Lyndel Miller – Naked Cakes book review — The last page of this stylish cake-entertaining book sums it up so aptly. “Every cake deserves a pedestal— it adds a sense of grandeur and occasion”. Naked Cakes author and stylist Lyndel Miller has managed to combine recipes for her swoon-worthy cakes with party tips on adding style and class to special events and milestones from birthdays to weddings and baby showers.
I found it to be generous till the last page, chockfull with entertaining ideas not only with suggestions from how to pick your party cake, party food and party decor colour palettes but instructions on how to make your own decorations! After nearly a year of experimenting with her recipes, I continue to enjoy using this book as a remarkable basic reference for whipping up my own personalised combinations for sensational buttercreams, glazes, syrups and more. It takes pride of place next to my other favourite baking book, Miette.
I love that Naked Cakes pulls together style with elegance as well as beauty with class. Miller helps us visualise our event by becoming inspired with our own stunning ‘Naked Cake’ as the centrepiece from which all the other party elements flow to complement. Just think of the recommended approach as decorating a room beginning with the colour of a focal point such as a neon pink lampshade perhaps, or a tall glass vase of cream-coloured blooms with the slightest hint of pale greens.
She helps us set the scene for the party by first showing us how to set the mood and theme using your cake as the anchor point from which to begin. There are four ‘themed design stories’ to spark inspiration for your personalised event from the cake to the table settings and room decor.
This Goes With That section
One of my favourite pages of this book contains an A to W mini guide titled ‘This Goes With That’. Another one of Miller’s ideas to spark creativity with a myriad of different yet complementary and interesting flavour combinations for delicious cakes to experiment with, whilst using this book.
For instance, A: Allspice goes with Anise, Apple, Beetroot, Caramel, Cardamom, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coconut, Ginger, Nutmeg, Nuts, Pear and Pumpkin. Can’t wait to try Lemon and Rosemary!
Miller’s style of ‘Naked Cakes’ or ‘unfinished cakes’ if you like, is stylishly photographed as you would expect to see on the most luscious and hotly pursued Instagram feeds. Rustic with simple natural beauty, like those of gorgeous blooms and foliage, delectable rainbow-coloured fruits and even some with simple and pretty gum paste flowers.
It’s great that she has included some ‘masterclass’ lessons complete with pictorial guides on how to use dowels to stack tiered cakes for support. I found the section on ‘Flowers & Leaves’ helpful especially safety tips such as sourcing only organic blooms and tips on working with and narrowing down the edible parts of various types of herbs and flowers.
I’ve not tried every one of the more than 35 recipes in this delightful book, but I highly recommend it as a starting point for any baker’s induction to the simple rustic beauty of ‘baking naked cakes’. I’d say this one truly has the charm of cake minimalism at its finest.
Naked Cakes by Lyndel Miller
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Murdoch Books (July 29, 2015)