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A classic cookbook.......................
on September 25, 2009
Rosie, Rosie, Rosie!! You are a queen upon a very special pedestal which has very few equals! And anyone who possesses this tome of baking knowledge will absolutely agree! Rose Levy-Beranbaum has outdone herself in her latest offering of baking excellence! Where her "Cake Bible" was a standard for many years, this has outdone even that book!
The first time I met Rose was at a tiny little bookstore in Chicago many, many years ago. She was there for the signing of "Cake Bible" and she was the very first professional baker/chef that I had met on the beginning journey of my road to serious baking/cooking. She was most kind and gracious and I remember thinking of what a wonderful life would lie ahead for this sweet lady. Needless to say, her "Cake Bible" became a standard for many people but this latest offering from her talented mind is exquiste and is by far, one of the very best learning and reference books ever! Also, within the last couple of years, I have enjoyed her website/blog which makes her even more accessible for general or specific questions on baking. The journey she took us on while making this wonderful new book was a joy to follow.
It is a large, heavy, detailed book of cakes, cupcakes, bars, baby-size cakes with excellent photography, all printed on heavy, high-end paper to for which you would expect of books of this quality. Immediately at the introduction of each recipe, you have the serving size and baking time, followed by a brief synopsis of what she feels is the essence of that particular recipe. Then the "Batter" ingredients are laid out in a graphic form in which you are given the ingredients, with the Volume listed next to it, then the Weights of each ingredient, in both American and Metric form. Under this graph of information begins the steps to be taken beginning with any special equipment that would be needed, oven preparation, then the actual preparation of the batter. Any variations that could be taken, as well as "Highlights for Success" are listed and very much appreciated in that sometimes, there are little tricks, sidebars of information, and alternatives that you can incorporate into making the recipe a bit easier or more grand.
For example, I never realized that the leavening agents within cupcakes require that you bake them immediately or they will lose the power of that ingredient, so unless you have a large oven to bake all the batter at one shot, you're better off making the batter in batches.
Also, the presentation of these creations can be made so much more impressive with just a little creative help such as gingerbread boys and girls encircling a "Ginger Cheesecake" (who would have thunk it?) or using ladyfingers as an upright band of crust for the "Cranberry Crown Cheesecake" which also have a lovely wide ribbon around their base for an extraordinary presentation.
Being someone who appreciates photography in a cookbook, the photo's contained within are both superb and generous, with close-up shots that show detail. There is also single or sequential photography for certain cakes that require more intimate knowledge of preparation or assembly such as the "Holiday Pinecone Cake" (it acutal looks like a pinecone) or how to make "Spun Sugar" or how to pipe the "Ladyfingers", etc. Sometimes, just one little photo will clarify a question in your mind and Rose seems to know which step would benefit from a photo. Many of the cakes have their finished photo in this grand book but not all, though there are enough to satisfy everyone.
Her book is constructed as such:
Rose's Rules of Cake Baking (Though you may know these tips, this is an essential read)
BUTTER and OIL CAKES:
Apple Upside-Down Cake, Plum and Blueberry Upside Down Torte, She Loves Me Cake (a standard batter using the Nordic Pan Daisy Cake pan), White Velvet Cake w/ Milk Chocolate Ganache, Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake, Southern Manhatten Coconut Cake w/ Silk Meringue Buttercream, Whipped Cream Cake, Karmel Cake (that's spelled correctly per book), Spice Cake w/ Peanut Buttercream, Golden Lemon Almond Cake, Lemon Poppy Seed Sour Cream Cake, Woody's Lemon Luxury Layer Cake, Apple-Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake, Marble Velvet Cake, Chocolate Streusel Coffee Cake, Swedish Pear and Almond Cream Cake, Cradle Cake (a buttermilk batter with dacquoise cake), Sicilian Pistachio Cake, Gateau Breton (as Rose states, the outside looks like pastry but the inside is moist and tender), Sticky Toffee Pudding, Enlish Gingerbread Cake, Fruitcake Wreath, Rose Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Tomato Cake w/ Mystery Ganache (you actually use a can of tomato soup!), Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cake, Chocolate Banana Stud Cake, Devil's Food Cake w/ Midnght Ganache, Chocolate Layer Cake w/ Caramel Ganache, Bernachon Palet d'Or Gateau (the cover cake, "merci Rose!"), Double Choclate Valentine, Chocoalte Velvet Fudge Cake, Black Chocolate Party Cake, Classic Carrot Cake w/ Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting, Pumpkin Cake w/ Burnt Orange Silk Meringue Buttercream, Many-Splendored Quick Bread, Banana Refrigerator Cake w/ Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting, German Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Ice Cream Cake or Sandwich
Angel Food Cake, Chocolate Tweed Angel Food Cake, Chocolate Apricot Roll w/ Laquer Cake, Genoise Rose, White Gold Passion Genoise, True Orange Genoise, Genoise Tres Cafe, Chocolate Genoise w/Peanut Butter Whipped Ganache, Moist Chocolate Raspberry Genoise, Red Fruit Shortcake, Catalan Salt Pinch Cake (a great story with this cake), Almond Shamah Chiffon, Orange Glow Chiffon Layer Cake, Lemon Meringue Cake, Torta de las Tres Leches, Apple Caramel Charlotte, Chocolate Raspberry Trifle, Saint Honore Trifle (beautiful presentation with spun sugar!), Holiday Pinecone Cake
MOSTLY FLOURLESS CAKES and CHEESECAKES: (for those with celiac or gluten allergies, this is great!)
