information on the origin of each recipe and its ingredients, and gives a real sense of the cultural heritage behind each dish. Recipes are easy enough for home cooks of any level to master, and include everything from Jewish Matzoh, Eastern European Rugelach, and Sweet Irish Soda Bread to Russian Meat Piroshki, Italian Pignoli Cookies, and Chinese-Style Almond Sponge Cake. The book is accompanied by an hour-long DVD in which Patent provides hands-on instruction in making Strudel, Pretzels, Cannoli, Kransakake, and much more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:21 -0400)

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