By: Melissa Barlow
Publisher: Gibbs Smith
Publication Date: August 2009
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: October 2010
Let’s face it, not all of us are as talented as Buddy Valastro from Carlo’s Bakery, but with a little bit of artistic flare and some direction we can all make holiday cakes that will have that WOW factor you want to deliver. Now even young people can participate in making cakes with a dashing flare that even Buddy would praise. Easy Christmas Cut-up Cakes for Kids, will give children the opportunity to participate in the creation of a special cake to lend to the family’s holiday tradition. There’s no better feeling than to have someone rave over one’s cooking or baking and believe you me, these cakes are rave material!
There are twenty-four great cakes to choose from, but I must admit I’m partial to the wreath cake. Cakes included are the candy cane, smiley snowman, sweet angel, peppermint candy, gingerbread man, toy train, O Christmas tree, toy drum, Santa’s hat, snowflake stocking, star, fuzzy mitten, wreath, red-nosed reindeer, penguin, ornament, little gift, elf socks, the North Pole, old-fashioned Christmas light bulb, holly berry, gingerbread house, polar bear, and the Santa. Before beginning it is recommended that the young cake maker get permission from a parent or caregiver to work alone, but in our house traditions began by working on holiday recipes together.
In the front of the book there are hints and suggestions, including important things such as how to tell if your cake is done, that should be read first. Other handy bits of advice include things like sticking “little bits of wax paper just under the edges of your cake” and removing them afterwards so “your cake plate won’t have frosting all over it.” You’ll find a couple of frosting recipes, you’ll learn how to decorate with frosting, and how to color your frosting. You will need to purchase a decorator’s bag if you want to work on the “fancier” cakes in this book. Each cake has step-by-step instructions, including the type of pans you’ll need, the kind of cake mix and frosting, decorative materials (candles, marshmallows, Oreos, M&Ms, etc.), how to cut the cake, how to serve it, how to frost it, and there are visual diagrams you can refer to for cakes you have to cut up.
This is a great book for the beginning baker, but for the youngest I’d certainly recommend that a “helper” is on hand to assist. The variety of cakes will make it hard to select a favorite, so most families will probably be making more than one cake. I know in our house, once a particular cake style was selected it was requested year after year. The spiral binding makes it easy to keep the book flat while you are working. The instructions for each cake are accompanied by a full color photograph that can be referred to when the cake is assembled and decorated. What I especially like is that even very young children can participate in the decorating process by adding things like marshmallows to the snowflake stocking or M&Ms to the little gift or gingerbread house. The skill and artistic levels range on these cakes from the simple North Pole cake to the gorgeous, but much more elaborate, toy train. In the back of the book is a metric conversion chart for temperature conversion, liquid and dry measures (U.S., Canadian and Australian).
Quill says: If you would like to introduce your children to the holiday tradition of Christmas baking, Easy Christmas Cut-up Cakes for Kids will provide recipes for wondrous cakes for years of fun!