Welcome to this month’s instalment of The Everyday Baker review (I’m spreading it out over the course of a year because with over 170 recipes and 600+ pages, it’s a little hard to cover unless you divide it up into chapters!). This month, we’re looking at “Cakes“.
There are 21 recipes in this chapter with a little something for everyone. Whether it’s a simple carrot cake you’re looking for or a fancy Bûche de Noël with everything from a white layer cake to Angel Food cake and basic cupcakes with a twist in between, there is cake for all tastes.
“Cakes” Techniques and Tips
Abby’s “resize it” tips really come in handy in this chapter. In my experience, people only have a few cake tins and if you don’t bake often, it’s unlikely that you would buy a pan for every occasion. “Resize it” helps you figure out how to make it work with the pans you might already have. There are lots of great tips and tricks photographed in this chapter which is incredibly helpful. Everything from the basics like preparing cake patter to making a meringue disk, unfolding a cake from a ramekin or tin, chopping dried fruit, layering batter for a marbled effect, frosting and glazing a cake, assembling and rolling a Swiss roll-type cake, toasting coconut, weighing cake batter and preparing cake pans (SO helpful for me this month!), coating a cake pan with sanding sugar, forming cake pops, making chocolate shards, frosting cupcakes using different piping tips, cutting cake layers and frosting a layered cake, the Cakes chapter is a veritable baker’s bible of information. There is a lot of information about making all or some parts of the cakes in advance (useful for multi-part recipes) and storage instructions (lots of these cakes are huge – you’ll have leftovers!). Rest assured that Abby walks you through tricky techniques with a reassuring calm that anyone who has met her in real life will recognize that this is exactly how she talks! I actually think the most useful information in this chapter for me was the step-by-step images for making a roll cake. I’ve made a few before and always seemed to manage by sheer luck. This tutorial will be my “go to” in future.
“Cakes” Baker’s Wisdom
Abby’s come up with a great buttercream that doesn’t use eggs (which are only “cooked” from a cooked sugar syrup which a lot of people would be concerned about) or cooked sugar syrup (something novice bakers don’t much like to work with). Her version uses Half and Half (10% cream) and flour in the place of the meringue started from egg whites and sugar syrup and she promises you won’t be able to tell the difference! In this chapter you’ll also learn the difference between “room temperature” and “softened” butter and why it makes a difference to what you are baking. The Baker’s Tips in this chapter reminded me how to slice a sticky cake into neat and clean slices.
What cake did I make?
I originally had grandiose plans for the recipes I wanted to make from this chapter, however since it was the last couple of weeks of school by the time I got around to it, it just wasn’t realistic to think I could tackle any major cake-making projects. By the time it was the weekend where I had set aside time to bake from the book, I had not only marked WAY too many recipes but had run out of time to tackle something really fancy (which I will eventually!). I did have a final Monday morning staff meeting to attend (last one of the year!) and I figured it was the perfect audience for something sweet from this chapter. Thinking back on some of the most popular treats and birthday cakes my colleagues and I have shared over the year as I flipped through the chapter, I couldn’t help but stop and admire the three layer carrot cake and I KNEW it would be a hit.
Only thing is, as I got to weighing my ingredients, I realized that my third cake pan was STILL at work so I figured that I would halve the recipe and make a two-layer carrot cake instead – using Abby’s handy tips for weighing the batter. The original cake said it served 12-16, well half the ingredients served over 16 people with what we thought we pretty decent slices 😉 This was a HUGE hit (I saved the coconut until after my nut allergic colleagues had served themselves) – everyone loved the not too sweet cake and those who enjoyed the coconut-decorated slices loved the added texture and flavour as well as the frosting. It was gone by 10am 😉
Purchase The Everyday Baker for yourselves on Amazon (this link should bring you to the Amazon store closest to you) Or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository.
Please note: The product links from Amazon and The Book Depository are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: Abby is a friend but she didn’t ask me to write about the book. In fact, she didn’t even know I had a copy until I told her!
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