Con­nected by Bak­ing

SAVEUR - - Editor’s Note -

AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, WHEN MUCH

of the world is muted, hushed, and hi­ber­nat­ing, bak­ers ev­ery­where are in over­drive. The rich scents of choco­late, cin­na­mon, and toasted nuts pour out of our home kitchens on the reg­u­lar, and bak­eries dec­o­rate more cakes and box more cook­ies than in any other sea­son. Even if you don’t con­sider your­self a baker (though I know for a fact there is one dor­mant in each of us—we just need the right teacher to bring it out), the magic of shar­ing, eat­ing, and gath­er­ing around cakes, cook­ies, and breads is uni­ver­sal.

In this is­sue, we used a baker’s per­spec­tive to trans­port you to kitchens and shops around the world where sweet and sa­vory baked goods are prized and their tra­di­tions are main­tained. We go to the fields where beloved bak­ing in­gre­di­ents are grown with painstak­ing care (see “The Car­damom Cow­boy,” page 82). In “The Vil­lage Baker and His Pretzels” (page 94), writer Ben Crair ob­serves the crit­i­cal minu­tiae of mak­ing Bavar­ian soft pretzels, which one mas­ter baker in Ger­many is de­ter­mined to keep pure by way of a wild sour­dough and 12 gen­er­a­tions of fam­ily knowl­edge. In an­other cor­ner of the world, writer Ste­fanie El­lis ex­plores the strik­ingly beau­ti­ful craft of wa­gashi (“The Wa­gashi Artist,” page 29), a type of tiny Ja­panese con­fec­tion with stun­ning names and in­tri­cate con­struc­tions. And in “The Brit­tle In­va­sion” (page 48)—a kitchen tu­to­rial about a treat that spans food cul­tures, from China to Mex­ico to Aus­tralia—genevieve Ko re­minds us that a sim­ple candy can be a can­vas for cre­ativ­ity around the world.

If sa­vory bak­ing is more your game, Jeff Koehler’s ode to Spain’s salt-baked seafood (page 54) or our own to the mas­sive French- Cana­dian meat pie called the ci­paille (page 42) will give you plenty of projects to tackle this win­ter.

Of course, we’ve only skimmed the sur­face of sam­pling the world’s best baked goods and meet­ing its di­verse range of bak­ers. And yet, as it turns out, from In­dia to Rus­sia to Lan­caster, Penn­syl­va­nia, the kitchens we vis­ited, the foods we tasted, and the ri­tu­als we wit­nessed have more in com­mon than not. No mat­ter where you are, rolling pins pound­ing out dough and sugar mix­ing into but­ter sound re­mark­ably fa­mil­iar (but the lat­ter some­how tastes best in Paris: see the Dou­ble Choco­late and Candiedgin­ger Cook­ies on page 113). Flour sticks to an apron and vanilla ex­udes the same in­tox­i­cat­ing fra­grance whether you’re in Ar­gentina, Eng­land, or Italy. No mat­ter where we go, bak­ing is a means of ex­press­ing love and care. And by tak­ing part, we’re far more alike than we are dif­fer­ent.

Crumb cake, a nos­tal­gic treat with pos­si­ble ori­gins in Ger­many, can be fla­vored any which way. Turn to page 38 for this cran­berry, al­mond, and oat vari­a­tion.

STACY ADIMANDO Ex­ec­u­tive Ed­i­tor Fol­low Stacy on In­sta­gram and Twit­ter: @sta­cy_adi­mando

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