Monday, June 21, 2010

Cookbook Review - Simply Spectacular Cakes

Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
When I first got my copy of Simply Spectacular Cakes, I thumbed through it in awe at the precise and beautiful cake and cookie creations. I was a little bit intimidated, actually.

I started with these beautiful cookies. I had never tried royal icing before, and decided to do all monochromatic to make elegant little tea pots. The cookie recipe was good, making nice sturdy sugar cookies. The icing was easy to make and use.

But then there were the cakes. I kept "intending" to make something spectacular. I even went all the way to the one store in my town (the largest city in my state, actually) that has a good selection of cake decorating supplies, and still couldn't find everything I'd need. Not knowing enough about using fondant and gum paste, I wasn't sure what could be substituted, and I was completely hopeless at finding liquid fondant at all. Despite the detailed listing of ingredients and tools for each recipe, I was left not knowing how to substitute or wing it. Sad, because I really wanted to make the cute little cherry blossom petits fours on the cover for my birthday!

This cookbook is beautiful and has some great ideas - but I'm not so sure I can get behind the "simply" part of the title. Spectacular, indeed. To make the best use of it, you should find a good cake decorating vendor that has such things as liquid fondant, since the author does not provide recipes for some of the required parts. What she does provide are detailed step-by-step instructions that are helpful at instilling confidence. Many of the steps are illustrated. And by the way, I'd still like to go for the most complicated recipe, just to say I'd done it, but I need a few names of places to order supplies from. If you know of a place, please leave me a comment!

Categories: Cookbook Review, Cookies


David T. Macknet said...

We ended up going to a bakery, here. They stocked quite a few pans, and would even rent equipment (in case you don't want to own a 16" square pan for the rest of your life).

The rolled fondant is easier than anything to deal with, but the poured fondant isn't all that difficult, you just need to follow the instructions over at Joe's Pastry site. Really quite easy, but not appropriate for large cakes (except, maybe, as a "crumb coat," which is the best use I've found for it).

Also: try Wilton. They'll mail-order you anything, I think.

Always Look Both Ways said...

hi :) you can make fondant and gum paste. Modeling Chocolate can be made at home and used in place of fondant but it is much harder to work with because it melts in your hands so you'll want to wear some gloves