I have been long awaiting the arrival of this second edition book by the most talented Toba Garrett, and it has been worth the wait! Though Chef Garrett has published other fine books in the baking field, the first edition book of "Professional Cake Decorating" published in 2006, had been the one that came initially from the requests of her students; something to consolidate the overwhelming mountains of teaching in this field. The 2006 edition encompassed the techniques of cake decorating, though much can be used in other areas of culinary decorating (cookies, cupcakes, etc). Having the first edition book well-worn, I feel confident in my opinion that this second edition far exceeds all that she offered in the first.
She has updated and reorganized this excellent teaching tome, by steamlining some aspects and intensifying others. With the initial target audience of students, those who are comfortable in their cake decorating skills, as well as a patient beginner, can certainly embrace the joyous challenges as she takes you through a myriad of more detailed lessons and techniques. To compliment the serious attention that she gives this artform, there is an accompanying instructor's manual as well.
The photography is crisp and clear, the drawing clean, the text straight forward. Charts, colored and B&W photographs, with the steps needed to achieve the end results, are given. Having said this, there is an assumption that you have some skill base already. With each lesson, she provides you with the prep/set-up, the instructions, lesson reviews, and even performance tests to help build your confidence by practicing. Each lesson introduction page will list everything you will need to complete that section.
The book is sectioned as such:
INTRODUCTION: Describing what is different in this edition; what has been modified and what was given more attention, so to encompass the teaching and industry changes.
HISTORY of CAKE DECORATING: A marvelous analogy of where the "cake" came from as well as how icing and cake decorating came about, from its rather simple beginning to modern day sensations.
GETTING STARTED: The basics of cake decorating from cakeboards and torting to icing and everything in between. A color chart for tinting, types of cake coverings, etc are all included to get the basic cake ready for decorating.
BASIC PIPING SKILLS: This covers the basics starting with the use of paper decorating bags to reusable bags, how to pipe by touching the icing to the cake or lifting the icing, basic piping shapes, shells, rosettes, garlands and other basic shapes.
FLORAL PIPING SKILLS: Buttercream roses.
INTERMEDIATE PIPING SKILLS: Buttercream flowers, shells, swags, bows, weaves, etc.
ADVANCED PIPING SKILLS: This was one of my favorite chapters in that I love the Lambeth-style of cake decorating. If you enjoy the overlay or overpiping style, you will love this chapter too. I feel that this is the basics of building your Lambeth abilities. And even if you just want a most elegant and 3-D effect, this is definitely your chapter!
THE ART OF WRITING AND PAINTING: One of the things that I appreciate the most is when a truly talented cake decorator can write! There is nothing more disappointing than seeing writing that is child-like or poorly piped; it ruins a cake (this was a personal frustration in my skills). So to learn, this is an invaluable chapter; using templates she provides, you can quickly learn some of the most beautiful cake "penmanship" and not just block letters. I'm talking calligraphy and cursive in different styles. (She included "Food Color Painting" at the end of this lesson though I felt this would have been better in her Lesson 8 "Design Skills").
ROYAL ICING PIPED FLOWERS: This lesson has about 7 different flowers.
ROYAL ICING DESIGN SKILLS: This chapter is wonderful; you learn design transfer methods which is great for those who aren't good at free-hand design, as well as different embroideries and cornelli lace.
HAND MODELLING SKILLS: Fruit marzipan.
MARZIPAN AND CHOCOLATE MODELING: Marzipan and chocolate animals and roses.
ADVANCED ROYAL ICING PIPING AND DESIGN SKILLS: I am absolutely in love with this chapter; I would have bought this book just for this chapter alone. For myself, it had been very hard to find anything solid in Lambeth-style education related to Joseph Lambeth; he was an incredibly gifted man who was a Master of this delicate, layered old school work. The only person I feel is equal to him is Eddie Spence, MBE, who has written a definitive book on this subject called "The Art of Royal Icing". I greatly digress..........this is simply a fantastic chapter that teaches you the intricasies of runouts (flooding) piping, extension work, lace designs, ring designs (love this!), trelliswork, lattice work, and collars. Divine!
ROLLED ICING DESIGN: Working with fondant to drape or decorate a prepped cake.
PASTILLAGE CONSTRUCTION: Making plaques.
GUMPASTE FLOWERS: The basics of flowers.
ADVANCED GUMPASTE FLOWERS: The next level of flowers.
MINI CAKES AND COOKIES: I was expecting mini cakes and a bit more elaborate cookies but this was petit fours and basic cookies. To get a more intense lesson on cookies decorating, I would suggest her book, "The Well-Decorated Cookie".
CAKE and CONFECTIONARY GALLERY: Here's where you put everything together and see how much you learned. The end results of all the lessons rolled into projects.
RECIPES: All kinds of recipes for buttercreams and icings, fondants and pastes, cakes, cookies, curds, and fillings, plus templates, patterns, cutting guides, and alphabets for writing.
This is a wonderful teaching book and if you had to choose between the first and second edition, of course I would suggest this one. There are so many great books out there but when you can get one that has this much detail so that you have everything pretty much laid out for you, I think it would be worth the investment. Peace!