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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2006
This is what I call a great cake decorating book. It's filled with the most beautiful AND useful photographs. There are photos for every recipe to help you see the end result and to inspire the readers.

This book is devided into 4 main catagories: cookies, cupcakes, minature cakes and large cakes. Before these, there's the basices which includes equipment that are used through out the book. The recipes includes: basice sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, basic sheet cake (for a 12x16", or three 8 in, or about 50 cupcakes....though, I wished she had include for different combinations of the diameter or the size for square cakes), buttercream frosting, sugar syrup and belgian chocolate ganache, all of which have the optinal flavoring of vanilla, lemon, orange and chocolate (except the ginger bread cookies, of course). Then she continues on by describing and showing (in photos) how to fill cakes with buttercream and cover large cakes with marzipan and rolled fondant, assembling large cakes/tiered cakes, covering cake board with fondant, recipe for fondant icing, making basic fondant fancies, recipes for royal icing with photographs of each of the consistency of the royal icing (stiff, soft-peak and runny). The book also covers some basic piping techniques, and royal iced flowers, such as 5 petal flowers, daisies, pansies, and daffodils. The section that I find the MOST useful for me as far as technic goes, is the marzipan/fondant roses----it has photographs for each step of making the roses (see the pictures I posted).

Miss Porschen included 10 different well decorated cookies---alphabet, bollywood heart lollipops (cookies on lollipop sticks),flowers, underwater creatures, easter, birthday, baby, butterfly, catwalk and snowflake. They are all beautifully decorated with royal icing instead of fondant like in some cookie decorating books. This section is definately inspiring for me as sometimes I just don't have any idea how to decorate a cookie just by looking at the metal cookie cutter, if u know what I mean. In the cupcake category, Miss Porschen has 8 different beautiful ideas, follow by 8 miniature cakes and 7 large cakes, all of them are inspiring, romantic, fashionable, elegant, chic, stunning and spectacular. So, I definately DISAGREE with the other reviewer who mention that "more than half of this book was about cookies" (You do the math). I would say that this book is great for anyone who have a heart for decorating cookies and cakes...it might not be a book of techniques, if you want to learn about techniques, I'd suggest you subscribe to the American Cake Decorating magazine, or get all three books of the International School of Sugarcraft, but it's definately worth every penny if you need some decorating ideas.

A word of warning though, all the cakes in the book (except the ruffle rose cupcakes) is covered with marzipan/fondant, or fondant icing and she only used marzipan/fondant roses, no other marzipan/fondant flowers. So, if you're looking for cakes iced with buttercream, I suggest you go for The Whimsical Bakehouse by Kaye Hansen and Liv Hansen. However, I'm sure you can still use the ideas from Miss Porschen with buttercream instead of fondant...just use some imagination and experiments! ;)
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2007
There's no doubt that Pretty Party Cakes is filled with innovations: edible butterflies, marzipan roses made with edible glitter, petit fours out of Bollywood.

BUT there is a heavy emphasis on fondant, an extremely sweet sugar dough that many find inedible, and royal icing, which is basically confectioner's sugar and egg white. In the European tradition, the cake portion tends to be dry.

I find some info missing: instructions on how to make mazipan roses leave out stuff like using the edge of a spoon to thin out the edge -- a well-known technique that is necessary to get the results in the photograph. I really find it unacceptable when cookbook authors omit these steps -- the ones them separate their finished results from yours. You're paying big bucks for the book -- they should part with all the secrets.

So, buy the book, be dazzled, pick up a few ideas, but go elsewhere for recipes -- and buy other books to expand your knowledge.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 10, 2006
You know how you wonder if a book is as good on the inside as it looks on the outside? The old cliche of "don't judge a book......"? Well, go ahead and judge this book because the cover is definitely a peek into what is on the inside!!

Absolutely charming! Absolutely wonderful! Absolutely educational! Those words will pretty much sum up the volume of this cake decorating tome. Ms. Porshen has outdone herself in this well-planned, well-executed cookie and cake decorating manual that has covered the wide range of frilly, silly, and elegant presentations.

