Cake & Cake Decorating Book/Supplies
I searched the board for some advice on the best recipe books to buy if I am a complete novice looking to back and decorate my first cake. Didn't find anything.
I also went to the book store, but found many of the books seemingly very complicated.
I want to eventually be able to make the kind of lopsided tower cakes that Colette Peters makes, but that's probably way too ambitious to start off with.
Any advice on a book to get me started?
Also, I was going to buy fondant and supplies on line. I found one site - www.pastrywiz.com. Any other sites I should check out.
Your advice is appreciated. Thanks.
I think Rose Levy Beranbaum's book "The Cake Bible" is a very good starting point. The recipes and instructions may seem complicated at first, but she goes into specific details about why certain things should be done a certain way, so you understand the whole process better. You can take what you learn there and apply it to more elaborate looking cakes later on, the basics of structure, etc., will be the same.
I did find in making test cakes prior to doing a friend's wedding cake, that her chocolate cake recipe needed considerably more mixing time than she stated to properly form structure in the batter and get a better rise out of the cake as it bakes. But that is the only problem I have ever had with her instructions.
A good resource for buying all sorts of cake, baking and candy making supplies is Sweet Celebrations, formerly known as Maid of Scandinavia. Navigating their online site and ordering is easier to accomplish with a copy of the print catalog, but they have great customer service and good prices. I think you can request a catalog online, if not just call them and I'm sure they will get it right out to you. I am not sure, but I think all of their customer service people, including telephone order takers, are required to have baking experience. They are very good at answering questions and giving advice. I will include the link below.
A few other very quick tips: make sure your oven racks are completely even and oven is leveled properly - the slightest tip will make for an uneven cake. If you don't have one, buy an oven thermometer to see how accurate your temperature is. It's common for temps to be off somewhat, and you will want to adjust your temp to get it just right. If you decide to make your own fondant - do not try to mix it in the food processor, as is sometimes recommended. I suppose it must work for some people, but it cracked my Cuisinart, so I don't think it's worth the risk.