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cognitivefun

Best cake books?

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Well, it certainly seem like everyone on here, and in the universe, has a copy of Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible".

Except me.

Tell me people, should I jump on the RLB bandwagon.....or....not?

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I love RLB's Cake Bible but didn't originally. When I first got it I was very new to baking and, to be honest, found it intimidating. What I needed was some more experience hands on with baking before I could go back and appreciate what RLB provides. So, it depends where you are and what you are looking for. You may want to start with Nick Malgieri or Dorie Greenspan. Both of them provide recipes that are easy to follow and, from my experience, have always been foolproof.

That's just my opinion.

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I'm a Berenbaum fan (prefering her Pie & Pastry Book for inspiration than her Cake book), but when I want to blow someone away with a cake, I keep turning to the array of Marcel Desaulnier books; Desserts To Die For, and Death By Chocolate. The former is not chocolate-specific and has my favorite carrot cake recipe. I do not have his Death By Chocolate Cakes book, but would pick it up in a heart-beat if found used (I never by a new cookbook...)

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I like to use The Art of the Cake; Modern French Baking and Decorating by Bruce Healy and Paul Bugat for reference. Great instructions with line drawings, and delicious cakes. I think even a beginning baker could be happy with this.

I also love Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking which includes recipes for both basic cakes as well as genoise and chiffon, and great technical explanations for why things work the way they do in baking. It's not just a cake book, and includes recipes for many other wonderful desserts.

If you're looking for a great BASIC American cake book, I highly recommend Carole Walter's Great Cakes which is a huge book generouslyn packed with all of the popular American cakes, along with 3 pages of excellent trouble-shooting. The book includes cheesecakes, sponge cakes, butter cakes, pound cakes, coffee cakes, party cakes, passover cakes, and a plethora of frostings, fillings, glazes, sauces, and even Swiss Buttercream.

Enjoy baking!

Eileen

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The Cake Bible is a good stand-by book to have. A few of her cake recipes from that book miss the mark, such as the white velvet cake (dry), but a great reference. She is currently working on a new cake book, out in 2008 I believe, so you could wait for that one.

I love the Death By Chocolate Cake book, wow, some really good recipes in it and beautifully photographed and explained, one of my favorites.

I also like James McNair's Cake book, although out of print, you can buy used copies, or check your library for all of these. He has some wonderful recipes for both cakes and accompanying adornments.

Both Cake books from Dede Wilson are wonderful and I just love her IMB recipe. Her combinations of flavors are the best, my mouth just waters reading them.

Toba Garrett for her cake decorating skills and her new book is out in a couple of days (18th), so can't wait.

My last, but only on this list, favorite cake book is Nick Malgieri, Perfect Cakes, great recipes and a wealth of information. He supports high-ratio mixing for cakes, yeah!!!

Oh, and ...thought I was done... Cook's Illustrated. Although not a "cake book", their Baking Illustrated has some of my favorite of all time recipes in it (just beware of the corrections to the book as some effect the recipes.)


Edited by RodneyCk (log)

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Well, there's cookbooks which are full of wonderful recipes and then there are books for inspiration when decorating cakes (these books also provide recipes, but I think it is only because the author feels obligated!!!)

All of the ones mentioned above are good baking resources (I love the Art of the Cake, Great Cakes, The Simple Art of Perfect Baking - which has lots of other recipes not just cake recipes - anything by Maida Heatter and I have a few British cookbooks too) that will serve you well if you get them.

Re the Cake Bible... it has a couple of good recipes that are useful for when someone wants something unusual... like the pistachio marzipan for making green apples and pears; or the food processor poured fondant, an eggless milk choc buttercream, a nice pound cake recipe that I've spiced up a little for autumn, a few good chiffon cake recipes that have never failed me. I think you should borrow a copy from the library and see what you think.

For decorating inspiration, I'd suggest some of Colette Peter's later books, Margaret Braun's Cakewalk (just to oggle the pictures), anything by the British authors Debbie Brown or Lindy Smith for children's cake ideas.

