Profile for Cal Cakestall > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Cal Cakestall
Top Reviewer Ranking: 519,782
Helpful Votes: 89

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Cal Cakestall "Cooking for fêtes, hampers, and edible gifts" (UK)

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
Sugar Flowers for Beginners: A Step-by-step Guide to Getting Started in Sugar Floristry
Sugar Flowers for Beginners: A Step-by-step Guide to Getting Started in Sugar Floristry
by Paddi Clark
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.88

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only for the person who wants to invest seriously, 24 Oct 2011
This is a beautifully produced book and has many lovely projects in it, but it's only for those who want to invest a lot of time and effort in becoming a serious worker with sugar flowers.

Each project requires many different specialist tools. There's no sort of progression as in 'buy these three things first, this is what you can make with them, then add extra tools'.

Each project also requires a lot of work. This isn't a book for the casual person who simply wants to make a few pretty flowers for an occasional cake.

Despite it looking lovely, I returned it.


Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar
Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great recipies; some imagination needed, 24 Oct 2011
This is a very useful little book. Because it's vegan, it's a handy book to have around for baking days when you don't happen to have any eggs or butter in the house.

There's one special ingredient, ground flax seed, that pops up quite often. I found it in Holland and Barratt and one packet lasts for ages, many recipes' worth. So it's not that much of a problem to keep it in the house.

I've done several recipes from it and they've all been well received. I just don't bother mentioning to people that they're vegan.

I've also tried substituting gluten-free flour for ordinary flour in a few recipes and that worked fine as well.

The reason you'll need some imagination?
- some recipes don't have pictures
- the book hasn't been adapted for the UK market, so you'll have do to a bit of substituting and figuring out.

I think it's worth it, though; this is a book I come back to often.


Cupcake Celebration: Over 25 Excuses to Indulge (Bake Me, I'm Yours...)
Cupcake Celebration: Over 25 Excuses to Indulge (Bake Me, I'm Yours...)
by Lindy Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You'll need a lot of patience to succeed with this, 1 Nov 2010
This is an attractively-produced small book with some interesting cupcake ideas. So why only three stars, when all the other reviews have been enthusiastic? Here's where the book lost or won stars for me.

1. Nice production. Plus one star.

Like I said, an attractive little book with a pleasant layout and good photography.

2. Legibility is a problem. Minus one star.

Most of the text is in small, grey type. You'll need excellent eyesight to read this comfortably, and it's going to be really hard to read it in uncertain lighting in an ordinary kitchen.

3. Cupcake recipes. Plus two stars.

Because of the legibility problem, I haven't yet tried making any of the recipes. Helpfully, each recipe says how long it keeps for - and several of them have good, long lead times. This is an unusual feature, and something you'll definitely need to know if you try the decorating ideas. There's a nice variety of familiar favourites and more unusual recipes.

4. Quantities. A warning and a benefit. Neither plus nor minus.

The recipes make a variable number of cupcakes, with the 'Hummingbird' (banana/pineapple) one giving you lots and lots. I'm a keen cupcake maker and I don't own enough pans to hold that recipe in one go, or enough oven space to cook them. On the other hand, there's a nice chart showing you how many cupcakes you can expect to get from each recipe in a wide variety of differnt sizes of tins.

5. Recipes for different decorating materials. Plus one star.

One section of the book tells you how to make a whole lot of types of icing including sugarpaste. The book is honest about which of them are really practical, and which ones are only for people who have real trouble buying the particular product ready-made. Due to the legibility problem (above), I haven't yet tried to make any of them.

6. Decorating ideas. Plus one star.

There ideas for decorating the cupcakes are varied and (mostly) original. We get one based on the straightforward piped buttercream swirl, but lots of others. There are detailed directions for each cupcake and it looks like they should be possible.

7. Practicality of decorating ideas. Minus one star.

On the other hand - the complications! Each idea lists all the different recipes you'll need and the equipment. It's amazing. A typical idea might need FIVE recipes of ingredients PLUS half-a-dozen items of equipment. Many of those items are used only once in the book.

I think the ideas have been worked out in a professional cake kitchen, where all these different things are kept in stock and used daily. If you're an enthusiast, maybe you've already got them. I bake quite a bit but decorate far less, and so although I've picked up a few items here and there, there's no way I have all of them. Here are a few that I certainly don't have:
- playing card embosser
- pansy mould
- icing pump to make a sort of 'hair'

And there's no sense of how much time a particular idea might take to do. That playing card cupcake looks like it would probably take at least an hour for each cupcake. Hmm. And that's after the time to make or buy all the stuff it needs. Hmm again. Enough to send me back to the usual glace-icing-plus-sprinkles.

So: the bottom line. If you're already doing a lot of semi-professional or professional cake decorating, you might want to take a look at this book for the decorating ideas and the recipes.

If you're an ordinarily enthusiastic baker, you might enjoy the recipes but you'll be facing a lot of expense, time, and patience if you want to tackle more than a couple of the decorating ideas.


The Only Bake Sale Cookbook You'll Ever Need: 201 Mouthwatering, Kid-Pleasing Treats
The Only Bake Sale Cookbook You'll Ever Need: 201 Mouthwatering, Kid-Pleasing Treats
by Laurie Goldrich Wolf
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Very USA, but worth it for some fun recipes and good tips, 13 Aug 2010
This book gets high ratings on Amazon.com, and so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

It opens with a useful section with tips for running your bake sale in the USA. You'll need some imagination about how to apply them to running a cake stall in the UK, but if you're willing to do that then they're rather helpful.

