My New Year's Resolution - Cakes
I'm a pie person. I married into a family of cake people. My New Year's resolution is to become adept at making cakes (and not just the simple ones either).
I will confess, I've never made a cake from scratch (aside from when I was a child and I would make them with my mom but that doesn't really count, does it?).
My request, fellow Chowhounds, is for:
1. Your tips (or even recipes) for making cakes and frosting.
2. Links to websites about making cakes.
3. Recommendations for books/magazines/etc. about cake baking.
4. Pity and prayers for husband's coworkers who will be subjected to my cake attempts.
Homemade cakes are wonderful-- not pie of course, but wonderful nonetheless. I think the Cake Bible is a good place to start-- the explanation will make good reading and the recipes are full proof. A few steps, such as greasing/flouring/parchment/greasing/flouring make a huge difference.
I second the Cake Bible. I have it and it's wonderful. Also Rosie's Bakery All-Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar-Packed, No-Holds-Barred Baking Book is a very good cookbook for all kinds of desserts, but I like how she does her cake section especially well. She's very down-to-earth and offers some base layer cake recipes with ideas (and recipes) for different fillings and icings to mix things up a bit.
I'm personally a cake person and can take or leave pie. I think they're easier to make than pie, too. I will almost always turn to cakes as a go-to dessert for company. They're fun to fiddle with too.
As far as tips go, I would highly recommend NOT getting intimidated by cakes. They're really not hard at all, given a couple of decent pans. Just have fun!
I like the Cake Bible but it's technical and there is a lot of information for people who REALLY want to know how to bake cakes, if that's what you want. I've been really happy w/ every cake I've tried from Cooks Illustrated. They have the basics--white, birthday, chocolate, devils food and a few others but not nearly as extensive as the Cake Bible.
Try this site:
It covers more than just cakes but go to the cake section. It gives a fair amount of information and recipes. I like Cooks Illustrated a lot, they are great at making recipes clear and easy to follow.
Personally I think baking cakes is easier than making pie. As long as you have a reliable recipe and follow it closely, there's not much that can go wrong.
I really love the Cake Bible, too. Just reading it is an education on how cakes work -- I'm pretty new at cake baking myself and I like to know the "whys" even if I'm constantly screwing up the "hows"!
The White Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream especially is to *die* for (and very, very forgiving), especially if your in-laws, like mine, aren't so big on extremely sweet desserts.
I used a bit of it to fill a Lemon Chiffon Cake from Malgieri's Perfect Light Desserts book yesterday, along with some raspberry preserves, and it was not only far easier than I thought it would be, it was absolutely delicious. :)