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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2011
Having been impressed by the Hummingbird Bakery produce before, I knew I had to pre-order this book to have a go myself. Having gotten the book a few days ago, I've been examining it lots, and even baking a few recipes, and I must say, this book is seriously yummy! I can't wait to be able to taste more of these delicious recipes!

As for the recipes, there are lots of cupcakes (as expected) quite a few cakes and cheesecakes, plenty of loafs, bars and cookies, and several whoopie pies. As a nice surprise, there are also a few savoury muffin recipes. Some of their recipes have really intriguing combinations - how about a Beetroot and Chocolate Cupcake? Or maybe a Chocolate Guinness Cake? Or a Courgette, Walnut and Cinnamon Layer Cake? I'll definately will be trying these, just to try how these combinations work out.

The recipes are not overly complicated, and as for levels some are pretty simple, and some increase in difficulty demanding several steps. Almost all of the ingredients are easily found in well-stocked supermarkets and if not, they can be substituted with something very similar (e.g. you can easily make a buttermilk substitute yourself). There are also some baking tips at the back for those with not that much experience.

The only annoying thing I found with the book was the lay-out. The book is divided into holiday/special occasion -sections (e.g. Halloween, Mothers Day, Christmas...), and each sections has cupcakes, cakes, whoopie pies, loafs, savoury muffins etc. This makes it more difficult to find what you want to bake, and if you are looking for example different cupcakes you'd have to flip through the whole book to locate all the recipes. To me it would be more logical to have cupcakes in one section, cakes in another, whoopie pies in a third and so on.

And if I'm nitpicking, the graphic design was done inconsistently, as some of the pictures have white frames and some don't. But this is a very minor point.

Nonetheless, overall this is an inspiring book with yummy recipes!
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2011
Like many other reviewers I pre-ordered this book, as I am a big fan of the first Hummingbird Cookbook and the Bakery itself. I have made many recipes from the previous book, particularly the chocolate cupcakes, which are always unbelievable and have gained me many a compliment! Also, they seem to keep really well, if you have to make a couple of days ahead.

I made my first recipe from the new book yesterday, the caramel cupcakes, which have gone down a treat at home and at work. The sponge is unbelievably light and moist, which I find to be true with all Hummingbird cupcakes, and the frosting delicious but super sweet! I also made the apricot crucnchies. The recipe suggests leaving the sultanas and apricots in the juice for 5 minutes. I, ahem, went out for a walk with my dog, so half an hour later, the fruit had absorbed all the juice which I think might have effected my results, which despite tasting superb, lacked the crunch described in the name. My fault though, and actually my apricot flapjack (this name represents mine!) is delicious anyway, so not a problem.

Recipes in this cookbook often suggest just mixing until combined and warn not to over mix, I would suggest you follow this advice, especially when using a kitchen aid or similar rather than a electric mixer, as it can be easy to leave the mixer running too long. In my experience cupcakes don't have the lovely light, moist texture I've come to expect if overly mixed.

I am looking forward to trying out further recipes, particularly the whoopie pies, intrigued to see how they turn out in comparison to
the ones I have made from 'Whoopie Pies' (Billingsley and Treadwell) and those I have tried in store.

I think this book is ideal for both beginner and experienced bakers looking for some different recipes, with an American baking
influence, without the cup measurements and hard to find ingredients. Recipes are clear, the book very pretty.

I do agree with other reviewers that perhaps fabric wasn't the best choice of adornment (recipe book stand/savers - clear plastic stand, where the books sits behind a sheet of plastic which saves the pages, are pretty great and pretty cheap too would solve this, and are actually great for saving all recipe books); and the chapters are a bit bizarre, devision by product would be more
useful, although I understand the concept, which relates to the title, I think some would find having to flick through to
the right page/check the index for a particular recipe's page number/checking through the whole book to pick a recipe, as opposed to just picking a product a bit annoying sometimes.

Overall, buy this book, and enjoy the treats!
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74 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2011
Flicking through the book initially I wanted to cook absolutely everything in it - and there's the right amount of cakes, loaves, cupcakes, cookies, whoopie pies, and cheescakes here - but looking through it again I think there's some problems with it.

It's split into these chapters:

*Valentine's Day
*Spring Weekend Bakes
*Mother's & Father's Day
*Easter
*Summer Afternoon Tea
*Birthdays and Celebrations
*Rainy day treats
*Halloween & Bonfire Night
*Christmas

But better if, like the first book, this book was split into chapters on the types of recipes themselves. It's a bit easier finding what you need, as another reviewer says. I don't think dividing it into events and occasions is that useful for most people.

Chapters on baking essentials (most of which are for beginners), are at the back of the book along with decorating ideas and a list of suppliers.

I'm not keen on the overlap between this and the other book. There's three identical recipes, all cupcakes - vanilla, chocolate, and red velvet, plus six other recipes that have obviously been slightly tweaked from the first book - lemon cupcakes/lemonade cupcakes, ginger cake/gingerbread cake, blueberry cake/blueberry and soured cream cake, pecan pie/chocolate and pecan pie, carrot cake/carrot and ginger cake, and lemon and poppy seed cake/lemon poppy seed loaf. More originality please next time and less laziness.

As most of the seven show-stopping cakes here are layered you'll need three or four sandwich tins to make them and so they require an awful lot of fat and sugar. They're pretty hardcore. Personally I prefer to make cakes in just one tin (less of a faff and a teeny bit healthier) but as I'm an experienced baker I can adjust the amounts of ingredients and timings of them, which I think is worth it - the spiced apple cake with brown sugar frosting looks especially heavenly. And with these cakes, as another reviewer says you're eating alot of sugar in one portion, if you do them layered as in the book. I guess if you're doing them for an occasional celebration they're fine.

