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A World of Cake

Dec 11, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose

WORLD.jpg

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.

Krystina Castella is a writer, profession designer, and professor of art at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Is it any wonder that her book would be of such unique presentation?!

My favorite design element, is the graphic representation of a particular cake family in the form of a family tree bearing leaves which present all the related members. An example is on page 193 which features the Cheesecake Family Tree. Here each leaf describes a different cheesecake style. The color of the leaf indicates from what part of the world the cake can be found. If the recipe is contained in the book the page number also appears on the leaf. Several other family trees, which brilliantly serve to present, at a glance, the relationship and evolution of the particular type of cake, range from the Sponge Cake Family to the Meringue Family.

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The book is divided into 14 chapters, each representing a different part of the world from North America to Australia and New Zealand.

I haven't baked anything from this book but of course my first question to the author was regarding the flour, i.e. what type was used and how it was measured. The answer is unless cake flour was indicated, she used unbleached all-purpose flour and measured it by the dip and sweep method (dipping the cup into the flour bin and sweeping off the excess with a straight blade).

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.

If you'd like a preview of the author presenting her cake concepts, click on this beautifully produced video and I'll need say no more.

Comments

i bought this book when i came out and just now i had a chance to browse it page by page. it is VERY informative! now i can put the puzzles together from my multi cultural and often confusing upbringings. thx for sharing.

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Thank you CharlesT. I baked 2 pumpkin breads yesterday so I'll experiment and freeze one of them this morning. Thank you for your help

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I'm sure you can.....I've frozen individual slices of cake and thawed them one by one as needed. All of these things are made pretty much of the same stuff. You probably need to wrap things in foil that you're going to keep for a while. The last batch of dinner rolls that I made, I put most of them in the freezer and used them for a month, mostly to snack on. They did have a bit of freezer burn towards the end, but I did dump them all into the same bag at once, and no foil.

I would think you'd need to let them come close to room temperature before freezing.

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Charles, can you freeze quick breads? And, how soon after baking can they be frozen? Thanks

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missyjean
missyjean in reply to comment from Jenn
12/14/2010 05:37 PM

Oh, I definitely will Jenn! And, like my first pie, I'm sure I will be posting my progress ;)

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You shouldn't refrigerate bread, but freezing works well. I slice the bread after baking and drop them into individual freezer bags.

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I think it's worth trying MJ. It's fairy inexpensive anyway, even if you don't like it. I have failed many breads - just failed one last weekend LOL. Mostly through my own faults (water too hot, accidentally adding the yeast on top of salt), but I still bake 2 bread every weekend.

And please let me know how it turns out. I'd love to hear if your opinion is the same/different!

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missyjean
missyjean in reply to comment from Jenn
12/14/2010 04:53 PM

Really?! Then this is something I will have to add to my bucket list ;) It would be nice to have fresh bread for lunch. Nothing is better than homemade bread and cakes

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MJ, there's only 2 of us as well and it took us about 4 days to finish a loaf of bread (2 slices each a day). The bread survive through refrigeration. I
know in many cookbooks (including TBB I think) it's a big no-no, but I can't make bread every day so we find a middle ground. We store the bread in a container and it still taste good on day 4 (sometimes day 5). The flavor and texture deteriorates of course but it's still pretty good. I do find that whole wheat (white whole wheat) bread doesn't deteriorate as fast.

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missyjean
missyjean in reply to comment from Jenn
12/14/2010 04:02 PM

Wow, Jenn, that is VERY impressive! I haven't made any breads yet and only baked with yeast one time ( a kuchen recipe walked me through it). I think the reason I don't bake bread is because we are only 2 people and we each eat no more than 2 slices per day. I did bake a Rosemary and Olive batter bread when I made an Italian meal for company but that is all, so far.

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Rose, would you ever come up with a bread book (bread recipes) that uses more whole wheat? We're trying to eat more whole wheat and so I've been baking from other cookbooks instead of your TBB (right now I'm trying the whole wheat/grain recipes from Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a day).

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MJ, I've made chocolate croissant, cinnamon rolls, Challah, lean bread (sort of regular french baguette), Ciabatta (100% bread flour), whole wheat Ciabatta (100% whole wheat), partially whole wheat Ciabatta (50% whole wheat, 50% bread flour),many seed bread (a favorite - it contains pumpkin, sunflower, flax, poppy, and sesame seeds). The many seed bread is written to use mostly bread flour, but I even substituted it with white whole wheat flour and it turned out better (not as big but tastier).

