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A friend of mine was given this book for Christmas. She passed it onto me just a few weeks ago because she knows I do a lot of cooking. Whereas she does not really have the time to bake. If ever I have spare time though baking is one of the things I do to occupy myself. I often make my dad's favourite Victoria sandwich cake and other times just try and test myself with something I have never made before. More often than not the recipes do not usually work out to plan. But I think that is what I love about cooking in general. I love waiting till the last minute to see if the hour or couple of hours I have worked at cooking something has paid off or not. ************************************** CUPCAKE MAGIC AS A BOOK AND THE AUTHOR ************************************** This Cupcake Magic book is such a cute hardback book, I love the size of it. It does not take up too much room on the kitchen top when cooking. It is approximately half the size of regular cook books in height as well as thickness. There are 112 pages. The book is red with two fantastic looking cupcakes on the front. The sort of cupcakes you dream that you could make. However, in all honesty very few people have the time to make such cupcakes with such detail. There is a sticker on the front of the book stating 'Donation made to the Battery Hen Welfare Trust with every copy sold' which is always nice to read. On the back of the book is a picture of a rose which I was puzzled to know where it fitted in with the book, but within the book she does have a cupcake recipe using sugar candied roses, so I guessed it fitted in there. Cupcake Magic was written by Kate Shirazi who I had never heard of before seeing this book. There is a small section at the back of the cover of the book about Kate. She moved to Devon and started a cupcake order business from her farmhouse. As it can be seen throughout the book as well Kate is passionate about battery rescue hens and she has a flock of her own. For more information about Kate and her business go to her website: www.cakeadoodledo.co.uk ***************************** THE CONTENTS OF CUPCAKE MAGIC ***************************** As you can imagine the book is full of different recipes specially for making cupcakes. So if you are not a cupcake fan this book is certainly not from you. Anybody 100 miles away can guess that one from the title. Kate has started the book with an introduction about cakes, including the ins and outs of how she became in love with cakes in general. Kate's wording of the book is a breath of fresh air next to some people who write books. I can clearly see her enthusiasm, wit and humour in it. It makes it very enjoyable to read. Kate secondly includes in the book a few pages based on the best ingredients and equipment to use to make cakes, for example, margarine makes sponges much lighter. Kate then goes onto three pages about hens and eggs which as I said earlier seems a very important subject to her which is of course becoming more and more important. She talks about using free-range hens rather than battery hens and how she came across the Battery Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT). Then Kate begins with her cupcake recipes. Firstly she includes recipes on the different types of icings and creams to use which include glace icing, royal icing, buttercream, coffee cream, chocolate cream and lemon cream. I found these few pages very useful indeed. It means that whatever I am making cake wise, even if it is not a recipe in her book with cupcakes I can always refer back to these sections for reference of measurements for icing and buttercreams. Kate's varied cupcake recipes really are wonderful. The different sections within the book for cupcakes includes... Low-Faff, Mid-Faff, High-Faff (I do love these names) as well as savoury and seasonal cupcakes. I love the 'Basic no-mucking around cupcakes' to 'Cupid's cupcakes' which use a lot more detail for the Valentine's Day theme. Other cupcakes she includes in the sweet section are coffee and walnut, mocha cupcakes, mascarpone cupcakes, battenburg cupcakes (yes cupcakes with mini looking battenburg cakes as decorations which are actually just dolly mixtures... clever!) and many more. In Kate's savoury section (which isn't my cup of tea of cupcakes but each to their own)... these include a range from 'Courgette, Feta and Spring Onion' cupcakes to 'Bacon - and - Egg' cupcakes... very bizarre indeed. The seasonal cupcakes include ones such as 'Chirpy - chirpy - cheep - cheep' cupcakes (obviously Easter themed cupcakes with chicks on the front) and others such as, wedding fruit cake cupcakes. So Kate really has collated a huge range of different types of cupcakes in which I think there is a cupcake for everybody! ******* OVERALL ******* Overall I would say that I absolutely love this book and the cupcakes I have made so far have turned out perfectly, however, I have played it safe so far with butterfly cakes and chocolate cream cupcakes. I do not think I will bother with the high-faff decorating of cakes. I think it would take me hours. However, if I were to bake cakes for a specific occasion I may be more inclined to look more into the presentation of the icing etc. A great book retailing at £7.99 from most retailers. However, Whsmiths are selling it online for £5.59 and Amazon at the lowest price I have seen at £4.88 plus free delivery. I think it is an excellent cupcake cook book for that price and a lovely present for somebody who loves to cook and bake.
