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Master Class with Toba Garrett Hardcover – January 29, 2013
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There are several other books that have been written on this particular subject by other authors, in which I was most happy to read: the desire to create the projects was exciting; the photography inspired you. But unfortunately, I felt little of this within this book, once again, with all due respect to Chef Garrett.
Perhaps I was expecting grander instruction or detailed instruction but I did not seem to feel that much was given in either area. When I heard "masterclass", I looked forward to details. This book seemed very generic in its content; perhaps if this was her first book, it might have been OK. The projects were good but not exciting.
Regarding photography, it was for the most part, somewhat amateur at best. When you want to show off something spectacular, you want crisp, crystal clear photography that shows every aspect in pristine detail. Many of the photos were somewhat fuzzy and not clear; the tiniest details were blurry. Some photos were good and those were most appreciated.
As to tutorials, for some people, photography is essential in order to visually understand what is being taught. I felt that for some of the steps and/or projects, some sequential tutorials would have been appropriate. Also, I feel it is difficult to appreciate penciled black and white drawings of certain steps that were scattered within the chapters; so much time, effort, and energy is being spent sharing talent, that these type of drawings are a disappointment.
Now with all that being said, this book was good in some of its projects. It has basically 9 chapters in which the first two chapters cover her introduction to cake artistry as well as the essentials of piping, flowers, drapery, the use of royal icing, and embroidery.
It is to be noted that the reader should already have basic knowledge of cake baking, as this is a text of cake artistry that is being presented for both cake and cupcakes. There is no instruction of how to bake the cakes as this is assumed just by the title subject; Chef Garrett has written another book entitled "Professional Cake Decorating" that covers this aspect and I highly recommend this book for her excellent teaching chapters.
The next 6 chapters cover the types of cakes you would be making for various themed parties such as anniversaries, weddings, showers, etc. The ones that were the most interesting were the cake that was made using the Lambeth Method with royal icing: those delicate strings of dried icing that stand out in 3-D form and look impossible to be real. Also, Australian string work cake was also shown. These two particular projects are most definitely a test of your patience and skills as fine motor skills are necessary to make these delicate cakes.
Another cake that using royal icing was the "Nirvana Cake" in which royal icing was used to make run-outs of panels and plates, that would eventually be used to cover the top and sides of a cake.
Another pretty cake was the dress cake called "Courtly Dress". It is a cake made in the image of the grand dresses that women wore during the Renaissance. Though the colors used for this cake were nice in their moss green and brown palette, I could see this in the rich and royal colors of the Royal Courts that would make this project really "pop" when you see it (perhaps a deep royal blue or crimson red?).
The "Venetian Mask Cake" would also be an interesting and fun project that would work very well for a Mardi Gras event in that you learn to make a edible mask to place on the cake.
A pumpkin cake, a clock cake, floral-topped and fruit-topped cupcakes, and delicately hand-piped and embroidered cookies are also some of the projects that are offered.
The last chapter covers the recipes for the cakes as well as the cupcakes, cookies, and the recipes for the icings, gumpaste, modeling chocolate, etc.
The last section has the templates for the projects as well.
The book has some essential cake decorating techniques at the beginning, followed by the projects. The rest of the decorating techniques are introduced with each product. The sections are Anniversary Cakes, Birthday Cakes, Groom's Cakes, Wedding Cakes, Seasonal Cakes, and Small Bites: Decorated Cookies and Cupcakes. There is also a section of recipes at the end. I haven't tried the recipes in this book yet, but I use recipes from her other books frequently.
There are some interesting projects in the book, and helpful techniques, such as how to make bamboo to put around the edge of a cake.
I think this book should have a had a title that more accurately reflects what it is: a book of Toba Garrett's favorite techniques and inspirations.
Linda Lenoir, NC