Friday 9 September 2016

Review: Traditional Family Cakes - Parragon Books

Traditional Family Cakes
Easy-to-make classic favourites

Baking a cake is one of the most satisfying types of cooking there is - it is both fun and easy to do, while the end results are always more tasty and impressive than their shop-bought equivalents. And it isn't just fun for the baker - family and friends will be thrilled to indulge in a slice of gorgeous, home-made cake, fresh from the oven. 

Enjoy traditional baking at its best with this collection of 40 easy-to-bake recipes, from the classic Victoria Sponge or Fruit Cake to the more adventurous Mocha Layer Cake or Blueberry Swirl Cake.

Visit the book page on Goodreads for more information

This has quickly turned into my favourite baking cookbook, it has a great selection of both traditional recipes (like Coffee & Walnut Cake, Banana Loaf, Gingerbread & Victoria Sponge Cake) as well as some that look a little more exciting for special occasions (like Mocha Cake, Devil's Food Cake, Chocolate Ganache Cake & Boston Cream Pie). There are 40 recipes to choose from and the hardest part is trying to decide what to bake next.

I've not tried all of them but so far this is proving to be a very easy book to use, each recipe has a clear ingredients list and simple, easy to follow instructions (even for baking novices like me!). It also has gorgeous full colour pictures of what your finished cakes are supposed to look like even if you never quite achieve perfection yourself.

I'm going to include my thoughts on each of the recipes that I've tried so far and I'll try to come back and update this review in the future as I test out more.

1. Iced Madeira Cake

This cake was incredibly easy to make and tasted absolutely delicious, it actually reminded me a lot of the lemon cakes my nan used to make when I was a kid which brought back lots of happy memories. I followed the recipe to the letter until it came to the icing, I used the book's suggestion of lemon icing with lemon curd for the topping but added a layer of lemon buttercream and lemon curd in the middle which I think made it even nicer. I think the only thing I didn't get quite right was the icing on top of the cake, I probably needed it to be a little runnier when I put it on the cake so that it was easier to spread but I'm sure the next one I make will look smoother. This has definitely become a family favourite, it's the one everyone always asks for and I've made it four times now.

2. Grasshopper Cake

This is a really rich & decadent chocolate cake, layered and coated with peppermint buttercream icing. The recipe includes an alcoholic version which uses Creme de Menthe in the icing but I went with the standard version using peppermint extract. Once again the recipe was incredibly easy to follow and the results were really tasty. I was impressed by how moist the chocolate cake is and the flavour combination with the chocolate and mint is delicious.

As much as I liked the cake I'm not sure that I'd make it again though, I think it was a little too rich for our tastes and the addition of double cream to the icing made it quite sickly. This definitely isn't the kind of cake you can eat seconds of (which is probably a good thing really LOL) so unless you're making it for a larger family gathering you're going to end up with a lot of leftovers. The Grasshopper Cake certainly looks impressive though and I can't fault the flavour.

3. Lemon Drizzle Cake

Another recipe that took me straight back to childhood and my nan's home baking, the cake had a great flavour and was lovely and moist thanks to the lemon syrup drizzle. It's a perfect afternoon tea cake and I'll definitely be making it again. I forgot to take better pics after I'd got the cakes out of the tins but I think you can still see how tasty they look.

4. Red Velvet Cake

So this cake looks delicious but it was actually my first complete disaster. I take full responsibility though, I didn't have the right size cake tins and I misjudged how long to cook it for in my substitutes so it came out rather stodgy and underbaked. The flavour was lovely though so I'm sure if I hadn't messed up it would have been fab and I'm determined to try the recipe again (hopefully with better results!) in the future.

5. Carrot Cake

I love carrot cake but this was my first attempt at making it and I'm definitely impressed with this recipe. This is a lovely cake with carrots, mixed spices, fresh orange juice and pecan nuts. The frosting is cream cheese with a lovely orange flavour and it complimented the cake perfectly. I can't decide if I love this or the Iced Madeira Cake more but they're both cakes I'll be making again in the future.

Source: Purchased

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If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here


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