Like many people in the UK I became addicted to baking cupcakes last year. One of the many books I got for Christmas was 'Cupcake Magic' by Kate Shirazi. At this current moment you can get it from Play.com with free delivery for £4.69. The book is a small hardback book and is very well presented. It has a big and bold cover with two cupcakes on and simple writing. The book starts with a general introduction. It talks about baking, where the authers inspiration comes from and general tips and techniques. I normally skip this bit as I find it boring, but I was browsing through it and saw some tips about the sort of ingredients to buy and it renewed my stance about ONLY buying free range eggs, so I'm glad the author had strong principles. The recipes are good, but not all the cupcakes are decorated to my taste. They use a lot of royal icing which is not my sort of thing, but that doesn't mean I can't use the recipes and modify them. Most of the recipes come with pictures, but the ones which don't really let the book down. They try and explain how to decorate these cakes but it is hard to follow when you don't have a picture in front of you, also you are less likely to chose to make that cake as part of the advert is the picture. The book has approx 110 pages and contains within that a wide variety of cakes to chose from, in different shapes and for different occassions, so there should be something for everyone. All in all I would say this was a good cupcake book, but not an excellent one. The problem is so many people jumped on the cupcake market bandwagon, so there is so much competition about. You have to be pretty different and popular to compete with the likes of the Hummingbird bakery.
Cupcake Magic is a cupcake book by Kate Shirazi. Shirazi is somewhat of a cupcake impresario, owning as she does a successful baking company called CAkeaddoodledo who make cupcakes and cookies to order. I attended a cupcake decorating session that Shirazi was holding and received this book as part of this. It is quite small in size and comes in at 112 pages. It is hardback with a loose leaf cover. The pages themselves are glossy, however due to the size of the book it can be quite difficult to keep the pages open when cooking from it flat so you will probably need a holder. There is quite a lengthy introduction where she discusses her own love of cupcakes, the ingredients and equipment that you will need, cases, issues about wheat and gluten (she has included some recipes for those who are intolerant later in the book.), piping bags, sugar paste and fondant. At the end of the introduction there is a particularly detailed part on hens and eggs. This is a subject close to Shirazi's heart as many of the eggs for her cake come from her own adopted former battery hens. In fact, a donation from every sale of this book goes to the Battery Hen Welfare Trust. The first section is called 'low faff' so contains recipes which are really easy or low-maintenance. It starts with recipes on glace icing, royal icing and buttercream with various variation of flavours. Cupcake recipes include "your basic no-mucking-around cupcake", buttercream mountain, carrot cupcakes with honey orange cream cheese frosting, chocolate maltesers cupcakes, ginger and lemon cupcakes. Midfaff, does not really contain any new recipes, rather it gives a variety of different ways that the cakes listed in the first sec tion can be decorated eg using edible glitter, using icing bags to draw wish, cherries, using sugar paste to make basic animals, making sugar roses. The High-faff section contains the most complex recipes and ideas. It starts with the fondant icing recipe - the most difficult icing to master and is then followed by how to decorate your cupcakes with butterfly decorations, Bollywood-style glitter flowers, flowers, how to do intricate icing drawings and paisley effects. Next up is the savoury section which includes recipes such as courgette, feta and spring onion cupcakes, carrot and coriander, parmesan and herb, bacon and egg, The last section is entitled seasonal and includes Easter Egg topped sponge cakes, firework, snowflake, Christmas tree decorated cakes and fruitcake cupcakes. Despite its small stature, this really is an extremely good book. It is a superb introduction into cupcake making. The fact that she takes time over describing different methods of preparing icing and decorating makes it different to other cupcake books I have bought or looked at. This is especially beneficial as not all of them have photographs to show what they look like. It is presented in a fun, quirky and modern way with lots of colour and gorgeous photography, although some do look a little daunting. For a relatively unknown food writer, Shirazi has a really good writing voice. A real sense of humour and lack of pretension comes across - the fact that the recipes are rated by 'faff' for instance. Yet it is never starchy or intimidating and is instead quite encouraging particularly when it comes to the more complex of the recipes. The recipes are relatively straightforward to follow and her methods for the basic-style cupcakes themselves are now the only ones I use as they always come out wonderfully. It is true to say that some of the decoration methods do require a bit of practice, but that is no bad thing and it is nice to have a book that has plenty for me to cook from now but that I can also grow into as I get more confident with my skills. It has an RRP of £7.99 but you can get it cheaper online. In my opinion, this is a real keeper of a recipe book as it is easy to dip in and out of and mix and match recipe and icing recipes to tailor it for the tastes of the people that you will be cooking for. It contains a number of core recipes that you could just do over and over again. The savoury recipes are a nice touch and easy to have for snacks or easy breakfast foods. What is also good is that whilst there are some complex recipes, she does not go overboard with suggesting recipes and ideas which need loads and loads of expensive equipment and she does advise where you can 'make do' rather than get the top thing on the market. That said, she also has a strong ethical side of her cooking, so alongside the aforementioned free-range eggs she also suggests the use of fairly sourced chocolate for example. In conclusion, I think this is a really good book for beginners to cupcake making and the more advanced as well who are looking for new decoration ideas. It may not have as many recipes as some of the more high-profile cupcake books on the market but it has heart and those recipes it does have are versatile and have longevity.