THE SINNERS CLUB by Kate Pearce

PUBLISHING INFO: Aphrodisia, 12/31/2013
GENRE: Historical Erotic Fiction
SETTING: England, 1827
SERIES: The Sinners Club, book 1
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: A

From Publisher: It’s known as the Sinners Club…a private gentlemen’s club whose members have mysterious pasts and secret fantasies too hot to reveal…

Unsure of his reception, Jack Lennox adopts the guise of his own secretary upon returning to his ancestral home to claim his father's earldom. When he arrives, he's stunned to discover the previous earl's lovely young widow, a woman of beguiling curves and sensual smiles, warming the bed...

Mary Lennox is determined to remain in Pinchbeck Hall and a mere secretary isn't going to tell her otherwise. But Jack Smith is a man of many talents and soon she's succumbing to his erotic games of pleasure. Only Mary may have underestimated the intensity of her wanton longings and the depths of Jack's dark desires...

Author's Note: This book is about Jack Lennox who you met first in Simply Scandalous (House of Pleasure, book 9).

MY THOUGHTS: I should start by saying that I don't feel this should be marketed as romance. I loved it for what it was- erotica, predominately m/m, which is the type of erotica I like best. This book is the start of a new series that's a lot like her previous House of Pleasure series. The novel is chock full of dark and graphic sexual goodness that practically oozes off the pages. There are more than ten sex scenes and only a few of them are m/f.

I liked the plot line a lot. It certainly held my interest, even without the sex. Mary and Simon are as close as almost life-long friends can be. They've been through a whole lot together and they're still going through stuff when they meet Jack. Jack's put a wrench in their plans, uncovers lies and things start to take a downward turn for them. He uncovers who they really are, learns of their not so great past, and it's very interesting, especially the bit near the end involving Mary. It's a WTF moment and I loved it!

Things about his dead uncle, who is Mary's husband, come to light and it ain't pretty folks.  I can't wait to read more about all three of them in future books, assuming they'll be in them.

There's an ebook-only prequel to this called The First Sinners. Same review here.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


http://www.katepearce.com/

COREYOGRAPHY: A MEMOIR by Corey Feldman

coreyPUBLISHER: St. Martin's Press, 10/2013
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: A-

FROM PUBLISHER: Lovable child star by age ten, international teen idol by fifteen, and to this day a perennial pop-culture staple, Corey Feldman has not only spent the entirety of his life in the spotlight, he's become just as famous for his off-screen exploits as for his roles in such classic films as Gremlins, The Goonies, and Stand by Me. He's been linked to a slew of Hollywood starlets (including Drew Barrymore, Vanessa Marcil, and adult entertainer Ginger Lynn), shared a highly publicized friendship with Michael Jackson, and with his frequent costar Corey Haim enjoyed immeasurable success as one half of the wildly popular duo "The Two Coreys," spawning seven films, a 1-900 number, and "Coreymania" in the process. What child of the eighties didn't have a Corey Feldman poster hanging in her bedroom, or a pile of Tiger Beats stashed in his closet?

Now, in this brave and moving memoir, Corey is revealing the truth about what his life was like behind the scenes: His is a past that included physical, drug, and sexual abuse, a dysfunctional family from which he was emancipated at age fifteen, three high-profile arrests for drug possession, a nine-month stint in rehab, and a long, slow crawl back to the top of the box office.


MY THOUGHTS: What a dark book and a bad childhood. Corey (born 1971) came from an abusive family complete with mentally ill, drug-using mother. He didn't interview either parent for this, which is disappointing but understandable since he doesn't have much of a relationship with them. I'd like to know what they think of his being molested and given drugs by grown men, beginning when he was just thirteen. Until he was emancipated at fifteen his parents spent his money as if it was their own. It makes me angry that an adult could spend a child's money.

Being verbally and physically abused by his parents and grandfather, molested by a few grown men, and teased and taunted by classmates when he actually went to regular school likely led to his drug use and two suicide attempts as a teenager. I don't think he mentioned whether or not he's ever gone to therapy. If he has I'd have liked to have read about what they discussed and the therapists' advice and such. The book is just shy of 300 pages and I feel like more could have been said on certain topics and the things I've just mentioned could have been added.

Being a watcher of porn I want to mention that when Corey was fifteen porn actress Ginger Lynn gave him a blow job in her Porsche- she was twenty-four.

He mentioned his friend and fellow actor Corey Haim (born 1971) quite a bit. Corey H. was molested at eleven and had been on a downward spiral since. He became a very heavy drug user I think after being molested again by a man when he was fourteen, during the filming of the movie Lucas. He was extremely hyperactive and hypersexual and even tried to have sex with Corey Feldman a few times.

Now for the negative: He didn't mention how he got into acting, didn't mention if he even enjoyed it or if he does it still because it's what he's done for most of his life. He gave a vague reason for why his second marriage ended (lack of trust). I don't see how you can talk about something as personal as being molested yet not mention much about your marriage or the woman you were married to. He didn't mention when and why he became vegetarian. He told us that sex acts were preformed on him as a teen by a few men but never once said whether he preformed them on others. I found that a bit odd but I'm going to assume he did those things and didn't want that mentioned. How do you write a book about yourself, mention that your mother hated your nose and said it 'wouldn't stop growing' (as she held him down) and never once mention your two nose jobs? I had to learn that here. Most importantly he didn't give a reason for why he never told his parents, directors, other cast mates, or the police, that he was being molested.

I like reading about the darker side of life so needless to say I enjoyed this book. Yes, it could have been a bit better and more detailed in some areas. I hope he writes a follow-up book in the future.

Here's an interview with him from October 2013 to promote the book.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

CHAIN SAW CONFIDENTIAL: How We Made the World's Most Notorious Horror Movie by Gunnar Hansen

PUBLISHER: Chronicle Books, 9/2013
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A-

FROM PUBLISHER: When The Texas Chain Saw Massacre first hit movie screens in 1974 it was both reviled and championed. To critics, it was either "a degrading, senseless misuse of film and time" or "an intelligent, absorbing and deeply disturbing horror film." However it was an immediate hit with audiences. Banned and celebrated, showcased at the Cannes film festival and included in the New York MoMA's collection, it has now come to be recognized widely as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

A six-foot-four poet fresh out of grad school with limited acting experience, Gunnar Hansen played the masked, chain-saw-wielding Leatherface. His terrifying portrayal and the inventive work of the cast and crew would give the film the authentic power of nightmare, even while the gritty, grueling, and often dangerous independent production would test everyone involved, and lay the foundations for myths surrounding the film that endure even today.

Critically-acclaimed author Hansen here tells the real story of the making of the film, its release, and reception, offering unknown behind-the-scenes details, a harrowingly entertaining account of the adventures of low-budget filmmaking, illuminating insights on the film's enduring and influential place in the horror genre and our culture, and a thoughtful meditation on why we love to be scared in the first place.


MY THOUGHTS: The title says it all. The author, Gunnar, who played 'Leatherface' discusses what it was like filming this over the course of eight weeks in the awful Texas heat in 1973 and getting screwed out of their money. He originally only got $800 for the role.

Most interesting to me was that the story was 'rooted' in Hansel and Gretel (who doesn't love that story?) and that Leatherface's mask and home 'furnishings' were inspired by American murderer Ed Gein, which I already knew, having seen shows on Ed and having read a book about him years ago. FYI- Ed also made leggings and a 'mammary vest' from real humans. He killed two women and robbed graves to get other female body parts. It would have been real cool for Leatherface to have worn a vest like that. Gunnar said that during filming of the final scene when Sally (Marilyn Burns) gets away, he was stepping up into the back of the truck, his foot got caught and the truck driver pulled off, dragging Gunnar. That was a true accident so they refilmed it but I think they should have left that in. Maybe have Sally try to untangle his foot or something. But this was low budget and there wasn't time or money for that.