The chocolate guinness cake isn't layered yet needs 400 grams of sugar in the sponge alone. It looks divine but I'm thinking this is a rather excessive amount! Would love to hear from anyone who's tried it. I'm thinking of adapting it with half the amount of sugar.

I made the walnut and honey loaf the other night and enjoyed it alot. Perfect for a warm spring day with a cup of tea and as he says the two ingredients marry really well.

All in all I would (cautiously) recommend it, especially for those without the first book.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2011
My daughter and I had great fun with the Hummingbird cup cake book so it was inevitable that we would preorder this one. Were we disappointed? Not at all! We were impressed by the cup cake book because all you need do is follow the simple recipes and you'd be rewarded with incredibly good cup cakes and muffins. Now the guys at Hummingbird show they are not one trick ponies and make a wide range of cakes - including some great new cup cake recipes - available to the rest of us.

As before the recipes are detailed but simple to follow and I'd doubt there's a single taste that is not catered for. So many recipe books are a bit like music albums. There's one or two great hits and a whole load of album-filler tracks. Well this book bucks that trend. I'll doubt we'll do every recipe but there's not a duff one amongst them. So five stars? No, not quite. If I could I'd mark it down half a star. Why? It comes down to the book itself. It's produced to very high standards and it's half bound in cloth - the pink bit in the illustration. Looks great but after our first outing in the kitchen it got soiled with flour and butter. A wipe clean version may not be as impressive, but would be more practical.

Still the recipes are out of this world!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2011
After successfully making several recipes from the first Hummingbird Bakery book, I pre-ordered Cake Days so I could get my hands on it as soon as possible. I have not been disappointed.

Cake Days is packed full of recipes - obviously there are plenty of cupcake recipes, but also pies, cheesecakes, whoopie pies, muffins...There are plenty of photos and the book is well laid out. There's also a chapter on baking essentials full of useful hints and tips for beginners.

So far I've made the grasshopper pie (yummy!) and the caramel cupcakes (REALLY yummy!), and have earmarked several more recipes to try.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2011
I had the original hummingbird cook book and this book has a couple of the same recipes but a host of new and interesting ideas. Theres something to suit even the fussiest of appetites and although it has different chapters for different occasions during the year you could do any of the recipes throughout the year.
What I thought was helpful is at the back of the book theres a chapter on techniques and how and why certain methods in some recipes are to be copied as its written
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 May 2011
I bought this book after getting into cake making in a big way... I'm interested in experimenting with all kinds of cakes and had recently bought 'British Baking' by Peyton and Byrne so was keen to compare it with a more American approach. Also this book just looked so good I had to try it. It can't be faulted on presentation. It looks beautiful and as you flick through it makes you want to try and cook everything in it (mind you I do fear for my waistline if I do). I've tried a few recipes so far and have had varying degrees of success. To be honest I just don't get 'red velvet cupcakes' (supposedly a best-seller in the shops) - they turned out just as in the photo but I wasn't sure about the taste. However, this might be my British palate rebelling at the idea of putting a whole bottle of red food colouring into a recipe... I just wasn't brought up that way. On the other hand, 'black and white cheesecake squares' were truly ecstatic (if potentially deadly). I can't wait to try more and would definitely recommend this book to cake enthusiasts.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2011
This is a fantastic baking book.

I already have the first Hummingbird baking book which I really enjoy using, so was not sure if I really needed this one - but reading previous reviews thought that it would be a useful addition in my kitchen and I am so glad. I cannot put the book down - I want to make nearly everything in the book.

I must say that one aspect of the book that I really like is the fact that measurements are included in metric AND imperial. I only have weights for my scales in lbs and oz - so each new recipe I want to try I usually have to start writing all over the page with conversions as recipes these days are usually just in metric - so I was so pleased to see imperial measurements in this book - other recipe book publishers please take note!

Even though I bake a lot - I still appreciate the inclusion of hints and tips at the back of the book.

I highly recommend this book - you won't be disappointed with it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2011
This is my first hummingbird book and I absolutely love it. I have made many of the items including the Guinness cake, the trifle cupcakes, lemon meringue cupcakes and red velvet cupcakes all of which have been delicious and devoured very quickly. Beware though - we loved the red velvet recipe so much I decided to make the three layer cake for a special occasion and followed the instruction above the cupcake recipe to double the quantities for this cake. As an experienced baker I should have trusted my instinct when the resulting cake mix looked as if it was too much for the three 20cm tins. However I always try a recipe as written first and then adjust after the first attempt. This lead to the mixture overflowing all over my oven from all three tins!!! It was way too much. Having said that I did manage to salvage the cake by trimming each layer when it finally cooked. The next time I attempt this, and I will be making it again, I will adjust the ingredients and experiment from there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2012
I am not the best at following recipes, I like to add my own twist and improve them to my own liking. I have often found when following recipe books that the result is not what I wanted or imagined. This cake book is so different. I was bought this book as a gift and have made nearly 30 of the cakes in it so far. Not one of them has produced a bad result.
I Have used many different ovens, many different baking sets, different types of scales and the cakes always turn out amazingly. I never adjust the recipes and have even started having requests.

I am no amazing baker (in fact the book was bought for me because I am not great at cakes and wanted to improve) yet with this book anybody can be an amazing baker. It is simple to follow with everyday ingredients and doesn't require any great level of expert skill or any more than the common electric whisk!

What a fabulous book. The best I have ever used.
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