Thursday, 17 February 2011

Book Review: Bake & Decorate by Fiona Cairns

I received a review copy of "Bake and Decorate" by Fiona Cairns.  I was immediately drawn by the beautiful heart-shaped, petal-covered cake on the front cover - I'm such a sucker for judging a book by it's cover

However, the very word "decorate" did give me a bit of a shiver.  You'll know from previous posts, that I'm not really that good or patient enough for cake decorating so the question on my lips was - would I actually use this book? Is it just for the more able and creative bakers out there? and I'm pleased to report the answer to that question is no.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this wasn't about heavily decorated and iced cakes. Yes, there are a few that are probably verging on pushing me right out of my comfort zone and squarely into battle with a packet of sugar paste, (I'm pleased to note that at the start of the book Fiona says that's not worth making this yourself...phew!), however there are plenty of cakes and bakes in the book that are a little bit more homemade in appearance.  In essence, the decorating methods are pretty simple, which suits me down to the ground!

The book is split into two halves, the bakes and the decorating.  Each section is beautifully illustrated - I love that there is lots of pictures and the photography is excellent and the recipes and methods are written simply so easy to follow.  There are standards like shortbread, victoria sponge and gingerbread biscuits and then more exciting sounding recipes like strawberry, mint & balsamic cheesecake,  caramelised vanilla millefeuille and star anise, almond & clementine cake.  Fiona Cairn's company produces 750,000 cakes a year and her clients include Waitrose, The Conran Shop, The Ritz Hotel, Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason so I'd expect that she knows cake quite well!

I haven't yet attempted anything from the book but in due course I aim to try the chocolate celebration cake, cherry & marzipan cake and the Genoese sponge (light gateaux style sponge) - all of which take little or no decorating!

I've seen this book reviewed on another blog, negatively, as  a bit "mum bakes for kids parties" which is right up my street as I'm a mum who bakes for kids parties (!) and I agree many of the decorating ideas are probably best suited to children.  Would I buy this book? Due to the fact that I have extensive cookery book collection with many books on baking I perhaps wouldn't but it is a lovely book all the same and I'd certainly buy it as a present for someone.  

This paperback edition of "Bake and Decorate" by Fiona Cairns is due to be published by Quadrille in March 2011.  RRP £12.99.

love & kisses
Mrs M x

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