My favorite recipe in this book is the Carrot Pineapple Cake. What I also like is that the recipes respond well to tweeking, therefore you can make a recipe your own. The cakes have that homemade taste to them. There is also some useful info in the front about the different ingredients, which is a must for any serious baker. There are directions for decorating cakes and recipes for sauces, frosting and glazes in the back. Every recipe end with instructions on how to store the finished cake, and contains variations of the original recipe. I am a recent graduate of a professional baking and pastry program, and I can tell you that I use this book for cakes more so than my textbook. I took away one star for the lack of photos. There are some in the middle of the book as well as some illustrations in the decorating section, but I usually like more photos in my books. But don't let that stop you from buying this book. This is my bible for cakes.
NOTE: Taste the batter before you bake, I find that I have to add a little sugar to the recipes.
Sorry to contradict the other positive reviews, but I am not a fan of this book. The instructional information I did find interesting and I did take notes before going to the recipes as I know it's important to understand the authors philosophy and how it translates into the recipes. However, despite my own personal baking experience, I did not have good luck with many of the recipes and believe there are much better options out there. I also believe many of the recipes are unnecessarily enhanced with odd ingredients just to make them original. Don't buy this book expecting to find great rock solid recipes for common cakes. The few it includes are not great in my opinion. Same with the frostings. My personal opinion is the book falls way short on several fronts. My advice would be to try some of the recipes found on the recipe websites. Base your choice on only the highest user ratings for each and make the tweaks to the recipes that people suggest. You will be much happier. Book wise, I would look elsewhere.
I got this book to give to my sister as I have a copy myself where I have tested recipes from. Carole Walter's books, at least the ones that I have tested, are great. They're well-written, with clear instructions. This one does not have that many pictures, though. I think having pictures for each recipe just kicks up the likeability of a cookbook few notches higher. From this book, you should try making her chiffons, especially the Golden Citrus version, and Zach's Chocolate Marble Cake. The Quick Buttercream frosting is excellent. I still need to work my way through the other recipes. One other book of hers that I would highly recommend is her Great Cookies cookbook. This one I've really used a lot, the pages are coming off the binding. Both the Great Cakes and Great Cookies won the James Beard award, awards that are well- deserved.
Every recipe in this book is exceptional, or at least every one I have tried so far. Each recipe has very thorough instructions, so that even the more elaborate recipes end up being simple and easy to follow.