What's missing from today's cookbooks?

With the number of cookbooks released every year on a wide variety of topics, it can be difficult to imagine that there are subject areas that aren't being fully explored. However, a recent tweet from the NYC cookbook store Kitchen Arts & Letters caught my eye because it discussed this very concept. KAL posted that there weren't enough recipes for crackers in cookbooks: 

screenshot

Off the top of my head, I could only recall one recipe for such a cracker in my cookbook collection - one for Lavash crackers in Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. If you discount the recipes for graham crackers, there are only about 20 total in my 200+ cookbooks. Even though there are over nine thousand baking books in the EYB Library, a mere 55 have an emphasis on crackers, and with a few exceptions (like Ivy Manning's Crackers & Dips), most are older or not highly regarded books. 

This line of thought led me to ponder what other subjects might be missing from cookbooks. Staying with the cracker theme, I've searched high and low for a great graham cracker recipe. The few I've seen and tried were much softer and chewier than what I was searching for. There have been a couple in recent books like BraveTart that I haven't yet attempted - perhaps one of them will be "the one". 

posset

Another item I would like to see more of is posset. There are only 138 book recipes for posset, what I believe to be an extremely under-rated dessert. Not only is it delicious, it couldn't be simpler! Maybe that is one reason for paucity of recipes - cookbook writers assume that everyone already knows how to make it, or they don't feel they can improve upon it.  

What foods or techniques do you find lacking in cookbooks? Jenny wrote about her cookbook dreams in January, what are yours?

Photo of Kaffir lime posset with fresh papaya by Yotam Ottolenghi

5 Comments

  • riley  on  8/18/2018 at 12:59 AM

    I totally agree with crackers. The first season I saw of The Great British Baking Show they made crackers that sounded delicious. Ever since I saw that episode I have wanted more cracker recipes.

  • tui  on  8/18/2018 at 3:36 AM

    What I would love to see is a book with recipes that serve 10 to 20 people on a casual or family occasion. There are serious catering books that give recipes for very large groups, but they are designed for weddings and other special occasions. I have searched without success for recipes that will feed up to 20 people and are simple to prepare, don't break the bank, and can be prepared by a home cook who won't end up exhausted.

  • wester  on  8/18/2018 at 6:10 AM

    @tui: Ferran Adria s the family meal has quite simple menus for 2, 6, 20 or 50 people. The book is based on what he feeds his staff.

  • LizyB  on  8/18/2018 at 7:51 AM

    Love this recipe to use unfed sourdough (for which I have devised several variations): https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sourdough-crackers-recipe

  • mjes  on  8/18/2018 at 7:09 PM

    After taking a class on crackers, I went looking for cookbooks specializing in crackers with limited success. Then I started searching for crackers I'd learned in class - do a search on "parchment bread". Yup, the problem is not only a lack of recipes but also that they aren't named "crackers". I've found a number of cracker recipes in flat bread cookbooks.

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