There cannot be many who would not enjoy a luscious slice of cake. Cupcakes are popular even as replacements for wedding cakes, and macaroons seem to have taken the world by storm. We all love something sweet to help down a cup of tea or coffee, or to finish a meal.
Baking is enjoying something of a revival. It’s due in part to our longing for a return to a simpler life and traditional values, and there is a renewed interest in afternoon tea. Individual cakes or biscuits (cookies) perhaps remind us of childhood but now we sit down to an elegantly-laden three-tier stand rather than those paper plates at well-remembered kids parties.
200 Mini Cakes and Bakes offers recipes for sophisticated treats as well as family favourites. Lots of traditional cakes but some rather exotic temptations as well. There are child-friendly iced biscuits and some small sweet bites that need no cooking at all. Ideal recipes for rainy day projects – lots of sticky fingers and buckets of icing. Yes, I can hear parents squealing with delight at the very prospect.
Baking is fun but one does need reliable recipes. Careful measuring of ingredients is the key to success but the actual method of preparation for cakes is simple. The recipes here are well written and clear, and each recipe has a photograph to give confidence. There’s plenty of inspiration for the use of the aforementioned bucket of icing as well as some other very classy decorations. One could use a basic recipe for a cupcake, for instance, and garnish with icing and jelly beans for a 5th birthday party; and use the same recipe decorated with gold glitter for a 50th wedding anniversary.
Lamingtons are small cubes of cake decorated with chocolate and coconut. They are said to be named after Lord Lamington who was Governor of Queensland from 1895 to 1901, and are supposed to replicate his favourite hat. For many years Lamingtons were served on state ceremonial occasions in Queensland, although Lord Lamington wasn’t a lover of these eponymous cakes. He referred to them as “those bloody poofy woolly biscuits.” They are, in truth, light and delicious.
Desserts in Asia are not as common as in the West, so I am always pleased to find recipes that would work well at the end of an Eastern meal. Coconut and Rosewater Slice boasts elements that give a nod to both the Subcontinent, with coconut, and Turkey, with rosewater and melted Turkish Delight drizzle.
My recommendation from 200 Mini Cakes and Bakes is Tangy Lemon Squares. I never tire of this balance of sweet and sharp. An easy bake to execute and it’s a delight to nibble sitting in the garden on hot summer afternoons.
200 Mini Cakes and Bakes is a book to cook from. The recipes are practical and appropriate for youngsters who will enjoy the no-bake sweets, as well as for the more confident who will find lots of contemporary twists on the classics. Great value for money.
200 Mini Cakes and Bakes
Published by: Hamlyn
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018