Friday, 11 May 2012

'The Busy Girls Guide to Cake Decorating' - book review and giveaway

I've been sent a copy of Ruth Clemens first book to review...Ruth was runner up in the Great British Bake Off BBC 2 first series and I have always followed her since that programme. She has a blog called The Pink Whisk, (one of the top 50 websites in the country related to food) and there is a Facebook page of the same name; its a very popular blog for very good reasons, the recipes on there are really good family orientated tried and trusted favourites. I have tried quite a few of them myself often more than once (due to popularity) and with great success. Ruth's new book has been long awaited in baking circles, not least of all by yours truly, and my thanks go to RUCraft who sent me a copy to review and who have offered to give two copies away...keep on reading to find out how to enter...

The book that Ruth has written is, as the title implies, all about cake decorating at home and is simply called The Busy Girls Guide to Cake Decorating. Its a bit different to the run of the mill cake decorating books as this is an everyday guide for home based bakers who want to be able to decorate cakes easily and to a fairly good standard, and haven't a great deal of time to do it in. The book is set out in the style of a note pad and has lovely endearing pictures of Sindy dolls trying out some of the cake decorating steps. It's colourful, different and the layout with hints and tips posted in most pages really appeals. There are lots and lots of photographs and a fair few of Ruth herself in full cake decorating mode as she demonstrates some of the techniques in step by step fashion.

The first few chapters deal with preparation, equipment and basic recipes for the cakes or biscuits, (the recipes are varied and include different size guides for different tins and quantities) after this sections of the book are divided into areas of ease and difficulty and these are described as projects you can do in an evening, half day or a weekend. The steps are well laid out and its pretty easy to follow.

The book isn't just about larger projects suitable for cakes for birthdays or special events its also has some smaller bakes and cake and biscuit decorating ideas...I'm sure the iced lollies on sticks (which are really iced and decorated biscuits) are going to be a really popular choice from this book, especially with children...and all you need for these is the recipe and the right biscuit shape to go at. Some projects require a few bits of cake decorating kit, for others you will need not much more than the right template and things you will have in your kitchen already, (some of these templates are accessible and in the back of the book).

In between a busy schedule including book signings and appearances in various locations, cake international in London no less (thats not me its Ruth!!) I've been lucky enough to be able to catch a few minutes of Ruth's time and ask some questions about The Busy Girls Guide to Cake Decorating...(move over Jeremy Paxman I'm coming in!)
Q: Why did you decide to write a book about cake decorating specifically?
A: Cake decorating is a real hobby of mine, something I really enjoy doing for friends and family.  It doesn't feature much on the blog so it may seem a surprising choice! For a long time cake decorating was quite specialist and equipment was expensive and quite hard to get hold of but that's all changed and now everyone can easily have a go.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about putting the book together?
A: I enjoyed coming up with the ideas for the projects and spending endless afternoons up to my elbows in icing sugar and getting to call it work too!  I didn't like the deadlines though and quite often had to write and edit on trains,I once had to decamp to a local cafe to use their wifi when my Internet connection went down at home- I spent all day there!!
Q: Did you test all the recipes and designs yourself?
A: Yes, all tested by me. Every project, every recipe all of it was made by me, I'm too much of a control freak to let a home economist step in!
Q: If someone wanted a quick and easy cake to make and decorate for an event (like a child's birthday) which one of your recipes would you recommend they try?
A: I'd recommend a chocolate cake recipe from the book it's top of my list and very forgiving too. 
The star decorations from 'Seeing Stars' is always a winner and dead easy to do.
Q: You seem to have some really good ideas on your blog and now your book as both are brimming with inspiration; what or who inspires you when thinking up designs for cakes?
A: Thank you!  All sorts of things inspire me and it tends to come from the most random of places - paper craft magazines on my Mum's coffee table, the print on a tea towel etc some things just randomly pop into my head and I have no idea where they've come from (does that make me sound like a nutter?!)
Q: Is there anything you learned from appearing in the GBBO that appears in your book?
A: I don't think there's anything in the book I learnt from GBBO but it is completely down to the fact that I took part in the programme. Without that I'd still be pottering along doing bits of stuff instead I've just published a book! Hooray!
Q: Where can we find out where you will be signing your new book?
A: I'll keep posting the details on my news page as events are arranged www.thepinkwhisk.co.uk/news

If you like to try your hand at cake decorating at home or want to improve your skills then I think you really will enjoy this book, more so if you like the fun element of trying out cake decorating.  I have tried my hand at cake decorating in the past but have never really been taught how to do it. I'm quite sure if I'd had this book in my collection earlier on I would have been better prepared and equipped to decorate some of the cakes I have made in the past. 

