It all started when I mentioned to my client that I was making this amazing White Christmas Peppermint Cake from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s new baking book,
The buttercream was the vehicle for my excitement actually. Rose has created such an amazing buttercream that stands so far above all other buttercream recipes that came before it that it should have it’s own Pastry Pedestal; well at least in my and my client’s opinions.
So my client and I agreed to meet over the weekend as I was making the White Christmas Peppermint Cake that night and it would have reached it’s peak and past it before the following Monday morning when we would see each other again. So we missed the weekend appointment meeting and I have a commitment to myself and my baking business that NO CLIENT will ever taste any of my products that I am not 200 % satisfied with the quality of each and every product. So after discussion, I informed my client that the cake itself had passed the point for service, however, the buttercream is available for tasting…
The next day I brought in the buttercream and my client was ecstatic about using this buttercream for a birthday cake that we had been discussing for the last couple of three months as a birthday cake for our mutual friend Chioma.
After a final consultation, the idea for the star cake in this post was blossoming. It was a mixture of concepts recipes and ideas both from Rose, me and a few ideas and techniques of which I wanted to challenge myself to achieve and thus this cake recipe and the 25 page reference manual I created as a guide to process was born.
The reference manual is filled with:
- notes and ideas
- reference sub-notes and ideas
- shopping list with check off marks for what I had on hand and to record what I needed to purchase with volume amounts
- temperature ranges and temperature goals per step
- calculations for each individual cake in volume, weight and grams as well as
- calculations for the combined cakes and other recipe items with the same metrics
- a final design sketched vision board
- tutorial pictures of the ‘how to’s” to reference as well as
- personal drawings and concepts in my head that I needed to visualize on paper first……
Well I haven’t updated all my notes from my actual baking to pipping experience, so the reference manual my very well exceed 35 pages when complete.
Oh well, the life of an artist, pastry chef-perfectionist…..
So what I envisioned as the finished product was a two 9-inch vanilla white cakes cut into layers with Raspberry Simple Syrup painted on each layer with holes poked into each layer and filled with Strawberry Juice / Puree` staged in symmetrical designs so that when the cake is cut, veins of striking red would fill the striking white cake for effect, then covered in White Custard Chocolate Buttercream, pipped in the rosette design with white sugar pearls adorned to the inside of each rose.
For the second 6-inch cake, I did not want to produce an identical mirror image of the first cake as this was a special cake for Chioma to take home with her for her own private celebrations. Therefore I kept the concept of the rosettes to marry the two designs but left the top clean and pipped three simple rosettes, each adorned with the white sugar peals. For dramatic effect, I recommended that we use my darling, innocent angel to top the cake, however my client preferred to leave the cake clean with only the three rosettes as we agreed this would be a more elegant presentation. So with client collaboration, the cakes were delivered.
NOW, how we got there was COMPLETELY a different experience; one of which I will always cherish as this was a prime example of not only client consultation and mutual agreement of the final outcome but it gave my inner pastry artist a chance to shine, experiment, challenge myself and produce a spectacular product for such a special and important event in both my client’s life but also the guest but most importantly for Chioma.
What would I change now in retrospect?
In addition to the strawberry juice / puree` filled holes, I will cover the top of each cake layer with a light coating of the juice / puree`to enhance the flavor profile and elevate it from a hit of complimentary background flavor to a bit more complex flavor profile in marrying with all of the other combined flavor profiles so that all flavors are in perfect balance.
I will also be using, which my client did not want for this cake, the Ombre` effect in which each level of rosettes from the bottom moving to the top graduate in color from the darkest to the lightest.
An example of the Ombre`effect has no limit to the colors the client may request:
The above cake was designed by the food blog “Cake Style” which may be found on You Tube.
I highly recommend that you check out her food blog and I intend to review her other tutorials as well. Her directions are very clear, precise and informative.
I was very honored that the next day following the birthday party event, that each and every person at the party came to me personally and told me how much they enjoyed the cake. I received a 96 % hug ratio from all of the guest too!
Here are some of the comments that they shared:
Karen: ” OMG! Tony, that was the absolute BEST cake I have ever had in my entire life! Thank you”
Jennifer: “Your cake was amazing! The icing was light and airy. I was SO afraid when I saw the cake that the icing was going to be heavy and cloyingly sweet but it wasn’t; it was light as a feather. The cake itself was so moist. You need to put this on your rotation.”
Lynn: ” Great job on your cake. It was SO tall that I was worried it would not fit on my dessert plate, but it fit perfectly. The eatable pearls really set off the design”
Melissa: ” The cake was SO beautiful! When the servers brought out the cake, we were all amazed with the size of the cake itself and also how pretty it was. Your icing was wonderful. I hate that standard cloyingly sweet buttercream you get when you order a birthday cake, but I simply couldn’t stop eating your buttercream. And I loved the hint of berries. I had to taste each bite and ponder if it was Raspberries or Strawberries that I was tasting or was it both? Personally, I could have gone with at least 50 % more of the berry flavor, but outstanding job Tony!”
And from the Birthday Girl herself:
Chioma: TONY! How Grand, Elegant and Sophisticated my cake was! My cakes could easily be transformed into a Wedding Cake if you added a larger bottom layer. While the cake was so moist, the buttercream was unique and unexpected. It was delicate and not heavy but very well balanced. I have never seen one of your desserts completely finished as we have had the tastings with individual portions already prepared for us. I am quite impressed! Great job and Thank you so much for my birthday cake.