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Toni "the bookworm" RSS Feed (Chicago, Illinois United States)

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Wilton Easy Layers Cake Loaf Pan 4 Pc
Wilton Easy Layers Cake Loaf Pan 4 Pc
Offered by CloseoutZone
Price: $16.18
3 used & new from $16.18

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 1-Star rating based on price, not function, August 28, 2015
Great pans to make awesome cakes, can get these at Michael's craft store for $14.99. If you use their coupon, you can get them for 40% less, so you end up paying $9.00. Woo-hoo! Bake on!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2015 3:32 PM PST

Love, Bake, Nourish: Healthier cakes and desserts full of fruit and flavor
Love, Bake, Nourish: Healthier cakes and desserts full of fruit and flavor
by Amber Rose
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.86
63 used & new from $6.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous and natural, both for the palate, and the eyes!, July 15, 2015
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This is an impressive baking book, all due to the fact that it is wonderfully packed with "healthy" desserts............whaaaaa? Healthy desserts? You bet!

First before getting into the recipes, there is something about the way this book was produced, there is something about the feel of the pages and the arrangements of the recipes and photos. It isn't your average baking book, actually it has a coffee table vibe to it because it's so beautiful to look at and touch; this is more to it than just a grouping of recipes. There is something very different here.

The photography is stunning, and while that isn't the main attraction, there is something so gorgeous in each picture. Actually the photography is as natural, ethereal, and pure as the desserts themselves. I can imagine hanging some of the photos as kitchen artwork.

The pages have a thick cotton feel to them; the photography is matte and very much a natural presentation. Actually the entire book is more a subtle journey of healthy eating and desserts just happens to be the main subject. Obviously not a teaching tutorial, but a wonderfully detailed compilation of excellent recipes to celebrate the heights of the fruit seasons.

Amber Rose seems to have had a penchant for the natural life, gleamed from her childhood on New Zealand, and thanks to her mother's loving guidance on all things healthy and natural; having an orchard can inspire you! This has translated itself into her appreciation for what desserts should give to the tastebuds, and it has cultivated her palette to be secure in knowledge.

While she uses white spelt flour most of the time, albeit pure and unadulterated, there are many recipes that are gluten-free, so there are many wonderful recipes for celiacs, and those challenged by gluten. Every single ingredient is encouraged to be in its purest form, for the end result is perfection!

While the recipes are different, they are not odd or difficult. The steps range from rather simple to perhaps a bit more involved but nothing extravagant in nature, and so far, all delicious. The written words are clear, and detailed enough for ease for a novice.

There are 189 pages of artwork and recipes for which it could be a veritable confusion of choices. There are 5 chapters of actual desserts with one added chapter of Herbal Teas, which makes a lovely ending to such a lovely baking experience. The chapters are divided into:

Seasonal Cakes
Fruit Desserts
Tarts & Meringues
Small Bites
Creams, Custards, and Compotes
Herbal Teas

All of these use the best fruits of the season; each chapter deals with the complexity of added ingredients, or the lack thereof, in order to bring out the best of each fruit. One of the best recipes is the Lime Cake with Orange Blossom and Pistachio and Coconut and Sesame Seed Macaroons. I'm hoping to get to the Vanilla Custard, which is simple but rich, and a perfect accompaniment to so many desserts.

A truly excellent and healthy book choice for everyone. Peace.

Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery
Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery
by Rosie Daykin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.36
70 used & new from $14.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovin' this retro-style baking book!, July 15, 2015
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If you are a pastel-y kind of person, and you love baking, then here is a pretty, pretty picture book and delicious baking book, all together in one gorgeous presentation. "Butter Baked Goods" by Rosie Daykin is a solid, lovely, and tasty new entry into the baking sphere.

I especially love baking books written by bakery owners, and so I find it so endearing that they would share their baking treasures with us. Her bakery reminds me of a lovely 1950's-esque kitchen, complete with bright pink flowered upper wall wallpaper set against a mint green lower wall; very retro, and very comfortable.

This book contains 262 pages of which 218 pages are recipes with close, clear, sharp photography. As far as the visual tutorials, there aren't too many, but the instructions are clear enough, and I would say that even novice bakers should be just fine with everything. There are sequenced tutorial photos for the cinnamon rolls, some of the frostings, a couple of pies/tarts, and some confections.

Rosie's writing is warm and friendly. You can hear her enthusiasm as you read the introductory chapters, as well as the "thank you" section. She seems to truly be in her element when baking, as it has been an obsession for her since childhood. The one really sweet note is the recipe that she used as a child for her chocolate "6 Minute Cake"; the story behind is so cute, and she shows the original handwritten recipe, then gives you an "official" one, just in case. By the way, she has a "secret" ingredient in it that really does make a least I think so.

