I've baked cakes before but have hit a plateau with simple recipes. Please tell me the current best book for cakes. thanks!
Cake Bible. I use it quite often for special cakes. I also like Dorie Greenspan's Baking, from my home to yours, as she has my favourite buttermilk cake in that book. Rose's Cake Bible explains a lot about cakes, and she has a lot of very good recipes; I have, in the past, mixed parts of one recipe with parts of another and come up with some very appetizing results.
Rose's Cake Bible is encyclopedic. She covers just about every kind of cake imaginable. Some of them are a challenge, but most of them are straighforward. Few are likely to be of any challenge to an experienced cake baker.
She published a second book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes, that would be the better selection. It's not as comprehensive, but the cakes are a lot more involved and rewarding.
Pierre Hermé's book Desserts by Pierre Hermé is my favorite. The first part of the book shows you how to make the components. The rest shows you how to vary them to extravagance.
Marcel Desaulniers' Death by Chocolate is a close second. Like Hermé's, you should have a whole day or two and $50+ in reserve.
As long as you're not looking for those strange fondant and/or marzipan cakes or multi-tiered wedding cakes, both books are about as challenging as cakes get.
and what your skill level overall is. I LOVE Dr. Oetker's "German Baking Today".
As previously stated, it is a matter of taste and ability. Take a look at this book,