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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2012
This is definitely a companion volume to bake. In Rachel's usual style the recipes are easy to follow and bake regardless if you are a newcomer to baking or an experienced one. As its title suggests it is jam packed with many different cakes to cover all sorts of cake baking and eating occasions.

Not every single cake is pictured but the ones that are look good. The chapters are: Easy, Fast, Healthy, Classic, Teatime, Dessert, Children's Decorating Ideas, Celebration, Festive and Cake Essentials. The healthy chapter also contains cakes suitable for some food allergies including - vegan, dairy and egg free, gluten free and sugar free.

Here is a cake from each of the first 9 chapters as an idea of what you will find: Tropical cake, Raspberry and Blueberry Friands, Sugar free Banana Bread (sweetened with agave nectar), Victoria Sponge, Cappuccino Squares, After Dinner Mint Cake, Artic Roll, White Chocolate Anniversary Cake and Halloween Pumpkin Squares.

If I'm being pick I'd say I would have liked ALL the recipes in the Children chapter photographed, as I know my little one likes to see a picture of what is going to be made. Also there is not a fan oven temperature on the individual recipes. There is a paragraph at the back, but as my oven is a fan I do like the fan temps in the actual recipes. I'd give this one 4.5 stars, but I've ranked it 5 as to me it is nearer a five than a 4.

On my cooling rack at the moment I have the cover cake - Hazelnut Meringue Cake, and my next bake from this book will be Rachel's Dulce de Leche Cake. I'm looking forward to dipping into this one for years to come. If you liked Bake, you'll like this one too.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I first encountered Rachel Allen when I caught her cookery show on BBC1 on a Saturday morning and liked her immediately, she has a sort of fresh un-fussiness about the way she presents her cookery. That un-fussiness has translated into this cookbook too, it's a lovely doorstop of a book, thickly bound and heavy but with a fresh clean look and lots of tempting treats inside. The chapters cover pretty much every bakery eventuality you'll ever need - including Easy, Healthy (more about making allergen-free cakes than slimming ones!), Classic, Children's, Celebration and Festive sections - and mostly consist of familiar favourites with some more unusual cakes and treats scattered throughout.

An experienced baker might not find very much that's new here but that's not the main purpose of the book, it's really a compendium of yummy cakery bakery with a contemporary twist. Rachel Allen seems to be particularly good at explaining the methods in her recipes, her directions are concise but complete, something a lot of cookbooks aren't always so good at. The only complaint I'd have is the lack of photographs - there are lots and they do add a lot of style to the book but the majority of the cakes are not illustrated and that's a shame. With home baking enjoying such a resurgence at the moment every chef with a publisher (isn't that all of them?) seems to be rushing one out, however this is definitely one of the nicest I've seen - comprehensive, clearly-written and fresh-looking.

UPDATE: Since getting this book it's turned into my go-to baking cookbook - each of the recipes I've tried has turned out well and some are completely scrumptious. I'd like to get the previous 'Bake' book too but it seems to be currently unavailable. However, this one remains highly recommended - especially the Marbled Chocolate Crumble Cake!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Or 'Who'd have thought you could actually MAKE Arctic Roll?'

I found that twelve plus, including the cover, photos of day time tv cook Rachel Allen, a modern day Marie Antoinette, in soft grey/white knitware (no apron) smiling slightly smugly, as in a cashmere catalogue rather than a cookery book to be rather de trop. Especially when so many of her recipes go without pictures. Which is a crying shame, as most cooks will jolly well want to see what the finished product is supposed to look like. About one third go without illustrations. This is probably down to the publisher's art department who may have got a bit above themselves with too many full page arty shots of cooking debris and other odd pics. I'd rather see the Teddy Bear cake than try to work it all out for myself.

This cake compendium is stuffed with 350 pages over the top sugar fests, enough for any lifetime. It is reassuringly well produced in firm hardback, strong enough to withstand being cracked open and laid akimbo on the worktop. Smooth and shiny pages will almost wipe clean.