You can have the chance to win a copy of Ruth's book The Busy Girls Guide to Cake Decorating by leaving a comment below...

Just tell me in the comments box below...what would you like to challenge yourself to make from this book if you won a copy? (remember to make it clear how I can contact you if you win)

You can only enter once...you must live in the UK to take part and the closing date for entries is midnight on 26th May 2012. There are two copies of the book to win by two people who will be chosen at random by me. RUCraft will send out the copies to the two winners once I pass on your details. 

Good luck and happy cake decorating!


N.B. RUCraft sent me my copy to review honestly, and with no recompense or expectations for this review. The photographs in this post are used with the permission of RUCraft and are taken from the book for illustrative purposes.

68 comments:

  1. This looks fab! Just what I need! I really want to make a teapot shaped cake, I've been dreaming about it for weeks. And I would like to learn how to make fondant bows too! Great review and giveaway :) Thanks. x

    koolkat697@hotmail.com

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  2. Ooooo I'd love to win this book! I think if I won I'd have to make a big celebration type cake...thinking big! Although, the ice lollies on sticks sound great too! :-)

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  3. I would so love to win this book! I regret not buying it at Cake International but it was so busy and I was so distracted by all the pretty cakes on display. Ruth had left the stall by the time I made it over there! I think I would challenge myself with something from her weekend section or decorating biscuits. My email addy is thebakingaddict@gmail.com or I can be found up the drainpipe LOL

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  4. Nikki kilbey-hay

    I would love to win as i just had to buy a new cooker and i want to start baking lots of ruths lovely cakes for my coffee morning and neonatal family group I would love to make the lollypop biscuits and the lovely birthday cake in the picture from nikki nottingahmneonatalfamilygroup@live.co.uk

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  5. This sounds like a perfect book and right up my street. I bake most weekends for friends and family - any excuse - and try to do something different every time. For my daughter's third birthday I made a large gruffalo cake with cupcakes for each of the animals in the book, the mouse, snake, owl and fox. I'm always looking for inspiration and can definitely claim to be in the "busy girl" category with a six week old baby but nothing will stop me baking! I would love to take my baking to the next level perhaps altering the flavour of my cupcakes as well as the decoration just to keep it interesting and yummy. I can be contacted on twitter @mummypuddleduck

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  6. Well first of all, any book that features a Sindy doll baking is for me, it looks gorgeous. I would love to bake and decorate a spotty cake as featured, I am enjoying learning how to decorate cakes and I am sure this book would help :-)

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  7. Wow- I love Ruth's blog and I've been eyeing her book up for a while! The star decorations sounds great, but I would really like to have a go at the stacked parcels cake on the front cover. Emma at emmaskitchendiary@gmail.com

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  8. I'd also love to try stacked cakes, parcel sounds a little less daunting than traditional round ones.. Having been to one of Ruth's courses, i am an avid follower, and lover her recipe's. My goto chocolate cake one is Ruth's muffins/chocolate cake one, very easily adapted. Debbie @ deborah.graham@hotmail.com

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  9. I would love to learn how to make mini size cake with different styles of decoration to give as handmade gifts to friends, for anything from moving house, get well, just to cheer them up, birthdays. The ruffles on the mini cakes look fantastic, I would love to learn how to do them.
    @cqbish on Twitter

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  10. Nice interview Sue. I'd love to have a copy of this book, as like you I was keenly following the Pink Whisk on the first GBBO. But I think I need it too, because I find decorating anything a challenge, so just having a go would be challenge enough for me ;-)

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  11. I'm desperate for a copy of this book but I stupidly put myself on a self imposed ban from buying any more cook books THIS YEAR & within days Ruth's book was available for pre-order! I can't back down & buy it as I need to show my children that you have to stand by your decisions even when it's hard to do, but there's nothing to say I can't try & win a copy! ;o) I've done a few novelty birthday cakes but never a proper flat iced cake & my eldest has requested a 2 tier iced cake for her next birthday (sept) so the book would be great for showing me the right way to go about things! @chouxchouxbedoo Twitter

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  12. I LOVE watching people put together beautiful cakes ... but haven't really tried it myself! I want to challenge myself to start easy, a basic tiered and decorated cake since I have never made a cake more than one layer! Then I'd love to set myself challenges to work my way up in difficulty. Because the projects are 1 to 2 hours long, it's perfect for weekend baking :)

    chuey603 at hotmail.com xx

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  13. Although I bake quite a lot I've never really spend much time making fancy decorated cakes and so would love this book to give me an introduction to decorating techniques.

    bluekitchenbakes@gmail.com

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    1. Hi you've won a copy, congratulations I'll be in touch. xx

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  14. It's my youngest boy's birthday soon. I'm stuck in a rut with birthday cakes and stay within my comfort zone. I'd like to jerk myself out of that and try something really special .... tiers, coloured icing - maybe even go wild with some sugarpaste figures - eek! I'm good at making cakes that taste good, but it would be great to make something that has the wow factor for its appearance too!

