Friday, September 12, 2008

Sweet and Colorful Cakes

Sugar High!

If you must buy one baking book, I recommend the (appropriately named)
"Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book". I bought this book about two years ago at a local bookstore and it has been indispensable in my kitchen ever since. I often skim through this book whenever I need some inspirations to bake something sweet or chocolaty. I have never baked any cakes or bread before I bought this book - maybe chocolate chip cookies, but only once or twice, using one of those ready made tubes of cookie dough from the store - and most definitely never from scratch! "The Better Homes and Gardens - New Baking Book" has brought out the hidden baker in me (as it has in everyone else who has this book) and it even got me hooked on baking (and decorating cakes) to the point of obsession during one period last year when I kept buying and collecting baking and cake decorating tools from cooking shops, especially the ones from Wilton (which can be quite addictive). The BH&G's New Baking Book has such easy-to-follow steps and instructions and over 600 recipes and baking tips that it can make a baker out of anyone, even someone who's never spent a lot of time in the kitchen before (like me a few years ago, ha...). The book also has an adequate number of pictures so that you can see how the cakes/cookies/bread/pastries/pies will turn out. I have tried a lot of recipes from this book: for cakes (for all occasions), cheesecakes, pies, bread and even pastries. Although, my pastries never really turned out well, only because I don't have the aptitude nor the patience to follow the pastry instructions closely; I learned that making pastries is very, very difficult - for me anyways - so hat off to all pastry chefs out there!

These are photos of decorated cakes that I had made all throughout last year (during my most enthusiastic period of cake making, though the enthusiasm has dwindled since then - not for baking in general but for decorating cakes). I took a series of Wilton's cake decorating courses that lasted for about a month last summer at a local cook shop, so I've included some pictures of cakes that were made for those courses (all cakes recipes are from the "BH&G New Baking Book"), although mine didn't turn out quite as nice looking as the illustrations on the Wilton course books (
and therefore came to the self-realization that I have no talent in cake decorating whatsoever - sad face inserted here). On the other hand, the cakes themselves had turned out quite decent and tasted pretty good - aesthetically speaking though, there's still a lot left to be desired. A few of my creations, I admit, were a little tacky. But I had enjoyed decorating those cakes while it lasted, after all, cake decorating was just a phase, but I just had to go through it! At least I was utilizing all of my Wilton's decorating tools to the maximum. Though these days, those tools are collecting dust in my storage room. I hope I'll be inspired to take them out of hiding soon and start using them again after I post this. We'll see.

Wilton Method - Discover Cake Decorating - Course 1
(using the "Chocolate Cookie Cake" recipe - pg. 136)

Wilton Method - Discover Cake Decorating - Course 1
(using the "Yellow Cake" recipe - pg. 113)

Wilton Method - Flowers and Borders - Course 2
(using the "Lemon Cake" recipe - pg. 150)

Wilton Method - Fondant and Tiered Cakes - Course 3
(using "Spice Cake" recipe - pg. 116)

And these are cakes I baked for fun and for a few special occasions:

Chocolate Cupcakes Fun!
(Using the "Devil's Food Cake" Recipe - pg. 114
Birthday Cake with loads of Chocolate Icing!
(using the "Caramel-Almond Torte" recipe - pg. 140)

Winter Holidays Mini Cakes
("Spice cake" and "Chocolate Cake" recipes)

And finally... Berries Christmas Holiday Cake 2007
(using the "Classic Chocolate Cake" recipe - pg. 114)

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