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Coffee and Cake: Enjoy the Perfect Cup of Coffee--with Dozens of Delectable Recipes for Café Treats Hardcover – Sep 14 2010
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From the Back Cover
What better way to welcome friends and family than with a steaming cup of coffee and some delectable cake?
In Coffee and Cake, acclaimed cookbook author Rick Rodgers presents dozens of recipe pairings for these classic and inseparable components. Rodgers starts with coffee, teaching the basics, from choosing the perfect beans to brewing a fabulous cup or pot. And he offers a selection of delicious international treats, both hot and iced, that can be whipped up at home—from Spiced Mocha and Thai Iced Coffee to a Coffee Frappe and even an Espresso Martini.
Rodgers then provides an array of recipes for delicious cakes designed to be savored with coffee, whether it's for a special after-dinner dessert or a get-together with family, neighbors, or friends. Whip up a simple and rustic treat like Apple-Cranberry Ginger Loaf for a coffee klatsch. Indulge the young and the young at heart with Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Ganache. Here, too, are American-style cakes sure to bring back wonderful childhood memories, including Angel Food Cake with Coffee Cream, as well as Chocolate-Strawberry Sachertorte and more elaborate creations worthy of a European café.
So make that next cup special—serve up a wonderful helping from Coffee and Cake.
About the Author
Rick Rodgers is the author of more than thirty-five cookbooks, including the bestselling 101 series (Thanksgiving 101, Christmas 101, Barbecues 101) and beloved cookbooks on everything from fondue to slow cookers to comfort food. His recipes have appeared in Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, and Food & Wine and on epicurious.com, and he is a frequent contributor to Bon Appétit. He lives in the New York tristate area.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
First, there aren't that many recipes; much of the book is "informational". For instance, pages of "a short history of coffee", coffee terminology and brief discussions of the various coffee growing regions of the world, as well as descriptions of how coffee is processed and roasted start the book. Then, there are the instructions on how to brew coffee and laborious coverage of the various pots and machines used to brew coffee. All this before we get to a single recipe, and this is just the coffee section of the book.
The cake section follows the same pattern; over 20 pages of truly basic information precede any recipes. How basic? Try this: "flour is the backbone of all cake recipes. Milled from wheat, flour is mostly starch..." For anyone who has a modicum of experience baking, reading these pages is the equivalent of an accomplished pianist playing "chopsticks". Yet, the descriptions are so superficial that this isn't an appropriate learning text for a neophyte, either.
Then, there are the recipes. The first one I tried, the "Apple-Cranberry Ginger Loaf" was awful. I seriously have to wonder whether there wasn't an editing error in the ingredient list. Don't try this one at home.
Not every recipe has a picture of the finished product and some probably should have. For instance, the "Butterfly" cupcakes are described as "whipped cream-and-preserves-filled cupcakes, decorated to look vaguely like butterflies..." We'll never know how vaguely like butterflies they look, because they're not pictured.
There are too many other excellent cookbooks and resources out there to waste time on this one.
Try these alternatives:
For all things coffee, try spending some time on [...].
To satisfy that craving to bake wonderfully luscious recipes for cakes and other baked goods, try "Tartine", "The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread", "The Sono Baking Company Cookbook" and Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible".
The included coffee recipes cover European territory such as Viennese coffees (fiaker), spiced mocha, Irish coffee, café brulot from New Orleans, and more far-flung variations such as Vietnamese and Thai (iced) coffee, along with a DIY frappe recipe (ice cream, espresso and whole milk) and an espresso martini.
As for the baking half, it's kicked off by an excellent baking primer that would be helpful for novice bakers in particular. There's in-depth discussion of ingredients, equipment, baking and cooling, and decorating. The cake recipes are divided into four parts. If you're looking for comfort food, you'll find heirloom recipes like apple-cranberry ginger loaf from the author's grandmother, almond blueberry buckle, or cinnamon swirl coffee cake. For the kids (and kids at heart), there's a section devoted to cupcakes and frosting. Gracious Southern-style cakes include ambrosia coconut cake and spice layer cake with praline frosting. You'll also find new favorites like a S'mores cheesecake and chocolate cake with chocolate malt frosting.
The first recipe that I tried was the apple-cranberry ginger loaf; I wrote the author to make sure that 2 cups unsweetened applesauce and 1/2 cup butter was correct, since that seemed like a lot of liquid for one loaf. Rick confirmed that it was. I made it minus the stick of butter in the interest of making the recipe low-fat and upped the ginger to 1/2 cup, and was rewarded with a moist, fruit-studded spice cake that would make a beautiful gift if baked in a decorative loaf pan like Nordic Ware Pumpkin Loaf Pan. Rick advises baking in a 9 x 5 pan, or you'll end up with extra batter. The apple-cranberry ginger loaf would also make great muffins for those chilly mornings on the go.
The European-style cakes are where the book really shines, and they pair wonderfully with Viennese coffees such as the fiaker (for more of Rick's European coffee recipes, try to find a copy of the excellent and out-of-print Kaffeehaus). Black Forest cake, moaahaccino torte, hazelnut gateau with coffee buttercream, chocolate-strawberry sachertorte, and tiramisu cake with mascarpone frosting will transport your tastebuds on a culinary vacation. The book wraps up with a handy (if brief) list of (online) sources, including Amazon.
"Coffee and Cake" does run on the short side at only eleven coffee recipes and twenty-five for cake, but Rick's excellent primers, engaging writing style, and step-by-step instructions make this a good choice for a novice baker, or for the hostess of a coffee (or book) club (it's the perfect size to tuck into a gift basket). There are numerous beautifully-staged photos that show off the included recipes. It's also printed in the US, which is becoming a rarity these days. More experienced bakers will want to try Rick's Kaffeehaus (if you can find it), Doris Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours or Carole Walter's Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More: 200 Anytime Treats and Special Sweets for Morning to Midnight.
