- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (April 19, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1617691887
- ISBN-13: 978-1617691881
- Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1 x 10.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 95 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes Hardcover – April 19, 2016
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Top customer reviews
Quite honestly, the cover of this book didn't do it for me... I figured the author was playing off of a layering fad, and I'd end up with a cliched book with run-of-the-mill recipes. Been there; done that.
Well, I am now prepared to 1) thank all of the people who gave this book 5 stars, and 2) apologize to the author for almost slighting her book. This is as close to baking perfection as I could hope for. Only faults are that it could be longer (not the author's fault, simply me loving the book so much that more of a good thing is, well, a Good Thing) and the size pans the author uses (I have a bunch of 9" pans, and the author uses 6", 8" and 10"... again, not her fault, it simply means that I need more pans 8-)
"Layered" is well laid out: the author covers everything from her own family history to decorating/frosting tips that don't require much time or effort but look amazing. Visually, the book is a winner. Almost every recipe has a picture of both the entire cake and a cut slice. If there are specific techniques used on a cake, there are pictures of those too. By covering the decorating techniques at the start of the book the author has allowed the reader to say, "I can do that!" with confidence. The photos show thoughtful presentation, and highlight the flavors that make each cake unique.
The most amazing (and most appreciated) element of this book is the wide variety of flavors and flavor combinations used. The sections are divided into "Classic Cakes", "Chocolate Cakes", "Casual Cakes", Whimsical Cakes", "Adventurous Cakes" and "Holiday Cakes". "Classic" includes everything from Neapolitan to Brooklyn Blackout to a delightful twist on French Opera Cake. "Chocolate" covers the Ultimate Candy Bar Cake (OK, the author had me at that one) to Chocolate Matcha to Peanut Porter. "Casual" covers fruits, nuts and more (um) casual options, such as a Honey Apple Cake and a Sweet Tea Cake. "Whimsical" ranges from Rainbow Sprinkle to Strawberry Confetti Cakes. "Adventurous" features Raspberry Stout Cake and Pink Peppercorn Cherry Cake. "Holiday" boasts Winter Peppermint Cake, Pumpkin Pie Cake, and many others.
If ever there was a bake-my-way-through book, this is it. The author explains her flavors choices and combos, and I appreciate her effort to share her personality and thoughts. She has created a book of unique cakes, but done it in a way that makes them accessible and suitable for whatever event you may need a cake for.
Encore Tessa Huff; Encore!
There are a few flaws that hold this cookbook back from being perfect. The largest one is the fact that the ingredients list and the instructions are almost never on pages facing one another. Instead, there is a gorgeous photo next to the ingredients list, and usually another beautiful photo next to the directions. While these photos are drool-worthy, it is really difficult/annoying to flip back and forth between pages mid-baking. That's particularly true in this case, where the publisher elected to make this hardback a board book - it does not stay open well (and half the pages were stuck together when I received it, although I think I've unstuck them all now). Also, a lot of these recipes yield 3 or 4 layer 6 -or 8-inch cakes. Those are not very typical pan sizes (in the US) - the most common here seems to be the 9-inch. This means that either you'll need to adapt the recipe for your cake pans (which is doable: google Food52's post on baking pan conversions) or you'll need to go buy around $30-120 worth of new pans (depending on your brand of choice).
In the end, I do really adore this cookbook. Tessa goes beyond a standard "recipe book" here, with very precise and well-written language guiding the reader through the process of recreating her masterpieces in their own home. Whether you're new to baking or experienced, there will be plenty here to learn from and enjoy. I'm looking forward to making a lot of the whimsical cakes, like the blood orange thyme cake, the butterscotch bourbon cake, the blueberry pancake cake, and the coconut mojito cake. Also, although there are multiple recipes that require ingredients I don't usually keep around the house or require more time than I have during the week, I was able to throw together her oatmeal cookie cake tonight - it's easy to make with pantry/fridge ingredients and is absolutely delicious!
Edit 04.28.16. I've now made the blood orange thyme cake, the chocolate stout raspberry cake, and the birthday cake. My co-workers asked me if I was planning to enter a competition with these cakes because they taste and look so stunning. Buy this book immediately and start baking!