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. 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.
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