Being perhaps responsible for the Lizard Peninsula sinking several inches deeper into its coastline by running Mrs. Kirby's Baking Company from the local Farm Shop at Gear for seven years, I am pretty well qualified to review a cake book. I would certainly have bought this one for inspiration during that heady time. The decorative ideas alone are worth the price. It would be a most useful introduction to the art of baking as well as a refresher course for us old hands.

I am glad that she counsels the use of butter, no mention of margarine here. The baking kit she suggests is sensible and far from extravagant. We all know how noisy the tin cupboard can be when they all slide out, so good to find a small range of trays and tins can be used to produce so many varieties. The book is modest in this way with no real commercial axe to grind. However unless you have a walk in, well stuffed larder like Nigella, you will need to pre plan and go shopping for ingredients. Out in the country this matters, for instance today I made her Bakewell Cake but had to leave off the flakey almonds on top, no matter, it is still as light as air, deliciously crunchy, the scattered frozen raspberries in the recipe adding jewel brightness to the cake.... However it took half an hour more than specified before it was cooked through.

It's always fun and stimulating to be shown new ways of doing familiar things. No need to keep churning out the old favourites, the same ingredients can be tweaked and re presented as new and exciting.

Rachel Allen has done her research and come up with an all- encompassing range of goodies for every level of ability, all occasions and every time scale.

Irresistible really are the multitude of choices:

Easy, fast, Healthy, Classic, Teatime, Dessert, Children's decorating Ideas, Celebration and Festive. A Glossary of cake essentials and index to close cover it all.

A charming introduction explains her fascination and her encouraging words preface what must surely be a PhD in Cakes. Her Cookery School certainly deserves University status.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As anyone who knows me will attest to, I am a sucker for cakes and desserts. I need help making them though, as I haven't developed the skills to know exactly what I'm doing in this regard. I like that for a lot of recipes in this book, there is an opening paragraph describing the cake in a bit of prose detail, such as it's origins or variations. But I don't think I'm alone in the belief that inspiration is as much a driver is cooking as anything else and I always start with my eyes (because I'm not very imaginative!). Yet this is another example of a recipe book that doesn't feel the need to illustrate each recipe with a photo of the finished article. Take "Perfect Peanut Butter Cake" on page 293 for example. Was it so perfect that it didn't warrant a photo to prove it? I have no idea what this would look like, or how to dress it. "Fast Cinnamon Yoghurt Cake" on page 44 gets to be illustrated with a companion photo of Rachel herself staring slightly off-camera with her hand on a turned-out cake base - which didn't even get to be in the full shot. Hang on a minute? I thought this book was about the cakes, not about the author?

In a nutshell, this book does contain a lot of good recipes. Those that are illustrated properly look do-able enough (except maybe that chocolate castle?). For me though, I need a recipe book to be consistent and formulaic in its approach. I like to see at least a picture of every end result, perhaps a couple of in-progress shots to help people know that they are on the right track. I also want a clear ingredients list, tin sizes, suggested utensils and cooking instructions. This book does get it right, but only occasionally.

I personally have never heard of Rachel Allen before, so she can't ride on her "celebrity" status with me. I therefore am not interested in the various pages of her modelling her latest grey cardigan instead of granting the pages to show what the cakes might look like.

At £12.00 on Amazon at time of writing (instead of the ridiculous RRP of £25.00), it's OK value for money, but in direct competition to Mary Berry - who I have heard of, as well as various non-"celebrity" books that will also do the job, but with less razz-matazz,

Less artsy photography, more cake!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book really does cover a huge array of cakes from the traditional Victoria Sandwich through to Cake Pops and a wedding cake. Recipes are, on the whole, easy to follow and include many helpful tips to achieve successful results.

