These book reviews are some of my favorite cake books! I love looking at the pictures and reading the descriptions of how to make these works of art.
Book reviews are pretty subjective, so I know that the books I review will be ones that I already like and most likely own! So far in my reading/studying of many cake related books, I really haven't found one that is too terrible! Of course, I do like books!
The Cake Mix Bible
The Cake Mix Bible (2005, no author listed) is an incredible cake book for cake bakers that use a box mix for their cakes. Most of the recipes start out with the type of cake mix needed for the recipe. The recipes then have the additional ingredients needed to make a tasty cake! The Cake Mix Bible includes pictures of most of the completed recipe. The pictures make me want to pull out the stops and start baking something! There are “more than 175 incredible recipes.” (front cover)
The recipe I am currently drooling over is called “Deep Dish Mocha Tiramisu.” I love tiramisu! The recipe calls for “creamy coffee filling and espresso sauce." The recipes for those are given in the book, as well. It looks delicious and the recipe doesn't seem to hard to make.
The beginning of the cake book has information about measuring, baking pans, preparing pans, baking, cooling, storing, freezing, frosting, and special decorating equipment. The Cake Mix Bible then goes into piping techniques, garnishing, melting chocolate, and serving.
This book has classic cake recipes, cakes for kids, cookies, bar cookies, other types of desserts, holiday treats and special occasion cakes.
This is a good, solid cake book with easy to understand directions. The recipes are ones that would be used by anyone looking to add some pizazz to a standard box cake mix. The cakes shown in the book are not couture cakes by any means, but they all look delicious!
The Well-Decorated Cake
The Well-Decorated Cake written by Toba Garrett (2004) I borrowed this book from the library and instantly knew I had to own it. I bought my copy and have been reading and re-reading it. Toba Garrett is a “master cake designer and sugar craft artist.” (Garrett, 176) This cake book includes recipes, a cake gallery, and instructions on how to master different techniques in cake decorating. She starts out discussing decorating tools and continues with the different types of frosting and how to apply them. This book is really for every level of cake decorator. It lists for only $14.95, which I think it is worth every penny spent on it.
Garrett shows how to make beautiful flowers. I especially like her roses. They look so real I can almost smell the rose fragrance just looking at the pictures! She explains how to use gumpaste, royal icing, and buttercream frosting. The Well-Decorated Cake is a comprehensive cake book. It covers so many topics and has great pictures illustrating the techniques she is teaching. If you are not familiar with her, you should check out this book.
Hello Cupcake! (2008) by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson is a fun cupcake book. They create an assortment of cupcakes using different types of candies to achieve the different looks of the cupcakes. At the beginning of the book, they show how to create expressions for faces on cupcakes ranging from wild to nice. The essential tools are shown and identified. They describe the design materials as sprinkleables. Using candies called designables , cuttables and rollables you can create so many amazing cupcakes.
They describe how to fill the cupcake pans with batter using a ziplock bags and how you how to frost a cupcake using an off-set spatula. The instructions are detailed and have pictures and templates to go with the designs for the cupcakes.
A section for recipes for cake-mix cupcakes, homemade cupcakes and various frostings is toward the back of the book. Also included is a section for places to order supplies. I always like this section because I can usually look the sources up online and check them out.
The cupcake design that really caught my eye is called Garden Party. At my house, we have been filling flats with dirt and starting our plants for our garden. It is so fun to check their progress daily. So when I saw these sweet garden themed cupcakes, I fell in love with them.
The Garden Party cupcakes have a chocolate cookie crumb coating over the frosting so it resembles dirt. On top of each cupcake is a vegetable: radishes made from a vanilla and a red fruit chew with green frosted corn flakes for the leaves, peas made from green fruit chews and green candy-coated chocolates and green licorice laces, carrotes made from orange fruit chews and green fruit chews for the carrot tops., lettuce made from green fruit chews and green frosted corn flakes. On a few of the cupcakes are shovels and seeds and seed packet signs made from various candies.
There are so many creative designs in this cake book and instructions on how to make them, that you could use them for a jumping off point to create your own fabulous designs!
Romantic Wedding Cakes
Romantic Wedding Cakes by Kerry Vincent. Romantic Wedding Cakes is a wonderful wedding cake album complete with instructions. The pictures are excellent and the cakes have detailed instructions on how to make all of the intricate decorations for them.
I would recommend this particular cake book for a cake decorator with more advanced skills. Kerry Vincent makes the detailed decorations look easy, but I think they are a bit time consuming. This is not a beginners book, unless one just likes to look at the pictures and do a bit of dreaming and a lot of practicing! The cakes and decorations are very inspirational to the decorating spirit.
In the back of the book, she has a variety of templates to help accomplish the decorations. In addition, along with each cake is a list of equipment needed for the design, the type of cake needed, the amount of each color of gumpaste needed, and the colors of lustre dust and other food colorings needed. I appreciate the lists since it helps me to get everything together (and makes me take inventory to see if I need to purchase a piece of equipment) before I start the project.
One project that has really captured my eye and imagination is called Pretty Petals – Precious Pastels. It features pretty roses atop a fondant covered cake. The roses are the part that, at first glance, pulled me in to read more. The roses are striped and polka dotted. I couldn't figure out how that was done, until I read more. The stripes and polka dots are applied using stencils and lustre dust. For these roses, she used medium and large rose petal cutters and applied the technique to each petal before constructing the rose. These roses were not done with one of the five petal rose cutters. Each petal was cut and decorated individually. This type of attention to detail makes these roses time consuming to make, but they are gorgeous and slightly whimsical. I love them!
Attention to details and attention to the overall presentation of the cakes make Kerry Vincent the superstar in the cake decorating world.