Gunnar mistakenly said that Ed robbed his own mother's grave (page 92) and put the bones back in her bed. Wrong. He did no such thing. He loved his mother and closed her room off. It was the only clean place in the house.

Some interesting tidbits are: that the opening scene was to be of a dead dog's eye, which they filmed, but they decided against using a domesticated animal. They decided against using a dead horse too. Most of the bones in the film were found in pastures. Some of the dialogue was improvised. Paul, the awful actor who played wheelchair-bound Franklin (I can't stand his character!), wasn't as horrible in real life as he'd lead everyone to believe. During the course of filming none of the actors were allowed to wash their clothes, ever, for fear of colors fading or something else happening to them at the cleaners, since no one had a duplicate set.

Though the book is fairly short I got a bit bored with the day to day goings on at the shoot. There are 16 pages of black and white photos from the set in the book, which is nice.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



ONE BOWL BAKING: Simple, From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts by Yvonne Ruperti With Book Trailer

one bowlPUB. INFO: Running Press, 9/2013
FORMAT: Trade Paperback and E-book
ISBN: 9780762448951
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: A+

From Publisher: Yvonne Ruperti, recipe developer extraordinaire, will tempt readers into the kitchen with a uniquely simplified approach to baking. In this one-of-a-kind recipe collection, Yvonne shows how to create beautiful, delicious, and wholesome desserts from scratch using just one bowl. No mixer, no food processor. It’s for anyone looking for the ease and convenience of box mix baking, but with quality ingredients and gourmet results. Best of all, practically all of the recipes are mixed and in the oven in just 15 minutes or less. That’s it! Layer cakes, cookies, muffins, scones, tarts, cheesecakes, and more!

Table of Contents: Muffins and Scones, Cookies, Bar Cookies, Cupcakes, Snack Cakes, Quick Breads/Pound Cakes/Bundt Cakes/Tube Cakes, Party Cakes, Cheesecakes and Tarts, Pudding Cakes, Upside Down Cakes and More.

Images below came from inside the book.

THINGS I'VE MADE
 
apple barsAPPLE CRISP BARS: I love apples, hadn't baked with them in a while, so was anxious to make these. These bars have a simple thin crust that doubles as the topping which gets sprinkled on top of thinly sliced apples.

I don't really like the brown sugar in these so next time I'll use powdered or white sugar. I was worried about the apples not cooking completely, though they're sliced very very thin, so here's what I did- I put the sliced apples on a large plate and microwaved them for four minutes (my microwave is very low watt), put them back into the mixing bowl, stirred in cinnamon and sugar then spread the almost-completely-cooked apples on the crust, topped with remaining crumb mixture then baked them. I saved myself some baking time by precooking the apples. I also made half the recipe in an 8" square pan and used two large apples.

Make sure you let the bars cool in the foil-lined pan completely before lifting them out. The bottom crust will bend and crack unless it's cooled. I didn't like the bottom crust at all because the brown sugar was really noticeable and absorbed the moisture from the apples. Though the topping is the same mixture as the crust, it got sprinkled on top of the apples and got really crunchy, as all crumb toppings do, and you'd have never known it was the same as the bottom crust. I will definitely use the filling and topping again for these but use a different bottom crust recipe. I've used apples a lot for baking but never have I sliced them thinly for quicker cooking, nor have I ever thought to. I learned that from this book. Grade: B

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS: These turned out pretty as a picture. They baked up nicely and were crackle-topped. They're cake-like. I made half and got seven. The batter uses oil so the batter is thin. I used a 1/4 c. dry measuring cup to scoop out the batter. That's the amount of batter I always use when making cupcakes and muffins in a standard size pan. They baked in about 14 minutes.

I don't think they were quite sweet enough so next time I'll add a few more tablespoons of sugar, maybe brown sugar. I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and used slightly less than called for. You can use however many you'd like and they can be omitted too. They were slightly dry so I'll try checking them after sooner next time. The batter was slightly bitter and the first few baked muffins I ate were slightly bitter but that seems to have gone away somehow. Research told me that can happen when a recipe has too much baking powder in it. I'll use less next time.

Though these could be improved upon I like them (they remind me of a similar muffin recipe I use) and how they look. I know with the changes I'll make they'll be even better. Grade: B+


coffee cakeSOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE WITH WALNUT STREUSEL: I hadn't made a cake like this in several years so was happy to try this one. I made half the recipe in a lined 8 1/2"L x 6 1/2" W x 1 3/4"D pan and it baked in 32 minutes. The batter filled it 2/3 of the way and the cake baked up almost level with the top of the pan. The top was flat, just like in the photo. I used less brown sugar in the streusel topping than called for, omitted the cocoa, and instead of adding chopped walnuts to the streusel, I added 1/2 c. ground toasted almonds to the cake batter. I dumped the streusel on top and swirled it all through the batter with a butter knife. I also made a thicker powdered sugar glaze for the top using 1 T. melted butter, 1/8 t. each vanilla extract and almond extract, 3/4 c. powdered sugar and a little water. I spread it on the cake while it was slightly warm.

The cake has good flavor but wasn't as moist as I'd though it would/should be, since it has a good bit of sour cream in it. The butter flavor was mild, which is how I like it. The top of the cake is really firm from the brown sugar/cinnamon on it but the glaze softened it up. I will make this again and use a 9 1/2" round pan that I have. Grade: B


MOCAHOLIC HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKE: I've got lots of experience with pudding cake, which is just chocolate cake with a mixture of cocoa, sugar, and water poured over the top of the batter. The cake bakes up and the liquid you've poured on top ends up in the bottom, thickened slightly, and makes 'pudding'. I've been making two different ones for exactly seven years. I've never made one that used egg yolk (or whole egg) so I was curious about this.

I love chocolate and I know that a little bit of unsweetened cocoa powder goes a really long way so read on. I used less than half the cocoa in the cake (I cut back by 5 T.) and omitted the chopped bittersweet chocolate. The recipe as written would have been so bitter you couldn't have eaten it and with the addition of 1/3 c. bittersweet chocolate, too much. The cake part wasn't quite sweet enough so I'll add a few extra tablespoons of sugar next time.

The pudding mixture (water, cocoa, sugar) that you pour on top of the cake calls for entirely too much sugar and cocoa, so much so that I had to shake my head in disbelief. I used the amount of cocoa and sugar that I always use in other pudding cake recipes since this used the same amount of liquid. I used water instead of coffee, since I don't like coffee. I cut back on the cocoa and used 1 1/2 T., not 8 T., and 1/4 c. sugar, not 3/4 c. as called for. Know too that white and brown sugar are interchangeable in the pudding part of this. I added the sugar and cocoa powder to the measuring cup, combined, then filled it with lukewarm water, stirred very well to dissolve the cocoa and sugar and poured it over the top. I didn't sprinkle the combined cocoa and sugar over the top then pour the water over it as told to do. I think it's best to pour the completely dissolved, combined mixture over the cake.

To sum it up I used a grand total of 11 1/2 T. (that's almost 3/4 c.) less unsweetened cocoa than told to and 1/2 c. less sugar.

I baked it in an oval 2 1/2 quart dish for 25 minutes. The top puffed a bit and had long cracks in it and looked very nice. I always eat pudding cake with vanilla ice cream. I can say that with the changes I made to this, it's a very good recipe with better tasting cake than the previous ones I'd made. This will be my go-to pudding cake. Grade: A-


CINNAMON SUGAR SNICKERDOODLES: This is the fourth snickerdoodle recipe I've tried this year. This cookie usually has cream of tartar in the dough and is always rolled in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Every one I've ever tried has tasted the same and has had the same somewhat dry texture. This one looks and tastes like the others I've tried. The cookie is a bit puffy, even after flattening the dough balls and banging the pan of fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies on the countertop to deflate them. I'm not happy about the thickness of this cookie though it still tastes very good. Perhaps it has too much baking powder in them. Most don't use baking powder.

