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Dark Rye and Honey Cake: Festival Baking from Belgium, the Heart of the Low Countries

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by Regula Ysewijn
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This captivating mix of history and recipes from the European Low Countries brings into focus baking traditions that many Americans might vaguely sum up as waffles and speculaas but which are much richer.

Regula Ysewijn, a Belgian food writer, has previously been best known for similar treatments of British baking (Pride and Pudding and The British Baking Book). In this account, she uses the religious calendar, starting with Christmas,to show how baking is a part of everyday life.

After an introduction which describes the region’s history and the differing ethnic and cultural groups who reside there, Ysewijn deals immediately with the inescapable waffle, providing recipes from different centuries and cities to show its evolution under the influence of various cultural forces.

There are savory as well as sweet baked goods here, from pretzels and ring breads to twice-baked rusks and a range of fried doughs, pies, and spiced cookies and breads. A tart filled with a puree of dried pears struck us as distinctive, as did a cinnamon bun which, if blessed by a priest, was purported to prevent rabies.

A rewarding focus.

Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.

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