Bake­land: Nordic Treats In­spired by Na­ture

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - RE­BECCA FOS­TER

Marit Hov­land Grey­stone Books (APRIL) Hard­cover $30 (208pp) 978-1-77164-310-8

Bake­land, the first cook­book from pho­tog­ra­pher and graphic de­signer Marit Hov­land, is full of cre­ative and im­pres­sively de­tailed sweet treats that pro­vide a “tasty trip through an en­tire year of Nor­we­gian na­ture.”

Ar­ranged by sea­son, these recipes re-cre­ate in ed­i­ble form the nat­u­ral trea­sures of Scan­di­navia. Del­i­cate mac­arons are dec­o­rated like colts­foot or blue anemone flow­ers, and the meringue peaks on a cof­fee ice cream cake re­sem­ble moun­tains. Hov­land has an eye for tiny won­ders as well as large ones: her al­mond cook­ies are shaped like siskin eggs, while the ic­ing on hazel­nut cook­ies de­picts clouds drift­ing past a win­dow.

Each treat is a work of art, re­quir­ing craft skills like sten­cil­ing and sponge print­ing as well as bak­ing prow­ess. The re­sults are as pleas­ing to the eye as they are to the palate. Hov­land’s choco­late rocks and seashells look so much like the real thing you’d hardly be­lieve you can eat them. Just as con­vinc­ing are her marzi­pan pears, nat­u­rally colored green with ground pis­ta­chios. In a few cases, the book in­cor­po­rates ac­tual ed­i­bles from na­ture, us­ing real for­get-me-nots or vi­o­lets to top cakes.

Most of the recipes rely on ev­ery­day in­gre­di­ents; a few, like car­damom buns, may in­tro­duce North Amer­i­can read­ers to less fa­mil­iar fla­vors. Where par­tic­u­lar food­stuffs could be dif­fi­cult to ob­tain, the au­thor of­fers tips and al­ter­na­tives: look for lin­gonber­ries at Ikea, or sub­sti­tute cran­ber­ries. Cer­tain treats can be made child­friendly by leav­ing out the rum or liqueur.

The trans­la­tion is never short of flaw­less, and quan­ti­ties are help­fully given in both im­pe­rial and met­ric units. With its clear in­struc­tions, gor­geous pho­to­graphs of Nor­we­gian land­scapes, and step-by-step il­lus­tra­tions of the more intricate pro­ce­dures, this is an out­stand­ing cook­book for the am­bi­tious home baker.

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