I made half and got 20 cookies. I used a 1 1/2" diameter cookie scoop and they baked in just 8 minutes at a lower temperature. I used far less sugar than specified. I used 1/3 c., not 3/4 c. I think I'll stick to a different recipe that I like slightly better. Grade: B


SOFT AND CHEWY SUGAR COOKIES: I'm very pleased with this recipe! The cookies look good and taste great. They use both melted butter and vegetable oil, which is a bit different for a cookie, as most use softened butter, sometimes shortening. I used a couple tablespoons less sugar and that was perfect.

I made half the recipe and used a 1 1/2" diameter cookie scoop. The cookies baked up to be about 2 3/4" in diameter and baked in 8 minutes at a lower temperature. They were slightly crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. I like mine a bit more crisp on the outside so I'll bake them a minute longer next time, possibly two extra minutes. Half yielded 16 cookies.

Weeks later I baked the other half for two minutes longer and they were perfectly crisp outside and firmer inside, not soft at all. I made the full batch at a later date and got 26 cookies. I divided the dough in half, added lemon extract to half then rolled them in sugar. I rolled the other half in a mixture of cinnamon sugar. So for the full recipe I used 2/3 c. of sugar in the dough, not 1 c. plus 2 T.

I made a chocolate version of this. I left out three tablespoons of flour and substituted the same amount of unsweetened cocoa powder and added 1/4 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. Like in the previous batch, I used 2/3 c. sugar, not over 1 cup. I got 29 cookies out of that batch using the same cookie scoop. They were nothing special.

I made a ground almond and dried cherry version of this that had almond extract in the dough. They were very good and will be made again. Another idea would be to use orange zest or extract and dried cranberries. Grade: A


ROCKY ROAD FUDGE CAKE: Very moist! I'm very happy about that. This tastes a lot like boxed Devil's Food cake and that's meant to be a compliment. The texture of the cake even looks and feels like it. As usual, I made half and used a foil-lined 8" square pan so I could lift the cake out of the pan to cut it. The cake baked in 19 minutes and filled the pan 3/4 of the way. I topped it with my own fudge frosting and 1/2 c. toasted chopped pecans and ate most of it with vanilla ice cream.

The recipe stated to use 6 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa for half the cake. I used 5, knowing that would still be too much and it was. The cake was slightly bitter. I omitted the chocolate chips. They would have been wasted in this cake. I put mini marshmallows in it but couldn't taste them, which is no big deal. I'll omit them too next time. Instead of adding nuts to the batter I sprinkled them on top of the fudge frosting. I should have used 1 1/2 eggs but used just one, making sure to beat it very well. The cake rose beautifully. I used half whipping cream (1/4 c.) instead of all milk because I had an open carton of cream I needed to use up.

I'm really impressed with this cake. A good from-scratch chocolate cake is extremely hard to find. I can only think of one other that's more moist than this. I will definitely make this cake over and over again and use just 3 T. of cocoa powder. Grade: A


cherry cupcakeSWEET STORY CUPCAKES WITH ALMOND FROSTING: This is a very good recipe. This cake is made with egg whites and maraschino cherries. For years I've been making a cake mix version of this (that's why I already had a jar of cherries on hand) and knew I'd make this one. I used my own frosting recipe which is almost identical to the one in the book.

The cake's not too sweet and is very moist. I made half and got seven cupcakes. I filled the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. They baked in 15 minutes. I didn't add walnuts to the batter but did add 2 T. ground toasted almonds. I omitted almond extract from the batter. Instead of chopped cherries I added about one heaping tablespoon of finely minced (in the food processor for about 3 seconds) maraschino cherries and used less vanilla extract. If you don't want to make frosting for this you should add a few tablespoons more sugar. You could also used maraschino juice in the frosting instead of almond extract and milk/water. Grade: A+


CHEESY CHEDDAR-SCALLION BISCUITS: Another successful recipe from this book. This is a classic recipe where you cut cold butter into dry ingredients and moisten with milk and egg. I made half and got four large biscuits. I used 1 T. dried chives instead of scallions and added black pepper. Instead of using buttermilk I soured the regular milk with white vinegar. My dough was a little too wet (this is the kind of dough you want for 'drop' biscuits) so I just divided the dough into four parts in the mixing bowl, scooped each portion out, rolling each into a ball with both hands, and flattened each a bit on the baking sheet. That's actually easier and quicker than patting/rolling the dough out on a floured board/countertop and cutting it with a knife or cookie cutter. You could try adding chopped cooked bacon to the dough. Grade: A


PEACHES AND CREAM STREUSEL MUFFINS: Boy are these tender. Very cake-like and not at all dense like most muffins. These have a very fine crumb. I'm so happy with this recipe. I made half and got six. This recipe uses cream and fresh peaches in the batter. I used finely chopped canned peaches. FYI- one 15.25 oz. can of sliced peaches, finely chopped, will give you exactly 1 c. I used 1/2 c. of those peaches in place of fresh ones.

Surprisingly the muffins weren't too sweet but they did need a bit more salt. I'll add a bit of almond extract to the batter next time. I love almond extract with peaches or apricot. I also added three dashes of cinnamon to the batter. I always use cinnamon with peaches. I didn't make the streusel topping. The muffin liners were filled 3/4 of the way and baked in 17 minutes. The full recipe could be made in an 8" square pan or 11" x 7" x 2" pan. Grade: A+


SOUR CREAM CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE: I'm on a winning streak with this book. Everything has turned out right, including this cake. This recipe uses both butter and oil and a decent amount of sour cream. Like the previously reviewed chocolate cake from this book this too is like boxed Devil's Food cake mix in both taste and texture. I made half in an 8" square foil-lined pan. It baked in 20 minutes and filled the pan most of the way after baking and had a flat top.

I used a bit more salt than called for but it needs more. I used half the cocoa, 5 T, not 10! and it's perfect. I used my own fudge frosting for this and topped it with 1/2 c. toasted chopped pecans. It wasn't as moist the next day. Grade: A-


cherry custardSOUR CHERRY ALMOND CLAFOUTI: This tastes awesome and was so simple to mix up. I love cherries and I'm so glad I now have a new recipe that I can use canned sour pitted cherries in. This is your basic baked egg custard that's got sour cherries, ground almonds and flour in it.

I used two 14.5 oz. cans of drained sour pitted cherries that were packed in water and that was plenty. It covered the bottom of a 10" round cake pan completely. It baked in 25 minutes. I used half and half and used slightly less sugar but it's still a little too sweet. I used more salt than specified and it wasn't enough. Those are two simple things that can be fixed next time.

This tastes so good! I toasted the almonds lightly and that made all the difference. I also added 1/4 t. almond extract and that was just enough to give it a hint of flavor. So next time, less sugar (I'll use 1/4 c.) and more salt and it'll be perfect. FYI- you can easily make just half of this in an 8" round pan. Grade: A

CHOCOLATY BUTTER CUPCAKES: This chocolate cake is pretty much like the rocky road fudge cake that I reviewed previously. Unlike that one this uses sour cream and hot water. The hot water didn't make the cake batter thin like you might expect. I made no changes at all to the recipe and it was perfect. Very moist, exactly like boxed Devil's Food cake mix. The cake didn't taste 'buttery' so I don't know why that's in the title.

Instead of making 12 cupcakes I used an 11" x 7" x 2" pan. That amount of batter will fit in an 8" square pan too. My cake baked in 22 minutes. I used my own fudge frosting for it.

