« May 31, 2013

Bake It Like You Mean It: Gorgeous Cakes From Inside Out

An essential cookbook for novice bakers and pros
Review by Virginia B. Wood

Bake It Like You Mean It: Gorgeous Cakes From Inside Out

by Gesine Bullock-Prado
Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 252 pp., $29.95

In the introduction to her newest baking tome, baking instructor and cookbook author Gesine Bullock-Prado explains that the title is also her guiding philosophy and baking mantra: "I remind myself to bake with patience and love, to bake with an eye to the details and the beauty of the process." Fans of Bullock-Prado's three books, and the many members of the online baking forum she hosts on Facebook (also called Bake It Like You Mean It), take that inspiration to heart. This third book focuses on cakes, with recipes and techniques for creations ranging from the simple to the spectacular. As she has in previous books about sugar art and baking pies, Bullock-Prado arranges recipes and chapters like the building blocks of a good baking course. She starts with simpler cakes such as meringues and sponges, then works her way through cheesecakes and mousses, buttery batters, and yeast cakes, giving novice bakers the time and experience to develop skills, while more experienced hands can choose to jump in where the spirit moves them.

Bullock-Prado's trademark sly sense of humor is ever-present in the text, as are her no-nonsense and informative sidebars, here called "Notes From the Sweet Talker." The recipes are clear and concise, written specifically to be accessible to home bakers. The book is beautifully produced but definitely something any serious baker will want in the kitchen. There are American regional delicacies such as the Baked Vermont (a maple-laced version of Baked Alaska) and New Orleans King Cakes, plus several lovely European tortes. The more ambitious recipes begin to appear about halfway through the book, where the author's inner cake architect really takes over. Luckily, the more dramatic and intricate productions such as the Chocolate Pyramid, the Because You Are Mine carousel, the Interior Heart, and the Checkerboard come with thorough, step-by-step instructions and a series of pictures to guide the first time efforts. Creating some of these cakes would indeed be challenging, even for an accomplished baker, but they are all guaranteed to make a dramatic statement on any dessert buffet. With the Sweet Talker right there on the counter, you too can bake it like you mean it, and everyone will be glad you did.