PUB. INFO: Race Point Publishing, 9/2013
MY GRADE: C
From Publisher: World Class Cakes is a fabulous collection of globally-inspired classic bakes, from national favorites such as Boston Cream Pie and international classics like British Chelsea Buns to exquisite small treats like Russian Tea Cakes and French Madeleines. Each recipe has been meticulously researched and perfectly baked by Roger Pizey, one of the world’s leading pastry chefs.
Whether you are a baking novice wanting to make your first Plum Madeira or a seasoned pastry enthusiast wishing to impress with a Millefeuille or Croquembouche, the book is divided into chapters that correspond with types of cake and baking techniques. These include Sponges and Layer Cakes, Loaves and Pound Cakes, Fruit, Nut, and Seed Cakes, Sheet Cakes and Bars, Cheesecakes, Small Cakes, Leavened Cakes, Pastries, Tarts and Celebration Cakes.
Each recipe has fascinating insights into the origins, culture, or traditions associated with the cake, and dotted throughout the book are feature recipes from guest chefs, including Mark Hix and Marco Pierre White in London, Shannon Bennett in Melbourne, and Lucas Glanville in Singapore.
For those who love to travel, each chapter also includes a section on must-visit cake-eating destinations around the globe. These act as your personal guide to the best places to pause for coffee or tea and cakes, whether you’re in London or Paris, Copenhagen or Vienna, New York or Tokyo, Sydney or Singapore.
World Class Cakes is a superlative global resource for the art of cake baking, a showcase of awe-inspiring cakes and pastries, each one a testament to the superb baking skills of master pâtissier Roger Pizey.
Images below came from inside the book.
PINEAPPLE COCONUT CAKES: Coconut and pineapple go great together. I followed the recipe but it tasted egg-like to me and had a heavy butter flavor and was dry. I wonder if the recipe could have used just one egg. I used pineapple tidbits and cut them smaller. I think it needed more than I used. Biting into a little piece of pineapple was the highlight of the desert. I didn’t make the syrup for the top, it would have been a bit too expensive, but I did make my own powdered sugar glaze using reserved pineapple juice from the can of tidbits.
I used this exact pan. Each cup is 4 1/4″ in diameter by 1 1/4″ deep. I think it made nine of those. As with most from-scratch bread products, these were best fresh out of the oven. The cakes had a medium crumb but the cake dried out once it cooled down. I stored them in the fridge and reheated them in the microwave when I wanted one. I ate three and threw the rest away. Grade: C
TURKISH LEMON CAKE: This cake smells and tastes great. I can’t convey how impressed I am with it. The browned flavor that you get from the outer edges, combined with the tanginess from the lemon juice, is truly unbelievable. It uses a little orange juice in the batter and lemon zest. This makes one really large loaf cake so I made half the recipe and baked it in a smaller loaf pan than the full recipe used. Mine measured 8 1/2″ L x 4 1/4″ W x 2 3/4″ D. It baked in exactly 30 minutes.
I made the author’s simple syrup recipe from the back of the book, not the recipe included with the cake, to pour over the top of the still-warm cake, using the juice of one lemon and slightly more sugar than juice. I heated the lemon juice and sugar together in a measuring cup in the microwave until the sugar dissolved completely. No need to dirty a small pan to make it in. After the cake cooled in the pan for about 15 minutes I spooned half the slightly warm syrup evenly over the top and let some run down the sides of the pan, then transferred it to a cooling rack. The cake should be left to cool in the pan longer than 15 minutes.
This used self-rising flour. Even though self-rising flour has salt in it already this cake definitely needed more, probably twice what I used. It’s very sweet too. I’ll cut down on the sugar and add more salt, especially since I used unsalted butter. I couldn’t taste the orange juice at all so you may want to skip adding it if you don’t have it on hand. Just add water or milk in its place or add some orange zest. Grade: A+
SOBAOS PASIEGOS: This cake originated in the Pas valley of Spain and an internet search told me the name means Sobaos from el Pas, though I don’t know what Sobaos means. It’s typically made with yeast, lemon zest, anise or a tiny amount of rum. This version doesn’t use yeast.
This is very simple to make but does have the extra step of whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks, which only takes a minute, and folding them in. I think my whites may have been too stiff because my cake didn’t seem ‘airy’ as it was supposed to be though it turned out good anyway, albeit a bit dry. It didn’t rise nearly as high as in the photo nor did it look the same on top. In fact, mine looked just like all the ones I saw internet pictures of. I like that this uses melted butter as opposed to softened butter. For some reason some cakes that are made with butter have a really strong butter flavor and I’m happy to say this one doesn’t. I like just a hint of orange flavor when I do use it to flavor cakes and muffins and 1 t. was the perfect amount for this, not strong at all. I’ll use more cranberries next time, a heaping 1/3 c., more salt, and I’ll make sure my whites aren’t too stiff. Grade: B+
They were a bit dry which is too bad considering they used all brown sugar, which is known to make cakes moister. I’m pretty sure they weren’t over baked. These reminded me a lot of several brownies I’ve made over the years and like brownies, these cupcakes had no milk in them. I couldn’t taste the toasted almonds either. I’m a bit disappointed in this one. I ate a few and threw the rest away. Grade: D
What a beautiful loaf. The cake is a medium golden brown all over with one nice long crack and several smaller ones like most loaf cakes get. This uses both self-rising and all-purpose flour, sour cream and lime zest, and no salt. I knew it wouldn’t have enough salt just from the self-rising flour. Salt is always necessary when baking cakes or muffins so I added 1/4 t. of table salt. That amount turned out to be perfect to go with unsalted butter. If using salted butter don’t add any salt.
