To research the new book Kaffeehaus, Rick Rodgers spent two and a half years exploring the coffeehouses of Vienna, Budapest and Prague. When he emerged, it was with some badly needed alternatives to the repetitious offerings of American comfort food. Some of the recipes in his book that I loved the most are humble, such as the zucchini bread, elevated by a thin apricot glaze and a shiny layer of bittersweet chocolate. But Rodgers has written his instructions so carefully that I was also able to pull off fancy cakes like the Dobos Torte (all five layers) and even make Kipferln, the Viennese crescent rolls known in the U.S. simply as Danish. I only wish I could give all the pastry chefs in America a copy of Kaffeehaus just to see what they would do with the Austro-Hungarian-Czech flavor palette. Would warm poppy seed madeleines and sour-cherry sorbets start appearing on menus?
--Jane Sigal