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Visit Rose's web siteThe Cake Bible.com

Read her blog, it is interesting.

I like her book which is going into a new printing with some corrections.

I have been there and read some of her stuff and I like what I read there recently.

However, I am not at all a fan of RLB although when I first read her book, cover to cover I might add, I was dizzy with rapture. However, the book resides backwards on my shelf, spine side in toward the wall.

Her recipes are not written in an easy to manage manner. You have to look hither and yon to gather all the information you need to complete the task. She's got the 3-way chart, she's got written directions and then she's got bulleted facts necessary for success in bold in the margin--too many ways to go. For example, the oven temperature is in italics in the paragraphs of written directions. The size of the pans is in the margin. Why?

She packs a fair amount of attitude into her cake book evidenced at a minimum in the heady use of the phrase 'the...bible'

She hurt my feelings when she told her snow storm and the brother's wedding cake story page 209 - 213. It's truly unfortunate that the beautiful cake she made did not arrive for her dear brother's nuptuals. Equally unfortunate is her account that disparages hulking white baroque cakes in general and the one hulking white baroque cake maker in particular that ultimately provided her brother's cake. His friends ran out & got it for him when she did not arrive due to weather.

I had just purchased some "insipid" white cupid pillars ~~ honey, I thought I was so dang uptown. RLB brought me to my senses fast. I was an avid maker of "those hulking white baroque numbers adorned with plastic Grecian columns and insipid cupids" Hey, come on, I also used the fountains, staircases & rainbow colored bridesmaids too!!! :laugh:

After more than a decade, I finally broke down and bought the book, cheap and used. I do forgive her. But I'm not turning the book around on the shelf either.

Ask me what I really think... :rolleyes:

It's Annie's fault:

Well, it certainly seem like everyone on here, and in the universe, has a copy of Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible".

Except me.

Tell me people, should I jump on the RLB bandwagon.....or....not?

Agh, no. Let's wait for the re-write. We all mellow with age, eh??


Edited by K8memphis (log)

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I was thinking of asking for a little more info about what type of book you're looking for, one with recipes or one for visual inspiration and technique. For inspiration, I go with Margaret Braun, Kerry Vincent, Nadine Hurst and Toba Garrett. For recipes, I have RLB's Cake Bible and Nick Malgieri's but would like a few others myself. I was looking at Dede Wilson and thinking of checking the library to scope it out.

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...

Toba Garrett for her cake decorating skills and her new book is out in a couple of days (18th), so can't wait.

RodneyCk, this book is out already. I've had it for at least a week, and it's very nice. Got mine through Jessica's Biscuit (ecookbooks.com) for $39.

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The Cake Book by Tish Boyle has some good recipes in it. Pretty much anything I've made from any of her books turns out.

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i love RBL's cake bible, i've had great success with many of her cakes, truly some of my favorites. :wub: also anything by nick m. and baking illustrated.

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I would suggest: The cake book by Tish Boyle & Perfect cakes by Carol Walter.......for the extensive information and the numbers of recipes.

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I have and use the Cake Bible. Not every recipe I've tried from it has been the best of it's type, but it is a great reference and good for incidental recipes like fondant and chocolate plastic. I love her scientific approach and the information on how each recipe works and compairs to similar cakes.

Another book that is excellent and I haven't seen mentioned yet is "The Perfect Cake" by Susan Purdy. Very comprehensive and solid recipes.

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I'll add to the list:

Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard

In total honesty, I've had more than one disappointment with SY's Secrets of Baking. I'm OK if a recipe comes out without the exact flavor or texture I expected, but there are recipes in the book which did not perform at all as presented. I even posted the problem about one here and others tried it with the same misfortune (it wasn't a cake recipe). I would expect more from SY but something like that turns me off from a book.

That's why I said earlier that the Nick Malgieri and Dorie Greenspan books have always been dependable. RLB is a great reference book. Also, Baking with Julia has never let me down. Of course, that's got DG's finger prints all over it but, then again, anything by Julia (with or without co-authors) has always been dependable.

