Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World (Artisan, $40), by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, is so rich with people, places, and stories that you might be tempted to spare this extraordinary book from kitchen smears and splotches. But that would be a mistake. The globetrotting authors’ easy-to-follow recipes are too good to miss. Some, like savory Bangkok waffles with dried shrimp and cilantro or cardamom-scented Persian butter cookies, infuse familiar forms with exotic flavors, while other recipes are winning takes on homey classics. The apple pie is a simple delight: the pastry needs no rolling; half is pressed into a pan for the crust and half is crumbled over the apple filling. The point here, as in all the recipes, is not to fuss but to take pleasure in making something wonderful to eat.