Hector's Labor of Brotherly Love

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A wedding cake is a huge production, and if you don't have a bakery to work in, or at least your own home kitchen with reliable equipment, it is a true labor of love and demands meticulous orchestration. Come to think of it, it is always a labor of love. Hector has chronicled his year long process preparing and executing a wedding cake for his brother an ocean away. Here is how he pulled it off (brilliantly): (Written by Hector on Tuesday April 4th, 2017) Sometime ago, my brother Miguel asked me to make his wedding cake. 16 months later, and 10 hours flying from Honolulu to Pasco, Washington, I am arriving to his house to make his cake. I have made many big cakes, and traveled near and far, but this is the first time I will do so on location! All my cakes are always made at my home kitchen! The initial plan was to assemble a passion fruit tiramisu style dessert as the cake, with store bought ladyfingers. But since so much time was available, the project started to walk on its own. A new refrigerator, 2 stand mixers, a chocolate melter, an upgraded turn table, were ordered and arrived! The very best passion fruit syrup, and the ultimate best chocolate were purchased and sent! During the last 3 weeks, I shipped by USPS flat rate everything I need, literally everything. No piece of equipment has been was shorted. No ingredient quality has been shorted. The project is a 6 tier Génoise with ganache. The wedding is Saturday, and I am writing to you on Tuesday, from Seattle airport, during my connection to my final destination! (Written by Hector on Friday April 14th, 2017) Normally, I bake everything at my home kitchen, and travel with a partly finished product. I was on house lock down from 5 am until midnight on Wednesday, to bake all the 12 layers. And on Thursday, I was on a similar schedule to torte and frost all 6 tiers. On Friday, I took a baking break and did family things pre-wedding. I delivered the cake at noon on Saturday, the day of the wedding, and spent 2 hours arranging the gum paste rose petals. The petals were purchased at Etsy, and individually luster glitter dusted in bronze and yellow by the bride and bridesmaid.

Hector and his sister

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The finished cake made me happy. The taste, the chocolate aroma, and the floral design surpassed my expectations. I did all the cake cutting myself, and the moment when I started to disassemble the cake, a line of hungry wedding guests mobbed me. The catering staff was awaiting with carts and serving trays to pass the cake, however they had to step away, and just let the mob throw themselves on me! Literally, people were panhandling for cake, and cake serving went very fast. 300 slices and all. I am home on my island now, and I have many memories to share about the cake, the wedding, and the family gatherings. The only word of wisdom I have for everyone, including myself, and my brother is: You only get married once (or twice), in reference to what I believe is true: no groom or bride will ever ask you to make their wedding cake at their house more than once. The experience is so intense, almost traumatic, yet when love is abundant, I will always say yes. Note from Rose: here's how we differ slightly: I always say "never again" and then, when the occasion presents, I say "yes"!

A Wedding Affair to Remember

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Fifteen years ago, during a spirited conversation with Nathan Fong, I told him: "If you ever get married, I will be glad to make your wedding cake." Fast forward to December 2014. Woody and I were working on our computers when I received an email from dearest Nathan, to which my reaction was something like this: "Woody, Nathan is getting married... wants us to make his wedding cake... will fly us up to Vancouver....what? January 16th? We cannot possibly do that in less than a month.... I'm emailing him right back, to say --no!" Nathan quickly replied to my reply, with: "it's not January 2015 it's a year later"! Nathan's choices were a chocolate cake for Michèl with the addition of raspberry for him. He assured me that there definitely would be no more than 250 guests at the dinner. He also told me that birch trees were to be the theme for the wedding decor. Woody and I decided to make the Deep Passion Wedding Cake from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, with the added enhancement of raspberry in the cake and the frosting, which would be ganache. For the birch theme, the cake was to be decorated with the "Meringue Birch Twigs" from The Baking Bible. It was a year of testing, planning, spreadsheets, confirmations, laminating our recipes, and crossing our fingers, before we flew to Vancouver, Canada for what was to be an extravaganza wedding and a celebration of food event. Nathan is a renowned, world-class food stylist and event planner. He had pulled out all of the stops for planning his and Michèl's wedding. Michèl, in addition to having been a pastry chef, is also an event planner and talented decorator. Going to Canada meant that virtually all of the ingredients and equipment had to be supplied by Nathan and his staff. We arrived on a Monday night to Vancouver's typical winter weather--raining and in the mid 40's F. One of the biggest challenges of baking in an unfamiliar location is always the oven. How will it bake our cakes? Especially since, we were making 9 cakes from 6 inch rounds to 18 by 12 inch sheet cakes.

