The new cookbook "Surprise-Inside Cakes" should come with a big fat warning: "Will cause an uncontrollable urge to run into the kitchen and get baking."
Author Amanda Rettke -- known is the blogosphere as I Am Baker -- has carved out a niche for herself making cakes that are as intriguing on the inside as they are on the outside.
The title "Surprise-Inside Cakes" refers to that first slice that is cut away to reveal all sorts of shapes, colors and flavor combinations. Take, for example, the bunny cake, which would surely delight guests on Easter Sunday.
The exterior of the cake will have guests oooing and ahhhing as it arrives at the table -- with a pink buttercream icing puff for a tail and perky pink ears standing tall.
But the magic happens when you take out that first slice to reveal that Peter Cottontail has been inside all along.
Rettke's cookbook is appropriately sliced and diced so that there are themed cakes for all major holidays (A reindeer cake for Christmas, a blue-and-white cake for Hanukkah, a vampire cake for Halloween, and so on.) There are also cakes for birthdays, one that bears military stripes, one that cuts away to reveal an engagement ring design, and much, much more.
These cakes are not last-minute creations: The more complex designs can take days, mostly due to a need to freeze or refrigerate cakes at certain steps during the process.
Parts of those steps might remind you of the cake pops from the popular baking website Bakerella. (Cake pops are made in part by breaking up cake and then mixing it together with frosting, for a strong, firm texture that lends itself to decorating.) In fact, Rettke pays homage to Bakerella in the book and suggests making Bakerella's cake pops with leftover cake scraps.
While many of the cakes are like the bunny cake -- a wonderful, over-the-top presentation -- there are also plenty that are simple in their elegance.
The opposites cake, for example, simply tints one layer of batter before baking, so that two different colored layers are revealed when a slice is taken away. Simple, yet still stunning.