Cranberry Crown Cheesecake, Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake, Coconut Cheesecake w/ Coconut Cookie Crust, Ginger Cheesecake w/ Gingerbread Crust, No-Bake Whipped Cream Cheesecake, Lemon Canadian Crown, Ladyfingers, Tiramisu, Sybil's Pecan Torte w/ Coffee Cream, Chocolate Feather Bed (a mousse-like cake), Hungarian Jancsi Torta (moist chocolate cake w/ nuts), Le Succes (almond cake w/ tea ganache), Zach's La Bomba
Yellow Butter Cupcakes, Chocolate Butter Cupcakes, White Velvet Butter Cupcakes, Golden Neo-Classic Buttercream, Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting, Chocolate-Egg White Buttercream, Designer Chocolate Baby Grands, Gold Ingots, Chocolate Ingots, Peanut Butter Ingots, Plum Round Ingots, Financier-Style Vanilla Bean Pound Cakes, Mini Vanilla Bean Pound Cakes, Baby Lemon Cheesecakes, Quail Egg Indulgence Cake, Marionberry Shortcake, Coffee Chiffonlets w/ Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream, Individual Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes, Caramelized Pineapple Pudding Cakes, Classic Brioche, The Bostini, Deep Choclate Rosebuds, Molten Chocolate Souffle and Lava Cakes, Chocolate Bull's-Eye Cakes, Barcelona Brownie Bars, Baby Chocolate Oblivions, Two Fat Cats Whoopie Pie (remember those as kids?), Mud Turtle Cupcakes
WEDDING CAKES: (oooh-la-la!!! While these are not elaborate cakes that you would get in the single-subject wedding cake books, they are delicious batter recipes for which you can then build on your own from that solid foundation. There are definite written and photographed instructions for building and decorating the basic wedding cake and that's the strength of wedding cake knowledge which she provides most adequately.)
Tropical Wedding Cake, Golden Dream Wedding Cake, Grand Marnier Wedding Cake, Deep Chocolate Passion Wedding Cake, Double-Chocolate Whammy Groom's Cake, Wedding Cupcakes
Special Effects and Techniques: This is pretty much your decorating section with the basics of cake preparation and such; working with chocolate, making flowers from fruit peels, etc
Ingredients and Basic Recipes: Discussion of what the ingredients do and how to work with them, as well as cream recipes, how to use fruits, spices, nuts, and substitutions
Ingredient Sources: A wonderful directory of resources!
Equipment: A must read section to ensure perfect recipes! Plus a very appreciated cake pan sizes and volume chart
Appendix: Recipes using only egg yolks, recipes using only egg whites, quick-and-easy recipes
I have since made the Lemon Poppy Seed-Sour Cream Cake as well as the Individual Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes and they were excellent! Do I believe in the delicious outcome of the rest of the recipes? Absolutely...............many years of referring to Rose's "Cake Bible", "Bread Bible", and "Christmas Cookies" have made me a ardent follower and trusting devotee of Rose.
This is without a doubt one of the best books that I've seen and I would absolutely rank this as an instant classic. I would describe this not only as a wonderful book of recipes but an excellent teaching tool and reference guide to place on a more prominent part of your book shelve.
A deep bow of gratitude to our Rosie!!