The book is divided into 2 sections Coffee and Cake.
The coffee section begins with a coffee primer with a brief history of coffee, a section on coffee talk where the author describes that as wine coffee has its own terminology, an explanation of where coffee is harvested, how it is processed, and finally how it is brewed.
The coffee primer is followed by hot and cold coffee beverage recipes. In my opinion a fault in the recipe section is the lack of pictures for every recipe. I like to see what the end result of a recipe is supposed to look like. This book really seems to be missing this since it is of somewhat gastronomical educational nature.
The next section is the cake primer it begins with a list of ingredients commonly used in cakes. The ingredient section begins with flour and gives information about the types of flour and why they are used, it then moves on to other basic ingredients like butter and eggs. The cake primer section finishes up with decorating, storing and serving.
Finally we get to the cake recipes! There are 26 recipes with at least one recipe from every type of cake I could imagine, from cupcakes to cheesecake and everything in between. As in the coffee section the major downfall I see is the lack of pictures of the recipes. I would also like to acknowledge that there are many tips throughout the recipe section that were very helpful. I now know why my cheesecake cracks!
But with so few recipes and a book that was designed to be more than a simple list of recipes, the omission of pictures from each recipe is simply unforgivable. Less than 50% of the recipes are pictured, 4 coffee and 14 cake. It's hard to choose a niche for the book. It's more like a coffee table book, with lots of glossy pictures, but the pictures don't necessarily correspond with the recipes, and as I've said, there were lots of recipes that I simply have no idea how they are supposed to look.
Great Variety of Recipes
Fun to Read
Lack of pictures for all recipes
Few recipes (only 26 cake recipes and 11 coffee recipes)
Lastly, here is a list of recipes in the book
Thai Iced Coffee
Apple-Cranberry Ginger Loaf
Almond Blueberry Buckle
Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake
Pear Coffee Cake with Streusel Crust
Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake
Banana-Walnut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Ganache
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Big Buttercream Flowers
Ambrosia Coconut Cake
Daiquiri Chiffon Cake
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Malt Frosting
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Malt Frosting
Spiced Layer Cake with Praline Frosting
Black Forest Cake
Hazelnut Gâteau with Coffee Buttercream
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Tiramisù Cake Mascarpone Frosting
And not only is it attempting to do far too much in the allotted space, those recipes that are featured are very basic, think Black Forest Cake, Tiramisu, Angel Food Cake, and Red Velvet Cupcakes. The most interesting recipe in the whole book was the S'mores Cheesecake. There's nothing wrong with focusing on classic recipes, but if that is the case I personally find more satisfaction in a book like The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook A James Beard Award Winner (King Arthur Flour Cookbooks) or Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook as they are much more thorough, reliable, and have a wider volume of recipes.
I think the coffee recipes could have been interesting, but again the breadth wasn't there and I kept asking myself whether I really needed recipes for things like Irish Coffee. The book does feature Thai Iced Coffee and Vietnamese Coffee which are a little less common place, but still I feel like I could have created the recipes on my own just from drinking coffee out. Personally, I would have appreciated either a wider range of recipes or more detail (like the style of Cooks Illustrated) about why each of these recipes is the absolute best form of their drink. Otherwise I can mix a little milk or liqueur into my coffee and call it a day.
In the end, I appreciate what they author was trying to do, but I'm not sure the book really lived up to the intent.
Nice size at 8 1/4 inches square. Hardcover with enough color photos to make it really interesting, some by istock and the rest by Ben Fink.
Rodgers offers a pleasant introduction, explaining the seeming inseparability of coffee and cake from its Old World beginnings. A Coffee Primer explains the history of America's favorite beverage from its origin in Ethiopia down to coffeehouse culture. The reader will learn coffee terms, where the various berries are grown and size of the annual harvest (Brazil is the largest harvester at over 45 million bags). Processing and roasting are also covered, but brewing the perfect cup may be of primary interest to most readers; that and which coffeemaker to use. The reader has a choice between manual French press, drip, moka and several electric versions including espresso machines. (My personal preference is the Melitta filter shown on page 21.) Then there's an entire section on hot and cold coffee beverages: Irish Coffee, Café Brûlot, Viennese Fiaker with golden rum and whipped cream. Yum! How about an Espresso martini? You'll find it on page 38.
On to A Cake Primer listing the reasons for each ingredient, measuring, baking pans, mixers and a variety of tools. Technique, decorating, storing and serving are covered in just enough detail to keep it interesting. And finally the pièce de résistance: the recipes.
Choose from Apple-Cranberry Ginger Loaf, Apple Blueberry Buckle, Cinnamon Swirl and Pear Coffee Cake with Streusel Crust under the Coffee Cakes. Rodgers lists kuchen, crumbcake, a huge variety of cupcakes, some with elaborate decorations, All-American favorites, including cheesecake, and my personal favorites: European Café Treats. My family adores Schwartzwalderkirschtorte-Black Forest Cake-and there's a delightful recipe on page 119 that I plan to try soon. Included in this section is another favorite: Sachertorte, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Tiramisù, yummy Mocchaccino Torte with an espresso-chocolate filling on a brownie crust and a Hazelnut Gâteau with Coffee Buttercream. How can you not buy this book?
147 pages including a recipe index and a source listing for bakery supplies and all things coffee.
Two sticky thumbs up for Coffee and Cake.