Guest Author - Launa Stout
A book review “United Cakes of America” by Warren Brown.
I checked this book out of my local public library, repeatedly. I highly recommend it as a wonderful gift book for someone who loves to bake. There is a cake recipe representing every state, so my thought was that if I just planned to make one cake a week I could travel across America (figuratively) and totally keep my family happy!
“Cakes popping out of ovens across America are all as vastly different and delicious as the diversity of America.”
This book is very detailed and takes you through the process from beginning to end. You are directed to read the whole recipe from beginning to end so you can visualize where you are going with the project.
The author gives a careful baking overview, and hopes you will have fun with his cakes. He explains the purpose and rational behind using the best ingredients available and takes you through descriptions of unsalted butter, shortening, eggs, all-purpose flour. You can learn the definitions and different situations where you would use superfine granulated sugar, muscovado sugar, and turbinado sugar. Be taught when to use bittersweet chocolate and when unsweetened cocoa powder is appropriate. When and why would you want to use potato starch and why will you use sugar syrup? These are a few topics covered in the initial first few pages.
He goes on to describe the different pieces of equipment you will find to help your cake making easier- they are not extravagant and expensive… just baking basics.
I liked the pictures of his bake ware- it looks well used, just like the pieces I have in my kitchen; the ones I have been using for a long time.
His book covers recipes in different regions of the US; the northeast, the south, the Midwest and the west, with cake recipes celebrating every state.
Another helpful section in the book gives detailed instructions about how to deal with adjustments for high altitude. You don’t just lengthen the cook time, sometimes you also need to adjust the amount of baking powder or baking soda to prevent the too-rapid expansion. Other tips for altitude adjustments are on page 205.
To me this book is beautiful enough to be a coffee-table book. The cover is striking and the pages are large and the paper is sturdy. At first glance I thought there was a picture of every cake, but when I checked it out from the library the next time, I realized there are more cake recipes than beautiful high-gloss color photos; but that was okay as I felt the cakes that really need photos had them.
If you love to look at cookbooks, this one is beautiful and yummy!
Publisher: Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2010