At first glance, it has a thin spine so one might wonder what can be held within that could possibly divulge so many avenues of learning. But therein lies the fun of how much she has given us; if you are given the basic facts and techniques, the rest of your abilities will come from your imagination. The book itself is large enough to be able to see the details of all the confections that she wishes to teach you. The photography by Georgia Glynn Smith is pristine in detail; you will have no need to wonder about any aspect of what Peggy is trying to show you. And the book cover and jacket are in a bright, happy, I-can't-wait-to-get-started pink so how can you not get excited? And there are are no penciled drawings; everything is shown with bright, clear photographs.

Your education begins right away with:

(Chapter One) The Basics:

equipment

cookies (basic recipe for sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies)

cakes (basic sheet cake recipe and its variations plus frostings and filling; sugar syrup for "wetting" the cake with flavor; Belgian chocolate ganache; how to fill and cover cakes with frosting, marzipan, and fondant; assembling the cakes; assembling tiered cakes)

fondant icing (how to make this plus using it for petit de fours)

royal icing

piping techniques (how to make those lovely thin, piped lines and dots as well as the royal icing flowers like 5-petal flowers, daisies, pansies, and daffodils)

marzipan roses (how absolutely lovely and sweet!)

(Chapter Two) Cookies:

alphabet cookies

heart cookie lollipops

flower basket cookies (and individual mini-flower cookies)

underwater sea creatures (lobsters, tropical fish, starfish, sea horses, seashells, octopus: for these you need templates or the actual cookie cutters)

Easter egg cookies

birthday razzle dazzle cookies (use templates or cookies cutters)

baby shower (diapers, rattles, toys)

butterfly cookies

catwalk cookies (handbags, shoes, dresses; make templates or use cutters)

snowflake cookies

Chapter Three) Cupcakes:

garden cupcakes

daisy cupcakes

kaleidoscope cupcakes

bollywood kitsch cakes (this is the middle of the book so the center pages have a huge photograph of this cupcake and the details make you swoon!)

heart cupcakes

Christmas cupcakes (they are photographed as tucked into a silver cupcake liner with a pale green icing, then decorated with a single royal icing "tree" that is covered in edible sparkles; wow!!)

ruffle rose cupcakes

butterfly cupcakes (this was very interesting in that you make the multi-toned butterflies with royal icing that are air-dried on folded sheets so that it gives a 3-D effect, not one-dimensional; placed on top of a pretty pastel-colored cupcake or cake or cookies, this just POPS at you and is just lovely to look at; it will be the talk of any party!)

Chapter Four) Miniature Cakes:

pansy pots (you actually make "clay pots" to hold the cake/cupcake, then create the lovely flowers that sit on top!)

tea rose cake (this is the cover project; how delicate and charming; a must for a very special occasion!)

treasure boxes (did you ever think of making a "box" or "cup" from fondant? Well, here it is in all its beauty and fun!)

swirly whirly (very 60's and very groovy)

wedding (mini-wedding cakes sitting on a tower of cake pedestals!)

canapes (all striped and make of chocolate!)

stripy rose (all striped from the top of the cake by the center flower down the sides of the cake)

fantasy slices (individual slices with all their own decorations)

Chapter Five) Large Cakes:

Valentine heart cake

3-column wedding cake (3 same-shaped but various sized cakes connected by a cascade fall of piped and molded flowers; definitely a fun challenge but very doable!)

gift box (how fun for your present to be this "present" cake; very easy!)

pink wedding cake

English rose wedding cake (this used the art of "brushed embroidery" which is a technique where you paint a flower and use a small brush to "fan out" the details; very dramatic effect yet simple to master)

daisies cake (how exquisite!!)

romantic rose tower cake (exactly what she says it is, a "tower" of roses in a conical form with lovely butterflies springing out of the sides)

Templates

Glossary

Suppliers

Acknowledgements

Index

OK..................by now you can tell that I am entranced with this book and what it offers. This is absolutely one of my top ten cake decorating books, hands down. But if you need more objective reasons to add this to your cake library, figure that if celebrities like Elton John, Gwyneth Paltrow, and others in the U.K. have requested her services, she must be quite good. A most gracious thank you to Ms. Porshen, from across the pond!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 2, 2007
This book is small, but mighty! It is amazingly simplistic yet provides a wealth of inspiration for you creative ideas. The photography is breathtakking.