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  15. oooh lovely. I love to decorate cakes, but don't get as much chance now and DIL likes to do my grandson's cake :( However, I would love to make once of those funky cakes from Ruth's book, any tips are very welcome.

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  16. Hi! I would like to make a decorated 3 tiered cake. any kind really. I need the practice as I would like to make my own wedding cake next year! Thanks for the chance to win!

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  17. I would love to make a really special cake for my dads 65th birthday-i need some serious inspiration as i hate spending about £50 just on a cake!

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  18. I'd try my hand at the 'Seeing Stars' decorations.

    sarah.lamb88@gmail.com

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  19. Great review and giveaway!!! If I won this book, I'd like to challenge myself to making a birthday cake for my youngest daughter, whose birthday is at the end of July! She adores Peppa Pig so I think I would have a go at creating one in that theme!!! I'd feel so proud and I'm sure she would appreciate it! You can catch me on Facebook as Tracy K Nixon (I am a fan of your page)

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  20. would love to win this, my daughter has just had her 3rd birthday she had a snow white cake with a doll on top and cake was her skirt, so I would like to make something like this. aimeeswift@orange.net

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  21. I would love to make a special cake for my husband's 50th birthday in July, plenty of time to practice!

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  22. I have always felt bad as I've never made my children birthday cakes and have bought them from supermarkets instead. A couple of weeks ago I baked my first cake (woohoo!) and gave it a good buttercream topping. Now I've got the bug, I'd love to be more experimental and it would be great in the future to be able to show off after making my children's birthday cakes! :-)

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  23. Emma Hicks - my email address is emmiehk@ymail.com (Sorry forgot to add it to previous comment)

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  24. Its my two eldest childrens' birthdays next month, I'd love to make them one of those layered cakes. I looked at them this time last year, but wasn't quite brave enough to attempt it!

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  25. I would love to make a cinderella horse and carriage cake for my daughter's 3rd birthday this summer.

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  26. I would love to try new new ideas from this book. The lollypop on sticks biscuits sound a great idea for making with the grandchildren and I would also like ideas for the christening cake I will be making at the end of the year! Fingers crossed.

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  27. i would love to make my mum a birthday cake as she is always making them for the rest of the family @Runnerduck22 on twitter

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  28. I would love to have a copy of this book. The Lollipop on sticks biscuits would be great to make with the grandchildren and I could be inspired with ideas for a Christening cake I will be making at the end of the year. Fingers crossed!

    gillbranney@hotmail.com


    Not sure that my first comment went through!

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  29. Biscuits on sticks, they sound fantastic. @OriginalCaramel

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  30. I would try a birthday cake for my youngest grandson(2) next month. If it works out then I will be able to make more for my other grandchildren, if not I can try and try again.

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  31. I would like to try loads of the recipes but would love to be able to make a cake that looks as pretty as the front cover!
    @BoostieBoo on Twitter

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  32. TBH all of these would be a challenge as I have hardly ever made cakes in my life. But I'm moving soon and plan to get a kitchen large enough to be more daring. All I need is the perfect book to provide me with inspiration - finger's crossed and thanks :) Please contact me at blulu25@hotmail.com

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  33. I would love to try some of these recipes to decorate Christmas cakes this year.

    Since I was tiny I have decorated Christmas cakes with my Nan every year. We're running out of ideas now so would love some inspiration!

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  34. yes please, nismat37@hotmail.com

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  35. Gorgeous pictures, my cakes may not look quite like these yet but with a copy of the book you never know! Great comp and love the blog. Jacqueline jacq_ralston@hotmail.co.uk x

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  36. I would love to win one for my wife as a surprise, she loves to make cakes an would challenge herself with most of these cakes and I would love to eat them after haha. A22er@hotmail.com

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  37. I would like to learn how to make tiered cakes, I want to make a big cake for my sons bday

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  38. I would like to make a special cake for my fiance's 30th birthday next year. I have just discovered your blog and am already a huge fan! Helene (hwbookworm at hotmail.com)

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  39. I'd make the teapot cake for my step-mum's birthday. She's tea mad. :)

    emma3005@gmail.com

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  40. Wow I would love this - I've started baking with my two little boys but we are at a basic level... I'd love to make a decorative cake for my sons birthday.

    @KJaybaby1 on twitter xx

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  41. I'd love to make a cake for my best friend, its her wedding in August, but with my baby due a few days before her big day I doubt I'll be able to attend, so would like to make an over the top mini wedding cake to share with her before hand.