The recipes are good, and while you will find many standards, you will find some unique twists on some old-time favorites such as Chocolate Expresso Pound Cake", "Chocolate Berry Cheesecake Bar", or "Sourcream Rhubarb Pie" and "Apricot White Chocolate Scones" to name a few. My next experience will be the "Chocolate Nutella High-Top Cupcakes". There are 9 Chapters in all, covering:

Muffins, Scones, Cinnamon Buns, and Loaves
Drop and Sandwich Cookies
Rolled and Cut Cookies
Bars and Slices
Butter Creams and Frostings (this was a great section in that she demonstrates decorating/finishing techniques for cakes, cookies, & cupcakes)
Cupcakes and Whoopie Pies
Pastry, Pies, and Tarts

You know what I think the best part is? A real favorite of mind? No, you say? Well, I'll tell ya anyways.

She has a pretty, pretty ribbon book mark, The same used in her shoppe, which is used to tie bags and whatnot. It's a simple thing, but very sweet.

As the subtitle of her book states, "nostalgic recipes from a little neighborhood bakery"...........indeed! Peace.

by Peggy Porschen
Edition: Hardcover
19 used & new from $5.78

4.0 out of 5 stars This is truly a little piece of cookie fun, from Peggy Porschen, July 5, 2015
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This review is from: Cookies (Hardcover)
This is truly a little piece of cookie fun, from Peggy Porschen. It can pretty much fit into your pocket or purse, because of its petite size of 6"x6" square size.

But due to its size, it is limited in its scope of teaching, thought there is enough to make this a little treasure. If you're a beginner in cookie decorating, this might be just a tad of a challenge because the instructions are all written without step-by-step tutorials that you might be accustomed to in her other books. But if you have the time and patience, you'll surprise yourself.

There are 64 pages total in this mini book with the beginning pages having baking hints and tips, then followed by 2 pages of vanilla and gingerbread cookie recipes. Pages 10-64 are the actual projects themselves, with one page having the finished cookie and the opposing page having the written instructions. The last 7 pages involve the royal icing recipe used plus various techniques for decorating.

The cookie projects range from "knitted sweaters" to ice cream cones to tuxedo and bridesmaids cookies. Onesies, balloons, butterflies, snowflakes, goblins, flowers, etc are more of the treats in store for you. As mentioned previously, it's assumed you both understand and can follow the instructions in order to make the cookies. The most intensive of theses projects would be the gingerbread house, which was quite delicate and detailed in its piping but very much having a visual impact; the cookie is a total 3-D.

This would be a great stocking-stuffer or a sweet addition for a kind someone for their birthday or even just a nice little "thank you" for someone special. The size is right, the price is right, and the end results are perfect. Peace!

Elegant Lace Cakes: Over 25 delicate cake decorating designs for contemporary lace cakes
Elegant Lace Cakes: Over 25 delicate cake decorating designs for contemporary lace cakes
Price: $11.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another FABULOUS book from Zoe!, July 4, 2015
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Oh my goodness! This book is gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous! Just when I think that Zoe couldn't make another book more beautiful than her last, she knocks you out with even more amazing talent!

"Elegant Lace Cakes" is stunning to look at and exciting to attempt. There is no doubt that you would be beyond happy to work on any of these projects, as Zoe has laid out each lesson in detail and simplicity. The writing is precise and clear and the photography is just as perfect. She writes herself that she suggests these are for beginners and intermediate decorators........and they are! Anyone can do these as the lessons as visually and physically fun.

That being said, these cakes are of a certain class; shall we say they are ethereal in nature? All very delicate, light, lovely, airy, and in those genteel pastel colors that one thinks of when thinking of traditional lace cakes. Could you go into deeper colors or heavier decorating? Surely you could, so you're not limited just to her decorative ideas.

In the first 21 pages, she gives you an abundant basic tutorial on the types of techniques you could use on the cakes, ranging from the use of molds to stencils to delicate piping to using an airbrush, and more. The next 79 pages are filled with 12 basic projects with small side projects that may accompany them, ranging from cupcakes to cookies to mini-cakes. Very much like her other books so that you have an accompaniment of treats to add to your main cake.

Also, most of these cake projects will be 3-D in effect; the molded lace flowers actually do stand out and have a very "wow" factor to them. It's the layering techniques that really stun you. An example is the cover cake in which she pipes thin flowers onto the cake, but then uses flowers made from the molds, which give that 3-D effect; handmade sequins are centered onto each mold flower. Delicate piping connects all the flowers. Additional tiny royal icing flowers are then piped in a spaced pattern.

