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Comment: Condition: Very good condition., Very good dust jacket. Previous owner's gift Inscription. / Binding: Oversized Hardback. / Publisher: Chronicle Books / Pub. Date: 2004-04-01 Attributes: Book, 144 pp / Stock#: 1096264 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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Birthday Cakes: Recipes and Memories from Celebrated Bakers Hardcover – March 25, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (March 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811840190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811840194
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 8.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pretty to look at and brimming with inspiring ideas on throwing a proper birthday fete, Kleinman's book could be equally at home on a coffee table or in kitchen. The book features 38 recipes for birthday cakes, contributed by such notable cooks as James Beard, Alice Waters, Tasha Tudor, Patricia Wells, Julia Child and others. The cakes vary from traditional to unusual, so parents looking for a kid's birthday cake will delight in Birthday Cupcakes, German Chocolate Cake and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, while sophisticated chefs will be happy to find recipes for Aunt Frances's Ricotta Cheesecake and Benoît's Upside-Down Caramelized Apple Tart. Mini-essays by the contributors accompany each recipe, and a nostalgic theme runs throughout, as Robbin Gourley recalls her Aunt Florence's "prized and famous" Jelly Roll and Elizabeth Falkner recounts how her mother always made a Lincoln Log Cake because Falkner shares Abraham Lincoln's birthday. The recipes themselves are a mixed bag; generally, they're not very detailed and leave home cooks to figure out for themselves what instructions like "Roll the cake up with the edge of the paper" mean. The photographs and layout, however, are lovely. The Comforts Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese and Coconut Frosting is a pink and white fantasy; Grandmother's Chocolate Cake is divinely simple; and the Green Cake, with its shelled pistachios and light green icing, is exquisite. Kleinman (a food and floral photographer) and Miller (Chocolate; Espresso; Salt & Pepper) offer a picturesque meditation on an annual rite.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Kathyrn Kleinman has been a dynamic part of the world of food and floral photography for over two decades. A James Beard award winner, she is the photographer of eighteen books, including the critically acclaimed Chronicle Books titles Sushi , Backyard Bou

Carolyn Miller is a writer, book editor, and award-winning poet living in San Francisco. She has written several cookbooks, including Chocolate , Espresso , and Salt & Peppter , all from Chronicle Books.

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Customer Reviews

I look forward to making many more cakes from this book.
SexySTEMEducation
This is a wonderful book with numerous recipes that are easy to make and delightful.
DCCorpMom
The pictures are beautiful and I like reading the stories.
Diana

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Marsha Wood Wirtel on May 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Birthday Cakes is a visually stunning book. Every photograph is gorgeous, showcasing various cakes in lovely detail. Even so, it is something of a disappointment.
The introductory pages include discussions of the various types of equipment called for throughout the book, and the appendix lists sources for all kinds of baking supplies. There is even a list of tips and hints for baking the best possible cake. Ideas for enhancing birthday cakes and celebrations are sprinkled throughout, short discussions of "the birthday song" and birthday candles. None of the instructions are very thorough or detailed, however, leaving one to wonder if the book's intended use is to be merely decorative rather than a practical baking resource.
Fans of culinary literature will be disappointed that so little of "Memories from Celebrated Bakers" is included. Many of the cakes, in fact, have no such memories associated with them in the text. Some of the recipes have no context at all, other than brief explanations of where the recipe was originally published.
Finally, several of the recipes are ridiculously complicated for the home baker. "The Princess Cake," for example, requires following four lengthy pages of instructions! The cover photo suggests a book of classic birthday cakes suitable for home baking - witness the chocolate cake so fondly remembered from childhood - but, sadly, there are only a handful of these simple types of recipes.
In the end, "Birthday Cakes" doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Is it merely a collection of pretty pictures with explanatory text? An instructional text? Is it for the advanced baker or the home cook? Is is culinary literature? It's a bit of each of these, but not enough of any.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By SexySTEMEducation on April 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
First let me say the photographs are beautiful and the pages are thick! That is definitely a nice start for any book.
The recipes range from a birthday cake for Elvis (chocolate with peanut butter and bananas) to chiffon cake to German chocolate cake to beautifully domed cakes covered in fondant (this recipe is from 'The Baker's Wife' by Ortiz.). There is nothing spectacular about any of the recipes...they are down-home good recipes that are accompanied by warm-hearted birthday tales.
Anyone who has a favorite home-made birthday memory will love this book or someone who is looking for a 'simple' but stunning birthday cake that tastes great. I have really enjoyed reading this book and the Banana spice cake I made came out wonderful. I look forward to making many more cakes from this book.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Cake Lady on January 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book with filled wonderful ideas. However, the recipes are very bad. I am an experienced baker who attempted a few of cakes with along with a chef, whose history includes an honors degreee from the French Culinary Institute in NYC. We both agree - the recipes are just plain bad. The directions and instructions are not only vague, they assume you can get from point A to point D. If you want to make the cakes in this book, find the recipe elsewhere. I would actually like to know how the author made the cakes in the photographs, because she certainly did not rely on these recipes alone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rockadaisy on May 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
first things first- asthetically, this book is beautiful. the pictures look like something out of a fairy tale, with cakes decorated with fluffy frosting and fresh flowers.

if this were just a coffee table book, it would be fine, but the recipes are a little off the mark. the gingerbread cake with chocolate frosting is a fantastic idea and the flavors work well, but my cake was runny and too soft. (given, my oven is like something out of prehistoric times, so it could be that too) the simple 1-2-3-4 vanilla cupcakes are actually quite good, one of the few vanilla cake recipes i've tried that doesn't end up tasting kind of like cornbread. however, all it takes is 2 minutes of refrigeration and they're hard as rocks. in general, this book is fun to own and the pictures are inspiring, but most of the recipes require a little messing with to make a product as beautiful as the images shown in the book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Seth on January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't disagree more with the above reviewer who felt this book "couldn't decide what it wants to be."

I think the cookbook's purpose is clear: to provide great recipes to folks who don't need their hands held through the process of baking a cake, including some who aren't intimidated by four pages of instruction. Maybe it isn't for the novice baker, but I was thrilled with the illustrations, the birthday-memory anecdotes, and the variety of recipes.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Aiken on June 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I LOVE this book and quite honestly I find the rather bland reviews perplexing. I tried the angel food cake recipe and it is by far the best I have ever made; tall, light and perfect. The Comfort's Coconut Cake is to die for and the Buttermilk Poppyseed bundt cake turned out great as well. I made a few others and not one got ho-hum from anyone. Seriously, I think the coconut cake alone justifies the purchase of this book and my girlfriend for whom I made this cake on her birthday agrees, two enthusiastic thumbs up!

The other thing I really liked about this book is the great photos and the stories behind the cakes. It is our family tradition for me to bake a homemade, from scratch cake for everyone's birthday and my children thoroughly enjoyed thumbing through this book and saying "This is the cake I want for MY birthday!" What delight it elicited from each one to see the creation they picked sitting before them on their special day.

I haven't tried the more complicated Princess cake but both my girls have tagged it as their choice for their sixteenth birthday. So what if it's complicated or time consuming, they only get one sixteenth birthday in their entire lives. Let's go out of our way to celebrate the life that is uniquely theirs.

If you really are unsure about buying it, order it from your library and try it out. Then you can buy it with the confidence of experience. But don't miss this great resource for making memorable birthday cakes.
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