This book is great. It’s the perfect mix of delicious cake recipes and ‘how to’ decorating tips. ‘The busy girls Guide to Cake Decorating’ (David & Charles Publishers) is by Ruth Clemens of The Great British Bake off fame!
I, like to so many other baking enthusiasts love ‘The Great British Bake off’ TV programme. Ruth was in the first series and when the final episode finished there was a synopsis of what each of the finalists were up to now and that’s where I learnt about her cake blog ‘The Pink Whisk‘. I’ve been following her ever since!
I’ve commented on her blog many times and emailed her a few times too. Last Thursday I tweeted that I was really excited to have received her new book to review here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com, so when I saw her stand at ‘The cake decorating and baking show‘ last Sunday I had to say “hello”. To my complete astonishment she knew who I was (after I said “Hello, I’m Emma MT) She jumped up and came and gave me a hug. To say I was seriously flattered would be an understatement. It totally made my day!
Anyway, back to the book….
Now, I love a good cake book, but the design and layout of this one really feels like it’s aimed right at me. I love the way the pages look like a lined notebook, but my favorite little touch is all the Sindy dolls throughout. Not the new kind, the old ones that I used to play with for hours and hours with my friend Dena from up the road. They were so beautiful. Seeing them on the pages just made me really smile. It’s the simple things in life that make me happy!
So what’s in the book?
Get ready - equipment and ingredients.
This is where Ruth shows you what she uses to make the cakes in the book. It’s nearly all things that you would already have at home – with just a few exceptions. She also goes through each food ingredient and what she uses. It’s always great to get an inside view on that , don’t you think?
Get baking – Cake and icing recipes
There’s plenty of advice here on how to line a cake tin with greaseproof paper and all the recipes you’ll need to create her cake designs including Madeira cake, chocolate cake, fruit cake, (these all have the quantities for different size cake tins – I love that. You hardly ever see such detail in baking books and it just makes life so much easier. No guess work!) There’s also vanilla, chocolate, lemon and blackberry cupcakes, vanilla sugar cookies, buttercream,chocolate frosting and royal icing. Phfeeew!
Get decorating – Techniques and know how
If you’re new to cake decorating Ruth’s easy to follow guidelines are just what you need. She makes it all look so easy, from piping lines and patterns to levelling the top of a cake and how to cover a cake in marzipan and sugarpaste.
Now get busy – 25 projects
Evening whip ups – to make in an hour or less.
Ruth has a really good eye for creating a pretty cookie or cake with really easy to achieve techniques- and in no time at all. I’m always finding myself wanting to rustle something up at the last minute and these are just the ticket. I love the strawberry cookies made with heart cutters. So clever. Perfect for the next school cake sale I think!
Half day delights – When you’ve got a couple of hours
These are larger scale cakes with a bit more complexity. The ruffles on the mini cake are so sweet. I have to use them somewhere! I also love her technique for creating sugarpaste buttons.
Weekend wonders – longer projects
The clever thing about this book is that there’s no nonsense when it comes to how long it will take to decorate a cake. I was always surprised when a simple cake would take me 9 hours to decorate but it’s true. It always takes longer that you expect.
The cakes in this section need more time, but the end result is well worth it. I love the use of colours. The cakes are so pretty.
There are also pages on troubleshooting (I love the shot of the cake with the smoother smashed into it!) templates and a list of suppliers.
I have to admit that as I’ve been decorating cakes for a while now I didn’t think there would be so much to learn from this book. I thought it would be a really inspirational design resource but boy was I was wrong! Throughout the recipe and decorating pages are loads and loads of really useful tips. Things I have never heard before and I’m going to be able to implement them in my baking and designing, like “chilling a cake before levelling it will make it easier”. I knew I’d like the book just from the cake on the front cover (you can always tell if someone decorates in a similar way to you!) but it’s a real treasure and I’m sure the pages will be dog eared very soon.
Word has it that Ruth is working on a new book already. I for one can’t wait to see it. If it’s anything like ‘The busy girls Guide to Cake Decorating’ it will also be a winner!
The Busy Girl’s Guide to Cake Decorating: The fast, simple way to impressive cakes and bakes