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Cupcakes have become increasingly popular over the past few years and there is now a huge range of cupcake recipe books available. If you have ever wanted to be able to make cupcakes in the shape of a penguin, an alien, a Christmas ornament or a snow globe then Hello Cupcake is the book for you.
There are some basic recipes included in the book both for cakes and for frostings but they recommend the use a of quite a lot of ready made ingredients and packet mixes - apparently because the results are more standardised. The book provides a few options for customising packet mixes to more unusual flavours such as pumpkin or gingerbread and options for homemade vanilla, chocolate, lemon, carrot or almond cakes.
The first few chapters cover the equipment needed and the techniques used through the rest of the book. As this book is aimed at people who don't necessarily have a lot of previous baking experience there is no fancy equipment used - ziplock bags for icing, a couple of spatulas, tooth picks for holding things together and brushes to decorate with. Simple step by step instructions with lots of pictures demonstrate the basic icing techniques used in the book - how to ice fur onto the animal shaped cakes, how to make leaves and petals, how to draw patterns with frosting and assemble the basic shapes.
The rest of the book is divided into themed chapters - April Fools (cakes which look like other foods), Party Animals, Happy Birthday Cupcake (mostly for kids parties -party princess and slumber party cakes), Hostess with the Mostest - cakes for other occasions such as baby showers or even weddings, Nightmare Before Thanksgiving - Halloween and Thanksgving themed cakes and Holiday on Icing for making Christmas cakes.
Each cake has simple step by step instructions which are very clear and easy to follow, there are lots of pictures of different stages and the finished article so you can see what you are aiming for. The measurements are all American - some things like cups are fairly universal now but others may require googling - I certainly didn't know how much a stick of butter was equivalent to (4 ounces apparently).
Most of the ingredients are easy to find - as well as butter icing you will use a wide range of sweets and biscuits in the recipes - the only things I found it difficult to source were doughnut holes and cookies for making wings for my penguins, none of the options I could find were a suitable consistency. In the end I left them out and the penguins looked fine. I found the cakes very sweet - there is lots of icing holding everything together as well as doing the decorating - but they look brilliant and are definetly a talking point.
This isn't a book for complicated recipes but the cakes are fun and easy to make. If you want to make elegant looking cakes I would go for the Hummingbird Bakery or Primrose Hill cupcake books but if you want novelty cakes this is a great book to use.
You can buy Hello, Cupcake! for £5.99 on amazon. There is also a website with new recipes (www.hellocupcakebook.com) and a fan page on Facebook!