This is one of the best chocolate cake recipes ever. I made another one in the same size pan as the first one, froze it and even after thawing and sitting on the countertop frosted for a few days it stayed very moist. Grade: A++

WARM MIX-IN-A-MUG CHOCOLATE CAKE: This is a horrible recipe. It barely resembles cake. It has no egg or baking powder in it. I mixed and baked mine in a 4" bowl. I used way less cocoa powder and less sugar and it was still too sweet. It was very spongy, gummy, and not the best tasting but that was nothing a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream couldn't cover up. The texture wasn't like cake at all. Grade: F

PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES: Great recipe. It's pretty much the same as one I used to make but lost the recipe for. Instead of 12 cupcakes I made this in a 9" by 1 1/2" round pan but it was too much batter for that size so the cake took longer to bake, 24 minutes. Next time I'll use a 10" round. I didn't make the milk chocolate ganache for it but did use my own chocolate frosting recipe. Grade: A+

SUPER MOIST APPLESAUCE QUICK BREAD: This is more cake-like to me than bread-like. It's very moist, dense, and flavorful. I made half in an 8" round pan. I also made a powdered sugar glaze for it that had almond extract in it. I used unsweetened apple sauce. This is a very good recipe. Grade: A


MY THOUGHTS: I love this book. I own a lot of cookbooks and I'll say this is my second or third favorite. My only complaint is that it needs a lot more photos. The recipes are simple, not fancy, difficult, or time consuming. If you've never baked from scratch, or never even used a hand mixer before you'll have zero trouble understanding the recipes. Like most cookbooks this has useful information about baking ingredients and pans/equipment at the beginning and an ever-useful index in the back.

Most of these recipes use all-purpose flour and just a few use cake flour. For the one I made that called for cake flour I used all-purpose flour, making the proper adjustments.

There are plenty more things I want to make out of here but it'll have to wait until next year.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Recipe images came from inside the book.

FOR LOVE ALONE by Shirlee Busbee

for love alonePUBLISHING INFO: Zebra, 12/2013
ORIGNIAL PUB: Warner, 5/2000
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1809
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: After her husband dies, Lady Sophy Marlowe vows she will never wed again, except for love. So when she is suspected of murder, and Viscount Ives Harrington saves her from the gallows, she is none too pleased to have to marry him in exchange for his calculated kindness. But the union of these two passionate people is destined to become much more than a marriage of convenience.




MY THOUGHTS: This was more of a historical mystery than romance. Both hero and heroine were uninteresting to me. I wasn't too interested in their relationship, to be honest. I didn't care for how they came to be married either.

I really enjoyed the mystery of finding out who the Fox was and it was no surprise that it wasn't revealed until near the end. Surprisingly it wasn't who you'd think. I was annoyed that Sophy, out of nowhere, thought she'd figured out who the owner of the cravat pin was, the pin that belonged to the Fox, who's also a serial killer. We didn't get to see into her mind to understand how she came to that conclusion, she just blurted the name out to Ives.

I tend to like evil characters so I really liked her uncle Edward and Agnes but didn't see the point of Anne, Agnes' ward, being in the story at all. Bringing Anne into the story was how we were introduced to Agnes but I think there could have been a better way of writing her into the story. Sophy's siblings didn't play much of a role in the story either so I could have done without them too.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


WEATHERMAN BLOOPER- Snow is beginning to stick on the asshole!


A few years ago this poor weatherman on a New Jersey news station accidentally says, live, that snow is beginning to stick on the asshole instead of asphalt. Best blooper ever, even better than Shepherd Smith's J. Lo blow job blooper.
 
 
 

RUSSIAN INSTITUTE: LESSON 6 ADULT DVD

BACK COVER: link
LENGTH: 1 hr. 33 mins.
RELEASED: 8/3/2006
STUDIO: Marc Dorcel/Wicked Pictures
RATING: XXX
MY GRADE: B

From DVD: Russia's most elite boarding school is also home to the horniest co-eds. This is Russian Institute- where the midterms are hard and the teachers are even harder.


This is a French production and almost all the actors are from the Czech Republic. The others are from Hungary, France, Russia. No condoms were used and all the men are uncircumcised. Only two of the twelve girls have breast implants.

SCENE 1: Ellen got a call from Lauro, who told her he was outside her college. He snuck into her room. He laid back on her bed, she knelt in front of him and blew him for a few seconds. He had her lay back on the bed, he laid between her legs and ate her pussy. She was totally bald with natural breasts. He fingered her hard and fast with his left index finger while he licked her clit. Spoon position on their right sides. He stopped, ate her asshole, then fingered it with left middle and index fingers, then fucked her in it. Doggie position anal. Reverse cowgirl anal on the bed, her rubbing her clit. She definitely had an orgasm from anal with no vaginal penetration. She got off him and jerked him until he came on his stomach.

SCENE 2: Vanessa's in bed pretending to be sick. The doctor and nurse go in. He uses a stethoscope on her and she pulls her camisole down. The nurse sits beside her and they kiss. She unbuttons the nurses coat and pulls her bra down and licks her nipples. The doctor goes over to them. The nurse takes his cock out, Vanessa sucks him, then the nurse does. Vanessa gets on the bed on all fours. The nurse pours lube out of a small black bottle on Vanessa's asshole, rubs it in and the doctor fucks her vaginally. He pulls out, the nurse sucks him then he puts it back in Vanessa's pussy

She lays on her back, right leg up with the doctor standing between her legs, fucking her vaginally. The nurse rubs Vanessa's clit and breast. The nurse stops him, puts lube on his dick and he fucks Vanessa's asshole. The nurse is rubbing Vanessa's clit. She then sits in a chair, rubbing her clit as she watches the nurse fuck the doctor in reverse cowgirl position on the bed. Vanessa goes over to them, makes them stop, jerks him a few times, puts spit on his dick and guides it to the nurse's asshole for some anal sex. She licks the nurses clit. Vanessa kneels in front and rubs the nurse's clit. I love the slapping sounds they make. Both girls kneel in front of the doctor and blow him. He comes in the nurses mouth and she swallows it.

SCENE 3: Three girls, Jennifer (the brunette on cover with red skirt), Liliane, Nadine, sneak out of their rooms at night. Jennifer goes to distract the night watchman, Thomas, while the other two eat each other in a chair. Jennifer and the night watchman see them. She pushes him against the wall, pulls his pants down and blows him briefly. They walk over to the girls. He stands beside Liliane, the one sitting in the chair. She leans over and blows him. she gets up and Jennifer sits him in the chair Liliane vacated. Simone blindfolds him with her black stocking. Liliane blows him. Jennifer steals a key from his pants pocket, goes into his office and takes something out of his desk drawer. Liliane gets on him, reverse cowgirl, while Simone stands there, topless. Jennifer returns and puts the key back in his pocket without him knowing, since his pants are around his ankles. Anal sex with him and Liliane. Jennifer is sitting in the chair beside them with Simone eating her pussy. He comes on all three girls' faces.

SCENE 4: Two girls, Jamie and Lea, sneak into the room of Tony, Frank and JPX. Jamie blew one guy. Lea got on the bed and blew him too. Jamie went over to another guy, blew him while the third roommate joined in. He ate her from behind. The scene got real annoying after that. Everybody was going everybody else and I couldn't keep up. Lastly, Jamie was on top of one guy while another guy was in her ass.

SCENE 5: The Headmistress, Sandy, goes into Sophie's room. Sandy eats Sophie out on her bed, then uses a thick hot pink-colored vibrator on her. Sandy gets on all fours while Sophie uses a different vibrator on her.

