If I had a coffee table in my kitchen, Artisan Cake Company’s Visual Guide to Cake Decorating by Elizabeth Marek is a book I would like to have on it. Of course, no one I know has a coffee table with beautiful books for perusing in her kitchen, but I do know many cooks who enjoy cake decorating. If they don’t already own this book and have the pages of it dog-eared and worn, they should get a copy for inspiration and instruction.
Elizabeth Marek, the author of Cake Decorating, is founder and master baker of Artisan Cake Company, and in this beautifully photographed book, she shares an abundance of knowledge she’s gained over years of baking and decorating cakes for a living.
Marek writes in the introduction, “My cakes are my medium. I naturally lean towards sculpted cakes and edible toppers. I am always experimenting with new ways to create a sturdy cake structure or experimenting with edible ingredients to create the textures and colors that I want. My years as a graphic artist greatly enhanced my ability to design visually impressive cakes. I am inspired by things around me – feathers, flowers, watercolor, jewelry – and love to re-create what I see in cake form. Nothing is off–limits.”
Her passion for the cake decorating craft is evident in her creative product as well as the desire she has to teach others the skills she has honed over the years. She writes, “I have the pleasure of traveling to teach classes all over as well as interacting with other amazing cake artists. I have a backlog of dozens of tutorials ready to go up online. I am addicted to social media because it allows me to connect with so many other decorators. I still remember how frustrating it was for me to learn the small steps that took me from beginner to professional. I have dedicated this book to those memories.”
Her website is www.artisancakecompany.com, and there you can see many photos of her creations.
For Marek, the importance of teaching the craft of cake decorating is illustrated on each page of her book. In the section about making ganache, she includes a recipe, detailed instructions for the preparation, and photographs that document each step. She also includes a Baker’s Secret tip of her own as well as a Pro Tip. Not only does she name the professional and his/her website, but she quotes each person directly. The seven Pro Tips sprinkled throughout the book demonstrate that she looks to others and their experience to broaden her foundation of skill.
Organized by chapters, Cake Decorating covers the following:
Tools of the Trade
Cake and Frosting Recipes
Elements and Principles of Cake Design
Textures and Finishes
Science of Structure
Creating Structured Cakes
A casual baker who desires to create tasty desserts for her family to consume may not be drawn to Cake Decorating by Elizabeth Marek. However, a baker who wishes to take her cakes to a higher artistic level should definitely buy this book. Once the skills and techniques are mastered, the line between baker and artist becomes blurry enough to allow the two professions to merge into one with the outcome being delicious works of art. –Review by by Lisa George, RFT Book Editor, Latigo Ranch, Kremmling, Colorado