    @robynlclarke

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    1. Hi and you are the second winner, congratulations to you too. xxx

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  42. Hi this looks like a great book. I would make a birthday cake for my niece who is 1 in July - @WeeWillieWilkie

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  43. what a fab prize! im a baking beginner so this would be great id love to start with the one on the cover and work my way through the book :)
    debs.millie@gmail.com

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  44. Would love this, it might help with my decorating skills. I have no problems baking but icing and frosting tend to look like something fell on my cake... I would love to be able to decorate a big birthday cake!

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  45. Wow what a great book,Im a great baker love making cakes and buns but never ever used any sort of decoration so this would be a great challenge for me and i do love a new challenge

    (sjlambert86@yahoo.co.uk)

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  46. My daughter has an egg allergy, so I don't really have much option to buy a shop bought cake for her birthdays. Baking the cake is easy enough, but usually I've cheated and bought an icing topper to go on top as my decorating skills are lacking. Therefore if I were to win, I'd challenge myself to actually decorate her cake this year following ideas from this book. It would be really wonderful to know how to do it and not have it looking a mess which I'm sure it would if I attempted it without help, so fingers' crossed.
    I can be contacted at twitter as @GromitFan1

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  47. What a lovely book!! I love to cook and bake but don't have any decorating expertise so I would love to make a beautiful birthday cake for my little girl rather than having to buy one! :)

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  48. I love this book! I cannot believe that you can make a teapot shaped cake! I would love to try and have a go at that. I would like to be able to make my own childrens birthday cakes so to be able to do any of the designs in the book would be fabulous.

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  49. WOW wonderful prize...my daughter ordered a plane cake for her birthday last year.. i panicked and got my mum to do it..this year she wants a boat... i have no confidence.. yet i know i could do it and im quite crafty at most things.. i will use this book as inspiration for the decorating i need.. i have until November to practice... missk9@hotmail.com Kate Greenaway

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  50. Hello! Wow what a great prize. I would love to challenge myself to make the actual fondant smooth on the teapot cake and the decorations completely OTT for my partner's 50th

    Thank you

    char2win@gmail.com

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  51. I'm not sure how to find out what idea's are in the book, but Im hoping to put something together this week for our Queens Jubilee BBQ next week, I'm not that confident & find it difficult to get idea's for cakes, but having a large family that loves it's parties wether they be for birthdays, wedding anniversary's, new baby annoucement or anything we alwasy have to have cake, so one of my goals set for this year was to look into ways of making mine look better - I've now found self roll icing, how did I not know about this years ago?!? - I've just googled for some idea's & found this post, a book all about cake decorating is brilliant idea. I'm loving the green & red spotty one, that could be made in anyones football (or rugby in my case) teams colours. Thanks for a great prize & to Ruth for such a great looking book.

    OOO nearly forgot my tweet addy @Jay21cee

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  52. Would love to have a go at making a Birthday cake

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  53. i would love to make the lollypop biscuits :) @kemo_2002

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  54. a beautiful birthday cake for my daughter's 8th birthday

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  55. My son's 2nd birthday is next month & although i can bake i cant decorate cakes to save my life so i would like to learn that. @mummyvswork

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  56. I would love to make my son an angry birds cake for his birthday but not baked a cake in over a decade @bbdiva1977

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  57. Well i already love cake decorating so i would just challenge myself to try something new! I am always looking for new ideas and tips x
    @zebedee01

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  58. I'd love to master chocolate decorations: curls and shavings etc. For me, as a busy working mum with the baby, this would be a very useful book! @pandcands

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  59. A birthday cake for my boyfriend! I have zero experience when it comes to baking so right from the start it's a challenge for me already! Hope I win!

    e-mail: poladrop123@aol.co.uk

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  60. My brothers and sisters would really love to see me bake a cake. Very 'virgin' when it comes to baking so this book will help me!

    e-mail: l.johnson987@aol.co.uk

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  61. I would love to make my daughter a barbie cake for her 3rd birthday.. she's so in love with barbies.. :-) my email add is laulau1471@aol.co.uk

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  62. The book looks great and I would really benefit from it. Just started making cakes, just for family and friends at the moment but hope to get much better and turn it into a little business! This would really help me to get practicing and give me the inspiration I need!

    Thanks :-)

    email: diddledum0@gmail.com

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  63. I would love to win this book, and to master chocolate ganache (haven't managed it yet) and to learn some new and professional looking piping skills. You can contact me by emailing nickynews@hotmail.co.uk

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  64. I am busy mum who is also self employed, I would love some tips on piping/icing as I never seem to get that far.
    I need this book!
    Email lisaboden@sky.com

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  65. I would love to learn to fondant properly mine always cracks or wrinkles.

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Susan x