Cake & Cookie Decorating Books

Winter is a great time to go in the kitchen and bake. With the wide variety of TV shows dedicated to baking (think Cake Boss, Cupcake Wars, and Ace of Cakes), people are interested in finding good recipes as well as ways to make their desserts beautiful. Here’s a quick look at several new cake- and cookie-decorating books on the market.

starred review starCarpenter, Autumn. The Complete Photo Guide to Cake Decorating. Creative Pub: Quayside. Feb. 2012. c.328p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781589236691. pap. $24.99. COOKING

Sugar artist Carpenter (All About Candy Making) perfectly explains her book: “If you are a beginning decorator, this book will serve as a step-by-step course in cake decorating. If you are an experienced or professional decorator, this book will quickly become your go-to guide when seeking out new techniques.” This is an all-inclusive look at how to make a stunning cake from start to finish. Organized in easy-to-browse sections, it takes readers through the process from preparation, tools, and recipes; to decorating techniques and templates; to extras to make your projects special; to a gallery of designs for inspiration. The numerous photographs are not only visually appealing but educational, and add to the quality of this exceptional work. Essential for anyone interested in baking and decorating cakes.

Dam, Annie. Cake Couture: Modern Sugar-Craft for the Stylish Baker. Firefly. 2011. 144p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781554079490. pap. $19.95. COOKING

Dam, who owns the Cake Couture Edible Art bakery in Alberta, Canada, strives to combine her love of art with baking to make unique creations they aren’t seen merely as food. In this lavishly photographed book, she shares basic recipes while showcasing some of her favorites. Along with step-by-step instructions and tips for success, Dam explains the necessary equipment and techniques. Arranged in a straightforward manner, the recipes are easy to follow. Cake art is popular, and this is a great choice for those who wish to refine their cakes or cupcakes for any occasion; however, these intricate baked confections require a monetary investment for supplies. Readers looking for children’s projects should consider Meaghan Mountford’s Sugarlicious or Carol Deacon’s Perfect Party Cakes Made Easy (both reviewed below).

Deacon, Carol. Perfect Party Cakes Made Easy: Over 70 Fun-To-Decorate Cakes for All Occasions. New Holland, dist. by Sterling. 2011. 192p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781843304746. pap. $17.95. COOKING

Prize-winning cake decorator Deacon is a prolific writer who has published a wide variety of books on cakes (e.g., Fabulous Party Cakes and Cupcakes; Carol Deacon’s Little Book of Easy Children’s Cakes). Cooks wishing to make a foray into the kitchen to try their hand at the art may wish to pick up this title, as it contains over 70 designs of novelty cakes to make and decorate for any occasion. Most of the projects will delight children, and they include easy-to-follow instructions and several photographs to help readers along the way. Several cake and frosting recipes are featured, along with techniques and materials. The cakes in this volume are mostly created using fondant frosting. Depending on your collection, this may be a practical, well-constructed addition to your baking section. [For serious fondant enthusiasts, consider Helen Penman’s recent Fondant Modeling for Cake Decorators.-Ed.]

Mountford, Meaghan. Sugarlicious: 50 Cute and Clever Treats for Every Occasion. Harlequin. Feb. 2012. c.224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780373892549. pap. $17.95. COOKING

Readers who enjoyed professional cookie decorator Mountford’s first cookbook, Cookie Sensations: Creative Designs for Every Occasion, will love her latest. It is not only creative but so delightful it will make readers want to go straight to the kitchen and bake. This well-organized book contains everything needed to create beautiful desserts. With separate sections on supplies, resources, recipes, templates, and even ideas for arranging and wrapping your home-baked creations, it’s a great resource, even for a beginner. The author includes photographs of her relatively easy-to-accomplish cake pops, cookies, cupcakes, and candy items. This imaginative collection includes projects for so many occasions that it is sure to be a popular item throughout the year.

Smith, Lindy. The Contemporary Cake Decorating Bible: Over 150 Techniques and 80 Stunning Projects. David & Charles, dist. by F+W. 2011. 160p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780715338377. pap. $24.99. COOKING

Smith is passionate about cake decorating and shares her skills in many books on the subject (e.g., Celebrate with Mini Cakes). Strong in technique and instruction, her latest title is more of a how-to book than a traditional cookbook. An abundance of photos accompanies the instructions, so this is a good choice for visual learners. The compilation of techniques and projects will be appreciated by both beginners and those wishing to strengthen their decorating skills. Smith’s book contains mostly higher-level techniques perfect for those who already enjoy the art and are looking for more inspiration.

starred review starUsher, Julia M. (text) & Steve Adams (photogs.). Julia M. Usher’s Ultimate Cookies. Gibbs Smith. 2011. 272p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781423619345. pap. $24.99. COOKING

Usher’s award-winning first book, Cookie Swap: Creative Treats To Share Throughout the Year, is a tough act to follow, but once again she delivers. Her latest title is not for slice-and-bake aficionados but for those who want to express themselves in butter, sugar, and homemade ingredients. Usher begins by introducing the basic tools needed and even gives tips on creating homemade implements, such as a parchment cone, to keep the budget low. Next she describes 15 main decorating techniques, accompanied by sumptuous photos that will inspire even the most hesitant beginner. Each project that follows includes step-by-step instructions and photos. With intriguing and distinctive content, this is a great addition. Though paperback, it is large and well constructed, with strong, lustrous paper that should hold up through many circulations.-Jane Hebert, Mount Juliet, TN


Clemens, Ruth. The Busy Girl’s Guide to Cake Decorating: The Fast, Simple Way to Impressive Cakes and Bakes. David & Charles, dist. by F+W. Apr. 2012. c.128p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781446301647. pap. $24.99. COOKING

Rigg, Annie (text) & Kate Whitaker (photogs.). Make, Bake & Celebrate!: How To Create Beautifully Decorated Cakes for Every Occasion. Ryland Peters & Small. Mar. 2012. c.128p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781849752213. $19.95. COOKING