SCENE 6:  Two students, Ellen and Laura, are in the classroom. One goes over to the teacher, James, takes her shirt off and sits on the desk in front of him. He licks her breasts. He pushes his chair back a few feet and she blows him. Laura's sitting at her desk watching. She's rubbing her breasts. She goes over to them and they take turns blowing him. Ellen lays back on the des, he kneels in front and eats her pussy while Laura stands there rubbing her clit. He stands up and fucks Ellen from behind while she leans on the desk. Laura gets on him on the desk, reverse cowgirl. Ellen is fingering herself in a chair as she watches. Anal reverse cowgirl with Laura and teacher. Ellen goes over to them and rubs Laura's clit. They both kneel down and they both blow him.

BONUS MATERIAL

There was some boring behind-the-scenes stuff and trailers for some of the studio's other dvds.

MY THOUGHTS: This was just OK. Not enough time was spent on the sex scenes and the close-ups were too quick. It was real nice not seeing many breast implants. When watching foreign porn I can see a difference between the men and American men and I definitely like the European men better. The production value seems to be higher too.

Like some of Marc Dorcel's other dvds, this was narrated here and there in voiceover. Marc is French and Wicked Pictures is his American dvd distributor. Despite the 'Russian Institute' title I'm sure this was filmed in France.

  


SASSY COOKIES: Sweet, Spicy, and Savory Treats with Swagger by Luane Kohnke

sassyPUB. INFO: Pelican Publishing Company
ISBN: 9781455617692
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: C

From Publisher: Goat cheese, rosemary, mango, chocolate, and chai tea-what do these diverse flavors have in common? They are all ingredients in some of the most unique and delicious cookie recipes to be found anywhere. Author and cookie baker extraordinaire Luane Kohnke provides detailed instructions for more than forty of her original cookie recipes to suit even the most refined palate. Each is captured in mouth watering images by talented photographer John Uher. Kohnke breaks her recipes into several distinct sections, all of which include gluten-free offerings. Presented are timeless chocolate cookies including Lemony White Chocolate and Pink Peppercorn Cookies and Chocolate Shortbread and Hazelnut Cream Sandwich Cookies, bringing new flavor combinations to expand every baker's repertoire.

The second section experiments with edgy and grown-up versions of brownies, blondies, and bar cookies, including the irresistible Goat Cheese and Caramel Swirl Brownies. Another set of recipes provides savory treats that are perfect accompaniments to soups, salads, and fruit-and-cheese trays or as stand-alone, satisfying appetizers. These include Black Olive Bites, Tarragon-Lemon Cookies, and a tantalizing twist on tradition cheese cocktail cookies. Additional sections delve into nutty and fruity treats and delicate sensations, including Saffron Pistachio Lace Cookies. Provided as reference are detailed instructions on preparation, supplies, and resources to make baking and sharing the cookies as enjoyable as eating them.

Recipe images below came from inside the book.

THINGS I'VE MADE
lime cookieLIME BUTTER COOKIES: These are some of the best-tasting cookies ever. They have that distinctive sugar cookie flavor and brown slightly on the edges, like a sugar cookie. I omitted the lime oil. A small bottle is relativity inexpensive but that isn't something most grocery stores have. I used the zest of one lime and that gave it plenty of flavor. I didn't use the 1 T. dry milk since I didn't have any. They don't have a heavy butter flavor, which is a plus for me.

One of two complaints that I have is that these cookies end up getting 100% soft after a short time and that's not a good thing. I'll only bake what I can eat within a very short time and refrigerate or freeze the remaining dough and bake off what I need. Though we're to flatten the dough balls before baking they still get puffy and aren't flatter like the photo shows. I'd like to experiment with this recipe a bit next time. Grade: A-

cheddar cookieSAVORY CHEDDAR COCKTAIL COOKIES: These use both cheddar and parmesan cheese. I got 22 using a 1 1/2" diameter (#50) cookie scoop. I added a little dried parsley for color. I used black pepper instead of white, and omitted cayenne pepper. I didn't make any of the spreadable cheese toppings for them.

I baked these 10 minutes. They were golden brown on the edges but still a bit soft. They were flakey on the outside and the 'crust' almost melted in my mouth. I'd make these again using a different cheese, as I'm not too fond of sharp cheddar usually. Since these are cheesy, too cheesy, I'd like mine to be firmer, like a cracker, so baked the rest for 12 minutes and they were really firm throughout.

We're told to refrigerate the dough a few hours before baking. I recommend chilling the dough just 30 minutes or the dough will be harder to scoop out and the edges will crack when you flatten them, like mine were after an hour or so. Grade: B

pist cookieANISE-SCENTED PISTACHIO COOKIES: This is basically a more tender shortbread cookie that I turned into a chocolate chip pecan cookie. Anise isn't something I'd like, shelled pistachios cost a fortune, and I would never put lemon zest with almond extract and I saw no reason to not change the flavorings to something I'd like- chocolate chip, vanilla extract, and toasted pecans.

I used a larger cookie scoop than used in the recipe (1 1/2" diameter) and I got 21 cookies. They spread out to 2 1/2" diameter. The cookies have a very nice texture. They're golden brown and crunchy on the bottom and edges and the inside is tender. They use an egg yolk and are pretty much like shortbread complete with strong butter flavor. I cut down on the sugar by 1/4 c. and they're still a little too sweet. I stored the leftovers in an air-tight container and they got a bit harder which is fine with me. Most cookies end up getting totally soft hours after you've baked them. Grade: B

MY THOUGHTS: I think there's a photo of every cookie, which is real nice. There's a few more I may bake from this book. They're all very simple to mix up and recipes are easy to understand so no one is likely to have any trouble.

Some of the flavor combinations are too 'sassy' for me so only part of the book is useful to me.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Recipe images came from inside the book.


THE ROGUE'S PROPOSAL by Jennifer Haymore

roguePUB. INFO: Grand Central Publishing, 11/2013
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1812
SERIES: House of Trent, book 2
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: B

From Publisher: Lord Lukas Hawkins, the rakish second son of the House of Trent, has never found a wager he couldn't win or a woman he couldn't seduce—until his search for his missing mother leads him to a mysterious encounter with a beautiful stranger.

Luke's mother has been missing for months, and while his honorable older brother Simon, Duke of Trent, leads the official investigation from London, Luke sets out on a somewhat seedier path. Sources have told him his mother was last seen with a scoundrel named Roger Morton, but their association isn't clear. Was she kidnapped or did she go willingly?

While searching for Morton, Luke meets Emma Anderson, a secretive beauty with her own reasons for hunting Morton. At first Luke laughs at the idea of allowing a woman to join him in his search, but soon Emma's insights into Morton—like the woman herself—prove impossible to resist.

MY THOUGHTS: This book is second in the series and features Simon's (from book one) younger brother, Luke. He's twenty-seven and has dark blonde hair and blue eyes. He seems to be an alcoholic who's haunted by his abusive childhood. He's the only one of his siblings who was abused at the hands of their father. He's pretty dark. He's got low self esteem too. His relationship with Simon is strained and Luke feels inferior to him. He doesn't even like for Simon to be mentioned. He's got some mental health issues due to him thinking his dead father is out to kill him. I like that their relationship is strained and found that interesting. Most siblings of the same gender get along great in romance novels so I liked that they don't have too good of one.

The widowed Emma Curtis, nee Anderson's on a mission to find the elusive Roger Morton, who isn't as he seems, and make him pay for his dirty deeds. When Emma and Luke team up to find Roger and Luke's mother, their chemistry is instant. The sex is pretty explicit, the terminology a bit more explicit than usual, which I really like, and there's plenty of it.

We learn more about Luke's missing mother and how it came to be that she was with Roger but we don't learn where she is yet. We'll have to wait until book three (May 2014) to find out, I presume, and I can't wait.

