Cooking the Books: Baked goods and Tex-Mex soul food form the heart of this month’s offerings

Get your copy of Sunday Star tomorrow, Feb 9, for a 25% discount on AllanBakes Really Good Cakes and Ama: A Modern Tex-Mex Kitchen. Look for the coupon in StarLifestyle.

AllanBakes Really Good Cakes

Author: Allan Albert Teoh

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Cuisine

Price: RM94.90

Originally published in 2012, this is a new edition of popular self-taught Singaporean baking guru Allan Albert Teoh’s classic Really Good Cakes.

Teoh is a well-known personality who has even mentored the winner of reality TV show Junior MasterChef Australia in 2012.

The book is filled with old-fashioned, everlasting recipes like chocolate sponge cake, grapefruit chiffon cake, pandan chiffon cupcakes with coconut frosting, and candied ginger loaf.

It’s a simple, no-frills book that is designed for functionality rather than to inspire – in other words, the recipes aren’t going to inspire you to take up a career in baking or even change the way you think about cakes in any substantial way.

Also, the images haven’t aged all that well – many look dated, especially when positioned next to the new-age Instagrammable photographs thronging modern cookbooks.

But every cookbook serves a purpose and this one is designed with amateurs in mind. So if you’re looking for easy recipes to start your baking adventures, this books ticks that box.

Ama: A Modern Tex-Mex Kitchen

Authors: Josef Centeno & Betty Hallock

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Price: RM140.95

In this seminal cookbook, co-author Josef Centeno divulges the true roots of Tex-Mex food – an immigrant cuisine that arose following the mass exodus of Mexicans leaving the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution in the 20th century for better lives in the United States.

One of these emigrants was Centeno’s great-grandmother, the formidable Ama who serves as the culinary inspiration behind this book (and the namesake of Centeno’s popular Bar Ama restaurant in Los Angeles).

In their new homeland, Ama and her cohorts fashioned familiar food out of local ingredients available around them, effectively birthing Tex-Mex cuisine.

So in this cookbook, you’ll discover a string of yummy-looking meals like chilli shrimp ceviche, borracho beans (a boozy affair that just sounds divine), queso, and oven-roasted baby back ribs, all accentuated by simple descriptions of each dish.

While the book is charming and clearly formed out of passion, it is not without its faults. There are too few pictures and the recipe titles are written precariously close to the spine, which makes them near impossible to read if you’re flipping through.

Still, it is possible to overlook these details because the book offers an in-depth look at the anthropology and familial nuances surrounding the meals, serving up a rich, authentic Tex-Mex experience that few other cookbooks can match.

Bake To Impress: 100 Show-Stopping Cakes & Desserts

Author: Christian Humbs

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley

Price: RM89.95

German pastry chef Christian Humbs pulls out all the stops in this hedonistic cookbook devoted to the sweeter things in life.

From sachertortes to red wine cake with Chantilly cream, chocolate bundt cake, carrot cake, and rum babas to Swedish almond cakes – there is an assortment of decadent temptations to tantalise and tempt.

The cookbook does have a strong European slant in keeping with Humbs’ German heritage, so although you’ll still see recipes for common desserts like doughnuts and blueberry cake, equally you will discover new and previously unknown things like French millefuille cake and German fruited rye loaf.

Also, the pictures are a little sedate and don’t have the vibrant appeal or carefully-styled properties of many modern cookbooks.

Still, if you’re after sweet treats with an international appeal designed to suit all sorts of occasions, this book offers literally 100 different options.

Interested in cooking? Download Kuali app to get more recipes at your fingertips.
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baking , cookbooks , recipes , desserts , cakes , Tex-Mex


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