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Tuesday, our first day, was coordinating with Naomi Horri, Nathan's invaluable assistant, on what she was able to acquire, Vin, the Sutton Hotel's restaurant pastry chef, and Jason Pitschke, the special event pastry kitchen's head pastry chef. We immediately made two tests of our 9 inch round cake to evaluate how the oven baked. We saw that we had a big problem. The commercial Blodgett convection oven always needed to be in convection mode as we were told that the heat would not circulate without it. For the first cake, the savory chef advised us to bake at the same 350°F temperature that we normally use. This may work for savory cooking but it was another story for the cakes. The porridge like batter for this delicious cake, which magically mushrooms just a few minutes toward the end of baking, was instead getting blown to the back of the pan by the oven's convection circulation and higher heat. This made the baked cake lopsided. (We later discovered, after gradually decreasing the temperature, that the oven needed to be set a full 50°F under the usual temperature.) Our solution to the uneven layers was, when sandwiching the layers, to reverse the two same size layers so that from the outside they looked perfectly even and level. Fortunately, the 18 by 12 inch sheet cakes ended up being only slightly off kilter and the final one, baked at the proper temperature was perfect. Our next 10 hour long 3 days were spent racing between the two kitchens, baking the cakes, brushing the cakes with ganache syrup, frosting the cakes, and what would become a fingers crossed all day adventure--the making and mounting of the birch meringue twigs. Humidity is the enemy of meringue, and effectively capable of turning crisp meringue columns into bending, collapsing spires. Our solution was to attach them to the ganache-covered cake the morning of the wedding but in order to keep them from absorbing moisture from the ganache, we painted each of over 200 meringue twigs with melted white chocolate. We made double the number we needed not only to allow for breakage but also for plating along with the slices of cake from the sheet pans. Vin, the pastry chef for the hotel restaurant, did a beautiful job of cutting and plating. He starts his work day in the wee hours of the morning so needed to cut and plate the cakes 6 hours in advance of serving. Miraculously the cake stayed perfectly moist! photo compliments of our new friend from Milan, Italy: journalist Isabella Radaelli Speaking of breakage, we learned an important lesson about ganache. The cream available in Vancouver is 36% butterfat and our recipes are developed with 40%. Because some of the usual amount of cream was replaced by raspberry purée, more butterfat was needed. Pastry chef Jason ended up adding quite a bit of extra cream, emulsifying it with his immersion blender, and saved the day. Our evenings were spent at Nathan's planned events and meeting old friends including many from the International Association of Culinary Professionals where Nathan had been a board member. Nathan also scheduled me for an early morning (pre baking) radio interview on Vancouver's CBC Early Edition radio program with legendary host, Rick Cluff. He was also to be Nathan's emcee for the reception. We didn't want to miss the wedding ceremony that was to be held at Christ Church Cathedral, the same Church where Nathan's parents had been married 57 years ago. So to be safe, we decided to affix the birch twigs before the 11:00 am wedding. The night before the twigs were perfectly crisp and firm, but the rainy morning of the wedding, to our horror, we found them in a softened marshmellowy state. Fortunately, our assembly took place in the reception lobby where the room was air-conditioned. To dry out and stiffen the twigs to keep them standing tall, as they would be in a forest, on our three-tier chocolate "mountain," Woody acquired two fans from housekeeping. The cake was intended to be the centerpiece to greet the over 450 guests as they arrived from the church. We left for the church, where we were spellbound by the grandeur of the wedding ceremony, until the moment near the end when I was summoned by the event planner to take a phone call concerning the cake. We quietly but quickly left the church to attend to some of our falling timbers due to the air-conditioning and fans having been turned off. Though we had moisture-proofed the backs of the meringues, the fronts were still able to absorb moisture from the air. Even as the reception guests were arriving, Woody was running back and forth from the Bride's room to replace some of the twigs while I was uselessly wringing my hands. Then came the next unanticipated drama when a few of the guests wanted to touch the twigs. One guest even managed to pull one of them off, which Woody calmly replaced, as I shrieked NO! In order to be able to join the rest of the guests who were enjoying everything from crispy pork belly sandwiches, to fresh oysters, to geoduck, we secured a hotel staff member to guard the cake with strict orders to slap any meringue-twig-seeking hands. Along with our cake, Nathan had orchestrated a Who's Who of 20 chef-friends from all over the world to serve their best at several tables at the afternoon reception and later for the fantastic 8 course black tie wedding dinner with excellent wine pairings. We breathed a major sigh of relief when Nathan and Michèl finally arrived in time to see the wedding cake still in perfect shape. There were many delightfully engaging speeches, a Chinese tea ceremony, a Japanese fan dance, and finally the cake for Nathan and Michèl to cut and feed each other their first pieces as a married couple. The following day we enjoyed a tour of the city by Barry Rector, Nathan's gregarious high school music teacher, followed by giving a fun talk and book signing at "Barbara-jo's To Cooks Bookstore," an impressively elegant cook books-only bookstore with demo kitchen for classes and talks. We brought some of the wedding cake to add to the two chocolate cakes already on display before an attentive group of baking lovers. I was so happy to meet Tee Jay, one of my Vancouver blog masters, in person. Barbara-jo's assistant Janice did an excellent execution of the tricky Marble in Reverse cake from the "Baking Bible" and pastry chef Kamel made the challenging cover cake from "Rose's Heavenly Cakes." The glaze looked perfect which did not surprise me when I discovered he had worked at Robuchon in Paris, one of the best restaurants in the world. Our last stop was at Jackie Kaiellis's divine "Beaucoup Bakery." She had laboriously sourced all of the many special ingredients for the cake. We were treated to a sampling of her pastries and were also given a box of goodies for our next day's flight home. We departed filled with happiness and joy, carried on the wings of a week of being surrounded by the most supportive and loving people imaginable. And we were so gratified to have succeeded in producing a cake of our dreams for a long-time friend who is the soul of generosity, and our newer friend, his husband Michèl Chicoine, who is clearly his soulmate and equal. The Cake Details The Cake: Deep Chocolate Passion from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, brushed with: Milk Chocolate Ganache Syrup from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, flavored with Raspberry essence from Mandy Aftel's Aftelier, frosted with: Raspberry Ganache from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, adorned by: Meringue Birch Twigs from The Baking Bible.

An Old-Fashioned Wedding Cake of Great Sentiment

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Many years ago, while going to school at night, I worked as a medical secretary for a wonderful internist--Dr. Maurice F. Goodbody. He and his family became good friends and I was invited to their weekend farm outside of Hope, NJ (near where we now live) he referred to as "the beyond Hope farm"! I used to make lunch for him every day, cooking in the tiny lab on a tripod set over a bunsen burner until he informed me that his wife was complaining that he was gaining weight, never hungry for dinner, and the whole office was smelling like a short order joint. So you can imagine what a turn around it was about 15 years later, when I received a photo of Dr. Goodbody mixing a cake from my recipe in his eldest daughter Mary's magazine. Yes: Mary Goodbody was a founder of Cooks Magazine. Here it is, 46 years later, and Mary's daughter Laura was getting married at the farm and wanted to have a wedding cake just like her grandparents' cake back in 1944. I don't think I knew that the date was scheduled for August, the hottest and most humid month, when sight unseen, out of my mouth popped: "I'll make the cake"!

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So many of you have written on the blog asking about what kind of cake and buttercream to make under adverse temperature conditions. Now it was my turn. Laura wanted a buttermilk cake--that was easy--my favorite is in The Cake Bible. But when I saw the above photo of the original cake I went into a panic. Such elaborate decorations that have to taste good yet hold up with little to no airconditioning plus I haven't piped roses or much of anything else for years. I switched over to marzipan roses and simple borders. My biggest fear was should anything go massively wrong the poor bride would be without a cake. It's not like I have a bakery with lots of extra layers and buttercream in the walk in. I called my dear friend Betty Van Nostrand, the brilliant cake artist and teacher, for advice. She also doesn't pipe flowers but opts for gumpaste. She recommended that I keep the side decorations minimal to prevent them from falling off the cake. The most important suggestion, however, was that for piping I use vegetable shortening instead of butter. I wanted to use my favorite mousseline buttercream because though a little tricky to emulsify, once achieved it holds up the best at hot temperatures. So Woody to the rescue to run some tests. We both thought it would be a no brainer as vegetable shortening is so much more forgiving than butter but to our surprise it refused to incorporate smoothly. "Try adding some liqueur--that always does the trick" said I. Nope! In a total leap I suggested adding butter and eureka, smooth as silk. The day before the wedding, so it would be as fresh as possible, I baked the cake. I had already made the two mousselines (all butter and part Spectrum shortening) and had them chilling in the cooler back room. I composed the cake layers, frosted them, and would like to have chilled them before stacking but no room in the frig so carefully I placed the layers on top of each other and, breathing a major but temporary sigh of relief, refrigerated the entire cake. I had a bowl of lemon peels saved from some lemon curd I had made a few days earlier to sweeten the smell of the frig. Piping the roses was like bicycle riding, i.e. one never forgets. But I had to move the operation into the cooler back room, setting the buttercream and a bowl of ice water on the ironing board. Dipping my piping hand in the ice water helped immeasurably. I left each rose on the rose nail and set it in an egg crate in the freezer. I didn't put them in place until the cake was at its final destination so that I could place the cake topper on first. I decided to transport the cake from NY to our fridge in Hope that afternoon instead of waiting til the following morning. Thankfully the usual tie ups on route 80 were minimal however, I did not factor in the setting sun! Realizing at the last moment that the large styrofoam container was not tall enough for the cake, I used a large cardboard box set on my lap. The car's air conditioner has been failing for months. I used my back pillow to shield the cake from the sun, shifting it as the direction changed and grasping it firmly to ensure that it would not topple onto the cake. Three quarters of the way there, horror of horrors, i saw that the bottom tier was beginning to slip off it's silver foil base separating it from the bottom buttercream border. Quickly I tilted the box the opposite direction swearing to myself that if I ever transport another tiered cake I will impale it with a stake all the way through to the bottom base. Once in Hope I discovered that in my departure anxiety I had forgotten my piping bag, extra straw supports for the top tier and piping tube. The tube wasn't a problem as I have a few in my Hope kitchen along with a coupler to keep it in place. I resorted to using my recommendation of a quart size freezer weight zipseal bag which worked perfectly to restore the border. Into the refrigerator with the cake and then we drove over to the local gas station where they kindly gave me two large plastic straws. The next day, after lunch, we drove over with the cake, again shielding it against the mid-day sun. Mary showed us into the one air conditioned room of the house with a table set up for the cake. I had to laugh at my fears of refrigerator off-odors when I smelled the faint mustiness of the old farmhouse in mid humidity august. I loved the cake topper Mary's sister had found for the cake. The frozen roses behaved perfectly. And we went back to our house for a few hours until wedding time. The wedding was amazingly fun and joyful reconnecting with old friends and enjoying the excellent cuisine of chef Andre from Newton, NJ. The ceremony was held in the meadow with dramatic bursts of thunder in the background. Reverend Susan M. Craig, cousin of the bride, officiated (and I had the honor of sitting next to her at the dinner). The rain held out until the very end and then poured down on the wedding and catering tent with a vengeance the entire rest of the evening. Toward the end of the dinner the caterers had to hold up umbrellas over the servers and pitchers over the food! Clearly mine was not the major challenge of the day. When I saw Laura feed her new husband, Brian Cook, the first piece of cake tears came to my eyes. If you would like to read more about the wedding, beautifully written from the mother of the bride, click here!

