When I learned legendary baker Christina Tosi was releasing a new cookbook, All About Cake, I snagged a copy as soon as I could (it's out now!). You see, I'm a longtime fan: When I first visited Milk Bar in New York in 2009, my mom and I ordered basically one of everything. On my second visit, I bought my favorite tote bag (a simple blue bag with the classic Momofuku peach), plus a few pork belly baos and a corn cookie, of course.
By the time my third visit came around, I'd already scooped up a copy of Tosi's first book, Momofuku Milk Bar, and had basically became a super-fan. Ordering from brick-and-mortar was more exciting than ever, because I now knew so much about how the incredible cakes, cookies, pies, and truffles were actually made. I giddily ordered a classic — birthday cake truffles — and set off on my merry way.
Basically, to say I was excited for this new cookbook release is an understatement. I couldn't wait to see what Tosi and her crew of bandana-wearing hardbodies had baked up for this release, so I dove right in as soon as my copy was delivered. I read it cover to cover.
Buy Now: All About Cake, $22
This Cookbook Is Highly Bakeable
Initially, I was a little disappointed for a reason that I admit sounds haughty. I hadn't expected this book to be so … bakeable? What I loved so much about Tosi's first book was how challenging and unfamiliar everything was. When the recipes in All About Cake started with Bundt cakes, pound cakes, mug cakes, and cakes made in the slow cooker, I was taken aback. Where were my acetate sheets, unusual presentations, and desserts that challenged the very notion of what baked goods were meant to be? I continued reading, but at the same time, I reflected on my perception.
While I suspect that I might not bake much from the early chapters of the book, I really appreciate that there are recipes one might consider simple — but still unique and charming in their own right — included at all (the burnt miso pound cake and sesame pound cake both sound really intriguing).
From the perspective of a self-taught baker who started with a sparse kitchen and a college student's budget, I can see this book being a kinder introduction to the Milk Bar world than her first release. There are many things in All About Cake that a beginning baker with even a sparsely stocked pantry could make without leaving the house. For many, you don't need special pans or tools — the joy of DIY Milk Bar delights can be had for a fraction of the trouble than you might have experienced before.
For me, that delight was the Inside-Out Chocolate-Yellow Sheet Cake, a classic presentation that Tosi has given her own special touch for the first time in this book. Instead of the traditional cake-frosting-cake construction, this twist on perhaps the most popular birthday cake flavor combo features chocolate cake, a fluffy yellow cake mix-flavored frosting, cake crumbs, and chocolate fudge sauce between the layers. That's right — the frosting has actual cake mix in it, and yes it's every bit as delicious as it sounds.
But There Are Challenges to Be Conquered
For those craving the challenge of the multi-component goodies that I can't be alone in expecting out of the Milk Bar, you won't be let down. Throughout the chapters, Tosi lays out the framework for dreaming up your own desserts with her provided selection of building blocks. The sheet cakes and cake truffles in one chapter are readily transformed into her signature naked layer cakes in another, and of course everything works in reverse.
What I'm trying to say is that there are far more recipes in this book than you might think at first glance. The combinations are endless.
This Cookbook Is Also Just Super Fun to Read
Another thing I really love about this book is Tosi's voice. All About Cake is just so personable and fun to read! For example, in the introduction to the section on sheet cakes, she makes a quip about how nice they are for piping thoughtful messages and gives the example: "Dear Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, will you be our friend," which had me laughing out loud (and obviously it's what I had to write on my own sheet cake). It's cheerful and encouraging; like your best friend wrote down all of her favorite recipes and shared them with you in a colorful and craving-inducing book.
Tosi's latest book is a delight, full of cakes that you'll be itching to bake as soon as possible. After you tie on your bandana, of course.
Do you have this cookbook? What's your favorite recipe to bake out of it?