Covering cheesecakes, chocolate cakes, fruit cakes, rolled cakes, filled cakes, meringue cakes, nut cakes, coffee cakes, sponge cakes, and pound cakes, not to mention frostings, fillings, and glazes, Nick Malgieri's Perfect Cakes
is a "product of a lifetime of collecting and baking." Malgieri is a much acclaimed cookbook author (Cookies Unlimited
), pastry chef, and baking instructor, so he's had a lot of practice presenting recipes in a way that makes them easy to follow. The informative chapter on ingredients and equipment will get you started. Ingredients and baking equipment for each recipe are listed in a yellow box; steps are clearly numbered and storage instructions follow every one.
The recipes come from home bakers who are aunts, grandmothers, friends, and friends of friends, as well as food writers and professional bakers; some also come from Malgieri's kitchen, of course. The delectably moist Orange Poppy Seed Cake is as easy a recipe as you can hope to find, and don't miss his Aunt Virginia's Sour Cream Coffee Cake. The 19th-century Morris Cake is simple yet elegant, and the truly unique Green Tea Pound Cake comes from Paris's Mariage Frères. Beware the decadent Chocolate Pecan Caramel Cake. Whatever the celebration or occasion, there's nothing like a perfect cake--and you're sure to find it here. --Leora Y. Bloom
James Beard Award winner Malgieri (How to Bake; Cookies Unlimited) shares precise and temptingly unfussy recipes in this cake treasury. Recipes are meticulously tested and easy to follow; however, this is not the book for the Duncan Hines set. Each chapter presents both basic and complicated recipes: Coffee Cakes include Sour Cream Coffee Cake and a Brioche Bee Sting Cake with almond brittle topping and a pastry cream filling. While sinful ingredients abound, cheesecakes come both New York style and light unbaked, and there are plenty of butterless sponge cakes. Sprinkled lightly like confectioners' sugar are homey recipes from friends (Passover Sponge Cake from Kyra Effren). Malgieri's tone is one of sincerity, whether his subjects are pound cakes, pleasantly old-fashioned rolls (such as Buche de Noel and Strawberry Roulade), fruit and nut cakes, individual cakes, layer and molded cakes or meringues. There is some central European influence, with Viennese Linzertorte and Apricot Marzipan Cake, and Swiss Kirsch cake. France (Blanc-Manger Aux Framboises) and Italy (Torta Di Nocciole Alla Veronese) are also well represented. The book proffers a few surprises, like Green Tea Pound Cake and an Armenian cake with farina. Most recipes are unburdened by architectural flourishes. Some cakes have many steps: Passion-Fruit Bavarian Cream Cake has five parts, but none of these is difficult in itself the biggest challenge is assembly. Recipe notes, a chapter on decorating and some photos of the finished results all help. Where many compendiums tend to be overwhelming or scattershot, this book stylishly covers just what home cooks need.
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