I like cake decorating and I bet you do too.
Garett’s ginormous book guides readers through a multitude of diverse cake (or indeed cupcake) decorating skills which range from basic to advanced; from simple to complex.
It is in this light that her ‘Professional Cake Decorating’ is both an encyclopaedia-like reference book as well as a source for all kinds of inspiration. In my opinion, leafing through ‘Professional Cake Decorating’ is one pleasant affair. The layout of Garett’s book is similar to that of a textbook as the contents are sectioned off into ‘Lessons’, and ‘New Skills’ are highlighted and then followed by ‘Quick Prep’ lists which feature all ingredients as well as equipment needed. Instructions are carefully worded and ‘Decorator’s Hint’ bubbles are never excluded. In addition to all of the above, Garett makes use of many visual aids such as step-by-step photos with captions as well as hand drawn illustrations. I must admit that the latter are virtually indispensable. Finally, each lesson ends with an ‘End of Lesson Review’ as well as a ‘Performance Test’. One best not have an obsessive compulsive disorder to complete each and every performance test or one will be at this book for months (years) at a go.
Garett dedicates whole lessons to different piping skills (basic, floral, intermediate and advanced), the art of writing and painting, royal icing piped flowers, royal icing design skills, hand modeling skills, marzipan and chocolate modeling, rolled icing design skills, pastillage construction, gumpaste flowers, miniature cakes or petits fours and decorated cookies.
It’s worth noting that the aforementioned ‘decorated cookie’ skills chapter is a nice addition to what I initially imagined to be a solely ‘cake decorating’ oriented book. I thus learnt how to flood cookies with royal icing and to subsequently create unique and interesting designs.
Lesson 17, the ‘Cake and Confectionery Gallery’, is an all-time favourite as Garett includes finished or completed projects (works of art) that can be accomplished using skills that were developed in the preceding chapters or lessons.
Finally, the book ends with an assortment of recipes such as buttercream (french vanilla buttercream, amaretto mocha buttercream, white chocolate and dark chocolate buttercream to mention a few), as well as a number of different glazes, simple syrups, modeling pastes and types of rolled fondant. A few cake, jam and cookie recipes are also included.
In brief, I turn to this book time and time again.