For those who haven't had much exposure or confidence in using "Sugarveil" lace mats, she has a wonderful section in the introductory pages of explaining its use as well as a couple of cake projects that features the use of this medium.

Making ribbon roses from sugarpaste or using wafer paper to make flowers are other chapter projects. Each cake is more stunning than the other, and to choose a favorite would be like choosing one piece of artwork favored above all others.......they are all just too special to pick one.

The last 23 pages are dedicated to the batter recipes, how to cover cakes, fillings, icing, and templates she used on the projects. Just as an aside, Zoe has a class on Craftsy that teaches these very techniques, so you can see her actually making these types of cakes, and others.

It was really difficult to choose just one cake, though the "Little Blossom Laser Cake" was really a knock-out with its pastel mint green, laced 3-D! So yep.......this is another keeper from true cake royalty, our Queen Zoe. Peace!

Love Layer Cakes: Over 30 Recipes and Decoration Ideas for Scrumptious Celebration Bakes
Love Layer Cakes: Over 30 Recipes and Decoration Ideas for Scrumptious Celebration Bakes
25 used & new from $17.26

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous layer cakes that are simple but elegant!, July 1, 2015
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Fab-u-lous! As always, gorgeous cakery from one of the Queen's of Cakes! A large, gorgeous cake-packed teaching book from our Ms. Peggy. There are 159 pages of instruction that give you all the delicious cake recipes from which to build your cake kingdom.

As always, Peggy always has great photography, therefore photographer extraordinaire, Georgia Glynn Smith, provides the visual impact, as well as the photographic directions to help guide you along Peggy's instructions. The pictures are as clear and concise as the writing.

The one notation in this book is that there is the assumption that you have cake-baking basics, though the writing is such that with some patience, even a novice will feel comfortable. While there is step-by-step written instruction, only a few have photographic tutorials.

Each cake is a work of art in itself. It you were to display these cakes as shown, they would grace your table with a most delicate and ethereal presentation. The pastel hues of the frostings and batters are as beautiful to look at as to consume, such as Vanilla Cloud, French Violet, and Rose and Pistachio cakes. Her recipes are perfect, depending on your tastebuds, but what if you desire something darker or heavier? She has those too such as chocolate, Black Forest, gingerbread, etc. The fillings are just as varied and assorted such as peaches and almonds or passion fruit and mascarpone, as well as the standards that everyone loves.

Now, the best kept secret? Her book includes 2 wonderful, full size stencils to help decorate these cakes. They are located in an envelope on the inner back flap of the book. You can use buttercreams, royal icing, or powdered sugar to enhance the loveliness of each cake.

Don't need to use them? Then with the help of a lesson in piping tips and piping, you can add piles of thick swirls or perhaps delicate lined features that are perfectly spaced; continue the decor with fresh fruit or cherries or maybe a marzipan pumpkin, to complete your delicate masterpiece.

The batters themselves are as varied as you can imagine in that they aren't only plain yellow or chocolate flavors. The tastes range from Spiced Pumpkins, Gingerbread, Red Velvet, Milk & Honey, or even Blueberry & Buttermilk. If you do like the standards, there is a double surprise chapter in which there is both written and step-by-step photography of a "checkerboard cake", as well as a gorgeous Sugar Plum Cake that has a ombré flair with a decorative/photographic tutorial to accompany its fabulousness.

At the end of the book, she includes some written and visual tutorials on techniques such as masking a cake to perfection (that's covering a cake, or "dirty icing", for non-Brits) as well as how to layer cakes. Another tutorial, in written and photographic steps, is her Salted Caramel Cake, covered in ganache! Ooooooooh!

And in case you're pining for her wedding cake masterpieces, Peggy presents 2 gorgeous, elegant, but simple designs.

I don't know how objective I can be with anything that Peggy makes, but the photos will speak for themselves, as well as the well-written lessons. This is a definite addition to your library for which you will be most content. Peace!

Mich Turner's Cake School: The Ultimate Guide to Baking and Decorating the Perfect Cake
Mich Turner's Cake School: The Ultimate Guide to Baking and Decorating the Perfect Cake
by Mich Turner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $29.24
55 used & new from $20.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite up to her usual impressive offerings......., June 18, 2015
I have truly enjoyed all the offerings that Ms. Turner has written in the past, having purchased all of her books. Having reviewed several of them, I feel rather confident in saying that for this would be a good book for a novice or newbie to cake decorating, but for those with I any cake decorating experience, this is not for you.

