My Favorite Cake Decorating Books

Decorating By Caribou Updated 6 Feb 2006 , 6:50pm by jo_ann

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Caribou Posted 2 Feb 2006 , 12:01am
post #1 of 11

BEWARE--Long post. I'm a writer and enjoy gabbing and sometimes just can't stop myself so be forewarned. LOL!

I mentioned in another thread that I would get a list together and here it is. I'm a newbie but I feel like I've taken a certificate program in Cake Decorating with the books I'm going through weekly. I would love to hear from everyone about their faves and comments on any of the ones I mentioned as well.

I know I'm not the only one that anxiously awaits that book in the mail from Amazon or Ebay, then upon arrival, finds a quiet place away from the day to day family sounds of a house working well and reads cake decorating books COVER TO COVER. What's not to love? I gain at least 1.5 lbs just from the pictures!

My first 3 books were the Wilton Class books. Whether you are in the classes or not, these books can be purchased at hobby stores and online. They offer the very basics of cake decorating, but you won't get the interaction you would from taking the class with a live instructor. If getting to a class is a problem, Wilton also offers several DVDs for instruction as well.

Here's the list, complete with pictures links and other info:

1. The Home Guide to Cake Decorating, by Jane Price
This is my most recent acquisition and new favorite book. It goes into the history of cake decorating and the many methods to decorate cake. Perfect for those that are interested in technique and technical. It contains pictures on nearly every page of nearly every thing related to cake decorating. Two HUGE Spatulas up!

2. The Well Decorated Cake, by Toba Garrett
I love this book. Toba goes into detail about how she creates, and more importantly how you can create her cake designs. They are intricate and very detailed and extraordinary in appearance. These are the dazzle factor cakes, for sure. There are pictures of every cake and detailed instructions about creating as well as recipes for her icings, cakes and fillings.

3. The Whimsical BakeHouse, by Kaye and Liv Hansen
To date, these are the easiest and most fun cakes I have seen in my book collection, next to the dated Betty Crocker cookbooks ( info to come). When I say easy, I don't mean they are simple to make, but they are certainly cakes that anyone can do with a little time and dedication and practice. My first try at the cake on the cover came out wonderfully and when I say I'm a novice, I mean I'm a complete and total novice, green around the buttercream. LOL! The book suggests different ways to use standard tips that I had not seen before in the Wilton classes or Wilton books. The book also includes patterns that you can copy and use to trace to make the intricate royal icing designs such as butterflies or complete cityscapes. Definitely a Spatula up rating.

4. Cakes to dream on, by Colette Peters
Colette is the undisputed Queen of cake decorating ( but there are many here who can and should contest that status) and this book shows us why. Her cakes are whimsical and creative works of art. To imagine her cakes carved up and served at a wedding feels almost like slicing up a Monet to use for kindergarten scribble paper. Colette provides some instruction on how to make each cake and I think any experienced decorator could make them, but they are far from easy to do. Most of the cakes are covered in fondant and there is little mention of simple piping like shells so if you are looking for that, this isn't the place to start. But make no mistake, Colette's books are definitely something to dream on.

5. Decorating Cakes, The Wilton School
This book came with my 101 piece cake decorating tool caddy and I just rave about it. It goes through the very basics of cake decorating and design and even gets into, albeit briefly, how to make flowers and more difficult piping patterns. It's a beginner's book, but a sound one and one that should be in every newbie's library, if you ask me and so far no one has. *Giggle* Decorating Cakes features pictures of each cake along with a two page layout of tips and the shapes each tip is used for.

6. Cake Mix Doctor, by Anne Bryn
You will always find two camps of cake decorators; those that bake from scratch and swear by it and those that use some form of cake mix and swear by that method. Personally, it's less time consuming for me to use cake mixes and I find the results are more stable and predictable from one mix to the next with little variation. Some might say there is also little variation in flavor but that's where Anne Bryn's books come in. Each recipe begins with a cake mix and usually have less than 5 or 6 other ingredients. To date, I've only used doctored cake mixes and received rave reviews each time. In the beginning of the book, Anne features pictures of each cake. My only complaint is that she seems addicted to Bundt pans. Reading further in the book, she provides instruction for using different pans for recipes that call for a Bundt pan and vice versa for recipes that call for layer when in fact you want to make cupcakes or use a Bundt. There are recipes for tons of icings and fillings as well as a brief history for each cake. Two Spatulas Up!

7. The Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor, by Anne Byrn
See above #6 but add the word "Chocolate" before the word cake.

8. The Magnolia Bakery CookBook
Would love additional feedback on this one. The recipes look great and there are even a few that use Cake Mixes as bases but there are less than 5 pictures in the entire book. I like to look at the pictures. Call me elementary but that would have made me more eager to try these recipes.

