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3.9 out of 5 stars
Sweet Celebrations: The Art of Decorating Beautiful Cakes
Format: HardcoverChange
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I normally have a great affinity for any cake decorating book, but as I have progressed in my knowledge and skills, I have learned what "industry secrets" are needed to truly educate. Unfortunately, Ms. Weinstock only offers information in the guise of wanting to share, but in reality, she gives very little.

Much of what is in the book is very generic information on cake decorating. There is little actual teaching because I feel that in the world of Master Cake Decorating, there is a fierce competition and trade secrets are heavily guarded.

She shows you several complex cakes that many people simply will not be able to replicate, due to the intense detail and need for training/education that it requires. You need tools and recipes and formulas and knowledge, which she has failed to impart. Yes, there are the obligatory simple recipes and basic skills given, but you do not get a true cake decorating education.

This is a nice book for working towards the skills needed to reach those fabulous looking creations, but do not expect much in the way of education. If you wish detailed instruction and education, there are several other wonderful books in which to choose.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am a professional cake artist, and have of course heard of Sylvia Weinstock for some time. I was glad to finally have a chance to see some of her work. For someone with such a big reputation, the cakes were very disappointing. Most of the novelty-type cakes were fairly amateurish, and all the wedding cakes have the same basic design, iced smooth and smothered with gumpaste flowers. Seems like piping is definately not her skill. I expected much better quality in the flowers for someone so well known and who commands such high prices! I know many other cake artists whose flowers are much more realistic. Also, the directions were very vague and sometimes inconsistent. This is definately more of a coffee-table type picture book than a serious cake decorating book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
i loved sylvia's book. i love to make birthday cakes and special occasion cakes. when i saw this book, i had to have it. the pictures were amazing, such detail. the instructions, step by step with such explanations are so helpful to make everything come out right. i don't know what to do first. every baker, or artist, needs a copy.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The cakes and photos in this book are glorious, but this is not a book for a casual baker. The decorations while beautiful are not simple and require special tools. I liked the book very much. The recipes taste good, and the pictures are very detailed and helpful.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was so nervous about whether to invest in this book (due to some of the reviews in here)I actually took it out at the library to check it out first. I was pleasantly surprised.
It is true that the cakes featured here aren't that spectacular, so if you are looking for a coffee-table book on cake art, this isn't it. I saw only 4 or 5 cakes that stood out from the 40 examples shown. Some pictures in the book were used as filler, I guess...a few of these were nice cakes, but had no directions to go along with them.
However this book offers so much still. First and foremost, it is for American cake enthusiasts. There is no rolled fondant here; (not that there is anything wrong with fondant, but culturally, here in the states-it is not something familiar.) It is a book that can be enjoyed by cake decorators of all levels and nationalities, since many cake styles/techniques are represented. Weinstock rates each cake featured as to its level of difficulty and gives good directions on how to complete each project. You don't need any fancy cake pans or special ingredients for the most part, to make these cakes either.
I think that Weinstock probably wanted to focus on making a book that is more of a manual that anything else. The two main features of this book are the range of styles/techniques offered and the author's interest in motivating the reader to explore inventive possibilities on his/her own. The examples shown are well-known to cake novices...marzipan, cornelli lace, structured cakes, character cakes, white-on-white, basketweave, tier, gumpaste florals, and dotted swiss. The instuctions are clear and complete. Creativity is encouraged by showing one cake style and variations of that same style with additional photos.
Although there is hope that Weinstock will find time to produce yet another book with a lot more fantastic visuals-perhaps adding some autobiographical data on her business (more information than she had in this book)...I think this is a useful book to have in any cake decorator's library just for the recipes alone. As someone with a long history in culinary arts, I know these recipes are good. This is a definitive textbook on cake decorating.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was given a copy of the book as a gift from a friend in the States. Mrs. Weinstock did my wedding cake and I was so thrilled that she finally wrote a book! The cake recipes were easy to follow, but most of all I really appreciated the diagrams for the sugar figures and flowers. It was an easy read and easy to follow. I think Mrs Weinstock is a true artist and culinary expert. Thank goodness it was not just another coffee table book of impossible cakes to make! Thank you, Sylvia!
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was VERY impressed with this book. If you have ever dreamed of baking a grand cake, then this is THE book to own. Sylvia Weinstock presents many different cake designs and recipes, even so far as to explain the best method for assembling them. The variety of cakes was impressive; this is the best book on cake design I have ever seen. The book features wonderful color photographs of every cake, very professionally done, which made it easy to see the end-result of the recipes. I was grateful for those photographs, which helped to select the appropriate designs I wanted to try. The photos are truly beautiful --- it is tempting to keep the book out upon the coffee table. When I tried some recipes, I was pleased with the results. The directions were easy to follow, written in a straightforward manner, and offered explanations along the way. For anyone interested in baking, both amateur or sophisticated bakers, this book offers many ideas and techniques to try. After seeing and hearing about magnificent cakes in magazines and on television, the book was great fun to read, to look at and to attempt those cakes on my own! Thank you, Sylvia!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I love Ms. Weinstock's cake and buttercream recipes. She provides recipes for yellow, white, chocolate, almond cakes..as well as many variations on her buttercream fillings and icings. They are the basis for a truly elegant (and tasty!) cake. Her cakes really are masterpieces... very inspiring. She provides color pictures, numerous sketches, and in-depth directions on how to create several of her cakes (wedding and other celebration cakes). I have some cake decorating experience under my belt, but believe that even novices could understand the author's instructions. I have found this book to be very inspiring and fun. I frequently consult it when I need to come up with a cake for a special occasion.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Weinstock's recipe for yellow butter cake was worth the price of the book. I'm not an experienced baker but was able to follow her recipe without a hitch. And the cake itself was THE BEST I've ever eaten (and believe me, I've eaten some cake!). In fact, friends and I first ate the cake plain --unable to wait for the icing!
I'm a fan--so much so, that I keep a copy of Weinstock's butter cake recipe on the frige. When I bake cakes for people I love, it's Weinstock's recipes I use.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I AGREE WITH YOUR REVIEW WITH ONE EXCEPTION, AND THAT IS THAT THE BOOK SKIPS LIGHTLY OVER THE ART OF SUGAR DOUGH. IN FACT, THERE IS NEITHER A RECIPE FOR SUGAR DOUGH NOR IS THERE A REFERENCE TO A COMMERCIAL SOURCE. IT ASSUMES THE READER ALREADY HAS EXPERTISE IN SUGAR DOUGH. PERHAPS MS. WEINSTOCK IS LOATHE TO PART WITH HER "SUGAR DOUGH SECRETS". IN ANY EVENT, I FELT CHEATED BY THIS GLARING OMISSION.
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