I really like his Challah too - though his instruction to make it 4 braided is confusing (no picture) so I use the pictures from Rose's TBB as a guide :). One of these days, I want to make Rose's Challah to see how it would compare :).

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That would be very cool, Rose. His recipe is sweeter than yours. He uses 20 oz of brown sugar and 20 oz of banana. We like sweet and that is why I glaze many of your cakes. I glazed the Whipped Cream Cake with a mixture of confectioners sugar, heavy cream and vanilla. I made it twice last week. Now, that is my very favorite cake!

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Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from CharlesT
12/14/2010 10:13 AM

thanks charles. i was thrilled as i love cook's illustrated so was particularly pleased. i gave one as a present to chris kimball when we had dinner several months ago but believe me, if the test kitchen hadn't liked it they wouldn't have praised it.

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Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Bill
12/14/2010 10:06 AM

bill, i don't know if i mentioned this already but a few weeks ago woody and i were up til 2 am (i in ny and he in MN) measuring flours using different methods and OMG NONE was the same two times in a row. and to think how quick, easy, and reliable weighing is! why why why? i'm so pleased by those of you who have "gotten religion."

on another note, missyjean, i love peter reinhart as a colleague, a person, and a baker. he actually asked me if he would have permission to copy my use of charts in his book! what a guy. his recipes are fantastic. now i have to check out his banana bread and see how it compares to mine.

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I've been away from my computer for a bit...so I'm chiming in a little late on the whole weights vs. cups issue. I was baking from a recipe in the big Yellow Gourmet book. The ingredient amounts are given in cups, but I usually just use the charts in the cake bible and weigh. There are instructions in the back of the book as to how to measure the flour. Listen to this one: "if the recipe calls for sifted flour, first sift it into a bowl, THEN spoon it into a cup. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! there is no collumn in the book for such a procedure, nor should there be. The recipe called for "sifted cake flour" So I dutifully sifted my cake flour into a bowl, spooned it into a cup, and then weighed it, just out of curiosity. 105 grams. I just rolled my eyes and made the cake (It wasn't good).

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Rose, your cake strips got a nice plug in the most recent Cooks Illustrated.

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missyjean
missyjean in reply to comment from Jenn
12/13/2010 07:37 PM

I've seen that book but I haven't gotten into making breads yet; although, I do have TBB, which has a really good recipe for a loaf version of the Apple Crumb Cake in RHC. Do you like how his bread comes out?

In Reinhart's Crust And Crumb, he gives his master recipe for quick breads and for muffins. He offers suggestions for variations. I always embellish my quick breads with a glaze or a syrup. His recipe is sweet enough ( he recipe calls for 20 oz of brown sugar) but the glaze gives it an even better flavor, IMO

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MJ, LOL! I only have his "Artisan Bread Every Day" - I love it because the recipes are fast and easy.

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Duh!! The book is titled CRUST AND CRUMB (obviously, I am too accustomed to an edit feature)

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Thank you Jenn, I know, I have his book Curst And Crumb and make his Master Recipe Banana Bread. It is that recipe that propelled me into baking because everyone who tasted it said I should open a bakery. Every bite of that bread is delicious.

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MJ, Peter Reinhart also use weights.

Rose, you have trained us well, I too feel lost without weight measurement.

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Yes, I feel the same about recipes & weights. When I see a cookbook without them, I feel like it is just so ... irresponsible & remiss. On the rare occasions that I make a recipe without weights, I look up the ingredient in a Rose recipe and get its weight from there!

I'd still enjoy looking at this book for cake cultural interest!

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Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from missyjean
12/12/2010 11:28 PM

and i am with both of you--but then you all know how i feel about weights versus volume! i can't say enough. still this book is inspiring.

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I'm with Charles. I am trying to collect the best baking books I can find. four of which are yours, Rose ;) but I really want my baking books to use weight measurements. The only exception to that is Julia Child's books.

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Looks like an interesting book, but the author doesn't give weights.....

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As such a big fan of "The Cake Bible" this looks like it may also have some interesting ideas and recipes that I might like to try. Perhaps I could drop a hint to my husband for a Christmas gift. Thanks for your review. Lynda Crombie

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