There's something the author did that really annoyed me, and I've noticed this in a few other historicals as well. She'd put periods between all the words in a short sentence because she'd want to put emphasis on each of them. I'm not a fan of that type of modern day speaking/typing (I see people talk/type like this on the internet) and don't appreciate it being in historicals. Here's some examples: He.Is.Not.Evil./So.Damn.Beautiful./Bloody.Hell./You.Were.Innocent.

The story is kind of slow moving until near the end. I enjoyed it overall and I like Luke a lot, especially his back story. Emma's your average likeable heroine but there's nothing special about her. She's pretty cookie cutter.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


JENNA JAMESON'S E! TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY DOCUMENTARY FROM 2003

This is a very good documentary on porn star Jenna Jameson (and she has her original face) that I first saw when it was two years old, in 2005. It came out months before her autobiography How to Make Love Like a Porn Star. It first aired on August 10, 2003. Most episodes in this series are just one hour but hers was two. Her father, whom you'll see in it, died a couple years ago.

Here's a recent interview with her from Larry King Now.



500 COOKIES SECOND EDITION by Philippa Vanstone and Carol Beckerman

500 cookiesPUB. INFO: Sellers Publishing, 9/2013
ISBN: 9781416209089
ORIGINAL PUB: Sellers, 10/2005
FORMAT: Hardcover, 288 pages
PURCHASE: Link
MY GRADE: B

From Publisher: 500 Cookies truly is “the only cookie compendium you’ll ever need.” With this second edition, home cooks will find 150 scrumptious new recipes that are sure to be crowd pleasers. The newly-added Indulgent Cookie chapter includes tasty ingredient combinations such as Peanut Butter & Praline Chunk Swirl cookies, Chocolate & Lemon Pinwheel cookies, and Coconut & Cherry Macaroons.

The front of the book includes helpful tips on making drop cookies, rolled, piped, and shaped cookies, as well as bars, icebox cookies and no-bakes. Essential tools and equipment are listed plus ingredient information and professional advice on baking, cooling, and storing your baked treats. Since 2005, 500 Cookies has been the go-to cookie book for thousands of home bakers — join the happy crowd!
     
THINGS I'VE MADE
 
PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE SWIRLS: This is a good cookie recipe but I made a very necessary change to it before mixing the dough. The full recipe calls for 1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder and I knew that was entirely too much. I made just half the recipe, as I normally do, and instead of using 1/2 c. cocoa, I cut that down to 1/4 c. and that amount was perfect. If you use the full amount of cocoa they're going to be so bitter you won't be able to eat them.

I added mini semi-sweet chips, 1/4 c. of them, not 1 c. chopped semi-sweet chocolate as called for for half the recipe. Recipes use unsalted butter. If you're using salted butter, omit the salt completely in this recipe. Peanut butter is always very salty and in this recipe it gets swirled throughout the dough and I noticed the salt from it. Next time I'm using half the salt.

I refrigerated the dough 30 minutes like I was supposed to. I scooped the dough out using a small 1 1/2" diameter scoop (# 50). My cookies got really puffy, like in the photo, but flattened nicely at the end of the baking time. They had nice crackle tops and was a good looking cookie, better looking than the photo. I baked them for 11 minutes. The baked cookies were 2 1/2" in diameter and I got 31.

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES: I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of white chocolate, as I don't like white chocolate, which isn't even chocolate anyway. Mine didn't look like the photo which showed them having crackle tops. The tops of mine were smooth. They taste very good and are made with all white sugar, no brown, so they're pale. The edges got golden brown which gave them great flavor. I used a small 1 1/2" diameter scoop (# 50) and got 27 cookies that were between 2 1/4"-2 1/2" in diameter after baked. I lowered the temperature to 350° and they baked in 11 minutes. They're a little too sweet so I'll cut back on that next time.

CHOCOLATE PINWHEEL COOKIES: This is a super easy recipe. Unfortunately they're extremely bland and I wasn't at all happy with it and wouldn't make them again. They aren't sweet enough nor do they have enough salt. They were dry too. The dough is firm, not sticky, which makes it easy to work with and roll/pat out. I froze my dough and sliced it from frozen when I was ready to bake some. It'll be easier to cut if you let the dough sit out for about ten minutes before slicing it.

The instructions are terrible and someone who's never made pinwheel cookies would be confused. They also tell you to wrap each part of dough and refrigerate until firm, then roll out. That's not necessary and all you need to do is press the dough into a rectangle, the size they never gave, and you don't really need a rolling pin.

If you don't have two silicone baking mats that are close to or are larger than 12" x 8" you'll need to use two sheets of wax paper or parchment paper and with a ruler mark each into a 12" x 8" rectangle, then with clean hands press each part of dough out into that size rectangle. That's what I did and it's how I always do pinwheel dough. Invert one part of dough over the top of the other (I put the chocolate dough on top of the other) and gently peel it off the paper. The dough felt too soft to roll so I picked up the silicone mat, put it on a smaller cookie sheet and put it in the freezer for eight minutes, took it out then rolled it up jelly roll-style. You lift the log up, place it onto a long piece of plastic wrap or your used piece of waxed/parchment paper, roll it up and refrigerate until firm or freeze it to use another day.

When you roll dough into a log and freeze or refrigerate it the bottom of the log as no choice but to go flat. An excellent trick I learned months ago to prevent that from happening most of the time is to take an empty paper towel roll, cut it open and place your wrapped log of dough in it (it's ok if your log is longer than the paper towel tube), put at least two rubber bands on it to hold it tight and keep it round, then store it in the refrigerator or freezer. I froze this dough and used it a few days later. My dough log was 2.1" in diameter.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a cute book due to its size. The whole book is full color. The recipes are easy and for lots of them there are variations listed on a separate page. Directions for a couple of recipes need to be a bit more detailed. There's a fair amount of photos too. I plan to make more from the book but for now I've only made three.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

101 GOURMET DESSERTS FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Wendy Paul

gourment dessertsPUB. INFO: Front Table Books, 9/2013
FORMAT: Hardcover, 9781462112616
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: B

From Publisher: 101 Gourmet Desserts for the Holidays is the ultimate recipe collection for the holiday season! Enjoy your Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with unique desserts like Pumpkin Sugar Cookies, Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, and Egg Nog Cheesecake. You can trust these proven recipes by best-selling author Wendy Paul and take the stress out of holiday baking.

Categories: Fruity and Fabulous, The Sweetness of Chocolate, Theme Decorating, Nutty Treats, Flavors of Fall, Sugar and Spice, Holiday Treats, Topping it all Off. Most recipes are for cakes and cookies with a few recipes being for other desserts and a section's just for frostings.

THINGS I'VE MADE
 
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP CANDY CANE COOKIES- This recipe is different, and in a good way. It uses chocolate instant pudding powder. I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of white chocolate chips and I added chopped toasted pecans. I made half and scooped them out with a 1 1/2" diameter scoop and got 27 cookies. They taste great. They aren't too sweet considering they have white and brown sugar, and sugar from the pudding mix in them. I flattened the balls before baking, not after they'd baked, as per the instructions. They took about 11 minutes. The outside is crunchy and the inside is softer. I didn't frost the cookies with melted white chocolate or sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy. The recipe calls for no salt so I added 3/8 t. for half the recipe and it wasn't quite enough.
 
You can use any flavor pudding you'd like in here (the author did a different version of these on the internet) and add any type of chip, nut, or dried fruit. I've not had much luck over the years with chocolate cookies. They always taste the same and are never good. This is the best flavored one so far. This recipe is a keeper!
 
I made these again about a month later using vanilla pudding, mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and pecans. They were too sweet but tasted alright.
 
