Friday, December 10, 2010

United Cakes of America

United Cakes of America :  Recipes Celebrating Every State by Warren Brown (641.8653  BRO Main)

Reviewed by Jeanne

This book is a feast for the eyes as well the stomach!  Brown, the author of Cakelove, gives clear and concise directions for making all these marvelous cakes.  Although he ties the cakes to individual states (Apple Butter Cake to West Virginia, for example), these are for the most part all-American cakes, enjoyed the nation over.  Brown also provides a bit of background on the cake’s origin and offers tips along with the recipes. While the selections are, for the most part, based on traditional recipes, Brown and his staff have occasionally experimented and tweaked recipes.  I found the instructions to be some of the most complete I’ve ever seen, and I need complete.  To give you an idea of what I mean, for “Tennessee Stack Cake” he not only explains why applesauce can’t be used in place of the dried, reconstituted apples in the layers, he describes how to dry apples and which varieties are the best for this purpose. The photos are mouthwatering, as you might expect, and Brown offers up some fun bits of trivia, such as Martha Washington’s “Great Cake” recipe.  (Great as in large:  the recipe begins “Take 40 eggs. . .”)

This is a wonderful book for the inexperienced baker, especially if you want to try a scratch cake. I almost think maybe I might perhaps consider trying to bake one. Of course, I’d prefer just to sample the finished product. . . .

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