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CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch Hardcover – May 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Brown takes the intimidation factor out of baking with easy-to-follow recipes while entertaining with his upbeat and casual writing style. The former lawyer and bakery owner, fulfills the promise to take readers on a tour of how and why I bake cakes, weaving his personal journey that led to sugar and flour as the tools of his career. Chapters include those featuring types of cake (pound, butter, foam), as well as sections on frostings and glazes, fillings, meringues and cake assembly. The fun and informal recipes, such as Sassy, and Mr. Banana Legs, consist of clear, numbered steps and are accompanied by informative headnotes. Full-color photos illustrate step-by-step techniques and showcase the cakes that are chockfull of appeal with their less-than-perfect appearance and convey the author's philosophy that baking shouldn't be an uptight endeavor; as long as a cake is homemade, it deserves respect. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Reneé Comet is a noted photographer who specializes in food and still-life photography. A cook herself, Comet has a particular passion for cookbooks and has photographed more than 30, including The Artful Pie and The Joy of Cooking. She is also a regular contributor to Vegetarian Times, Food Arts, and The Washington Post.
Top customer reviews
Warren approaches cake baking with a few different ingredients that are part of each basic cake recipe and a slightly different philosophy than your average cookbook. Warren provides information on alterations for baking at high altitudes , not only the ingredient quantity, but cooking times as well. He also gives a few notes on baking in high humidity. He also gives information on different baking temperatures based on having a conventional or convection oven. Warren advises that one should sift the flour into a bowl that is on the scale to avoid dry heavy cakes if you can. This is different from the 3 main approaches, which are dip and sweep, fill the measuring cup spoon by spoon, or simply weighting the ingredients with a scale w/o sifting first. If you don't have a scale he also offers the dry ingredients in cups, but advises the use of a scale due to what his experiments showed was the best measuring method. This and many other crucial steps are in his introduction as well as in the directions, so you must take time to read through his notes for a successful cake.
Warren really takes you by the hand in this book and tries to school you in his personal philosophy of cake baking. He shows you several photos on the creaming stages, how to ice a cake, how to make curd as well as great photos of many of the cakes. Even more pictures can be found at his website.
The way he lays out the recipes is also very helpful in making sure you have a successful guide. For example ingredients are lined up according to whether they are dry, liquid, or part of the creaming or foam steps. I've not had the experience of seeing a cookbook do this and it's helpful.
He is also the first cookbook author to my knowledge to offer alcohol free variations of his cakes. This is fabulous for those who want to avoid the alcohol present in vanilla extract and other alcohol based ingredients. Many people are unaware that even small amounts of alcohol are an issue for a variety of reasons for some people. I commend him for that effort. Many folks just omit that alcoholic ingredient but his changes make sure you are still getting the flavor intended.
Perhaps the strange thing in this book is that, in order to start his recipes you do need to have, extra fine sugar, and potato starch (not corn starch) on hand, which you can order inexpensively (the potato starch) or buy in the ethnic sections of some markets. He explains why he advocates the use of extra fine sugar in the book. Some recipes also call for vanilla powder. The recipe offerings in general are really nice, some are rather unique.
I like that he advises unbleached flour and occasionally goes for unrefined sugars. Everyone isn't ready for whole grain baking although it's the best option, some small changes like this are better than most books which call for bleached flours. He also advocates the use of fair trade chocolate as well. Warren really tries to address a variety of issues in his book that are challenges for some people, such as going toward not using artificial ingredients for sufferers of multiple chemical sensitivity problems.
Overall, this book takes a lot of effort to school you in his way of doing things and he explains scientifically why his ideas work. He tells you right off the bat "this is a tour of how and why I bake cakes from scratch." He really takes you by the hand with photos and explanations to make this different style easier for you. It might be a little different than what is common to most people, but it produces a really nice cake. This is his style, it works for him, it has made his store successful, thus garnering nation wide attention and so it's worth a try. You can continue in following the philosophy of other bakers that have given you success as well as trying his, you just may find that Warren's method is one that you really enjoy.
The recipes are quite simple, ingredients readily available and the fact that he gives "alcohol free" options makes it so much more useful. The Italian Buttercream frosting is one of my favorite things to make as it ALWAYS turns out. He reminds us that cakes need not be complicated and hard to make. With a few skills that are easy to master, you can turn out the most amazing baked creations.
This book and The Cake Book by Tish Boyle are really all you need for an amazing array of easy to difficult cakes for any occasion...as if you need an occasion for cake ;-)