FRUITCAKE COOKIES: When I saw the photo of these I knew I had to make them. In addition to a lot of milk this recipe calls for a lot of additives....3 1/4 c. worth. Instead of using orange extract, mixed candied fruit, candied cherries, pecans, and dates I used 1/2 c. chopped sweetened dried cherries, 1/2 c. chopped lightly toasted almonds, vanilla extract, and a drop of almond extract. I used a 1 1/2" diameter cookie scoop and got 27 cookies that were 2 1/2" in diameter after they were baked. I flattened the balls slightly with the bottom of a dry measuring cup before baking. I baked them at a much lower temperature for 11 minutes and they were golden brown on top, more so than other cookies. They were a little too dry due to being over baked so next time I'll give them just 10 minutes. Mine don't look like the photo and have smooth tops.
 
This dough has excellent flavor that's enhanced by the flavor from the browned tops. The butter flavor was very mild. Yay! I love cherries in these, so glad I used them, and will make these again with toasted pecans instead of almonds, more dried cherries, and use shortening, which the recipe originally calls for. I used butter because the author said she makes them with butter and I'd like to try shortening next time.
 
Its been about a month since I made the butter version. I tried this recipe with shortening, 3/4 c. chopped dried cherries, and 3/4 c. pecans. I needed to experiment so I baked just one cookie without flattening it. It didn't spread out much and was pretty much ruined. These don't taste as good as the butter version and they didn't get as brown so I'll stick with the original version.
 
CRANBERRY AND PISTACHIO COOKIES: These were disappointingly bland. No particular flavor to speak of other than cranberry. I used lightly toasted chopped almonds in place of pistachios and scooped them out with a 1 1/2" diameter scoop. They baked in 8 1/2 minutes.
 
MY THOUGHTS: This is a very attractive and useful book. It's hardcover and what you can't see from the outside is that it's spiral bound on the inside and will lay open flat. Don't be put off by the 'holiday' part of the title. There's just a section of recipes that uses canned pumpkin, which is associated with Thanksgiving, and a few recipes that you sprinkle chopped peppermint candies on, with peppermint candy being associated with Christmas time.

There aren't nearly enough photos. I think it's especially important to include many photos of cookies because they don't all look the same. Some are very puffy on top (and I usually avoid making them), some are flat and crisp, ect. I really don't like to make a cookie without having seen the finished product.

I don't like when an author tells us to do something and doesn't explain why. Example: for the Cranberry Pistachio Cookies, she tells us to place the dough balls in the freezer for twenty minutes then bake them bit didn't explain why. Did she try freezing them for a short time because she didn't like the way the un-chilled dough turned out or did she do it just for the heck of it, to see if the cookies would turn out differently? I'd like to know.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

WORLD CLASS CAKES: 250 Classic Recipes from Boston Cream Pie to Madeleines and Muffins by Roger Pizey

worldPUB. INFO: Race Point Publishing, 9/2013
ISBN: 9781937994167
FORMAT: Hardcover
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

From Publisher: World Class Cakes is a fabulous collection of globally-inspired classic bakes, from national favorites such as Boston Cream Pie and international classics like British Chelsea Buns to exquisite small treats like Russian Tea Cakes and French Madeleines. Each recipe has been meticulously researched and perfectly baked by Roger Pizey, one of the world's leading pastry chefs.

Whether you are a baking novice wanting to make your first Plum Madeira or a seasoned pastry enthusiast wishing to impress with a Millefeuille or Croquembouche, the book is divided into chapters that correspond with types of cake and baking techniques. These include Sponges and Layer Cakes, Loaves and Pound Cakes, Fruit, Nut, and Seed Cakes, Sheet Cakes and Bars, Cheesecakes, Small Cakes, Leavened Cakes, Pastries, Tarts and Celebration Cakes.

Each recipe has fascinating insights into the origins, culture, or traditions associated with the cake, and dotted throughout the book are feature recipes from guest chefs, including Mark Hix and Marco Pierre White in London, Shannon Bennett in Melbourne, and Lucas Glanville in Singapore.

For those who love to travel, each chapter also includes a section on must-visit cake-eating destinations around the globe. These act as your personal guide to the best places to pause for coffee or tea and cakes, whether you're in London or Paris, Copenhagen or Vienna, New York or Tokyo, Sydney or Singapore.

World Class Cakes is a superlative global resource for the art of cake baking, a showcase of awe-inspiring cakes and pastries, each one a testament to the superb baking skills of master pâtissier Roger Pizey.

Images below came from inside the book.

THINGS I'VE MADE
 
pineapple cakePINEAPPLE COCONUT CAKES: Coconut and pineapple go great together. I followed the recipe but it tasted egg-like to me and had a heavy butter flavor and was dry. I wonder if the recipe could have used just one egg. I used pineapple tidbits and cut them smaller. I think it needed more than I used. Biting into a little piece of pineapple was the highlight of the desert. I didn't make the syrup for the top, it would have been a bit too expensive, but I did make my own powdered sugar glaze using reserved pineapple juice from the can of tidbits.

I used this exact pan. Each cup is 4 1/4" in diameter by 1 1/4" deep. I think it made nine of those. As with most from-scratch bread products, these were best fresh out of the oven. The cakes had a medium crumb but the cake dried out once it cooled down. I stored them in the fridge and reheated them in the microwave when I wanted one. I ate three and threw the rest away. Grade: C
turkish lemon cakeTURKISH LEMON CAKE: This cake smells and tastes great. I can't convey how impressed I am with it. The browned flavor that you get from the outer edges, combined with the tanginess from the lemon juice, is truly unbelievable. It uses a little orange juice in the batter and lemon zest. This makes one really large loaf cake so I made half the recipe and baked it in a smaller loaf pan than the full recipe used. Mine measured 8 1/2" L x 4 1/4" W x 2 3/4" D. It baked in exactly 30 minutes.

I made the author's simple syrup recipe from the back of the book, not the recipe included with the cake, to pour over the top of the still-warm cake, using the juice of one lemon and slightly more sugar than juice. I heated the lemon juice and sugar together in a measuring cup in the microwave until the sugar dissolved completely. No need to dirty a small pan to make it in. After the cake cooled in the pan for about 15 minutes I spooned half the slightly warm syrup evenly over the top and let some run down the sides of the pan, then transferred it to a cooling rack. The cake should be left to cool in the pan longer than 15 minutes.

This used self-rising flour. Even though self-rising flour has salt in it already this cake definitely needed more, probably twice what I used. It's very sweet too. I'll cut down on the sugar and add more salt, especially since I used unsalted butter. I couldn't taste the orange juice at all so you may want to skip adding it if you don't have it on hand. Just add water or milk in its place or add some orange zest. Grade: A+
sobaosSOBAOS PASIEGOS: This cake originated in the Pas valley of Spain and an internet search told me the name means Sobaos from el Pas, though I don't know what Sobaos means. It's typically made with yeast, lemon zest, anise or a tiny amount of rum. This version doesn't use yeast.
Changes I Made: This recipe makes two loaf cakes so I made just one. I omitted the zest and rum and used 1/4 c. lightly packed minced (in the food processor) sweetened dried cranberries and 1 t. orange peel that came in a small bottle. The recipe didn't specify how much salt, it only said 'salt', which usually means a small pinch, which is about 1/16 of a teaspoon, so I added 1/4 t., knowing it would probably need more, and it did. I knew to cut back on the sugar by 1/4 c., as 3/4 c. was way too much, so I did and the cake was still sweet and had the added sweetness from the cranberries.
 