Actually I am a bit disappointed in this book in that it has very little new information, to the point of seeming that the information offered here, is a very basic compilation of all her books. To be honest, I was under the impression that this would be a follow-up to her earlier writing entitled, "Cake Masterclass". But disappointingly, it was not.

Switching direction for a moment, I have a teeny-tiny bone to pick with 2 of her other books: 2 books were offered entitled "Cake Masterclass" (The Ultimate Guide to Cake Decorating Perfection) and "The Art of the Cake" (The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Baking and Decorating Perfection). They are the exact same book so why the difference in titles? American vs. British versions? Regardless, this was an excellent teaching book and I highly recommend it for very strong cake decorating instruction.

Getting back to this newest book it has the typical basic cake recipes, frosting recipes, how to do basic icing, advanced icing, fillings.

The projects are somewhat simple, almost too simple. Nothing is exciting because there is nothing really new in here, though it is an OK book. My suggestion would be to strongly suggest to anyone, in particular a novice, to consider one of the two aforementioned books by Mich because they are wonderful and very much a teaching model with so many mediums and so many creative ideas.

Well, that's about it. This is short and sweet but hopefully to the point. If you do find the book a real teaching tome, then good for you. My review is merely my opinion. Peace.

Stylish Cakes: The Extraordinary Confections of The Fashion Chef
Stylish Cakes: The Extraordinary Confections of The Fashion Chef
by Michael Coffindaffer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $28.26
73 used & new from $9.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely coffee-table, visual cake journey., May 31, 2015
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What a gorgeous coffee table book! Filled with amazing cakes that are very different in both style and creativity, this is a treasure trove of party cakes that are sure to elicit gasps and envy.

Charlotte Neuville is an established fashion designer, who through life changes, evolved her love of fabric, into a love of cakes and desserts. Where one may wonder how to incorporate metal from thought to cake, Charlotte takes it beyond thought, with an intense creativity that stuns.

But before describing some of the masterpieces, I wanted to mention that this is a very limited teaching tutorial. It's is more of a peek into her creativity, with a few, assorted tutorials of smaller projects given. It contains cake recipes for some of the cakes, it will offer some photographic step-by-step tutorials for a couple of side projects from some of the cakes, but it is limited in the finite details of each cake.

She begins her book with a very charming and loving tribute to her parents and their history that brought them from France, to America, many years ago. This part alone was so loving and warm, it was a most beautiful read, and if truth be told, could be a book in itself. It left me with a desire to know more about them, and their lives. Their early years, her father's livelihood, her mother's eventual career in the States, was a most wonderful story. From there Charlotte begins her own journey from child to teen to entrepreneur, courtesy of her beloved childhood.

Charlotte's coming of age, through her love of fashion and fabric, is woven (pun intended) with the joys and sorrows that life must offer, in order to bring us to our current status. Once she had to leave her design career, her metamorphosis to baker was predictable as she had untapped talent waiting to be unleashed, through the use of sugar and flour. Working with her equally talented partner, her venture has been created with much love.

Her cakes are exquisite: the pristine simplicity of a white wedding cake with simple, yet detailed, white flowers or perhaps the cake with the look of black leather and black belts embellished with yet again, black flowers (odd perhaps? but very striking and perfect for which it was called.) Then again, take the need for gold lame' or gold studs for a cake...........again, different but so perfect because her creativity goes beyond what an average person can perceive. Each style of cake has its own chapter with the story and thought process that accompanies each cake, but again, not a tutorial.

Some cakes are quite elaborate such as the large urn with a multitude of Rembrandt flowers........sugarpaste and gumpaste heaven! Others were so incredibly "different", that I was stunned by the depth of creative talent and innate genius such as the French Poodle cream puff cake. I can try to describe it but it will never be quite as fantastic in words as it will be until you see it: a poodle-shaped dog "cake" with cream puff hair! Brilliant!

The cover cake is described, and as I stated earlier, the method for making the "bubbles" is shown in a step-by-step tutorial. Variations on the "bubble" is shown in other cakes, using edible sparkles and glitter.

Fabrics such as plaid, snakeskin, a Valentino couture gown and animals such as Westies, piglets, and spiders, and cobras plus feathers, masks, and beads and baubles all find their way into Charlotte's amazing cakes. My uber-favorite cake was the "Big 50" cake made for grand occasion making the 50th anniversary of a cultural study institute. She turned the "0" of the "50" into a 3-D shape, complete with raised continents. The size and construction was amazing.

My only wish for this book was that it had the cake tutorials to go along with each great cake. If you want a visual journey of some really fabulous cakes, this book is perfect for you. If you're looking for more of a teaching tome, then this might not be a prudent investment.

