Cakes are the food of celebration. People bake them for the special events in life, or just to celebrate the end of a particularly lovely meal. They can have the simple flavors you'd expect from a basic cake, or they can surprise and delight the palate with unusual additions and creative ingredients. They can be homely in appearance or elaborately decorated. They can be a flavorful showcase of the cook's artistry or a fun collaboration for the kids. he possibilities are endless, and cake mix makes them easy enough for cooks of all levels.
Baking a cake is more than ticking off an item on the big night's to-do list; it's continuing a traditional art form. It's the creation of something delicious and wholesome to share with others. Every attempt to bake a cake holds within it the possibility that it will become a favorite recipe, one to be shared with friends and family and to be anticipated whenever dear ones gather.
The first step in baking a cake is, of course, planning. This doesn't have to include huge amounts of research — that's already been done. All that's really required is calmly thinking through the details. How many people are eating? Is this event fancy or family style? Do the diners enjoying this cake have dietary restrictions or allergies you must consider? Last, and most important, what recipe, ingredient, or technique would be fun to tackle next?
With these questions answered, searching for the perfect recipe is much easier. A quick glance at this book's table of contents will point you to recipes designed for holidays and special occasions as well as for family dinners. You'll also find recipes for those with special dietary needs, or cooks ready to try new ingredients. Read interesting recipes through carefully and entirely before selecting one. It's easy to miss a step, a piece of equipment, or an ingredient by reading too quickly, so take it slow. Make a list of things you need and then gather them before you start. There's nothing worse than being halfway through a project and realizing you're missing an ingredient or tool.
The must-have list of ingredients in this book starts with one thing: cake mix. Some recipes call for a specific brand or flavor, but most allow a little wiggle room. Keep a stash of basic flavors and frostings in a cool, dry cabinet and you'll be ready to bake when the event presents itself.
Now, a quick word about this main ingredient. Some feel that baking with cake mix is “cheating” and that a cake isn't truly home-baked unless the cook spent hours in the kitchen measuring, mixing, baking, frosting, and plating the picture-perfect slice. But home is where the heart is, and home-baked is anything baked with love. Most cake mixes are nothing more than basic ingredients that are simply pre-mixed for you. Why on earth not let a trusted brand do the measuring for you? It can mean a few more minutes spent living, loving, and laughing and a few less spent measuring, sifting, and sorting. Enjoying life is so much more than the icing on the cake.