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Extraordinary Cakes: Recipes for Bold and Sophisticated Desserts Hardcover – October 4, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"I hope that you were not planning on starting a diet tomorrow. After reading this book your thoughts will be focused on the cakes. Even if creating an "extraordinary cake" is not in your future the recipes are too good not to try." ~Chocolate & Croissant

“Modern flavors meet classic techniques in these beautiful, delicious desserts.”
—Barbara Fairchild, author of Bon Appetit Desserts
“One bite would hook any patisserie lover. The desserts are beautiful too … sublime.” —Los Angeles Magazine
Extraordinary is too mild a name for this collection of spectacular cakes. I’ve been a fan of Karen Krasne’s for years and I’m particularly overjoyed to see her powerfully delicious and tastefully decorated creations in print. The only problem I can see with this book is deciding which cake to prepare first. Extraordinary Cakes is destined to become a classic.” —Nick Malgieri, author of Bake! and The Modern Baker
“On Saturday nights, the line outside Extraordinary Desserts can extend onto the sidewalk. But once you’ve tasted Karen Krasne’s creations, you’ll forget about the wait.” —The New York Times
Extraordinary Cakes offers up easy-to-follow recipes for deliciously creative cakes, allowing avid bakers to replicate Karen’s trademark desserts at home.” —Jacques Torres, Dean of Pastry Arts, French Culinary Institute
“Talented chef-owner Karen Krasne serves ‘incredible,’ ‘divine,’ ‘world-class,’ baked goods and desserts that are ‘gorgeous to behold.’” —Zagat Survey

About the Author

Karen Krasne is the owner and executive chef of Extraordinary Desserts, San Diego’s number one destination restaurant for desserts for the last twenty years. Her cakes have graced the cover of Bon Appetit, and Forbes recognized her as one of the country’s ten best pastry chefs. She has been featured in The New York Times, Gourmet, Sunset, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Tina Wright is a professional pastry chef and coauthor of two books. A graduate of the Institute for Culinary Education, she helped write the pastry curriculum for the French Culinary Institute in New York.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847858081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847858088
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.9 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #118,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Toni VINE VOICE on November 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. Wow. And wow.

There aren't other words to describe this absolutely breathtaking book of cakes that please both the eyes and the palate, all from Ms. Karen Krasne, owner and chef at "Extraordinary Desserts" restaurant located in San Diego, California.

An incredibly accomplished chef (just look at her resume on the website), she has generously shared a goldmine of talent with us, through gorgeous, pristine photography of some of the most ethereal cakes you will see. To be more specific, these are not character cakes or object cakes; these are very fancy "wow" factor presentations that will give your guests a "gasp" moment.

That being said, this is not a book for baking weaklings, because as Ms. Krasne states in her Introduction, these cakes take time, as in a couple of days, to make. Yes, some can be done within a day, but for the majority of these fabulous cakes, you definitely will need time on your side. Also, you need some solid baking skills or possess much patience, as she has given the recipes in great detail, starting with the batter, then going on to the fillings and frosting, and ending with the assembly and decorations of each masterpiece. And to note, "decor" to her is not sugarpaste or fondant but rather fresh flowers, or ganache, or purees that dot the plate, which is all that is needed with many of these cakes because the dessert itself is so beautiful.

As I mentioned previously, the photography is of each finished cake and a slice within, though in the "Introduction" section, there are several photos of how to decorate. Her presentation of each recipe is very detailed with multiple steps; this also describes the way she presents cakes that have either subtle nuances to those with complex flavors that build on each other.
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By HelenW on December 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I received my copy of Extraordinary Cakes almost 2 weeks ago, and fortunately had an excuse to try out a cake for my mother's birthday last weekend.


Introduction: includes a rundown on equipment, ingredients and techniques - I found pages 14-18 the most interesting as it included some step-by-step photos on specific techniques, I skimmed through the rest - though it looked clear and logically laid out.

Cake Recipes: divided by season - the cake recipes are comprehensive and clearly broken up into steps for cake/fillings/assembly/decor.

The photos are beautiful with pictures of finished cakes, along with a slice view of many of the cakes, but not all of them.

Recipes do not seem to be doubled up, if the base cake is the same as an earlier recipe, you will be referred back to that page - i.e. the ricotta pound cake used in the Tortamisu p.120, is found on p.57, similarly for recipes such as Chocolate Ganache. I don't mind this as these cakes are generally several day projects, and I am working on a specific section at a time anyway.

The bulk of recipes are layer cakes which are assembled in a cake tin with a removable bottom and then frozen overnight to allow for a solid, uniform cake structure and ease of construction/handling.

One con for me was the fact that the recipe ingredients are not listed in weight, which is my preferred option, but are instead given in volume. It wasn't a deal-breaker for me though, I would have bought the book regardless.

The format worked for me as, if you want to, you can easily use elements from various recipes to change things up - I just want to try a bit of everything!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been a home baker for many many years I find it to be such fun and a great challenge to create wonderful deserts for my family and friends. I own way to many cook books I love each and every one of them. I purchased Extraordinary Cakes by Karen Krasne even though I had promised myself to hold off on more cook books due to lack of space in my kitchen bookcase. I was looking for inspiration for my baby brother Wedding cake I was in a rut so I ordered this book based on the photos and reviews I read on this site. Yes the photos are great and the combinations are inspiring it's what I needed as a treat right before Christmas. Extraordinary Cakes is not a book for a novice bakers; It takes an expert eye to know that some of the recipes are off and the directions are missing steps. So far I've make variations on the Ivoire Royale and the Strawberry Poppy Seed Cake I ended up double checking the cake recipes with the Cake Bible by Rose Levy, Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and the Wedding Cake Book by Debe Wilson. I did not use the cake recipes from Extraordinary Cakes. I think that Extraordinary Cakes is very inspirational but proceed with caution when using the recipes double check the recipes against baking cook book essentials that I mentioned above or other classics. And keep on Baking
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is like being given the manual on fabulous! As an avid Extraordinary Desserts fan I have long been curious as to the "how is that done" I experience regularly there. Now I know! I have already made two of the recipes in this book with stellar results. Karen Krasne I thank you!
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