Top positive review
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How to Perfectly Bake and Decorate with Ease
on 11 May 2011
I really love this first book by Fiona Cairns. It is packed full of enticing, inspiring projects that crucially, given Fiona's status of Royal wedding cake maker, are all very achievable by an average cook in an average kitchen.
Beautifully illustrated with full page colour photographs for each recipe the book is divided into two sections; bake and then decorate.
The books begins with glossaries covering ingredients, equipment and baking & decorating tips.
The 30 recipes in the bake section cover the classics, such as a chocolate celebration cake, Victoria sponge, sticky ginger cake and coffee & hazelnut cake etc. Contemporary cakes with more exotic flavours also feature such as a star anise, almond and clementine cake or pistachio & orange blossom. The comprehensive bake section is finished off with macaroons, meringues and biscuits, giving you all the baking recipes that you need.
On to the decorate section and some stunning, modern cakes. Most of the ideas in here are very simple, but highly effective. A chocolate cake is covered with deep pink icing and splattered and flicked with chocolate in homage to Jackson Pollock, a forest of Christmas trees grows atop a fruit cake. Vibrant sugarpaste roses cover a chocolate cake in a Bollywood inspired centrepiece (the roses are very easy to make from the clear instructions). The sweet shop cake is perfect for a child's party, and I love the retro feel of the mosaic cake, so simple but so very effective.
As well as large cakes the book features a selection of small cakes with daisy and sunflower cupcakes for a spring tea party, and flying insects or fondant hats! In the final section on biscuits there is a gingerbread mobile, Christmas tree decorations and Easter biscuits.
The reasons this book is so effective is firstly the clever cross referencing - each bake is linked to the decoration ideas for that recipe, and vica versa, so there are many permutations and variations for each bake or decoration idea.
Fiona writes delightfully, and explains everything clearly so it really feels that she is standing next to you, encouraging and giving you the confidence to try something new.