Dede Wilson, baker and cake decorator extraordinaire, has an love of celebrations in general and birthdays in particular. Nothing says love more than a baked-from-scratch birthday cake, and with Wilson to inspire, guide and guarantee perfect cakes, love is in the air. "A
plain cake becomes a birthday cake in the eye of the beholder when it is bedecked with frosting
decorations, candy, toys, treats, or some other sort of decoration beyond what a cake usually has," she states in The Birthday Cake Book.
Wilson's writing is crisp, clear and precise, qualities necessary to produce perfect baked goods. Precise prose can be dull to read, but Wilson's joy in baking and in celebrating others informs her writing, and the recipes have élan along with exactness. Looking at the inspired and varied ideas we can only assume that friends and relatives of all ages and interests have been the recipients of Wilson's imaginative and loving touch.
There are cakes for children, such as an Ice Cream Birthday Cake decorated with a toy train, or a Hairy Caterpillar Cupcake Cake that is almost a toy in itself, even a Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcake Tower, and we immediately saw a children's party under easy control when each child had their own sprinkle-decorated cupcake waiting on the tower. (No fighting over who got the 'best' piece.) For a sweet sixteen, there's a She's a Doll Cake that is doll from the waist up while the cake forms a flowing (and edible) gown.
There are romantic cakes such as the Basket of Flowers Cake which has a woven basket-like frosting on the base (easy instructions included) and is filled on top with fresh flowers, a Coco-licious Cake with cocoa in the cake and a marbled, swirled frosting. Wilson decorates this with tall candles. There are such recipes as an Espresso Hazelnut Dacquoise or Mocha Toffee Crunch Cake and the glorious Orange Chiffon Cake with Rose Petals.
Wilson lives in a sweet world and has recipes for sugary frostings and a section with ten master batters. But baking is a stern taskmaster, and though Wilson loves her imaginative flights of decorating fancy, her feet are on the ground. The book has a complete section with a discussion of ingredients and tools, including those you will use to follow her instructions on how to write on a cake, how to make beads and beaded borders, rope borders, leaves and leaf borders, rosettes and flower buds. She suggest ingredients that decorate a cake from crystallized flowers to candy stars and offers recipes for the home cook.
This is a thorough book, one that simplifies techniques, and one that is written with exuberance. There are color photographs throughout by the IACP Award-winning photographer Melissa Punch.