9. Betty Crocker: New Cake Decorating and Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook
Tried and true but OLD and dated. The recipes are wonderful and have been used for many years so they can be trusted. There are pictures of each cake in the New Cake Decorating book, but they are far from NEW. These designs have been in almost every Betty Crocker cookbook I've seen but the reason for that might be that they are tried and true. If it ain't broke, why fix it? All of the recipes are cakes baked in traditional round, square or rectangle shaped pans, then carved into desired shapes. I guess at some point we should tell Betty that Wilton is making shaped pans these days. LOL! Don't run out to Barnes and Noble and stand in line for these, but if you come across them at garage sales or on Ebay, pick them up. Just nice to have in your collection. I enjoy browsing through them from time to time, even though they are dated.

10. Wilton Tiered Cakes
If I said any other was my favorite, I was fibbing because right now, I'm fascinated with this book. I received my copy as a gift from Wilton for less than desirable service, but I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say it was a lovely gesture on their part and the book has provided me with ideas I will be using for years to come. Each cake is pictured in all it's tall and tiered glory. Each cake is easy enough for even a novice, like me, to complete. Rather than just for weddings, the tiered cakes in this book can be used for Valentine's day, baby showers or any other occasion. They are beautiful. Absolutely beautiful! Two Spatulas and one offset Spatula way up.

Misc: Wilton Yearbooks
I purchased the Wilton yearbooks on Ebay for 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 and I love them. Detailed designs and great instructions that anyone can follow. The Yearbooks each have a variety of cakes for each season and most holidays, including ethnic and religious holidays. If you have more than just one year, you can also see the progression in designs from one year to the next for each type of celebration. They are books that are perfect for taking one design element from one cake and merging it with elements to create a completely new cake. I can't wait for 2007, but may have to calm my desire by purchasing 2002 and prior.

FYI--As a newbie, I didn't know this but I'm sure most do, Colette and Toba offer classes in a variety of locations across the country. We're lucky in that unlike any other "hobby", the leaders in the industry are accessible and willing to teach you their craft.

So that's my list. Would love to hear from all of you about which books you enjoy the most so I can keep adding to my collection. It's tips from this site that lead me from one book to the next and I know will assist me in perfecting my skills.

Enjoy! Happy Cake Decorating!

10 replies
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twindees Posted 2 Feb 2006 , 12:12am
post #2 of 11

Wow Long but very informative. I Love Toba's books. I believe she is the BEST. I also live by the cake mix doctor. I have both of them. The ones that you mentioned that I do not have I will check them out.

Thank you,

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MelC Posted 2 Feb 2006 , 12:22am
post #3 of 11

check out this forum over at if you want to see more book reviews!

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Zamode Posted 2 Feb 2006 , 12:51am
post #4 of 11

Thanks Caribou, as a new decorator (I use that word loosely...), this is an informative list for me. I wanted Toba's book for Christmas, I will get it myself because I keep hearing how great it is. (hubby couldn't get the book in time without waiting for it to be ordered).

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VACakelady Posted 2 Feb 2006 , 8:56am
post #5 of 11

Thanks so much for the reviews. Most of these I've seen, but it makes me want to log onto Amazon and start ordering those I have not seen.

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lilscakes Posted 3 Feb 2006 , 3:15am
post #6 of 11

Wow....that's great information.. I just received Toba Garrett's book as a gift and have to agree with your rating at first glance......I would love the Whimsical bakehouse book also.....Thanks for sharing the info.....

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niki97062 Posted 3 Feb 2006 , 1:52pm
post #7 of 11

Thank you for sharing!

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conb Posted 3 Feb 2006 , 2:12pm
post #8 of 11

Thats for the info. I was looking for new books to buy. I'm excited just thinking about it! icon_biggrin.gif

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FancyLayne23 Posted 3 Feb 2006 , 2:30pm
post #9 of 11

The Magnolia Bakery CookBook is awesome. I get alot of my recipes from it. I have both their books and I have been to their store in New York. Their recipe are delicous. My famous coconut cake recipe my family goes crazy over is actually their famous coconut cake recipe-lol. If recipes is what your looking for those 2 books are my favorite.

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beany Posted 4 Feb 2006 , 8:54am
post #10 of 11

Thanks for the reviews.

I just bought "Spectacular Cakes" by Mich Turner. I bought it online without seeing inside.....but I'm so impressed. Full of photos with good instructions and I can't wait to try her recipes.

I also love anything by Lindy Smith.

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jo_ann Posted 6 Feb 2006 , 6:50pm
post #11 of 11

Since I first saw this post I have gone on Ebay and gotten 5 books. I bought Toba Garrett, Kaye & Liv Hansen, Colette Peters(Cakes to dream on), Anne Byrn(The Cake Mix Doctor) and one of wiltons encyclopedia. DH is starting to give me this look icon_confused.gif . But I'm happy, can't wait to get them. Oh I also have a list that I'm watching on Ebay thumbs_up.gif . CC & Ebay my two favorite sites.

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