BAKE WITH TRADITION
Sampling the bakery traditions of other cultures is a pleasure that can be enjoyed without the expense of travel. Recreating traditional recipes at home from inexpensive ingredients is often easy, and those who are less excited about getting into the kitchen can still usually sample goods from specialty bakeries at low prices. Here are 25 recipes from around the globe, savory and sweet.
BLACK FOREST CAKE
The Black Forest is a region in Germany with its own rich culinary traditions, one of which is this cake. The key is using cherry liqueur and fresh cherries (not cherry pie filling) to create deep layers of flavor.
Recipe: Bavarian Clockworks
This intricate and dense cake is a Chinese tradition to bring good luck. The ingredients are available only at specialty stores, and the process is a bit tricky, so most people buy the cakes. The good news: Because they are so dense, a small one yields a lot of servings.
Recipe: Fine Dining Lovers
BAKED PORK BUNS
Steamed buns filled with roast pork are a Cantonese specialty between savory and sweet. They can be made at home, but are very cheap to buy from Chinese bakeries -- usually $1 or less -- and can also be found frozen to be steamed at home just before eating.
Recipe: Barbara Bakes
This Egyptian cake is semolina-based and flavored with rosewater for a sweet and floral flavor. The ingredients are easy to find and the recipe is simple, making it easy to avoid marked-up prices at specialty bakeries.
This classic dessert of sweet milk custard in a simple pastry crust is ubiquitous in South Africa, but rarely found in the United States.
Recipe: Just Easy Recipes
TRES LECHES CAKE
In this Latin American treat, spongy cake gets soaked in a sweetened milk mixture and topped with a creamy frosting for an incredibly moist final result. The process is simple, but takes time.
Shokupan is a Japanese fluffy white bread that is just a touch sweet. It can be found at most Japanese bakeries on the cheap, or made at home with a simple recipe for an even better value.
Recipe: Dreams of Dashi
These mini pastries, savory and sweet variations, can be found in many Latin American countries. Argentina is credited with one of the oldest traditions of empanadas -- a simple pastry filled with a mix of beef, eggs, and other vegetables and seasonings.
Recipe: Laylita's Recipes
This casserole has many purported origins, though it is most likely it originated in Africa, made its way to the Caribbean, and eventually came to the southern United States. A simple recipe made from cheap sweet potatoes, it's also a healthy take on dessert.
Recipe: African Recipes Secrets
This lightly sweet and nutty cookie studded with pine nuts is a traditional treat from Italy. Pine nuts are a specialty ingredient that can be expensive to buy at bakeries, so buy in bulk and freeze to retain freshness.
Recipe: Taste of Home
The name of this classic English treat is misleading: It is not a dessert, but a savory popover. Inexpensive and easy to make at home, these are best enjoyed straight from the oven.
Recipe: Serious Eats
A cross between a cookie and pastry, these spiral treats hail from Israel and the Ashkenazic tradition. They can be made in different flavors -- traditionally chocolate, raspberry, and apricot -- and are inexpensive from Jewish bakeries, or made at home with a simple recipe.
Recipe: The Kitchn
German-style rye bread is denser and more flavorful than most sandwich breads common in the United States. To make it properly requires a starter, which can be difficult to find or cultivate. But find a bakery making traditional German rye and it is generally as affordable as other bakery fresh breads.
Recipe: Root Simple
TARTA DE SANTIAGO
Almonds are a popular flavoring all over the world, though this particular almond cake is a staple in Northern Spain. The ingredients and recipe are straightforward, but traditionally there's a dusting of powdered sugar around a stencil of the cross of Saint James.
Brownies are a favorite treat all over the United States that may date back to 1893 in Boston. Making brownies from scratch is cheaper than relying on boxed mixes and allows the baker to customize the flavor.
Recipe: The New York Times
Babka is a soft sweet yeast bread from Eastern Europe (that much of America learned about watching "Seinfeld" in 1994) with swirls of flavorings such as cinnamon or chocolate. It is not difficult or expensive to make, but many bakeries have become famous for especially great versions that are worth tasting.
Recipe: Bon Appétit
PORTUGUESE EGG TART
Flaky pastry on the outside and soft creamy custard on the inside, these small pastries are incredibly rich. The recipe is relatively easy and cheap -- but for for those who prefer to buy, similar egg tarts are $1 or less at Chinese bakeries.
Recipe: BBC's Good Food
These Mexican sweet breads get their name from the shell shapes usually drawn with a knife in the topping (conchas means "shells" in Spanish). The subtle sweetness of the fluffy yeast buns is good alongside coffee or tea.
This famous French pastry is loaded with rich butter to make a flaky and crisp outer layer with a soft inside. Good ones usually cost a few dollars from bakeries, which is a small price to pay to avoid the process of layering the dough with butter, or at least from seeing how much butter goes into each one.
There are many variations of this bread from many different countries. In its most basic form, roti is a round flatbread that comes from India and is a staple at all meals.
Recipe: Food Like Amma Used to Make It
This nutritious whole wheat bread from Iran comes out puffy but flat from being baked on stones, and when made at home it's best with a baking stone too -- but can be made without.
Layers of flaky filo dough, nuts, and honey make a sweet dessert that requires just a small portion to satisfy. The origin is still up in the air between Greece and Turkey, though the recipe has spread in popularity to many different cultures and all over the globe.
Recipe: Natasha's Kitchen