Thursday, March 1, 2007

Baker's Profile

Nick Malgieri

Nick Malgieri

Imagine traveling the globe collecting recipes for decadent desserts and prized baked treats. That's the enviable avocation of our featured baker, Nick Malgieri. A professional baker for more than thirty years, Nick collected recipes from 39 countries—most of which he visited personally—and shares them in his award-winning cookbook, A Baker's Tour. His mission: to bring the world of baking to American home bakers. "Baked goods know no national boundaries," Nick says. "They are as at home right here in the United States as they are in their country of origin."

Representing North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, the recipes in the cookbook include Nick's personal favorites as well as traditional national recipes such as Lebanese Mamoul, pistachio-filled butter cookies. "Cookies are truly international, not to mention popular," Nick says. "In fact, every country has so many varieties that it was difficult to choose among those available." With their light, buttery texture and a surprise crunch hidden within, Mamoul add an exotic twist to a familiar classic.

Mamoul are traditionally made in carved wooden molds, but Nick saves you a trip to a specialty baking store, instead recreating the effect by piercing each cookie with a fork. "Sometimes you have to take foreign baking methods and find common American substitutes that provide the same result," he says.

Norwegian Princess Cream Cake

More ambitious bakers may want to attempt the Prinsessens Kramkake, or Norwegian Princess Cream Cake, for a spring celebration such as a wedding shower or graduation party. As elegant as it is delicious, this traditional cake is a very special way to honor a guest or hostess.

A few of the ingredients in A Baker's Tour may be unfamiliar to American bakers. Good news: Nick includes ingredient explanations (and substitutions) and preparation guidelines in the book's introduction. His tips give even novice bakers the confidence to create international specialties at home.

With a familiar ingredient, brown sugar, Nick prefers letting each baker choose dark or golden brown according to personal preference. Note that the molasses flavor is much more pronounced in C&H Pure Cane Dark Brown Sugar than it is in C&H Golden Brown.

To explore more of the world of baking, pay a visit to Nick's website, where he posts a new recipe every month and invites readers to send him their baking questions.

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