Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Cookbook Series -- The Cake Bible

Last week, I introduced my favorite all-around general cookbook. This week, one of my favorite specialty ones.

I bought my copy of The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum from a used bookstore, sans dustjacket. Lucky for me, there's another full-color photo of that yummy chocolate cake inside the book.

This book has dozens of wonderfully detailed recipes for baking and decorating all types of cakes. Beranbaum lists all ingredients by weight as well as by volume, a technique that I have found produces superior results (especially weighing flour...). She covers every type of cake, filling and icing that you could imagine, often with several variations. She also details how to size up several basic cake flavors for large or multi-tier cakes (wedding cakes). Not that I've ever had the opportunity to make a wedding cake, but it's nice to know how it works (no, just doubling or tripling a recipe doesn't work!)

But better than the recipes are all of the Understanding sections. The author gives good information on the chemistry of baking, explaining how ingredients work in different recipes (e.g. all-purpose vs cake flour, baking soda vs baking powder, etc), and how she came up with the techniques for some of the cakes. There is a rhyme and reason to the order of opertions in recipes, and I love learning the "why" behind them.

I think my favorite part is flipping through the photo section in the middle, drooling over the chocolate cakes, and the golden cage (made of hard caramel!). And of course, it helps that she has a recipe for a Charlotte! (It's a cake, as well as a princess....)

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