When I was five years old, my Mom made me the most spectacular birthday cake.
It was a chocolate sheet cake cut into the shape of a bunny, covered with fluffy buttercream frosting, shredded coconut, and embellished with M&Ms - my absolute favourite childhood candy. It was the most beautiful cake I had ever seen and I was so proud to pose with it - Dorothy Hamill haircut, Kool-Aid moustache and all.
Years later, I was going through my Mom's recipes and found this very cake in a Betty Crocker recipe flyer she picked up at the grocery store. My mother had hundreds of these very recipes stuffed in a binder; they also served as makeshift bookmarks in the countless cookbooks she housed in her bottom kitchen drawer and pantry. One look into her arsenal and it's not hard to see where or from whom I inherited my addiction. As I stared at the professional version of this cake (although Mom's was pretty impressive), I appreciated that she took the time to create something like this, especially knowing it would have been so much easier to purchase one from the local bakery. I quickly realized it was about presentation. And pride.
Funny enough, cake decorating and I didn't become friends until several years ago. I made a three layer carrot cake from scratch for a friend's birthday and found I really enjoyed the process. Before this, most of my cake came from a box mix, frosting was a simple buttercream recipe, and it was always a standard 9 x 13 cake. It was fast, it was easy, but most importantly, it was tasty. I eventually got creative and doctored up the mixes, but most attempts ended up with cakes that were overflowing, uneven, and wonky-shaped. I'm embarrassed to say how many cake pops we went through.
To say I appreciate cookbooks on the shelves like Tessa Huff's newest creation, Layered, is an understatement. Baking is a science, but building and decorating a sky-high cake with bakery-like quality is a skill. A skill that takes a steady hand as well as oodles and oodles of practice and patience. If you're willing to learn, this cookbook will help you get there, step-by-step.
Layered dons a panoply of gorgeous cakes and recipes to choose from - 150 to be exact. Every cake within her book was baked, styled, and photographed by Tessa herself; a true testament to a labour of love.
Her instructions are well-articulated throughout the book and guide readers to ensure they have success on the first go. Tips like how to build buttercream dams or using a recipe for a whole other purpose, like pouring leftover whiskey-espresso glaze from her Peanut Porter Cake into a cup of coffee for an adult after-dinner drink. Her stunning, yet delicious photography adds the all important visuals and is truly the cherry on top.
Each chapter is broken down into categories like classic, casual, whimsical, holiday, and even adventurous - yeah, I'm looking at you Coconut Mojito Cake. I adore that she adds personal anecdotes within each recipe blurb and allows readers to get to know her. I also appreciate that she offers three different quantities for her swiss buttercream frosting, taking away any guesswork needed to get the job done. She certainly didn't miss any details when writing this book.
I chose to make The Birthday Cake because not only are birthday celebrations my favourite, but enjoying a slice of classic yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting on a random Tuesday afternoon? Yes please. The cake yields a fluffy and moist texture while the frosting lends a fudgy element needed to pair the two up beautifully. It's perfection. As Tessa put is, "If you don't already have a go-to yellow cake recipe, this is it. Memorize it and pass it along. Your future grandchildren will thank you."
Oh friends, will they ever!
I still have a way to go and a lot to learn when it comes to cake making, but I'm so thankful to have a cookbook like this in my corner to help me along. Whether you're a novice baker or a well seasoned one, you will absolutely love this cookbook and refer back to it time and time again. I promise.
I implore you check out my fellow blogger friends all week long as they try their hand at Layered.
Amanda of The Cinnamon Scrolls made Coconut Mojito Cake
Renee of Sweet Revelations made Golden Champagne Celebration Cake
Alanna of The Tough Cookie made Honey Fig Cake
Olivia of Liv For Cake made French Opera Cake
Fanny Oh Sweet Day made Chocolate Matcha Cake
Marie of Food Nouveau made Lemony Zucchini Cake
Want the chance to win a copy of Layered and try your hand at making one of these spectacular cakes? In the comments below, tell me what you're favourite cake is.
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This giveaway is open to all legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside.
Void in Quebec.
Void in Quebec.
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Giveaway will run from Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 12:01am to end on Thursday, June 2, 2016 at 11:59pm. Winner is chosen at random via Rafflecopter. Winner will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to respond. If not, a new winner will be chosen. Winner selected MUST correctly answer a skill-testing mathematical question. Winner's name will be displayed on Rafflecopter widget. Email address will never be given out to any third party or anyone for that matter.
Dislosure: I was given a complimentary copy of this cookbook by the lovely folks over at Abrams. I was not asked to write this review nor am I being compensated for doing so. As anything and everything I review, all opinions and views are completely my own. I will never endorse anything I don't love, use, or believe in and will always give my honest opinion regardless.