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This review is from: Vintage Cakes: Tremendously Good Cakes for Sharing and Giving (Hardcover)
Our British cousins have long been known for their fine baking and Vintage Cakes: More Than 90 Heirloom Recipes for Tremendously Good Cakes contains a fair few recipes for some of the most well known of British cakes. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that when our British friends say "cakes" they do not mean exactly what we do. Yes, there are layer cakes and loaf cakes and cakes baked in a sheet pan. You'll find some cupcakes too. You will also find pancakes, banana bread, brownies, a few tarts, and some yeast raised buns, representing a nice cross-section of traditional British home baking.
Author Jane Brocket categorizes her recipes as Cake-tin Cakes, Everyday Cakes, Little Cakes, Posh Cakes, Fancies & Frivolities and Celebration Cakes. Cake-tin Cakes are cakes which will keep for several days in a tightly covered container, the kind of cake often baked in a square or loaf pan. Everyday Cakes might surprise you. While the chapter starts with Victoria Sandwich, a lovely cake made of two layers of an airy vanilla sponge sandwiched together with whipped cream and sometimes raspberry jam, you'll also find recipes for scones, Welsh cakes, donuts, banana bread and a no-bake treat called Chocolate Tiffin. Little Cakes are quick and easy-to-make treats like Lamingtons, brownies, Rock Buns (this is the same as the Rock Cakes that Hagrid bakes in the Harry Potter series) and Devonshire splits.
You'll find Posh cakes quite similar to what Americans think of as "cake". Jane has included a lovely Lemon Chiffon cake and a traditional British Battenberg cake (a pink and white checkerboard wrapped in marzipan) and a Chocolate Roulade along with a number you'll instantly recognize - Tres Leches, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Devil's Food Cake - and some vintage classics from the Continent.
Fancies and Frivolities are, like Little Cakes, mostly small cakes but these are perhaps a bit more time consuming to produce. Here you'll find Fondant Fancies (what we buy here as "petit fours" - tiny squares of cake covered in fondant icing), two different kinds of Madeleines, butterfly cakes, meringues and macaroons, while the chapter on Celebration Cakes includes recipes for Simnel Cake, Stollen, traditional Christmas Cake and more.
The book is nicely laid out and easy to read - no reading glasses required. There is a picture for each recipe.
About half the recipes in the book call for self-rising flour, something that is not always available in some parts of the US. Recently, however, I did notice my local supermarket had laid in a supply and King Arthur Flour down the road a piece has added self-rising flour to their product line, so I grabbed a bag specifically for testing a few recipes from this book. Last night I had a hankering for cake, so I baked up the very first recipe in the book, Marmalade Cake, and I must say that it is perhaps the best orange cake I've had - redolent of orange, moist, with a lovely light texture and bits of orange peel scattered throughout. I'm going to get a lot of use out of this book.