I tasted the cake where it had no simple syrup and it’s incredibly moist and not too sweet. The butter flavor is very subtle, thankfully. You could make this cake and omit the zest and seeds if you wanted.
I used the zest of two limes in the batter and the juice of two, which was four tablespoons, to make the syrup to pour on top with. That was a huge mistake. The lime juice is way too tart. I guess my limes weren’t ripe enough, as I’d suspected. I’ll only use one tablespoon next time, just in case. I used his basic simple syrup recipe (slightly more sugar than juice or water). I let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes then spooned all of the syrup over it, pulling the cake away from the sides of the pan slightly with the spoon so the syrup could run down. After the cake cooled completely I lifted it out by the overhanging foil that I’d lined one side of the pan with, held it in one hand and I flipped the cooled cake over into my other hand. I peeled the foil off and I centered a previously cut long piece of wax paper over the bottom of the cake and flipped the cake back over so it was upright, set it on the counter, sliced it then lifted it up with the sides of the wax paper and put it back into the washed loaf pan. The syrup runs down into the pan so I always wash the pan, put a new piece of wax paper on the cake then put it back into the pan. I don’t like the idea of syrup or any other liquid sitting in the bottom of a metal pan. Grade: A
This is an average size loaf. The recipe states to use 1 c. sugar, which is way too much, even if not using the syrup drizzle, so I used 1/2 c., which was perfect. I knew a ‘pinch’ of salt wouldn’t be nearly enough so I used 1/4 t. The cake still tastes saltless. I was scared to use three eggs for fear of an eggy taste so I used two and that turned out to be a good move on my part. The cake turned out fine and doesn’t taste like egg. I used the zest of one large lemon, not the zest of three lemons as told to do, and got 3 teaspoons from one lemon (which is 1 tablespoon), more than enough for one cake. Had I followed the recipe regarding the lemon zest I’d have used 3 tablespoons, which is just one tablespoon shy of 1/4 c. Entirely too much.
The cake is very moist. I like that it uses melted butter and cream, instead of softened butter and milk. I’ve never used cream in a cake before so it was nice to try it. This cake isn’t quite as good or flavorful as the Turkish Lemon Cake (there’s no lemon cake like that one) but I will definitely make this again and again. It doesn’t have a strong butter flavor either.
Here’s what I do now when it’s time to pour syrup over a cake- I lift the cake out of the pan by the overlapping foil and sit it on the counter. I carefully lift the cake up with both hands and place it on a cooling rack that’s been placed down in the clean sink. I pour all of the syrup over it (1/2 C.) , some runs off into the sink, I let it sit there a minute than carefully place it back on a different cooling rack to cool completely. I don’t want to pour it over the cake while it’s still in the loaf pan, or any type of pan, because the extra syrup will just sit in the metal pan for a couple of days and I don’t want that. Grade: A
I made this in a 9″ round pan that was 1 1/2″ high, not a 6″ as I was supposed to. I don’t know how a smaller pan could hold this batter. It baked in 22 minutes. I didn’t put chopped apples on top either, and just used the ones layered in the cake. I wouldn’t make this again- it’s too dense. I ate two slices and threw the rest away. Grade: C
CARAWAY SEED CAKE: I omitted the caraway seeds and added chopped sweetened dried cranberries and orange peel and used a bit less sugar. This cake tastes like egg. It has three, which I feel is too much for a standard loaf cake. I won’t make it again. Grade: C
MY THOUGHTS: This is a beautiful full-color book with plenty of photos. It’s a large, heavy hardcover. The recipes use either all-purpose or self-rising flour. All recipes call for superfine sugar, which is regular white sugar that’s been ground finer. Just use regular sugar and don’t bother with grinding it up. It’s just not necessary.
There are color photos of most recipes. Photos always make cookbooks nicer. I like too that you can mix and match fruit juices (lemon, lime, orange, pineapple) and zest, as they’re interchangeable in these recipes. For example, make a lemon cake with pineapple simple syrup poured on top or maybe use orange zest instead in a lemon or lime cake and make lemon or lime simple syrup for the top, ect.
All but one or two recipes use butter. I’m disappointed that more don’t use vegetable oil and none use shortening. I wish too that there were a little less fancy cakes in it and no chapter on yeast breads/cakes. Those cakes are too fancy. It’s a very nice book but needs more ‘basic’ cake/cupcake recipes.
I’ve decided not to make anymore things from this book because only some are turning out right.
I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Recipe images came from inside the book.