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Perfect Cakes
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Perfect Cakes
by Nick Malgieri
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Reviewed by Audrey Kasindorf


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Review

August 2003
Everybody wants to learn how to make great cakes for special occasions, and now there's a book that offers just that. In Perfect Cakes, James Beard Award Winner Nick Malgieri offers his expertise on baking flawless cakes of any kind. Everything from coffee cakes to layer cakes to cheesecakes to individual cakes, Perfect Cakes has it all.

Nick Malgieri is the director of the Baking Institute of Culinary Education in New York City and the author of Cookies Unlimited, Chocolate and How to Bake, has put together a cookbook which appeals to beginners as well as seasoned cooks. Perfect Cakes offers over 200 impressive recipes paired with luscious color photographs by Tom Eckerle. The book opens with a general discussion of the importance of specific ingredients and equipment, explaining to the reader, "Using the best - and the correct - ingredients makes all the difference between success and failure in cake baking" and "Having the right equipment makes baking even more of a pleasure... buying high quality pans, tools, and small appliances means that they will last a lifetime"

Each chapter is devoted to a different type of cake, and the are quite extensive, the chapter on coffee cakes contains 11 different recipes from orange poppy seed to yeast risen coffee cakes. The chapter on cakes made with dried or fresh fruit offers recipes which put fruitcake jokes to shame. This chapter also has recipes made with vegetables such as carrot, pumpkin and zucchini -chocolate chunk zucchini cake sounds divine.

It is helpful to the beginning baker that Mr. Malgieri opens each chapter with some guidelines to follow concerning the particular type of cake profiled. In the cheesecake chapter he offers sound advice on common problems such as unmolding a baked cheesecake as well as tips on how to prevent the top of the cheesecake from cracking. In the chapter on Meringue he offers helpful tips for piping, which he feels is the most efficient way to make meringue layers as well as giving his advice on perfectly whipped egg whites. This sort of guidance instills confidence in the cook, for future baking projects.

Perfect Cakes includes recipes for the classics such as tiramisu, and angel food cake and then throws in many cakes I have never heard of such as Farina Gargantag (almond and farina cake) and exotic twists on the classics such as Green Tea pound cake. The range of shows the comprehensive knowledge Nick Malgieri possesses on baking and that there are no boundaries when it come to making an impressive cake.

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