Animation in Sugar: Take 2: 16 Make-at-Home Celebration Cakes from a World-Famous Sugar Artist
Animation in Sugar: Take 2: 16 Make-at-Home Celebration Cakes from a World-Famous Sugar Artist
by Carlos Lischetti
Edition: Hardcover
21 used & new from $22.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it possible to be even more amazing than the first book?, May 5, 2015
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In short.......stunning contents more fantastic than his first book!

Longer review? My fingers are ready to fly across these keys! I can safely say that the majority of people were beyond happy with the long-awaited first book from master sugar artist, Carlos Lischetti. Devotees were begging him to share his skill, knowledge, and artistic perfection of his sugar creations. In short, his works are amazing. So many people loved his work but could not attend his classes, as he is located in England, though he does travel to teach as well. So next best thing is a book, right?

If you peruse the cake decorating websites and magazines and blogs, you cannot help seeing his sugar projects everywhere. Fantasy caricatures of people, places, and things made from modeling paste. But they looked so perfect, so flawless, that you wondered if it was possible to be as good as he is but then.........Carlos, with the help of his equally talented twin brother (who is a crazy-talented artist of photography and illustration in his own right), produced "Animation in Sugar", his first book that introduced us to his instruction on this sugar art.

Fast forward to "Animation in Sugar: Part 2" and you are treated to more instruction and inspiration from the master. This book is large and heavy with 256 pages of voluminous teaching and photography, that includes detailed step-by-step photography, in close-up detail, and in full and glorious color; there are no black and white tutorials. The pages have a nice satin sheen to them and you can "feel" the quality and effort placed into this book.

Some of the projects in this book were ones that I had hoped were in his first book, but were not, therefore I saved those photos of his creations for inspiration. But this second book had all the projects that I hoped for, so now I don't know which one to start first. The great part of this sugar art is that you can tailor-make this to whatever and whomever you want to characterize, as many details of the projects are basic to any structure. The figures can be as large or small as you wish so the scope of the size won't overwhelm you.

The one project that I love, which is the Geisha Girl, is the same one that is on the cover and dust jacket and it is just perfection. I love the deep red of her kimono.

Without giving away too much detail, here is some insight into this book: There are 15 projects offered, ranging from adorable animals to caricatured people ranging from playful to sentimental celebrations. The first 25 pages deal with equipment and recipes, then presentation of the modeling paste he uses. Some might note that the names used for between here and Europe can be different but the paste is till the same. The "glue" recipes used to build images is given, along with prepping cakes before, or after, you make the images.

My most favorite part is of course, the figurines! But before you can really get into creating them, you have to know the body part basics, and coloring (whether using food paste colors or airbrushing); this is discussed in detail. Another welcomed addition is the logistics of transporting your figurines so that they are well-protected en route to their destination.

Then the fun begins: who or what are you going to make? Dogs or piggies? A plumpy Italian chef? Halloween goblin? A sweet wedding couple? These are just a few of the 15 figures Carlos teaches.

The last pages are the templates and schematics of the projects that can be enlarged of course. Both the inside and back covers have adorable pencil caricatures that his brother, Elio, drew as the fantasy of each project became reality.

As far as who would find this easy enough, it is obviously perfect for someone experienced, but even for a novice, with patience and time, this would be great for building confidence and skill.

OK Carlos...........start working on book number 3! Peace!

Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past: A Ballad Novella
Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past: A Ballad Novella
by Sharyn McCrumb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.82
47 used & new from $8.85

4.0 out of 5 stars but wonderful read from the mind of Sharyn McCrumb, February 8, 2015
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VINE REVIEW: A lovely, short, but wonderful read from the mind of Sharyn McCrumb, this is another "ballad" in the series of Nora Bonesteel, a woman who has lived in the bucolic Appalachian town of her childhood; this one being her first Ballard Christmas novella. She weaves 2 stories into this latest offering. One that involves a house haunted by a demanding ghost and the other story involving a very wise older gentleman who can charm the police into postponing his arrest through the goodness of the Christmas season.

Whereas one story is lighthearted and will leave you shaking your head, the other story becomes more detailed and has factors and situations that seem supernatural in nature, but through Sharyn's talented fingers, will come to an interesting, and surprising, conclusion.

If you believe in Angels, you will enjoy this story. If you believe in the joy of Christmas, you will enjoy this story. It is gentle and despite the jumping back and forth between stories, she balances the this literary movement deftly.

My only regret was it's brevity; 157 pages in all. This was definitely a short story that could have easily been a much longer book. Peace.

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