Like the incredible cakes photographed in its pages, Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes by Tessa Huff has all of the ingredients for a delicious and satisfying read: 150 recipes for cakes, frostings, fillings and edible garnishes, gorgeous photography, and detailed instructions for all of the techniques to create them. (Everything from what to stock in your pantry and how to prepare your pans to how to check for doneness and master a variety of frosting finishes.) Classic cakes, chocolate cakes, casual cakes, whimsical cakes, adventurous cakes and holiday cakes are served up with the stories behind them and plenty of helpful troubleshooting tips. Bakers are encouraged (and inspired!) to think beyond chocolate and vanilla (tho you’ll find recipes for those too) and try something inventive and new: an orange passion fruit cake with ombre frosting reminiscent of an island sunset; a boozy banana espresso banana tiramisu cake perfect for dessert al fresco under strings of twinkly lights; and a peanut butter lover’s chocolate bombe topped with a dome of peanut butter mousse and a chocolate ganache so rich and decadent it can only mean I love you.
I made the lemony zucchini cake from the casual cakes chapter, ‘tho the generous layers of goat cheese frosting and crown of thyme sprigs on top (an idea I borrowed from Tessa’s blood orange thyme cake) made it anything but casual to us.
I really wasn’t sure how the cake would go over with my two picky eaters, but Lily loved it so much she asked if I could make it for her birthday and James was asking for some for dessert every day last week. (Which he didn’t get every day since he wouldn’t be able to fit into his pants.) The goat cheese frosting had a bit of that goat cheese nip but paired well with the lemon. Cream cheese frosting would also be delicious.
My only regret (aside from that bit of cardboard you can see under the cake — gahh!) is that I didn’t test the thickness of the lemon glaze before I poured it on top. I should have made it thicker so it wouldn’t run all the way down the sides and pool around the bottom of the cake. Amateur move.
For a cake-baking and decorating resource that will inspire you to higher heights and teach you the know-how to do so, I recommend Layered. I’ll be baking from it again this week (it’s birthday season here — woot!) and sharing pictures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. (And maybe in the next Five things too.)
Abrams Books sent me a copy of Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes in exchange for a review. All opinions (and calories!) are my own.