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This book has 4 basic cupcake recipes and 6 recipes for icing. The rest of the book uses these recipes as ingredients - for example Turtle Topped Cupcakes require yellow cupcakes, buttercream frosting, and store bought candy. I'd estimate 75% of the book is combining the first 10 recipes with different store bought candy or food coloring. Every recipe has a "tip" that tells you to how to use a cake mix instead of baking from scratch.
There ARE some nice variations (Butternut Squash Cupcakes, Aztec Chocolate, and Spiced Caramel Pear) but overall this book is written to sell cake mix and it's little too obvious about it.
I also have this book and I am very disappointed as well, It's like you just sayed the cupcakes do not turn out to be similir and I am an avid baker and know how to bake, they spread too much and the consistency is different and of course I hate using cake mixes as I bake everything from scracth. The frostings are wonderful but the quantities of confectioner's sugar and butter involved are humongous but overall is a great book I will rate it with 3.5 stars. On the contrary the Big Book of Cookies is exceptional having recipes from scratch and using mixes, but i can't wait to have the big book of cakes I hope is a good one...
I've been baking successfully for 45 years. I've tried 3 recipes from this book and didn't care for any of them. My family and I found them dry. Today I made peanut butter cakes. I could barely taste the peanut butter and I threw them away. This is the last time I'll waste my time and money. Obviously from all the good reviews people like this book. I'd be very interested to know how many of these good reviews come from using cake mix since cake mix cakes are usually very moist. The reason I gave a 3 star rating is because there's so many cute decorating ideas and tips and ideas for unusual frosting flavors.
The book has a good selection of cupcakes you can make but after making about 7 or 8 different recipes from this book I noticed that they all taste pretty much the same. I was expecting so stand out flavors but instead they just remind me of any old cupcake you can buy at any grocery store. I was hoping for much better.