The rest of the book is arranged in chapters of recipes, again very much giving an insight into what USA people expect from their bake sales; rather different from UK views. For example, the first chapter is devoted to Rice Krispie treats. As you might expect there are chapters on cookies, pies and muffins - not a Victoria Sandwich in sight.

If you're happy to work with USA-style measuring in cups and can handle translations of ingredients into UK terms, then the recipes are pretty good although they can be much sweeter than we expect, and with plentiful use of peanut butter. I've made the Lemon Bars which were delicious, like a shortbread base with a lemon-curd-flavour topping baked on, and the Rice Krispie Chocolate Swirls which are amazingly sweet peanut-butter-flavoured Rice Krispie treats rolled up like a swiss roll around a rich chocolate icing.

No pictures apart from the ones on the front cover.

Some ingredients would be difficult to get in the UK other than by ordering by Internet, e.g. peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips and toffee chips. If you want to create the authentic flavour, you'd need to get busy on the Internet - or just substitute ordinary chocolate chips and the recipe will work OK. For corn syrup, either just use golden syrup (not the same but it works in the same sort of way) or, if you like the stronger flavour, then half maple syrup and half golden syrup.

I'm going to try a few more recipes from here, although definitely not the ones that start by purchasing a package of mix.


Good Food: 101 Cakes & Bakes: Tried and tested Recipes
Good Food: 101 Cakes & Bakes: Tried and tested Recipes
by Mary Cadogan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good value: very cheap, some nice recipes, 12 Aug 2010
I picked up this little book for less than £3 on a special offer, and it's usually less than £4. It's nicely produced (maybe the type is a bit small) with each double-page spread having a recipe and the corresponding picture.

I've tried quite a few recipes now (parkin, raisin spice cake, dark chocolate cake, chewy flapjack) and will probably continue to try a few more.

Plus points:
- cheap
- nicely produced
- simple instructions
- mixture of old-fashioned favourites (flapjack) and more unusual ideas (St Lucia cake)

Minus points:
- recipes don't always work. Example: I've tried the dark chocolate cake twice and it came out dry and bitter each time
- descriptions aren't always consistent. For example, keeping time is important to me: sometimes it says what it is, sometimes it doesn't
- nothing to guide you as to which recipes are easier than others, or special equipment needed
- repetitive. There are several flapjack recipes that are very similar, and several recipes for that start with boiling an orange.

I'm not quite sure who this book is for. If you're a keen cake-baker, you'll probably have many of these recipes in other books. If you're a new baker, you might find that you hit one of the dodgier recipes first off. It seems to be aimed at the occasional but knowledgeable baker.

So I hesitated for a long time over whether to give it three or four stars. It seems unkind to a book that I keep trying recipes from to just give it three stars, but then four stars would seem to be quite an endorsement. In the end, I decided that I couldn't justify more than three.


" And Judy Will Run The Cake Stall" . How to Bake for Fundraising without Getting Egg on Your Face.
" And Judy Will Run The Cake Stall" . How to Bake for Fundraising without Getting Egg on Your Face.
by Parkinson Cowan
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Very thin pamphlet with some good tips in it, 10 Jun 2010
This is a nice little pamphlet with four pages of tips about running a cake stall. To summarise:
- bake in batches
- traditional favourites always sell well
- be careful about refrigeration
- be careful about hygiene
- wrap the items you sell, while they are on display and also when transporting them
- if you freeze items ahead and then thaw them to sell, make sure they are marked 'do not refreeze'
- try to borrow baker's trays for transportation (I think this one would be tricky these days; I find that fruit boxes from the supermarket are more practical)
- avoid using fresh cream for decoration in hot weather
- package your offerings attractively
- as a guide to pricing: add up the cost of ingredients, add a third of that to cover time and fuel, and then add a third of that total for profit
- you get more profit on three 7 inch cakes than on two 8 inch
- a large cake cut into 12 portions sells for more than if you sold it whole.

The rest of the book (a dozen pages) is a selection of recipes, mostly for the recommended 'old fashioned favourites'.

It's not that easy to get hold of a copy; they come up second-hand from time to time.

I've only given it three stars because it really is a very thin little pamphlet.


Geraldene Holt's Cake Stall
Geraldene Holt's Cake Stall
by Geraldene Holt
Edition: Paperback

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice recipes but it isn't about cake stalls, 3 Jun 2010
Because I'm really interested in cooking for cake stalls, I hunted the second-hand sites until I was able to get a copy of this very hard-to-find book at an affordable price.

It's a nice book: thoughtfully written, practical recipes that entice you into baking them. Many of them have hints about how long they keep, and Geraldene Holt also gives plenty of thought to the expense. For example, she talks about finding a friendly egg farmer who might sell you cracked eggs for a low price.

BUT:
- as another reviewer said, it's just an ordinary Penguin paperback, no illustrations, nothing fancy. For similar recipes at a much lower price, you'd probably do just as well with Delia Smith's Book of Cakes (Coronet Books), from approximately the same era and widely available for much less
- if you were wanting tips about running a cake stall, e.g. for a fete or at a market, then you won't find much in here to help you.


Page: 1