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I also recommend The Whimsical Bakehouse book. Nothing too complicated. Good basic cake, filling and frosting recipes, cheesecakes, etc. as well as decorating how tos. I've gotten the most "tasters" compliments from their recipes vs. Cake Bible and some others I own.

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I purchased Rosies' Bakery All-butter fresh cream sugar packed no-holds-barred baking book, and the Tish Boyle Cakes book, and I couldn't be more pleased. The Boyle book was available from Amazon for $13.00 and what a bargain! The Rosie's book seems great. I baked the Expresso Kahlua cake from the Boyle book, and the Apple Cake from Rosie's book and both came out great.

I think next might be Nick Malgieri's Cakes book but I'm not sure I'd have anything I don't already have. I am not very interested in fancy decorations at this point, just in many good solid and delicious cake recipes and both books have them!

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I have Rosie's and Nick's. There are few repeats that I can see between those two. I don't have Tish's.

I sat and read some of Nick's stuff just this week. Really awesome stuff. Meringue layer cakes. Yule logs~~for real yule logs. I saw someone making one once and they sculpted the log from a stack of cake instead of rolling it up--agh!!! Several flourless chocolate cakes, tunnel of fudge cake, nut flour nut cakes, pound cake, coffeecakes, cheesecakes etc etc. Special recipes from friends and famous people and locations worldwide. There might be some overlap with Tish's and Nick's but there's enough unique in Nick's to make it worthwhile I'll bet.

Now I worry about his layer cake picture because there is no dam of icing encircling the fruit filling page 187, 188, 195, 203. I cannot get away with that. :rolleyes: But more power to Nick. His are "perfect" cakes after all! :laugh:

It is an easy to use compendium of international cake making. You would not regret owning a copy if one came along. It's all recipes. Loaded. The pictures are droolisious. But while they are perfect they are homemade looking. Not uber professional decor or anything like that.

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Now I worry about his layer cake picture because there is no dam of icing encircling the fruit filling page 187, 188, 195, 203. I cannot get away with that. :rolleyes:  But more power to Nick. His are "perfect" cakes after all!  :laugh:

...

I like this book, and love the pictures, but... I learned from my chef instructor, who worked on a cookbook shoot preparing the items for the book, that all that you see is not real life. Recipes were doctored for the picture so they would cut perfectly, hold up under the lights, etc.

No wonder my stuff doesn't come out like the book!

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Now I worry about his layer cake picture because there is no dam of icing encircling the fruit filling page 187, 188, 195, 203. I cannot get away with that. :rolleyes:  But more power to Nick. His are "perfect" cakes after all!  :laugh:

...

I like this book, and love the pictures, but... I learned from my chef instructor, who worked on a cookbook shoot preparing the items for the book, that all that you see is not real life. Recipes were doctored for the picture so they would cut perfectly, hold up under the lights, etc.

No wonder my stuff doesn't come out like the book!

I would also think that he used cake rings to assemble the cake. I think that will eliminate the need for an icing dam. I was looking at some pic's of Ron Ben Israel cake slices and his cakes appear to be filled without dams too. I really believe the rings are the secret.


Edited by sugarlove (log)

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Maybe. But rings and dams have different purposes. One uses a ring certainly to build up layer upon layer of different components in a cake. The purpose of a dam is to glue the cake together around the outside perimeter to have something the icing can adhere to so the cake does not shift and slide apart on the slick filling.

However, for my particular purposes, if I am torting a 16 x 14 x 10 x 6 square cake a ring would be incredibly cumbersome. I currently have a 17" & 15" square, a 12" petal and a 9" & 6" round tier cake going. I mean I can tort and fill and ice a zillion cakes without a ring and without a dam but on the long ride home it's likely they'll spring a leak or slide.

I mean little home cakes that go from counter to table don't really need a dam either kinda sorta, if you stick in a bunch of toothpicks :raz: So a ring is not essential to torting and building up a cake. A dam is essential if you want it delivered in one piece. The dams are actually the secret.

I think it's just pretty for the pictures. I've heard that that's a whole industry, food for photos.

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