If catering a child's party then a chocolate hedgehog cake (amongst others) is fairly achievable as well as looking pretty good although the recipe could have done with some additional step-by-step accompanying illustrations, although you do at least get a photo of the finished cake, unlike the Teddy Bear and many other recipes.

Probably the only deficiency of the book is the fact that not all recipes are accompanied by a photograph of the finished article, which is a great pity as those help in recipe selection as well as being a useful guide to how the item should turn out. The aforementioned Teddy Bear has a fairly detailed recipe but I can't help feeling a couple of pictures (one of the assembly of parts and a second of the finish) would help even more. I also feel that, even though a good number of cakes can be made by a novice baker, the lack of photographs will probably be slightly off-putting.

Whilst light on illustration, Rachel has included lots of useful tips amongst the recipes. These include that, when using a spring-form tin ensure the base is upside down to make sliding a cake off much easier; I was also unaware that a trip through the hot cycle of a dishwasher was sufficient to sterilise jam jars.

I like this book but do feel the lack of illustration detracts from what could otherwise be a really great cake making reference source.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 21 November 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There is certainly a fair range of recipes, covering all bases from quick and easy recipes to more elaborate offerings. In my view it's an OK book but not outstanding. If you already have a comprehensive baking book I would strongly suggest you take a peek before ordering - the book isn't overly innovative and you may already have a good grounding without buying another book.

There is a chapter entitled 'Healthy' - I was quite intrigued by this but the title is a complete misnomer in my opinion inasmuch as cream, sugar, etc abound. The first recipe is a chocolate, rum & almond cake - it doesn't contain flour (so no gluten) but to call a cake healthy when it involves 225g chocolate, 225g sugar, 150g butter and 6 eggs is pushing it. This chapter is really aimed at those with food intolerances, etc which isn't quite the same thing. Even outside the 'Healthy' chapter there are comments about healthy foods. Whilst some people do claim that blueberries are a superfood, or as Rachel says "full of antioxidants and seriously healthy", the effects of this will surely be mitigated by 225g butter, 225g sugar and the lemon cream that accompanies the blueberry and coconut cake! There is nothing wrong with the recipe or eating the occasional cake but to make spurious claims for health benefits for it is quite another matter.

Many reviewers have commented on the photographs. I am not generally fussed if there isn't a photo of a finished dish, although with cakes I think it is always a help and more important than say with savoury dishes. This book doesn't have a photo of every dish but it has far too many pointless pictures of Rachel Allen smiling inanely (the same issue arises in some of her other books). If publishers are going to include photos then they should be relevant. Apart from the pictures of the author there are more pointless photos of a sieve (at least twice), a bun tin, a bun tin with a whisk, etc.. Why do this if space for photos is limited? The choice of photos also leaves something to be desired - if space is limited why include pictures of commonplace things like Victoria sponge, Madeira cake and carrot cake at the expense of more unusual or elaborate cakes?

Anyway, here are a selection of the recipes: angel food cake (topped with either rosewater icing or lavender icing), peanut butter banana muffins, raspberry & blueberry friands, cinnamon & yoghurt cake, pear & ginger muffins (there is a nice pear & ginger cheesecake recipe too), Swedish almond cake, Bakewell cake, walnut & orange cake and a rather glorious white chocolate anniversary cake. The children's baking chapter is largely wasted on me although I think the cake pops (essentially sponge cake crumbled into melted chocolate) could work for adult parties too with the addition of some alcohol.

I am not convinced about the timings on at least some recipes - the baking time seems too short but I suppose ovens vary (although checking mine with an oven thermometer suggests the oven is accurate). This could prove a little troublesome for the novice or the unwary. For the most part ingredients will be readily available at the supermarket and methods are well-described.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 3 November 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The cover says every cake recipe you'll ever need and whilst that's not quite true this book certainly comes close.My wife trained as a baker many years ago and so she makes excellent cakes and she has looked through this and pronounced the selection as very good and the majority of recipes easy enough to make.So far,to my dismay,she has only had time to make the Dairy Free Blueberry Crumble Cake,which she adapated to use eggs and butter rather than soya,but it was very easy to make and very nice,especially with a cup of coffee.Thankfully,she has also got the ingredients to make the Date and Almond Honey Cake,which I am very much looking forward to trying next weekend.In the meantime,I can say that most of the cakes here really do look delicious and I have already picked out a dozen or so that I hope she will make over the coming weeks.