Chocolate Red Velvet Passion

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It's been a whole year since Marie Wolf started her terrific blog Heavenly Cake Bake Along. What started as a preview of just a few cakes from Rose's Heavenly Cakes executed by Marie, a first rate bread baker who had already baked her way through The Bread Bible in under a year but who did not consider herself to be a "cake baker," turned into with a community of what is now 27 bakers (28 including Marie) who bake one cake a week from the book and post their commentaries and photos on their blogs. Marie also does a weekly summary of the final results. I've been longing for an opportunity to thank Marie for her incredible generosity, and her husband Jim for the wonderful and instructive photos of all the steps. Marie's blog has become the book within the book--a brilliant and always entertaining tutorial. The opportunity presented itself when their daughter Sarah announced her wedding would be in May in Minneapolis. Woody joyfully agreed that we would create a special cake for her in his MN kitchen. Photos of the wedding and the cake are on Marie's blog. Here is Woody's and my story with photos of how we pulled it all off!

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The planning for this cake took place months ahead when I asked my friend, the brilliantly talented wedding and special occasion cake artist, Ron Ben Israel, if he would be willing to contribute the flower adornments for the cake. Woody ordered the special heart-shaped pans from Wilton and we went over all the equipment and ingredients necessary to have on hand. We also performed over 15 tests for the recipe itself which will appear in the next book! Two days before departure from NY I picked up the flowers from Ron's studio which is only a few blocks from where I live. He carefully packed them in two boxes that would be easy to open for inspection as I was planning to carry them on the plane. As it turned out, security opened my bag and sent it through three times, not because of the flowers but because I was also bringing my aerolatte (milk foamer for cappuccino) as Woody had most graciously ordered a Le Cube Nespresso coffee maker so that I would feel at home during the wedding cake production!Woody made several components that could be made ahead, including one batch of white chocolate buttercream, one batch of chocolate lacquer glaze, and one batch of chocolate rolled fondant. He also acquired foil-covered foam core presentation boards, organic eggs, a quart-size container of red food coloring, and all other necessary ingredients. He also rearranged his entire living space to accommodate wedding cake production. I arrived Wednesday afternoon and we proceeded to organize and set-up to bake for the following day so that the cake would be as fresh as possible for the Friday wedding. Dinner was from my favorite MN pizza place--Punch, which we ate on the back porch surrounded by birds, trees, flowers, and even a toad that had made its way onto the porch--no doubt smelling the chocolate! First thing Thursday morning we started mixing and baking, seamlessly alternating between parts of the procedure (we've had lots of practice from doing demos together around the country). It's a great pity no one was video taping the whole process including our comments, worries, and laughter. The hardest part about doing a wedding cake is that there are so many painstaking components and one false move at any given point can destroy the entire effect. This is especially anxiety provoking as when one does this on such a small custom-made scale there are no backups! The heart-stopping moment was placing the 9-inch and 6-inch tiers as they can't be moved once set in place on the chocolate lacquer glaze, and are much harder to balance than round tiers. This was a tense joint effort. We breathed sighs of relief when this was over and then Woody suggested I leave the room (much as mother's are asked to leave the office when the dentist starts drilling their children's teeth) when he was about to hammer the brass stake through the hearts! But I stayed, holding my breath, and it was over swiftly, painlessly, and effectively. Now we were assured that the tiers would not slide when transported to the event location. (The stake went all the way into the foam core.) Special Note: It's always important to have some extra decorative elements, especially to hide inevitable imperfections. Ron Ben Israel supplied us with a container of gumpaste rose petals to strew on the layers for a lovely effect and I made sure to place them wherever the glaze was less than perfect. I also made chocolate fondant hearts to place on the sides where the glaze is never perfectly smooth. I thought we could get away with nothing around the borders of each tier but in some places the white buttercream showed through and we wanted the interior of the cake to be a complete surprise so I went into rapid fire chocolate fondant pearl production while Woody was completing other aspects of the cake including calling the catering manager to engineer the cake's arrival and placement. We soon realized that 100's of pearls would be required and that even with both of us weighing and rolling bits of the chocolate fondant we would have to miss the ceremony, in fact, we were beginning to wonder if we would have to arrive after the bride and groom at the reception as well. The trickiest part was placing the pearls on the 9 and 6-inch tiers because they needed to be right up against the edge and if they rolled they would mar the glaze. Also, we had to be sure that each pearl was the same size for a given tier, and we decided to use 0.9 gram pearls for the 12-inch tier, 0.7 gram pearls for the 9-inch tier, and 0.5 gram pearls for the 6-inch tier.

CAKE LAYERS READY TO APPLY WHITE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM

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FROSTED CAKE TIERS FIRMING IN THE FRIG

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LACQUER-GLAZED 12-INCH TIER

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ROSE APPLYING THE CHOCOLATE FONDANT PEARL BORDER

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ROSE APPLYING THE CHOCOLATE FONDANT HEARTS

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WOODY HAMMERING THE CENTER STAKE INTO THE CAKE TIERS

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COMPLETED CAKE SET IN PLACE AT THE WEDDING RECEPTION

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CLOSE-UP OF RON BEN ISRAEL'S GUMPASTE ROSES & FLOWERS

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THE CAKE SLICE WITH ROSE PETAL GARNISH

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RELIEVED ROSE

We were delighted by the response to the appearance of the cake and were thrilled when so many people came up to our table to tell us how delicious they thought it tasted. Dinner, by the way, was tapas at Solera and the best food I've ever eaten at a wedding. Our cake was the dessert. After dancing a few dances we realized how thoroughly exhausted but happy we were and so retired for the evening. The following night, I rewarded Woody with a dinner at Restaurant Alma. Chef Alexander Roberts had recently won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest. The dinner was absolutely fantastic (including the service and the dessert we chose to share, which was a rhubarb biscuit-type shortcake with malt vanilla ice cream) at an unbelievably low $45 a person. We congratulated chef Alexander on the well-deserved award and he turned out to be as delightful and charming as his cuisine. As a perfectly relaxing finale, we spent Sunday afternoon at my cousins' home on the St. Croix River, sitting on the dock, dipping our toes in the cool water, and enjoying each other's company over a lovely al fresco dinner.

