Top positive review
Chocolate Cake for Dummies
on June 2, 2003
This is an excellent book for those who like to make chocolate cakes but may not be a skilled, experienced baker. If you are an average person who is trying to bake that chocolate cake at home, then I can happily recommend this book.
The most important feature of this book is that all recipes are rated according to difficulty. Those who are beginners can choose easy recipes, while those who are already adept at angel food cakes and butter cream frostings can go directly for the complicated ones. Bakers of all abilities will be able to find a recipe that fits your skill level. For example, she correctly identifies French butter cream frostings as difficult. Other recipes that are impressive and seem to be hard are actually easy to do, and this book will rate them as such.
This book has a lot going for it besides the rating system. The first 50 pages or so give you just the right amount of information so you can do the recipes. It is also very good about telling you what kind of equipment you will need for the various recipes. The recipes are clear and easy to follow most of the time. It also has a good dissertation on various types of icings and frostings, and matching them up to various cakes. The only short point here is the subject of matching up refrigerated versus cakes that can be stored at room temperature and what icings and frostings will match them.
There are a few problems, but they are minor. The description of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate is not correct. The statement that margarine can be substituted for baking in all recipes is also not correct, since the margarine can have wildly differing amounts of water that will have unpredictable results on any one recipe. The author is a trained, professional baker. This is often good, as the instructions are based on tried and true professional techniques that really work (which is sadly not true of many books about baking), but she often overestimates the abilities of beginner bakers. The vocabulary can have professional terms or techniques not otherwise explained, and the difficulty rating of some of the recipes should be increased; for example, anything that involves whipping and folding egg whites should be intermediate, not easy.