A cupcake is supposed to make you want to grab it and scarf it down, enjoying every bit of tender cake and sweet frosting as you eat it. They remind you of treats that your mother made – even when she used a mix – and bake sales you attended as a kid and put all of those memories into one delicious, single-serving treat. Cupcakes are everywhere these days and are both more popular and more widely available than ever before and sometimes it seems like we’re loosing a little bit of the homemade feel of the cupcake as they become more elaborate. It’s not that there is anything wrong with an over-the-top cupcake, but after a while they start to feel inaccessible to home bakers who don’t always want a cupcake recipe that takes hours and needs multiple components. The Big Book of Cupcakes Presented by Southern Living is incredibly accessible. The cupcakes – which are at least as beautifully frosted and decorated as any you’ll see at a bake shop – still have a fantastic homemade feel to them and will inspire you to move cupcakes up to the top of your “To-Bake” list.
The cookbook has more than 150 recipes and is divided up by seasons, offering cupcakes for spring, summer, fall and winter. The flavors suit the seasons, giving you Maple Bacon cupcakes in fall and Carrot Cake Cupcakes in the spring. The recipes, like most Southern Living recipes, are easy to follow and written very clearly. This allows even novice bakers to feel confident trying out new flavor combinations or making more complex desserts, such as Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes filled with homemade banana curd. The book also has a great introduction to not only the ingredients used in cupcake baking, but into the techniques used to make finished cupcakes look great, such as glazing with slick ganache or garnishing with chocolate curls. There are additional tips throughout the book that offer different flavor variations or presentation suggestions.
Compared to many other cupcake cookbooks, this one has a great feel to it. The tone is friendly and excited, and all of the descriptions make the cupcakes sound not just delicious, but easy to make. The pictures are mouthwatering, too. While other cupcake books still have some great recipes, this is one that you’ll probably find yourself reaching for again and again – and using again and again.