Martha Stewart's Cakes is just such a book. Stunningly photographed, with an array of mouthwatering recipes, this book is just what you would expect from Martha.
But what I really love about it is how clear, accessible, and thorough the recipes are. From the helpful baking tips to how to make the pretty garnishes, and even gift-wrapping ideas, this is one of the most complete cake books I've ever come across.
Martha recently took the time to answer my questions about her newest book!
There are so many dessert recipe books out there. What makes this one unique?
Not only do we provide 150 of our favorite, fool-proof recipes, layer cakes, cheesecakes, mini bundts, and loaves, but we also offer special techniques and tips. We have pages upon pages in the back that offer tips and step-by-step processes on leveling and splitting a cake, creating candied garnishes, rum glazes, your basic buttercream frosting, the list goes on.
What inspired you to put it together?
We wanted to follow up on our enormously successful Cupcakes, Cookies, and Pies and Tarts books - this is the latest in that bestselling series. Although we had published a wedding cakes book, we had never put all of our best cake recipes into one book, and we wanted to make sure we included the cakes that people make again and again - bundts, pound cakes and loaves, cheesecakes, upside-down cakes, single-layer snacking cakes, coffeecakes, as well as our favorite layer cakes for birthdays and other celebrations.
The cakes you feature in this book are stunning - it's hard to believe non-professional bakers can whip them up! Are they really as tough to make as they seem?
This book provides a basics section specifically designed for amateurs who are looking to sharpen their baking skills. It provides essential equipment and ingredients for mixing, baking, and finishing.
If you had to pick, what would be your favorite recipe from the book and why?
My favorite recipe from the book is the Lemon Meringue cake. I love anything lemon and anything meringue.
What piece of advice would you offer to cake bakers?
It's very important to choose your ingredients wisely. It makes all the difference to use the freshest, best-quality butter, eggs, chocolate, vanilla, and spices. It's also crucial to read the recipe all the way through before you even begin, and to have all of your ingredients pre-measured and ready. Always plan ahead.
We're excited to whip up some of these desserts during the holidays! What's your favorite part about that time of year?
Now with my two grandchildren - Jude and Truman - the holidays have become all about them. It's a wonderful time for family to gather and enjoy being together. It's one of the nicest and most joyous celebrations of the year. Carrying on family traditions is meaningful to me, and it's important that I pass them on to my daughter and grandchildren.
What's the key to putting together a great holiday dinner?
Whatever you do to create a wonderful holiday dinner, make sure you plan both the big and the little details. Write down all of the elements you need to think about: food, seating, decorations, and also the style. What will make it magical? Whatever you serve, you can make it look more festive with a little splash of color - add some kumquats to a platter of ham, or pomegranate seeds to a salad.
I am not kidding when I tell you that I want to make every one of these cakes! It was hard to choose where to begin, but with the holidays approaching (and the start of my marathon baking sessions) I settled on these pretty marbled pound cakes. I love the simplicity of a good old-fashioned pound cake, and this one delivers. The recipe makes two 9 x 5 loaves but I used my mini loaf pans to make six smaller cakes: the perfect size for gift-giving. I'm sharing the recipe here, along with my own tried-and-true baking tips!
Marble Pound Cakes
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cakes
2 c. unsalted butter, left out at room temperature for an hour
2 1/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
9 large eggs, left out at room temperature for an hour
2 3/4 c. flour, divided
1 T. kosher salt, divided
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Butter and flour two 9 x 5 loaf pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. With your mixer set at high speed, beat the sugar and butter for 8 minutes, till light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce the speed to medium and add the vanilla. Add the eggs in 4 batches, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides. Scoop half the mixture into a medium bowl.
3. Mix 1 1/2 c. + 2 T. flour and 1 1/2 t. salt into half the batter; mix 1 c. + 2 T. flour, the cocoa powder and 1 1/2 t. salt into the other half. Scoop batters into the pans, 1/2 c. at a time, alternating the plain and chocolate. Swirl with the tip of a knife.
4. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 65 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes - remove from pans to cool completely. Cakes can be served immediately or wrapped well and frozen.- By Sheri Silver
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