Make cupcakes for all of your celebrations.


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Jill Cornfield has been a passionate cook and baker since the age of 8, when she learned the difference between t and T in a recipe, and the snickerdoodles had to be thrown away.



July 2005


Product Reviews / Best Reads / Cooking


By Elinor Klivans

With the surge in cupcake popularity comes a wave of cupcake titles, from books that deal more with decorating cupcakes to those that deal with doctoring cake mixes. Cupcakes! is as sweet as a nursery rhyme, as darling as a pink paper cupcake pan liner, which is a featured photographic guest in this single-subject cookbook, and Elinor Klivans has not spared any effort in researching, testing and developing useful recipes for dozens of cupcakes that will please all but the most hard-hearted cook.

The book is enhanced by full-color photographs and extra-cute typography: dotted lines, wavy embellishings and pink cartouches add to the sweetness. I like the at-a-glance info given in those cartouches: cupcake making (mixing ingredients) and cupcake baking, which gives oven temperature and baking time. Klivans helpfully gives two sets of proportions to mix the two basic recipes in amounts as few as 12 regular cupcakes (the equivalent of 9 big-top, 6 extra-large or 42 mini-cupcakes) or 24 regular cupcakes.

Cupcakes! is a friendly book, with user-friendly recipes for beginners as well as more experienced bakers. The first recipe (easy-mix yellow cake) boasts a mixing time of five minutes and is the basis for several of the more complex recipes. The top-to-bottom crumb cupcake, for example, uses simple crumb topping to good effect at the bottom and on top of the basic yellow cupcake.

At first, 54 recipes may not sound like much, but many recipes include one for Cupcakesfrosting, upping the total and giving the serious cupcake baker dozens of icings and techniques. The basic recipes, for yellow cupcakes and for sour cream chocolate cupcakes, are not over-used. Butter cake cupcakes with sticky fudge frosting are modeled on Klivans’ mother’s own after-school cupcakes. The fudge frosting uses sweetened condensed milk for an ultra-smooth, thick topping. There are a number of adaptations and cake or dessert transliterations: Boston cream pie cupcakes; lemon meringue cupcakes; hot fudge brownie sundae cupcakes; strawberry shortcake cupcakes, to name a few.

Photo by Benjamin Earwicker | SXC.

The first chapter deals briskly with ingredients, basic techniques and basic recipes, before moving on to classic cupcakes (fudge marble cupcakes, Mississippi mud cupcakes, lemon angel cupcakes), filled cupcakes (chocolate mousse cupcakes, vanilla cheesecake crunch-top cupcakes, gingerbread cupcakes with lemon filling) and celebration cupcakes (chocolate sweetheart cupcakes, white Christmas cupcakes, red white and blueberry cupcakes).

Elinor Klivans is well known from her Washington Post articles on a range of topics (usually baking), which are always sprightly, well researched and useful. She has good taste, and I always want to make things Klivans has written about.

I used to feel some attraction to the baking books that tailor cake mixes, but no more. I like my baked goods mixed in the kitchen, not the laboratory. Klivans’ book proves without spending any more time than you would making a mix you can create cupcakes that are elegant, simple, delicious, beautiful, comforting. Cupcakes! has a cupcake for every occasion.

A favorite book of Jill Cornfield










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