Hector's Preview Four from "Rose's Heavenly Cakes"

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The Golden Dream Wedding CakeThis is Hector's "grand finale" from the wedding cake chapter of Heavenly Cakes. I'm delighted d that Hector loved the cake so much as it is Woody and my favorite yellow cake from the new book. It also appears as a Bundt type cake and a mini gift size version. Hector has done a brilliant job executing these wedding cakes, always adding his own special creative touch. I love the little cubes of candied orange in place of the ribbon which Hector made using the budah's hand (an all zest orange! which he candied using the Cake Bible recipe for candied orange zest). And with this cake Hector has outdone himself in achieving a location that is truly divine. If you ask me to define this cake in one word, it is taste! The Golden Dream Wedding Cake is delicious, delicious, delicious... I yet have to taste a non-chocolate cake as delicious as this. The cake has a delicious buttery flavor enhanced with turbinado sugar, sour cream, ground almonds, and lemon syrup. This cake is so yummy, it reminds me of a succulent and moist Latin American wedding cake but without the chunks of raisins or candied fruits. This cake, as dreamed, has the melt in the mouth texture characteristic of Rose's butter cakes. To my amazement, this cake doesn't use any liqueurs... now I can agree that you can have a superb cake without a drop of liqueur.

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This cake is easy to make, but this time was unusually easy to mix because now I have the Beater Blade and in my favorite color: yellow! This attachment works as promised, replacing your stand mixer flat beater. I also use the Beater Blade to stir and pour dry ingredients, pour the batter into the pans, and to scrape clean the mixer's bowl. I agree with all reviewers' recommendations: reduce the mixer speed by a notch, total the same mixing minutes, and never needing to stop the mixer 2 or 3 times to scrape the bowl. I tested the Beater Blade with my 6 qt Kitchen Aid filled at maximum capacity: mixing at once a pair of 6-inch plus a pair of 9-inch layers for this dreamy cake. An ingredient of particular interest for this cake is lemon oil, but you can use lemon zest instead. I much favor Boyajian lemon oil because it is much easier to use, a little goes a long way, and honestly... it tastes great. Boyajian makes the ultimate. Another fundamental ingredient is lemon syrup which is as simple to make as dissolving turbinado sugar in the juice of fresh lemons. I used my lovely Hawaiian lemons grown by Ken Love (yes, that is his last name). Ken is the authority in the field and heads the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Association. Per Ken's suggestion, I agreed that the Hawaiian lemons are plus excellent, but unfortunately (for me) Hawaiian lemons are orange color! So, when I spoke with Ken that the style element for this cake needs to be yellow, he sent me a never-seen-before assortment of citruses, all grown in Kona: sweet limes, buda's hand, calamonsi, Indian key limes, and the proudest of him: oranges from the first tree planted in Hawaii. I turned every peel into Dazzling Lemon and Orange Peel Roses (recipe in the new book): Now, here is my contribution to you, a confession: I only baked the 9-inch and the 6-inch cakes, but invented a method to make this cake a 3-tier wedding cake. I made a 3-inch cutout from the center of the 9-inch cake to make the top tier! Worked like a charm. Call me green or frugal, I thought this was a hideous idea, but Rose said it is totally fine to write about this artiste touch. The strength of the hollowed 9-inch tier was never compromised, as it held well the tiers above, surviving the GRUELING trip till the final destination for photography (so grueling, and life threatening, worth you googling about--see end of posting). This is one more proof for Rose's technique of using plastic drinking straws to support tiered wedding cakes. I am torn between raving about how wonderful the cake tastes and between raving about how WONDERFUL the buttercream tastes! The frosting is the new White Chocolate-Vanilla Bean Buttercream. It is easy to make, but a thermometer is a must to make the transformation and emulsification of white chocolate, eggs, and butter into the most delicate buttercream I've tasted. Basically, make a custard with melted white chocolate, butter, and whole eggs. Then, chill the custard to 65-70˚F and incorporate whipped butter at the same temperature. Then, add lemon zest plus a 'required amount' of lemon oil. The lemon zest gives you a deliciously looking textured pattern on the frosted cake, and I would guess that you could omit the zest and use only lemon oil for a smooth finish. Rose recommends white chocolate containing vanilla seeds, such as Green and Blacks. Another recommended chocolate is Valrhona which doesn't contain vanilla seeds, but you can add your own vanilla seeds or vanilla extract instead. Which ever you decide, vanilla turns this buttercream into something one of my tasters perceived as crème brûlée! My secret is using vanilla essence saturated with vanilla seeds; if you have been reading my previous cake reviews, I have a lifetime supply of Hawaiian vanilla seeds which I store in vanilla extract. My favorite vanilla buttercream was the Caramel Silk Meringue Buttercream, but now it is my second favorite. Here is a close up of the vanilla studded Golden Dream Wedding Cake. To make my story end, and close with 'broche de oro' here is my ultimate treat for you all wonderful readers who have been following me bake and share my experiences of the 4 glorious wedding cakes found in Rose's new book: I assembled and officially unveiled my GOLDEN DREAM IN HEAVEN cake at the Mauna Kea State Park at 13,700 feet above sea level, above the clouds. This picture is my life gift to Rose, taking her best cake to as close to heaven as one can. Hector assembling the cake in the van. Much aloha to everyone, and until my next cake commission... stay tuned... Special thanks to Dr. Luca Rizzi from the Joint Astronomy Centre United Kingdom Infra-Red Telescope http://www.jach.hawaii.edu/UKIRT. Ken Love from Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers www.hawaiifruit.net and http://www.hawaiitropicalfruitgrowers.org. Valrhona, Boyajian, BeaterBlade+ TM, Rose's Heavenly Cake Strips, and Hawaiian Vanilla Company.

