Great Cake Decorating by Erin Gardner

(No Series)
Published January 7th 2014

Whether you are a bride on a budget, a mom baking for a birthday, a cook who needs to control added ingredients, or just want to celebrate a special event with a fresh, delicious cake, this book has something for you.
Author and pastry chef Erin Gardner is famous for her unique designs and cake decorating skill. In these pages, she demonstrates professional techniques for creating beautiful, custom-made cakes that are also completely delicious. From how to make mouthwatering, homemade buttercream to molding gorgeous fondant flowers and bows, Erin’s detailed, step-by-step instructions offer home cooks all the decorating know-how they need. She also presents a host of secrets and shortcuts for dressing up plain cakes in absolutely no time—try her fruit Rollup trick for pretty cake flowers that can be made in a flash. Throughout the book, Erin shows time-pressed cooks how to improve upon well-known cake decorating techniques.

Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Quite simply, this book is the cake decorating book bomb. It's not that it goes into details for hundreds of cakes, but it teaches you, in-depth, all the techniques you need to know to let your imagination roam free so you can go beyond the included cake ideas. From buttercream tips to making different shapes, the caking tools and pan advice, fondant finishes and coloring frostings, dowels, layers, and fondant shapes, it's all there in the first two chapters.

The second part, Decorate like you mean it, is why anyone opens these books in the bookstores to browse - to see the cake designs, of course. Big colorful pictures with decoration direction. The author breaks it into different themes: Nature Inspired (love the bird and topiary cakepop tree); Graphic Designs, with stained glass techniques and different stacking effects; Floral Creations, where most of these cases are multiple layered and fancy fondant; Fabric, Ribbons, and Bows - The Pearl cake is stunning; Special Occasions with monograms and other nifty cake techniques including, yes, Zebra Stripes.
Finally, part three is recipes for various cakes, frostings, marshmallow fondant, etc. I want to try the Devil Food Cake. I buy store bought now and love the Duncan Hines version. If this could mimic it or beat it, I'd be happy, for it's my favorite sort of birthday cake to do. Plus then when someone compliments you, you don't have to say it's store bought mix with that embarrassed pause.

The key to cake decoration is practice, practice, and more practice. Tools and books help but practice makes perfect and patience is key. Still, you have to know where to start and what the techniques actually ARE to start your practicing, and this book is that right guide. It doesn't ignore the buttercreme piping techniques, it includes the fondant recipes and techniques, it has creative cakes for different occasions, the writing is fun and informative, and the publisher wasn't stingy with the large, detailed pictures for the finished products.

Besides, there's just something addicting about cake decorating books...