Maggie Austin Cake: Artistry and Technique

Maggie Austin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35 (304p) ISBN 978-0-544-76535-1
Looking at the cover of Austin’s beautiful cookbook—an ethereal 10-layer cake of “ombré frills” topped with a tower of edible peonies that even a botanist would think were real—one can guess that the author’s background might have included the ballet. After an injury, she transferred her attention to detail and rigorous discipline from dance to pastry. The experienced pastry chef may have an easier time with these recipes, Austin assures readers that the book is “for anyone trying their hand,” with the suggestion of scaling to one’s experience. She provides basic recipes for cake decorations such as gum paste; the cake recipes include standbys such as carrot and chocolate. Chapters focus on technique: floral applique, painting, sculpted fondant, and more. Full-page photographs entice (a “ribbon-wrapped watercolor” adorns a five-layer cake, and meticulous strands of “pearls” decorate an asymmetrical four-layer that’s ideal for a wedding), but the step-by-step photos are the workhorses. Here, readers are guided through techniques for making bas-relief, gum paste roses, and floral embroidery. Tips and information—including “a cold cake is a happy cake”—are scattered throughout, useful for those without a pastry degree. With the elegant Gold Leaf with Lace Overlay, the whimsical Elephant Caravan cake, and relaxed-looking “Abstract ‘Painting,’ ” the author educates and encourages readers on making tasteful cakes that are sure to wow. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2017
Release date: 04/04/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-544-77032-4
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