Picks and Pans Review: A Piece of Cake

updated 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/11/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Susan G. Purdy

Coffee cake, crumb cake, pound cake, fruitcake. Ah, where was this plump primer when Marie Antoinette was making menu suggestions for the citizens of France? (Purdy duly notes that the ill-fated Queen really declared, "Let them eat brioche" in her notes on cake lore that introduce this finger-licking collection of more than 380 recipes.)

Purdy, a former food columnist, pastry instructor and author of As Easy As Pie, has mixed recipes from her personal favorites, tested and retested on family and friends, as well as special treats discovered while eating her way from Vienna to Munich, Lyons to Venice. The result is a rich assortment to suit every sweet tooth.

Chapters range from facile to fussy: cupcakes, sponge cakes, birthday cakes, torten, charlottes, jelly rolls. Fillings, frostings and glazes are not neglected either. Purdy tells how to decorate, cut and serve, freeze and store—even how to mail your masterpieces should you need to know. There are six Passover desserts, four quick-as-a-mix cakes, 18 cholesterol-free recipes and 29 egg-free toppings, along with segments on equipment, getting to know your ingredients, measurement charts and 150 illustrations. Just the thing for all those who want to bake their cake and eat it too. (Atheneum, $24.95)

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