Hector's Preview Two from "Rose's Heavenly Cakes"

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i wanted this cake to be a dream, and this is the first time i felt i made one! here is my interpretation of the Deep Chocolate Passion Wedding Cake from Rose's upcoming book: Rose's Heavenly Cakes. the recipe is easy to follow, plus i made this cake to be local Hawaiian fare. A hui hou! the first ingredient i shall reveal is macadamia oil. Rose's recipe calls for a neutral vegetable oil, like safflower or canola, but i used macadamia oil instead since it is readily available. Barbara Gray from Oils of Aloha worked with me and loved the idea of using her wonderful Hawaii's Gold macadamia oil for this cake. in fact, i have been using this oil for all my chocolate chiffon cakes for years. macadamia oil has a beautiful gold shine and a slight nutty taste. it is premium and healthy, and in my opinion bakes very well for all oil based cakes. when i performed several blind tastings for this cake vs safflower, everyone agreed the macadamia oil was fine fine fine, enhancing and never overpowering other flavors, specially for chocolate. it is a neutral vegetable oil, so neutral i thought i was driving stick shift, with just an invisible backseat driver: a flavor enhancer, the mac nutty hint. you can find Barbara at www.oilsofaloha.com Rose's original cake is decorated with lovely chocolate twigs. but not long ago i had a dream "how about using vanilla beans to decorate this cake?" so since i could, i should, i did: i contacted Jim Reddekopp, and he sent me what i felt is the ultimate baker's dream: ninety four Hawaiian vanilla beans from his amazing farm and gastronomic center in Paauilo. i split the beans and saved the seeds for future use; then i soaked the split beans in House of Grand Marnier Navan vanilla cognac for weeks. if you haven't tried the Hawaiian vanilla yet, you must must must. it has a floral aroma, what i call the more beautiful twin of the finest Tahitian vanilla, plus it is longer and more plum fresh. You can find Jim at Hawaiian Vanilla Company www.hawaiianvanilla.com now comes the chocolate.... here is the cake with chocolate babies: cacao pods! this is the picture that will be gracing the walls of Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory www.ohcf.us:

growers Pam and Bob Cooper from Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory have become my best friends. no one can resist chocolate, and so glad the Copper's and chocolate have the same personality! be sure to send them an email! the cake is a chocolate chiffon cake with Rose's revolutionary new mixing method for making chiffon cakes as tiered layers. after baking, the cake is moistened with lots and lots and lots of milk ganache syrup, then filled and frosted with dark chocolate ganache. the Coopers are becoming noticed worldwide, especially with the current interest in single origin chocolate, so be sure to look for Hawaii grown chocolate at your favorite store. i loved it so much, this cake with the exact same chocolate is now part of my yellow kitchen cake catalog. it tastes like chocolate and nothing else . . . works so well in harmony with the rest of the ingredients. there is more to this cake: the shiny baby grand piano chocolate lacquer glaze. please read how this glaze came about on a recent blog post where Rose meets Zach Townsend in Paris. this lacquer glaze is so perfect and so shiny, that i went on to become friends with Zach! we had quite and interesting exchange of notes about the ability of this glaze to be forgiving to work with, to withstand warm weather, on and on till a new subject of soy sauce on chocolate came about... stay tuned. and there is more to this cake, too . . . once you get your copy of Rose's upcoming book and look at the picture of this cake, you are just going to drop. the picture is so perfect that i had to dig the world to find the person who photographed it . . . i facebook'd the great Ben Fink and commented on his picture only to hear back from him that my picture was also great! . . . photographing brown on brown on black on black on shiny on shiny is just not very easy. i hope you enjoy this cake, make it as soon as Rose's new book is out, and remember ALL the people involved on the development of this recipe: Rose, Zach, and of course Woody. without their guidance, my cake wouldn't have turned out the way you see it. Rose had the gracious act to show my cake to Daniel Patterson, for whom the cake was first designed (for his wedding back in 2007). the only thing i didn't account for while planning this cake, is hiring Honolulu Police, to escort motorcade the delivery (and more so after finding out that Whole Foods sells one Hawaiian vanilla bean for $29); instead i brought four of my closest friends, and made new friends after the cake was served, which is perfect, because i am such a nerve bag when driving with my cakes, most quit after they see me run red lights rather than slamming the car breaks. aloha. /H p.s. my cake was enjoyed at my adorable Emily and Carlos's baby shower and nobody else in the world would have been more perfect to receive this cake in celebration. here are more pictures of the cake: http://www.hectorwong.com/MYYELLOWKITCHEN/deep%20passion/index.html

Hector Bakes His Own Birthday Cake!

I'm sure you're all curious to see what Hector made for his special birthday celebration. I think the results are stunning! I just couldn't resist offering Hector a recipe from the wedding cake chapter of my upcoming book because it was so appropriate to his location. I asked Hector to write this posting so he could describe the process and results! Hector Hawaii 4-0 Be careful what you ask for as you may get it, and there hasn't been one thing Rose hasn't delivered for me! Months ago, while working on the youtube project, I shouted to get paid: "Rose, can you make my 40th birthday cake?" She almost said yes, except knowing that it will need to be done far apart and on the same day after her return trip from Paris, instead she gave me one of her new cake recipes: The Tropical Wedding Cake for Hector. When I reviewed the recipe at first sight, i was not excited. Tropical fruits was something I hardly specialized in. You know, it is true we always think the grass is greener at the other side of your town (yellow in my case). But as one matures with time, like love, I now feel the "local chef celebrity status in Hawaii." This cake has gained more attention than any of my previous cakes have, locally. The macadamia nuts came from Lions Gate Farm in Kona http://www.coffeeofkona.com. Suzanne Shriner harvested the most perfectly fresh nuts and carefully packed the precious cargo with layers of bubble wrap; per my paranoid request of a food stylist! Whole mac nuts are worth their price in gold, so here they are for your enjoyment! The vanilla came from Huahua Farm, also in Kona http://www.huahuafarm.com. Clare Wilson grows the vanilla beans herself; hers are so nature perfect that one day I envision making a cake covered with whole vanilla bean twigs. This is a banana cake with passion fruit mousseline. The nuts were removed prior to slicing the cake, and later added back on to each serving plate. My dearest friend Deanna and her children Jade and Wilson, were uttermost supportive (needless to say, they attended each of my month long birthday parties!). Wilson is such well behaved child, he was hired to remove all the nuts during cake cutting, and he did so without snacking! I love the picture with the ocean and being tossed a prize medal. Children tell the true story without words: Jade shared her judo medal with me! Everyone made comments that Rose's banana cake was the best in the world. It was truthful bananas delicious, fragrant without using banana essence (which most bakeries use giving it an artificial flavor), the dark tan color and the speckles were appetizing, but most of all is the characteristic melt in the mouth texture Rose's butter cakes mixing method have. I confess to always mixing an extra minute or two whenever using Rose's butter cakes mixing method, to guarantee achieving "developing cake structure" a concept I find so hard to explain in writing... so perhaps I will make a short video and youtube it!. I do notice Rose adds an incredible amount of salt, and kindly whispered asking if anyone thought this cake was salty? Nobody said so...... Salt is sweets’ and desserts’ best flavor enhancer. My mother always used sugar to enhance the flavor of salty dishes, or salt to enhance the flavor of sweet dishes!

