Pros: : Lots of colorful pictures, Easy to read format, Equivalent charts, Sturdy pages
Cons: Doesn't have directions for high altitude adjustments
Everyone – at least everyone I know – loves cakes and cupcakes. They are ubiquitous features at birthday parties, family get togethers, and other celebrations. Many rely on a basic box cake mix, and there is nothing wrong with that. But there are so many delicious options available when you bake a cake from scratch, with love and that little bit of extra time.
Everyday Easy, Cakes & Cupcakes by DK walks you through making cupcakes always from the basics of what staple ingredients you should have in your pantry to recommended tools of the trade. The format of this book is very helpful and easy to navigate. It is a nice hard bound book, and the pages are durable! I accidentally tested that for myself when I splashed some of the Superfood Loaf Cake batter on the page. I thought for sure it would stain, especially with the beet juice. But it wiped off beautifully. That is a huge plus! There is a lovely techniques section that goes through and shows you with great detail and lovely photos how to do all the basic techniques asked for in the recipes. It even has a lovely visual for testing egg freshness. Another nice feature is the symbols on each recipe so you can quickly glance and see what is good to freeze, or special equipment you may need. This book really sets itself apart by making these recipes available to the beginning home cook. The recipes are very detailed, topped with the techniques section and full color photos. This cookbook does what it claims, it makes baking cakes and cupcakes easy enough for every day. My only complaint is that it doesn’t have a section on high altitude adjustments. This really surprised me because the cookbook is just loaded with great information. While the intended audience appears to be the beginning baker, a lot of these recipes would be great bases for more creative substitutions with the more adventuresome home baker.
I have made three of the recipes from this book. My favorite was the Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. They came together quickly. The batter was a very nice texture and easy to work with. My recipe testers, aka my husband and youngest son loved them. These muffins were delicately flavored and not heavy at all. The ingredients were very easy to find. I actually had all of them on hand in my pantry, saving me a trip to the store. The next recipe I tried was the Sticky Lemon Cake. The directions on this cake call for an 8” pan, however I found the 8” pan to be too small. The center would not set. I used a 9” pan and the results were much better. This cake was wonderfully citrus, again not too sweet at all. This lovely cake is definitely best served cold. For this recipe the only thing you might have to go to a specialty store for is the almond flour, although I have noticed a lot of stores are carrying this now. Even though I used a 9” pan, I always recommend following the directions as listed the first time anyone tries a recipe. Finally I wanted to try something different so I tried the Superfood Loaf Cake. This cake was a lot of fun. Now, not all the ingredients will be found at your local grocery store. While you can substitute brown sugar for the muscovado sugar I recommend you don’t. The muscovado has a much richer taste to it, and may leave your cake a little less flavorful. One thing to note on this recipe it calls for one 8 ½ x 4 ½ in pan. But, that is too small. What I ended up doing was dividing the dough between two pans, and baked them for an hour. The result was great. They are really pretty loaves, especially when cut open. Be sure to let it cool completely because it will crumble on you otherwise. Very fun recipe and it went well with cream cheese on top. There are many more recipes I am anxious to try as well. DK has really put together a nice compilation of recipes that is sure to please most home bakers.
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, Makes 12
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup granulated sugar
2 ½ tbsp poppy seeds
2 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sour cream
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup vegetable oil
Zest of 2 large lemons, finely grated
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and poppy seeds, making a well in the center.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the sour cream, butter, oil and lemon zest. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just mixed. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each one three-quarters full.
3. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the tops while still warm.
Sticky Lemon Cake, Serves 8
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 large eggs, plus one egg yolk
1 1/3 cups almond flour (almond meal)
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/3 cups plain yogurt
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C). Butter an 8in (20cm) cake pan, and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
2. Grate the zest and squeeze the juice from the lemons; you should have 6 tbsp juice. Cream together the butter and ¾ cup sugar, and the zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Whisk the flours and the baking powder together to eliminate any lumps. Stir into the butter mixture, followed by the yogurt and 2 tbsp of the lemon juice.
4. Spread in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the center springs back when pressed.
5. Meanwhile, stir the remaining ½ cup sugar and 4 tbsp lemon juice in a saucepan over low heat to dissolve the sugar. Cool.
6. Transfer the cake to a wire rack. Pierce the cake all over with a skewer and drizzle the sysrup on top. Cool for 30 minutes. Invert onto the rack, remove the pan, peel off the paper and cool completely.
Superfood Loaf Cake, serves 8
¾ cup sunflower oil
1 cup light muscovado sugar
3 large eggs, separated
2 cups raw beets, peeled and grated
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup golden raisins
¾ cup mixed seeds, or 3 tbsp each linseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
2 cups self-rising flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease the loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
2. Place the oil and sugar in a large bowl and beat until well combined. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating the mixture well between each addition. Stir in the grated beets, lemon juice, golden raisins, and all but 2 tbsp of the seeds.
3. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon over the cake mix and fold in thoroughly with a metal spoon.
4. Place the egg whites in a large, clean, dry glass or metal bowl and bet with a wire whisk or a handheld electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold the beaten whites into the cake mix.
5. Transfer the mix to the prepare loaf pan and sprinkle with the reserved seeds. Bake for 1 ¼ hours, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.