Cake Decorating Simplified, by Lawrence M. Rosenberg (Dodd, Mead: $19.95, 166 pp., illustrated.)

Beginning cake decorators will find "Cake Decorating Simplified" an educational yet extremely enjoyable text on the essentials of the craft--from making basic butter cream icing to the intricacies of making roses, orchids and lily pads.

The book includes full-color photography that illustrates the proper technique for holding, filling and squeezing a pastry bag. Plus, there are close-up photos of all sorts of designs running the gamut from stars, rosettes and puff borders to the more difficult artistry of making leaves and rose petals.

Book chapters like "Character Cakes," "Creative Cookies," "Rows and Rows of Roses" and "Flowers on Wire" all call upon techniques learned in both the butter-cream and royal icing sections of the book to provide whimsical as well as ornate decorations for cakes, cookies and the like. (Royal icing differs from butter cream in that it dries hard, allowing you to make decorations off the cake. This way you don't make a mess on the cake and you can throw away any unwanted decorations.) There are ideas for wedding, children's and shower cakes among the suggestions.

The book is indispensable as a reference for experienced cake decorators, too. Chapters also include patterns for assembling and decorating the cakes with the two frosting varieties, and topping alternatives like fruit, fondant, marzipan and candied flowers are included.

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