The photo shoot was ultra fun. The location was truly at the end of the world: it was in Lagoon Drive near the airport runway! 10 plus friends showed up and felt awed we were doing this--it really was an odd place, but now we know better that Hector will bring one ultimately to the end of the world for cake! We made the evening a potluck on location and definitely will do it again. Parking was an issue because due to tsa, you can't leave your car on the side of the street so near the airport, so 'we had to' park at the fedex parking lot which was so excellent specially after the fedex security guard was bought with food and cake! Shall I ask next time for fedex to ship my cakes? I am mailing 8 packages out by ups on tuesday: 5 high school classmates who also turned 40 this year, my long time computer analyst who just now I found out he has the same birthday as I, John from hello direct, and you! The next night was the grand finale Hector Hawaii 4-0: dinner at Sabrina's Restaurant in Honolulu. Sabrina is so supportive of my work, she always snatches my cakes as soon as I walk into her restaurant and rushes to the kitchen to show her chef husband, Stephano. Her food is true home style traditional Italian, uncomplicated, and wholesome tasty. You can google her for the most funny reviews, just be aware that this is a restaurant you go for food, and not for anything else other than food, as her slow table service and byob service are truly exceptional for a restaurant in the United States. Sabrina has an incredible and loyal following, the restaurant is small an each day of the week is just as busy! and YES, like in Rome, she never kicks you out of the restaurant nor present you with the tab till you ask for...the average dinner experience at Sabrina's is 3 to 4 hours... Aloha 'Oe . . . p.s. Hector Hawaii 4-0, two-tier tropical wedding cake, feeds 110 small portions. passion fruit harvested by Hector and Luca from the side of the road in Hilo. Passion curd made fresh. Hawaiian apple bananas ripened till the skin turns black and shrivels. Macadamia nuts toasted fresh (but no, i did not crack the nuts open myself!). Backdrop is my new bath shower curtain.

The Sanctuary That Was Anything But

The story of a wedding cake that wasn’t and my new best Baker friend I’ve sworn on a stack of bibles (cake, pastry, and bread) that I would never make another wedding cake on location again and I meant it, but Iris Updegraf, one of my oldest and dearest friends, is one of the most persuasive people I’ve ever known (plus I've always had a special fondness for her daughter) so when she asked me to make her only daughter Devon’s wedding cake in Arizona I agreed but with several iron-clad conditions. First of all, let it be said that the nightmare of arriving in someone else’s kitchen is hard for a non-baker to begin to fathom. There’s the walk in frig with onions and garlic just waiting to invade the butter and chocolate. There’s the Hobart mixer with missing paddle beater and whip with a few tines that have come lose, and of course a dented bowl. There are rubber spatulas that are worn and smelling of spices, no pot holders (real chefs use kitchen towels), bent cooling racks, no timers, dented cake pans the wrong size, uncalibrated and unevenly heated ovens with racks that aren’t level, no thermometers—not even inaccurate ones, maybe a scale of questionable accuracy, and we’re not even talking about the ingredients yet. I agreed to do the cake with the following conditions: First and foremost we needed to bring my assistant Woody Wolston from Minn. He would bring all the heavy equipment such as cake pans and help as both moral support and another set of very capable hands (and in back of my mind I thought that if needed he could run out for missing equipment or ingredients). Next, Iris would go to the site a month before to ensure that everything on my list had been ordered.

Iris checked with the event planner and said that the chef would be honored to have me there and I would have their full support. Just to be sure, I called and spoke to the event planner and we agreed that I would send a list of necessary items. I spent weeks thinking through every possible thing and I submitted the list on June 15, 9 ½ months before the wedding. I also tried to call the chef but he was never available and never returned my calls. Naturally this made me somewhat uneasy—actually very uneasy. But I trusted Iris and knew she’d be on top of it.

By end of August I found myself obsessing about the uncertainty of the situation. I found that when playing tennis with Elliott while on vacation, my mind kept going to the dreaded cake situation. Finally I started to fear that I would arrive in Arizona at the Sanctuary and find that not everything was in place and that my very long and cherished friendship with Iris would be in jeopardy. I knew the pressures of a large wedding and understood the many last minute details, which would demand her attention. I could just hear the event planner saying: “I know you asked for XX chocolate but this XX brand that we have on hand is every bit as good,” and I could feel the rage beginning to burn so I called Iris and shared my fears. She assured me she would never let anything affect our friendship—certainly not a wedding cake--and that she would call the event planner early Sept.

Next, a call from Iris revealed that there was now a new event planner who said that the Updegrafs were not allowed to bring in a baker to make the cake. Iris assured me that she could deal with this as they were paying a small fortune for this wedding and had gotten the permission from the former event planner. Shortly after Iris called and said: “ You’re not making the cake!” My heart leapt in relief but at the same time fell in disappointment because my heart was already in it not to mention that I had dedicated this new cake to Devon in my upcoming book.

Iris is determined, persuasive, but above all very wise. Though she had achieved her goal of persuading the event planner to let me make the cake, she knew that without their enthusiastic and full cooperation it would be nothing but anxiety and trouble for all of us, which had been my very fear. Coincidentally, on the press trip to Switzerland (previously posted), I had met another writer from Arizona and when I told her the story she said: “The new event planner is my best friend—do you want me to turn this around?” I sagely declined.

So end of March I left for the wedding, with one small version of the wedding cake called “The Golden Gift Lemon Almond Cake” in the upcoming book, so that Devon and family could taste the cake I had planned to make. Devon told me about the cake the Sanctuary baker was making. The event planner gave her a choice of decoration and she chose the cascade of gumpaste flowers. They did not, however, tell her there would be an extra charge or what that charge would be. This proved too be an excellent lesson for the beginning of married life as a responsible adult: Always ask the price before hand! The extra fee turned out to be $900. Yes—more than some people charge for the entire cake.

Needless to say I wanted to meet neither the event planner, the chef, nor the baker. The first thing I did when I entered the event room was to get a close up look at the cake. I had to acknowledge that the gumpaste flowers were exquisite. After the dinner was served and the dancing and unbearably loud music had begun, the event planner (not the evil one but I didn’t realize at the time that there was more than one involved so I probably glared at her) came up to me and said that the baker would like to meet me. My first thought was no way but my second was why not and boy am I glad I went with that thought! The baker turned out to be a soul mate—Julia Baker.

We left the noisy ballroom so that we could talk and proceeded to do just that for about an hour. Then we made plans for me to visit her factory the following day. Julia was shocked to hear that they had charged $900 for the gumpaste flowers as none of that was coming her way. It turns out that she is the exclusive wedding cake baker for the Sanctuary but that she has her own independent business of specialty cakes and fantastic chocolates. She started her contract with the Sanctuary in August, which was when they had changed event planners, and my cake had begun to fall through.

Julia had studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and was a chef in France for several years. She wanted to meet me because she had learned how to make wedding cakes from my book The Cake Bible when she returned to America. My Sunday visit to her factory was shear bliss. And I wouldn’t have minded a bit making a wedding cake in her perfect setup! Here is a sample of her work from her website but I encourage you to click on this link and visit the site. http://www.juliabakerconfections.com

And here is the laborious list that I had compiled last June for the wedding cake. Maybe you can use it, or parts of it, should you be foolish enough to do a wedding cake away from your own home kitchen!

Questions for Iris Updegraf:

What time is the wedding?

Is it still 120 people?

Woody and I will probably arrive Wednesday 25—can we organize the tickets in Oct?

Where will we stay, how close to the Sanctuary, and how to get back and forth?

Questions for Beau

OVENS: What kind of ovens (can we use two) and are the shelves level? Are they calibrated? please put a teaspoon or two of water in a cake pan and see if it stays in the center of the pan

Mixer: What kind? Need 6 quart mixer with paddle and whisk attachments with 1 extra bowl

Refrigerator: Is there a walk in that would not have savory smells such as garlic or a frig large enough to hold a cake stored in a 36 inch high container?

