Fiona Cairns Bake & Decorate Book Review

About a month ago Quadrille contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing Fiona Cairns new decorating book, Bake & Decorate. I had seen her cakes in Selfridges before but I didn’t know she had written any books! One look at that pretty cake on the cover and I was sold. I have a serious cookbook addiction. I’ve amassed about 30 baking ones in a year!

The press release says this is her first book. I looked on Amazon and there is another Bake & Decorate. I’m thinking this is a re-issue. I would be curious to know why it was re-issued a year after the first. Maybe this is the new and improved version? After I did all my writing and baking from this book I went and read other reviews (of the older issue). Some criticized the decorating ideas as childish. I think with a little imagination the basic ideas she presents are more than inspiring enough (especially for us beginners). Now on to the actual review!
The book is billed as “easy decorating ideas for the least experienced cook for less money than you think. Fiona shows each aspiring hostess how to achieve glamorous, fun entertaining using easy techniques and tricks”. I found this quite interesting. “She makes 750,000 cakes a year for Waitrose, Harrods, Selfridges…her list of celebrity clients includes Sir Paul McCartney and Bono”.
I thought this would be a great opportunity. I like to think that I’m pretty good at baking but when it comes to decorating I’m about as skillful as a Kindergartner with a pot of glitter! This was a good chance to see if I could improve my skills.
It was really exciting getting a copy of the book a whole month before it was released for sale! I decided that I would make 3 different kinds of recipes each with a different decorating technique and then write my review based on how they tasted and how easy I found the decorating techniques. I made a layer cake, cupcakes and biscuits. I will post each of the recipes in the days following with full details about the decorating technique.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I do feel that I learned some new tricks. I feel confident enough to try a sugarpaste decoration next time. The book is half recipes and half decorating ideas using the recipes from the first half of the book. The book is pretty thick, I think it would be a good idea to read the front of the book and also the back of the book before getting started. There are simple decorating tips buried in there!
The one thing that a book can never teach is patience. Decorating takes patience and I don’t have much! I like to get to the eating part…
Every recipe I made tasted good. No earth shattering recipes but good easy basics.  I made a few changes here and there to suit my own tastes but the majority worked. Nothing is more disappointing than a book were none of the recipes work. The book contains more classic flavor cakes like chocolate, victoria sponge, etc as the focus is more on the decorating but there were also a few intriguing ones like star anise and clementine cake.
White Chocolate Cardamom & Rose Cake
The first cake I made was a White Chocolate, Cardamom and Rose layer cake decorated with glittering roses. This was a huge hit at the office as it looks stunning. The simple addition of five roses in the center really impressed. This decorating technique for the roses was buried in the back of the book. This was the most work intensive from the three recipes I tried.
Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
Second up I made iced, layered shortbread biscuits. These tasted great and making the cookies with a little window and an icing drizzle really made them stand out. They would have looked a bit neater if I had actually followed the directions. That’s another story though. This was the easiest decorating technique of the three.
Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
Lastly, I made Mint Cupcakes. The chocolate cake was perfectly light and moist and I tried my hand at making crystallized leafs. This was only medium hard. A few turned out really nice and the rest stuck to the pan! The icing was the biggest disappointment of the book and I had to change the ratio of ingredients to make it work (but after that it was fabulous).
I had a great time getting into the decorating part of this book and it does exactly what it’s being sold as. This is a fun book for beginners and I think that with a little practice even I will be able to make a perfectly decorated cake in the near future! I would reccomend it for anyone looking to get a start in some simple decorating.
The book is released on March 4, 2011. What I’ve written is not sponsored and my own opinion .

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  1. Vivienne

    Where do you think this book is available?

  2. Cupcake Kelly

    Hi Vivienne, In UK it's likely to be available in most book stores. It's already available to pre-order on In the US I'm not sure. The old version is on so I'm thinking the newer version will get there eventually! If you tell me which country you live in I can always as Quadrille if it will be released there.

  3. Andrew

    This cake looks yummy. Is the book available in Australia already?


  4. Cupcake Kelly

    I can see that the new edition of the book is out in Australia on April 1st

  5. Sarah, Maison Cupcake

    Yes I remember this coming out last year. It's not paperback and other one was hardback is it?

    I've seen her cupcakes in Selfridges but otherwise not familar with her work.

  6. Cupcake Kelly

    The one I got is paperback. Maybe they are the same book but I thought a few pictures here and there looked different but I could be wrong.

    Of the reviews I read only 1 or 2 had actually made a cake from the book (and did not even attempt any of decorations). The rest just flipped through it and wrote about it. Maybe I was lucky in my selection of recipes but they all tasted fine to me. But also sticky ginger (the one someone did make and write about) would probably be the last recipe I would ever make in any book.

    I'd never really heard of her before either so it was fun to review a book I probably would have overlooked on Amazon.

  7. Franziska

    They might have released her book again because she's the one doing the wedding cake for William and Kate.

  8. Cupcake Kelly

    Sarah was right this is the paperback issue of the book. I think it is a lucky conicidence that she is also doing the royal wedding cake! My posts on her have already been searched for a lot this week!


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