Since the economy fell out under us and I had a kid, our finances have been a little bit tighter than I'd like. One of the things I had to give up was buying books which was heart wrenching, because I LOVE reading and books. But Mama always said everything happens for a reason and you know what? She's right. As much as I love bookstores, I love libraries more. There's just something about the smell of books that puts me in a happy place like nothing else.
I love all genres of books, but my favorites are young adult novels, mysteries, and cookbooks. I don't read a lot of a non-fiction; it just doesn't grab me the way fiction does. But I do love me a good cookbook, especially one that has lots of pictures and great recipes! And one of my favorites has been Warren Brown's Cake Love.
If you're not familiar with Warren and his bakery, here's a little backstory: Warren was a lawyer who didn't really like the appeal of life in the fast lane. He felt like he was missing something and one of the few things he did to escape the drudgery of his work life was baking. One thing led to another and he quit the law firm to open up his bakery, Cake Love. Since then, he's opened six more locations and is living his dream. He published a cook book that shares the same name as his bakery and it is chock full of good stuff.
One of the first things that immediately drew me to Warren's book was his story. Believe me, I've been there, done that, written the book, and gotten the T-shirt. We all have. Warren is at once warm and funny and genuine and it shines through in his writing and in his recipes. Every recipe has a story and his book is scattered with great anecdotes along the way.
I was a little hesitatnt at first to see what Warren could teach me about cake baking that I didn't already know, and I was surprised at his choice of ingredients for making a cake. Instead of cake flour, he uses all purpose flour. He never measures his flour by cups, but weighs it by ounces instead. And he uses something I had never seen in a recipe before: potato starch. Potato starch? I know, it sounds weird, but it does make a difference. I've baked several of Warren's cakes now, and the potato starch not only imparts more moisture, but the cakes have all risen well, requiring very minimal leveling after baking, if at all. I am a born again baker!
Beyond being a good read for the little stories that pepper the pages, the recipes are mouthwatering and as soon as you bake one of Warren's cakes, you will be a convert too. Warren has recipes for cakes, pound cakes, a small cupcake type confection he calls Crunchy Feet that are baked in small brioche pans, frostings and much more. The flavor combos are to die for, too. Triple Lime Chocolate Pound Cake? Sign me up!
Since getting the book, I have scoured my local supermarkets and searched high and low for potato starch; having found it now, I don't know how I ever lived without it. I still keep cake flour in my kitchen for certain recipes, but Warren's AP flour and potato starch combo has helped cut down my costs for baking, which has been a huge relief in these tough economic times...not to mention added more rave reviews on the cakes I turn out! I hope you'll check out Warren's book too and give it a whirl...it is money well spent (or well worth the wait if you try to get it through your local library!)