Scale: Do you have a digital scale and is it in grams and can weigh as little as 1 gram?

Work Space: Is there a relatively cool isolated space to work where we won’t get in the
way of other production?

TIMING: How far ahead can you order essential equipment and ingredients? I’d appreciate knowing they are there at least a month ahead as some of the things may need to be special ordered.

***PLEASE NOTE: The exact brand names and varieties of ingredients where listed are critical. The exact size of the cake pans is also critical. Almost all places listed know me so it may help to mention this is for a special cake I’m doing in Arizona.

INGREDIENTS:

Green & Blacks white chocolate with vanilla bean: 5 pounds (Contact Alice Shore 973-909-3902 and ask re wholesale possibilities

blanched sliced almond: 2 pounds

bleached all-purpose flour: either Gold Medal or Pillsbury 8 pounds

AA unsalted butter (preferably Hotel Bar but NOT high fat) 12 pounds

Boyajian pure lemon oil: a 5 ounce bottle www.boyajianinc.com/citrus.html

Eurovanille vanilla extract 2 tablespoons Crossings: www.crossingsfrenchfood.com 800-209-6141 or SOS Chefs: www.sos-chefs.com 212-505-5813

turbindo sugar such as Sugar in the Raw:  12 pounds
organic eggs: 5 dozen jumbo
sourcream (FULL FAT): 8 pounds preferably Breakstone or Land O’ Lakes
Rumford baking powder: 1 can (available in all Health Food Stores)
baking soda: 1 box
fine sea salt: small container
corn syrup 2 bottles
fresh lemon leaves
baker’s sugar or superfine sugar: a 4 pound bag
Baker’s Joy spray that contains flour and oil (no other brand)
Pam spray (the original not flavored)
Six dozen large lemons with smooth thick skin
small container of vegetable shortening

EQUIPMENT
Precut cardboard rounds: 4 of each: 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12 inches
long serrated knife: blade needs to be minimum 13 inches long
heavy duty cake decorating turn table (Wilton or Ateco)
flat presentation plate about 15 inches in diameter (the CAKE décor is gold and silver)
robot coup or food processor with bowl that has no cooking odors
cake pans (2) of each 6 inch, 9inch; (3) of each 12 inch pans (pans need to be exactly those diameters and exactly 2 inches high—can be purchased from Wilton: Wilton Industries: www.wilton.com 800-794-5866)
heavy duty pancake or hamburger turner
gold and silver dust— Easy Leaf Products www.easyleafproducts.com 800-569-5323
three or more 3 to 4 quart bowl
1 or 2 medium size whisks
1 half sheet pan (to toast almonds)

Combrichon fine wire cooling racks, (4) 24 centimeters (9-1/2 inches), (4) 28 centimers (11 inches) (4) 36 centimeters (14  1/4 inches) La Cuisine: www.lacuisineus.com 800-521-1176 or JB Prince: www.jbprince.com 800-473-0577

Gobel non stick tart pan with removable bottom: 12  12 inches/32 centimeters (La Cuisine or JB Prince)

set up for melting chocolate (a saucepan and large bowl is fine)
medium saucepan: 1  1/2 quarts (for lemon syrup)
small strainer (for the lemon juice)
citrus juicer or reamer
2 or 3 silicone spatulas (new)
small sharp shears
A few disposable pastry bags
A large plastic box or a few smaller ones with covers (for about 2 dozen lemon roses)
Cambro or other bin minimum 18 inches diameter by 23 inches high preferably new but must be   odorless and preferably clear  (this is to store the finished cake)
A roll of duct tape
heavy duty foil
plastic wrap
paper towels
parchment sheets (preferably not rolls)

WOODY
kitchen timer
Nordicware transfer round
carpenters level & wood shims
paper clamps
cake strips
small sharp knife and brush for roses
Pourfect liquid measures
measuring spoons
small metal spatula
scale
microplane
plastic straws
CDN thermometer

ROSE:
small whisk
decorating tips—star and pearl & couplersbowl scraper
knife for roses and brush
favorite icing spatula
small offset spatula
small straight spatula
Thermapen  thermometer
Thermocoupler thermometer
silicone potholders
ribbon: gold and silver
(gold and silver dust)

Roses: I may make them here. We will also use real lemon leaves with them. Probably will only do 12 coming down front of cake at an angle. will wait to see what liz does at photo shoot.

for the the roses we need 3 dozen large smooth thick-skinned lemons

for the zest for cake and buttercream 30 ASK FOR 6 DOZEN LEMONS

Hector's 7 Cake Wedding!

I know that many of you are really dying to see what Hector has been describing for many months so here are the three photos he has sent plus a description of the process:My cousin Elaine wanted a wedding cake from me, and I gave her all I can bake! Here are the cakes at her 7-cake wedding. First the wedding cake, an 8-tier 9-inch Golden Genoise cylinder with 5-inch and 3-inch accents, filled with pistachio green Silk Meringue Buttercream, frosted with green and white Mousseline Buttercream. Every cake component was infused with pistasha liquor I made with La Cuisine excellent French pistachio essence. Except for the roses attached vertically, cake was made fresh, chilled for 2 days, then transported fully assembled from Downtown Hilo to Volcano National Park: a grueling 2 hour 20mph ride thru country road. My brother was the only person that dared to be my driver since all my friends gave up on me knowing I turn into evil when doing so. I had a long stake on one hand ready to poke thru the center of the cake shall it tipped during the ride. It really helped that this was done at 5 am, and the outside temperature was 55oF! The second cake, is Rose's Blueberry Swan Lake. The meringue swan recipe yields more than 5 pairs of swans. I managed to make 4 pairs plus several dozen extra parts. Swans were made in my kitchen in Honolulu, then packed in 4 airtight boxes and sent via 2 of my helpers as carry on luggage. Only ONE pair arrived safely! This is the one cake out of the 7 that people came back for seconds. The following 5 cakes are miniature 3 tier versions of Copper Topper Mountain Cascade, Killer Kahlua Chiffon Mocha Glaze, Ethereal longan-lychee Charlotte, Triple Chocolate Cake, and Carrot Ring Cake. These cakes took me 4 months to complete. The above is literally my ultimate effort and for what a great cousin I have. Never have I heard from a bride allowing me to turn the reception into a cake party. At the same time this effort is melancholic, there won't be cakes from me for a while, since I disassembled my yellow kitchen, and moved to a location nearby where not even the plumbing is in place. The good news is that the hired photographer and videographer for Elaine's wedding were covering my work from 3 days prior and all day long on the wedding day, so I shall have lots of footage to keep my senses happy! Aloha to you all. Hector And good luck to you Hector in your new career and with your new flower shot/bakery!

