The Sweetapolita Bakebook is a sweet tooth’s delight! The pretty pastel pages will have you dreaming of sprinkles and will inspire you to get in the kitchen and bake something pretty. This is the debut cookbook from Rosie Alyea, the writer/baker/photographer behind the successful blog, Sweetapolita, and a graduate of the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts in Toronto. Alyea has recently gone on to open a Sprinkles Shop and looking at the Bakebook, it’s easy to see how much she loves sprinkles, jimmies, nonpareils and the like.
The Bakebook is one you will flip through and be transported to a happy place. The colours, the flavours and, most importantly, Rosie’s words, will have you smiling from ear to ear. The recipes obviously evoke happy memories from childhood for the author and her enthusiasm is definitely infectious!
The book is divided into nine chapters each with a different focus. There are chapters dedicated to all things sprinkle-related, cutout cookies, fanciful tiered cakes and impressive layer cakes, basic cakes, frostings and fillings and a really useful chapter covering essential baking and decorating techniques. I loved the Wonderous Sweets for the Wee chapter, which lists fabulous (sometimes interactive) sweet creations for children’s birthday parties. I mean, who wouldn’t want to doodle with edible chalk?! And hey, don’t candy birthstone gems sound fabulous?
The Sprinkles Spectacular chapter includes not only recipes using sprinkles but also, a useful “Guide to Sprinkles” outlining the different kinds available and helpfully listing brand names of allergy-friendly sprinkles. The guide is useful if you don’t live in Canada and are trying to figure out what a particular term means (and in the back of the book there is a handy list of suppliers so you can go online and see exactly what is being referred to). There’s also a recipe for homemade sprinkles which I can guarantee will have you hooked – who knew it was so easy?!
If you’re not a fairly confident baker, some of the recipes might seem a little intimidating but rest assured, there are plenty of recipes that even a novice baker will feel comfortable with.
A good starting point might be the Essential Baking and Decorating Techniques chapter. I think Rosie’s Tips for Successful Baking and Caking are a must-read before you attempt any of the recipes in the book and wonder why this is not the very first chapter?
The rest of the chapter includes essential techniques for cake decorators – how to fill and prepare a piping bag, how to outline and fill a cookie with royal icing, how to torte, fill and frost a cake, how to cover a cake with fondant, how to dowel and stack a cake and how to temper chocolate. These all include a few step-by-step pictures but newer or less-confident bakers might need even more photos – some of the techniques are, well, quite technical! Rosie does include a lot of information and tips and tricks you will need if you venture into the land of tiered or layered cakes and fondant but acknowledges that even she has had her fair share of cake disasters so if you try and are not successful on the first attempt, remember what Rosie herself says, “there’s always someone happy to gobble up the mistakes […] Just keep going, you got this.”
In terms of recipes, I’d start out with the cutout cookies (there’s a sugar coated version and a version for decorating), which are not only easy to make but taste great. They are also easy to decorate for a bit of a “wow factor” - this is where those homemade sprinkles come in handy!
If it’s cakes you are after, the Prized Basic Cake Recipes chapter is a great starting point. Simple cakes – chocolate butter, red velvet, blueberry, buttermilk – these are cakes of your childhood and none of them require any special equipment. Rosie offers suggestions on how to decorate and fill the cakes as well.
I made the Homemade Sprinkles (p 16) a few times and each time was enchanted – how absolutely cool is it to make sprinkles from scratch? I know my friends were impressed! And yes, they tasted just like real sprinkles! A very easy recipe to follow with a little wiggle room for “rustic” looking sprinkles!
I also chose the Vanilla Sugar Cutout Cookies (p 163), which were easily some of the tastiest roll and cut-out cookies I have made. Easy instructions, though I would like to see the total hands on time listed for recipes like this where you have to rest the dough at certain points – would be great to see that listed at the top of the recipe for planning purposes. I iced these cookies with some Confectioners Glaze (p 201) which turned out beautifully – lovely and pink and glossy and fabulous to top with sprinkles (what isn’t, frankly?!).
I haven’t ventured into the cakes just yet (these are cakes which need an occasion!) but when I do, the Chocolate Butter Cake has my name all over it simple for the childhood memories it evokes!