This is very simple to make but does have the extra step of whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks, which only takes a minute, and folding them in. I think my whites may have been too stiff because my cake didn't seem 'airy' as it was supposed to be though it turned out good anyway, albeit a bit dry. It didn't rise nearly as high as in the photo nor did it look the same on top. In fact, mine looked just like all the ones I saw internet pictures of. I like that this uses melted butter as opposed to softened butter. For some reason some cakes that are made with butter have a really strong butter flavor and I'm happy to say this one doesn't. I like just a hint of orange flavor when I do use it to flavor cakes and muffins and 1 t. was the perfect amount for this, not strong at all. I'll use more cranberries next time, a heaping 1/3 c., more salt, and I'll make sure my whites aren't too stiff. Grade: B+
double chocolateDOUBLE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES: This recipe uses both melted semi-sweet chocolate and a tiny bit of unsweetened cocoa powder and ground almonds. The recipe makes six regular-sized cupcakes but I made them in a jumbo muffin pan. I filled the cups halfway and got six. They baked in about twenty minutes. If made in the regular-sized pan you'll definitely get at least eight. I made my own chocolate fudge frosting for them and ate each with vanilla ice cream.
 
They were a bit dry which is too bad considering they used all brown sugar, which is known to make cakes moister. I'm pretty sure they weren't over baked. These reminded me a lot of several brownies I've made over the years and like brownies, these cupcakes had no milk in them. I couldn't taste the toasted almonds either. I'm a bit disappointed in this one. I ate a few and threw the rest away. Grade: D
lime poppy seed cakeLIME AND POPPY SEED SYRUP CAKE: This was only the second time I'd used lime zest, and the first time in a cake. This was my first time using poppy seeds too. The recipe is made in a Bundt pan so I made half in a loaf pan that measured 9 1/4" L x 5 1/8" W x 3" H. It baked in 38 minutes. If you like loaf cakes that are narrower and taller as opposed to wider and shorter, use a slightly smaller pan than I used.
 
What a beautiful loaf. The cake is a medium golden brown all over with one nice long crack and several smaller ones like most loaf cakes get. This uses both self-rising and all-purpose flour, sour cream and lime zest, and no salt. I knew it wouldn't have enough salt just from the self-rising flour. Salt is always necessary when baking cakes or muffins so I added 1/4 t. of table salt. That amount turned out to be perfect to go with unsalted butter. If using salted butter don't add any salt.

I tasted the cake where it had no simple syrup and it's incredibly moist and not too sweet. The butter flavor is very subtle, thankfully. You could make this cake and omit the zest and seeds if you wanted.

I used the zest of two limes in the batter and the juice of two, which was four tablespoons, to make the syrup to pour on top with. That was a huge mistake. The lime juice is way too tart. I guess my limes weren't ripe enough, as I'd suspected. I'll only use one tablespoon next time, just in case. I used his basic simple syrup recipe (slightly more sugar than juice or water). I let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes then spooned all of the syrup over it, pulling the cake away from the sides of the pan slightly with the spoon so the syrup could run down.

After the cake cooled completely I lifted it out by the overhanging foil that I'd lined one side of the pan with, held it in one hand and I flipped the cooled cake over into my other hand. I peeled the foil off and I centered a previously cut long piece of wax paper over the bottom of the cake and flipped the cake back over so it was upright, set it on the counter, sliced it then lifted it up with the sides of the wax paper and put it back into the washed loaf pan. The syrup runs down into the pan so I always wash the pan, put a new piece of wax paper on the cake then put it back into the pan. I don't like the idea of syrup or any other liquid sitting in the bottom of a metal pan. Grade: A
lemon drizzleLEMON DRIZZLE CAKE: I accidentally used a larger loaf pan (9 1/2" L) instead of one that's slightly smaller, as called for in the recipe. I didn't realize it until I was putting the 'drizzle' on the cake. Regardless, the cake turned out beautifully (shorter and wider than it should have been) and baked in 29 minutes at a higher temperature, 350°, than called for. I used the authors standard simple syrup recipe, not the one that went with this recipe. It makes 1/2 c.
 
This is an average size loaf. The recipe states to use 1 c. sugar, which is way too much, even if not using the syrup drizzle, so I used 1/2 c., which was perfect. I knew a 'pinch' of salt wouldn't be nearly enough so I used 1/4 t. The cake still tastes saltless. I was scared to use three eggs for fear of an eggy taste so I used two and that turned out to be a good move on my part. The cake turned out fine and doesn't taste like egg. I used the zest of one large lemon, not the zest of three lemons as told to do, and got 3 teaspoons from one lemon (which is 1 tablespoon), more than enough for one cake. Had I followed the recipe regarding the lemon zest I'd have used 3 tablespoons, which is just one tablespoon shy of 1/4 c. Entirely too much.

The cake is very moist. I like that it uses melted butter and cream, instead of softened butter and milk. I've never used cream in a cake before so it was nice to try it. This cake isn't quite as good or flavorful as the Turkish Lemon Cake (there's no lemon cake like that one) but I will definitely make this again and again. It doesn't have a strong butter flavor either.

Here's what I do now when it's time to pour syrup over a cake- I lift the cake out of the pan by the overlapping foil and sit it on the counter. I carefully lift the cake up with both hands and place it on a cooling rack that's been placed down in the clean sink. I pour all of the syrup over it (1/2 C.) , some runs off into the sink, I let it sit there a minute than carefully place it back on a different cooling rack to cool completely. I don't want to pour it over the cake while it's still in the loaf pan, or any type of pan, because the extra syrup will just sit in the metal pan for a couple of days and I don't want that. Grade: A
jewish apple cake"JEWISH' APPLE CAKE: This cake uses oil instead of butter, thus making it kosher. This cake wasn't anything special. I used 1/3 less sugar and it was still too sweet. I used more salt than the 'pinch' than was called for and it wasn't enough. I used half the vanilla and it was plenty. I couldn't taste the orange juice at all. It's pretty dense too. As good as apricot jam is it did nothing for the top of this cake but make it gummy.
 
I made this in a 9" round pan that was 1 1/2" high, not a 6" as I was supposed to. I don't know how a smaller pan could hold this batter. It baked in 22 minutes. I didn't put chopped apples on top either, and just used the ones layered in the cake. I wouldn't make this again- it's too dense. I ate two slices and threw the rest away. Grade: C
pistachio and lemon cakePISTACHIO AND LEMON CAKE: This cake is extremely moist. Its very good but has too much zest in it, both lemon and lime. I didn't add nuts nor did I use lemon and lime slices on top of the cake. This is one of those cakes that's so moist it has a wet look about it. In that way it's like the Turkish Lemon cake but not as flavorful.

The recipes states to use a 'pinch' of salt. I added 3/8 t. and it could have used a bit more. I also used 1/4 c. less sugar and the cake was plenty sweet enough. I made the syrup for the top but it wasn't necessary, as the cake was almost too moist as it was and the syrup make it a bit gummy. Though this is good I won't make it again because I prefer the Turkish Lemon Cake to this. Grade: A


caraway seed cakeCARAWAY SEED CAKE: I omitted the caraway seeds and added chopped sweetened dried cranberries and orange peel and used a bit less sugar. This cake tastes like egg. It has three, which I feel is too much for a standard loaf cake. I won't make it again. Grade: C







MY THOUGHTS: This is a beautiful full-color book with plenty of photos. It's a large, heavy hardcover. The recipes use either all-purpose or self-rising flour. All recipes call for superfine sugar, which is regular white sugar that's been ground finer. Just use regular sugar and don't bother with grinding it up. It's just not necessary.

There are color photos of most recipes. Photos always make cookbooks nicer. I like too that you can mix and match fruit juices (lemon, lime, orange, pineapple) and zest, as they're interchangeable in these recipes. For example, make a lemon cake with pineapple simple syrup poured on top or maybe use orange zest instead in a lemon or lime cake and make lemon or lime simple syrup for the top, ect.

All but one or two recipes use butter. I'm disappointed that more don't use vegetable oil and none use shortening. I wish too that there were a little less fancy cakes in it and no chapter on yeast breads/cakes. Those cakes are too fancy. It's a very nice book but needs more 'basic' cake/cupcake recipes.

I've decided not to make anymore things from this book because only some are turning out right.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Recipe images came from inside the book.