Cakes from Around The World Julie Duff
Grubb Street £14.99
Julie Duff's second book, Cakes from Around the World, is a great title for a heavily pregnant woman to read shortly before going off on maternity leave to do coffee mornings and eat cake for a few months.
But while this is definitely a book aimed at the consumer market, the increasing prevalence of tea shops and small independent delis and cafés serving cakes means it could happily serve a much wider audience in the professional kitchen.
There are large cakes, small cakes, plain cakes, fancy cakes, light cakes, rich cakes, fruit cakes, spicy cakes, coffee cakes, layered cakes and, of course, chocolate cakes. And it doesn't end there: biscuits, streusels, cheesecakes, parkins, muffins and gingerbreads are also covered.
Duff has spent the last four years - since the publication of her first book Cakes Regional and Traditional - researching recipes from Europe, the Middle East, the USA, the Far East, Latin America, South Africa and even Iceland.
The most intriguing of these must surely be tomato soup cake from Canada, which does indeed include a tin of the condensed broth in the recipe; cardamom cream cake from Pakistan, which Duff describes as a heavily scented sponge; or perhaps even the Irish gur cake, originally a peasant dish created to use up day-old bread and cakes.
But as well as the more unusual, there are also the stalwarts, from Swiss roll and Victoria sandwich to sachertorte, pavlova and Mississippi mud pie.
Peppered with simple, unpretentious pictures, this is actually more of an anthology of cakes, with each country's national dish covered and more to boot. Plenty to keep my coffee morning compatriots happy and more than a few café owners inspired too.