To sum up, this is a book to keep in your kitchen for quick reference when you need to know a baking or decorating technique. It’s also a book to keep on your coffee table as a source of inspiration. Warning – if you let your kids near it, there will be so many recipes they want you to make. Maybe, like Rosie does with her two little girls, you can work on them together?
This recipe came to be one day when my little girls were begging me for pizza but I didn’t have enough time to create the traditional pizza dough. To be silly, and maybe a bit sassy, I made them this dessert version as a surprise. It’s essentially a triple-chocolate sprinkle bark, but with a round pizza shape that’s cut into slices. While you can make the base out of any variety of chocolate, I prefer a nice dark chocolate that’s not too intense (about 53%). I used milk chocolate chips to create a “crust” and Belgian white chocolate for the “cheese.”
10 ounces (290 g) best quality dark chocolate, chopped or callets/discs (I use Callebaut 53% Dark Chocolate)
1 ounce (30 g) milk chocolate chips or peanut butter chips
¼ cup (30 g) chocolate wafer cookies, broken into small pieces
7 ounces (200 g) best-quality white chocolate, chopped or callets/discs (I use Callebaut)
Sprinkles—every and any kind!
Edible metallic stars
Cake-decorating turntable (optional)
Small offset palette knife
Small sharp knife or pizza cutter
1. Remove the frame of a springform pan and put a piece of wax paper larger than the pan over the base of it and extending over the sides of the pan a few inches. Secure the frame of the pan back in place. Put the pan on a cake-decorating turntable, if using.
2. Temper the dark chocolate (see page 145 for instructions) and pour it into the prepared pan. Using a small offset palette knife, spread the chocolate into an even layer. Sprinkle the milk chocolate chips along the perimeter of the dark chocolate to build a “crust,” and use a spoon to cover them with the dark chocolate. Using one hand to rotate the table and the other to hold the palette knife in place against the center surface of the chocolate, smooth the center of the pizza, working outward to the crust.
3. Sprinkle the pizza (but not the crust) evenly with the chocolate cookie pieces. Refrigerate until the chocolate is semi-set, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and use the small sharp knife or pizza cutter to gently cut the pizza into 8 slices.
4. Temper the white chocolate (see page 145 for instructions) and spread it across the dark chocolate using a clean small offset palette knife, leaving the crust exposed. Cover the white chocolate with a generous array of sprinkles and stars. Refrigerate until the white chocolate partially sets, about 5 minutes. Slice the pizza again, using the existing slices as a guide. Let the pizza sit at room temperature until set, about 1 hour.
5. Carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Use a knife to separate the slices, and serve.
6. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight for up to 2 weeks.
Notes: Because you’ve tempered the chocolate, it will keep its gorgeous shine and snap even at room temperature, which makes the pizza perfect for gifting or for giving as party favors. Simply wrap individual slices in clear cellophane and tie with a fun, colorful ribbon. When it comes to the pizza “toppings,” you don’t need to stick to sprinkles, per se—I’ve been known to toss jelly beans, Pop Rocks, or pretty much any other tasty confection on this pizza. Have fun with it!
Excerpted from The Sweetapolita Bakebook by Rosie Alyea. Copyright © 2015 by Rosie Alyea. Excerpted by permission of Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Sweetapolita – a giveaway!
Thanks to Random House Canada we have one copy of Sweetapolita to give away to a Canadian reader!
To enter, simply leave a comment below and tell us your favourite thing to bake!
For a second entry, tweet the following message: I entered to win a copy of @sweetapolita’s Bakebook from @RecipeGeekMag + @RandomHouseCA ! Details: http://ow.ly/OJO3c
then come back to let us know you did in a second comment!
Winner will be chosen by random.org and announced/ emailed on July 22, 2015
Contest closes on July 22, 2015.
Mardi Michels is a full-time French teacher to elementary school-aged boys and the author of eat. live. travel. write - a blog focusing on culinary adventures near and far. She has lived and worked as a teacher in Australia, Hong Kong, England, France and now calls Toronto home. She spends nearly every summer in France, honing her cooking and baking skills and touring different wine producing regions. As part of her job, she runs a cooking class twice a week for 7-13 year-old boys, Les Petits Chefs and Cooking Basics. She was one of the founding members of Food Bloggers of Canada, and is a cook, baker, traveller, photographer, writer, Food Revolution Day Ambassador for Toronto, contributor to JamieOliver.Com and in her spare time teaches cooking and baking classes around Toronto.
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