The recipes themselves are all well laid out and easy to follow and although some of them do use very rich ingredients (a pound of butter and a pound of sugar for one)there are plenty of healthier options,along with cakes for kids,special occasions,and some interesting choices like Tahini Honey Cake.The photos are very good too and they definitely do the cakes justice,but that does lead me to my only complaint;several recipes don't have pictures but instead have a photo of Rachel Allen looking rather pleased with herself.However,that's my only complaint and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in cake baking.

UPDATE.
We have now tried the date and almond honey cake and it was absolutely delicious,one of the nicest cakes I've ever eaten (and I've eaten more than my fair share).Don't be put off by the honey,which I often find can be too sweet and overpowering,because in this recipe it's perfect.It's so moist that the cake can also be warmed in the microwave for a few seconds ans served as a pudding with custard or a sauce.Fantastic and not at all difficult to make.We've also tried the Wholemeal Chocolate cake,which was very nice and a good one if you don't want anything too rich or heavy,however preperation time for this was a good deal longer than the 15 minutes claimed.Worth it though.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I already had Rachel Allen's 'Bake' so kind of knew what to expect with Cake. Tons of great recipes in here and I like the ordering done this time. Various chapters from easy or quick to more difficult recipes, which I don't dare venture onto yet!

Unfortunately the problem for me, as with her previous 'Bake' book is the lack of pictures. There are a few in there but the majority of recipes don't have a picture and for a more novice baker like myself, this is especially frustrating as I'm unsure of what my bake should be looking like!

I have tried a couple of the recipes, the Bakewell cake near the front was especially tasty (and it had a picture!) and was easy for me to bake. I will undoubtedly try more of the recipes, probably in the easy and quick sections!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 16 November 2012
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having just made the marzipan cake and the treacly ginger loaf i can now say that i love this book. The recipes work very well, there are some lovely easy ones and some that would take a bit more time to make. The marzipan one you just stick everything into the food processor and you get a lovely golden cake reminiscent of a marzipan flavoured madeira cake.

I liked the fact that if the cake can be made into a loaf or a traybake there are cooking times for both variations. This makes it much easier if you suddenly realise that you don't have the correct size tray then you can make it in a loaf tin (as i did with the treacly ginger traybake) and still cook it for the correct amount of time.

My only real problem is that there aren't pictures of each of the cakes. I do like to see what my cakes should end up looking like, or even a picture of a tricky part of the process. However, this being my only real problem i have given this book 4 stars, although 4.5 would be nearer my actual score.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2012
I know everyone says there are not enough photos of her food in her books. I usually don't mind but in this case they are definitely needed especially in the children's birthday cake section. She gives detailed written explanation of technics etc. but a thumbnail picture would explain a lot better. There are no pictures for some and just a picture of the finished product for others. I made the hedgehog cake as my 8 year old daughter had her heart set on it but while I made the sponge and icing using her recipe I had to figure out the shaping of it myself as her explanation was not straight forward or suffient. There are some wasted pictures too. For example there is a photo of an empty muffin tin. I would much prefer a useful picture!! There is a photo of a victoria sponge but again as I would think most people would know what that looks like a photo of the lesser known cakes would be better instead (if there is a limit on the number of photos that can go in her book!) Having said all that there are some lovely recipes in her book that I will definitely be making but I will look elsewhere for ideas for novelty cakes because her instructions for shaping etc. are just not good enough.
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