I think that with practice you can master the cookies, marzipan, gumpaste and fondant decorations in this book. Piping royal icing flowers is a bit more daunting. I would suggest a class or video for royal and butter cream icing flowers, Wilton How to Make Icing Flowers DVD because they can be a bit tricky (at least for me.)

This book provides six basic recipes for cookies, cakes and frostings. My hope is that you are purchasing the book for decorating ideas and instruction, not for the recipes. The author's decorating syle is clean, but very elegant. The book provides a strong decorating foundation -- you can use this as a springboard for your imagination.

This is the perfect book if you want to make your first decorated cookies or petit fours. If you are making your first tiered cake this book will provide inspiration, but you may need to supplement it with other sources for complete instruction.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I thought this book was amazing. I am truly inspired to try these new techniques. Just a forewarning though - this book does include a lot of molds and using marzipan. She gives a small section of information about the Wilton techniques using Royal and buttercream icing - but the majority of her flowers and such are marzipan or fondant. Still an amazingly beautifuly done recipe/technique cake & cookie book.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2006
I bake and decorate cakes so I am continually looking for books that will teach me new techniques and new ideas. I was very disappointed that more than half this book was about cookies. If you want a cake book, this isn't worth the money.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 5, 2006
This is my ideal type of cake decorating book. I am not personally a cake decorator, but this book has techniques and designs that most people should be able to do easily. The instructions are clear, there are plenty of pictures to go by, and on many of the recipes there are pictures of how to decorate step-by-step. Peggy Porschen takes out the mystique of making gorgeous cakes.

Her book has many recipes of cakes, cookies, icings, and fillings to use inside the cakes. I like that she takes the time out to make sure the cake is not only going to look good, it is going to taste good as well. The begining of the book describes the decorating tools you will need. For many of the cakes in the book you will not need all of the tools, so this book is an excellent choice if you are just starting out.

Basic instructions are given on a variety of piping techniques, so when it comes time to employ what you have just learned, you will be able to decorate your cake. I like this book because it has designs that are "fresher" than many of the Wilton cake design books. She has you using piping techniques, marzipan, and fondant to help make your cakes look wonderful.

She has many different designs for decorting cookies, cakes, cup cakes, wedding cakes, and so much more. This book is extremely dense when it comes to presenting many different ideas in one book. This has to be one of the most inovative cake decorating books since Colette's cake decorating books. While the cakes are as pretty as Colette's are, I feel many of these decorating techniques makes the book more accessible by those of us who do not decorate cakes all of the time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2007
I just got into cake making and sugar craft and this book is the first I ordered. It is great and I've had a lot of success following Porschens' advice. My only complaint, and it's a small one, is that not all temperatures and cake pan times needed are included. For example, I made a cake from two square 8x8 pans and the only baking directions I could find were for either cupcakes or a sheetcake. Instead of baking at 400 degrees as suggested I lowered the temp to 350 and just kept checking until done. Still came out great, thank goodness. The basic cake recipe tastes wonderful with the soaking syrup (I'd never tried that before)but the sugar cookie recipe was a little bland. Beautiful cookies though! I REALLY like this book and will be happy to take credit for Porschens beautiful dessert designs for years to come!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2007
I read the reviews and bought the book and I must say it is a masterpiece!I swooned over the pictures and wanted to make each one NOW but chose the christmas tree cakes.Her mini cakes are drenched in syrup (I overdid it and cake crumbled)and then lathered in preserves and buttercream and then drenched in Fondant after topping with marzipan. Two things,,,,,,,,they were too high to stand without toppling over,so make sure your two cake layers are thin and TASTE your fondant before coating these beauties,some are nasty!!! Your marzipan WILL stick if you don't use a generous amount of powdered sugar. Her techique for making the sugared topping made me feel like a professional baker!!! She is very generous with her pictures,techniques and recipes and she oozes original,very hip, talent!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2007
One of the best. I own a lot of cake decorating books and this is one of my bibles. As somebody said, it's looks as good inside as looks outside. Porshen work is so fresh, clean and neat that you can not stop checking it over and over. I do not like make recommendations, but either if you are a beginner or a professional, you will love this book
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