Another Cake Bible Success

I am SO proud of Patricia's stunning work I want to share it with all of you!Dearest Rose, I just wanted to send a quick photo of the wedding cake I made yesterday (this was my 3rd wedding cake). Of course it was made completely from your recipes - your white butter cake, filled with strawberry mousseline, and covered with vanilla mousseline. Everyone absolutely loved the way it tasted - I got so many compliments on how moist and tender the cake was, and how absolutely delicious it tasted - many guests had more than one piece. Thank you again for your amazing Cake Bible - I can't wait to try the new recipes in your upcoming book. Sincerely, Patricia

Elaine's 7-Cake Wedding

A Special Posting from Hector!A year ago, my cousin Elaine booked me for her wedding cake for September 13th, 2008. A month ago, she booked me for her entire wedding catering... I accepted with the only condition that her wedding will be called The 7-Cake Wedding. I designed a dessert party filled with small side savory dishes, and she is thrilled. Here are the first photos. A semi finished, 3-tier Triple Chocolate Cake, started last month and desperately waiting to come out of the bag on the wedding day. The chocolate praline sheets will be applied on location since it would be non-respectful to freeze Piedmontese hazelnuts. The second photo is some prep work for Rose's extraordinary White Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream. You can see the menu (and the cakes) on www.hectorwong.com/elaineandmatt Please don't just say wow, instead lets discuss some issues I may encounter. You, bloggers, are my rock.

Betsy's & Alex's Wedding Cake

Rose, My fiance and I heeded your sage advice and went with a three, instead of four, tiered cake. Chocolate butter cake filled with orange mousseline buttercream and chocolate ganache and frosted with the orange buttercream. It turned out great, even though we baked, filled and frosted on a 90 plus degree day in a kitchen without air conditioning. I've attached a photo. Thank you for your wonderful recipes and helpful tips. Best, Betsy

Mousseline the Magic Buttercream!

Another Beautiful Cake from Patrincia!

Hi Rose, Here is a photo of the 2nd wedding cake I made this past weekend. I used your Mousseline Buttercream and you might be interested to know that the reception was held in a place that serves meals to senior citizens, so the room was warm before anyone arrived. Add to that about 100 people and a bunch of spotlights (one directly on the cake - yikes!)... so let's just say it was VERY warm. The great news is this - your buttercream held up extremely well for the 3 hours the cake was on display; it didn't slide or shift at all. I added grosgrain ribbon to match the bridal party - it stuck to the buttercream without any problems either. Thanks to you, this stay at home mom's can turn out cakes that not only look like they were made by an upscale professional bakery, but they taste like it too! Sincerely, Patricia Reitz (Patrincia), Winchester, VA

Patrincia's Wedding Cake

i received this lovely note and photo, and couldn't wait to share it with you...

Rose, Thanks so much for letting me send this photo. I've been baking from The Cake Bible for years, but this was my first attempt at a wedding cake. I'm so pleased with the way it turned out (like a proud mother of a new baby). The cake was made from your Chocolate Butter Cake formula and it was filled and frosted with your Dark Chocolate Ganache recipe. One of the wedding guests asked me to make her son's wedding cake - all vanilla, inside and out. I'll be sure to use The Cake Bible for the formulas and recipes I'll use for it too! Sincerely, Patrincia, Winchester, VA PS - I can't wait to get your new book when it comes out!

Hector's 4-Layer Moist Chocolate Genoise

Hector sent me this lovely email and photos, and I just had to share...

I made this cake in 2005, after a 1 week notice of my good friend's wedding. She wanted chocolate cake and an off white frosting (was her second marriage). It was a 8 people wedding guest list, and I ventured to make a small but tall 4 layer Moist Chocolate Genoise, filled and frosted with Chocolate Ganache, inspired from Triple Chocolate Cake. I topped the cake with 16 pink edged Mouseline Buttercream roses. 16 is a Chinese lucky number meaning 8+8 (double fortune). The genoise and the buttercream were flavored with Moscato (Italian dessert white wine).

I hand carried this cake from Honolulu to Maui. I packed it in a cooler. I was also the witness, the best man, the photographer, and the wedding helper, so this cooler was glued to my body during the entire day. The wedding was outdoors (of course it was Maui), and I had no idea about the restaurant. Everything that day happened so fast that I can't believe how this cake made it safely. I do remember people saying "this thing tastes actually good" /H

Deep Chocolate Passion Cake/The Foote-Patterson Wedding

This is the first time I’ve ever made a wedding cake away from my own home kitchen so back in August I started compiling long lists of essential ingredients and equipment necessary for the task. I forgot one indispensable item, however, until 2 days before I was due to fly out to S.F. as I was visualizing the whole process in my mind’s eye—a heavy duty turntable. Luckily my friends Caitlin and Meg from Miette Bakery jumped in generously loaning me their best, most smoothly turnable turntable. Caitlin also managed to find me the Green and Black cocoa which is my favorite and had been sold out at Whole Foods.

I also couldn’t have managed this complex cake without the help and moral support of my dear friend Diane Boate, aka the Cake Lady of S.F. who also took these excellent photos, and her long time very significant other Robert Myers who cheerfully stood by always ready to chauffer us back and forth to Daniel Patterson’s new restaurant Coi where he was preparing both the rehearsal dinner and his wedding dinner for 135 while I on the opposite side of the kitchen was making the cake (what a sport)! And finally, if not for the loan of their neighbor’s microwave, I’d still be there trying to get the glaze to the exact right temperature! The cake took 16 hours to complete—12 hours the first day as the layers needed to be baked, syruped, and frosted a day ahead of glazing. Day two was the glazing, insertion of the straws support for tiering, and day three was packing the layers so that they wouldn’t touch the sides of the boxes during transport to the hilly headlands! Then of course the hair-raising business of tiering the layers on top of each other and attaching the chocolate twigs en site with people watching. Diane Boate This cake, which is a ground-breaking new cake that I’ve been working on for months for my upcoming book “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes”—Fall 2008, is a chiffon type of chocolate cake that fills the pan only about one-third full and in the last 10 minutes of baking magically rises to the very top. It is moist and dense, yet light, and tender and deeply chocolaty hence the name “Deep Chocolate Passion Wedding Cake.” The baked layers are brushed with a milk chocolate syrup and then masked with a dark chocolate ganache. Then each layer is glazed with a “Dark Chocolate Lacquer Glaze” that is as shiny as a baby grand piano. The finished cake weighed in at about 17 pounds off the presentation stand. (It felt like an athletic event!) Milk Chocolate Syruping the Cake Frosting the Cake, Bob Myers Looking on (about to Lick the Whisk) The Glazed Layers The wedding took place at the Marin Headlands Art Center and the theme was a rustic winter wedding. Much to my delight, the beautiful and gracious bride Alexandra Foote (who is an environmental lawyer) had the good taste to request an all chocolate cake and asked if I could somehow incorporate curly willow branches as the décor. Thank goodness for Google—I found chocolate twigs made with ValRhona chocolate that were dramatic and delicious. Lacking that, I would have been tempted to pipe chocolate meringue twigs but feared the possible S.F. humidity would cause them to droop (more than curly willow would have). Rose at the Headlands about to Tier the Layers (Note the Straw Supports) To my delight, guests included dear friends and colleagues Paula Wolfert and husband Bill Bayer (the renowned detective writer), Harold Mcgee (“On Food and Cooking”), Kathleen, Ed, and Aaron Weber of Della Fattoria (they supplied the bread) and perfumer Mandy Aftel who was Daniel’s co-author of "Aroma." It was the most original and enjoyable wedding I've ever attended. And the highlight for me, in addition to meeting some wonderful people was the enchanting little flower girl Sarah, looking like a confection herself in her pink dress, who hugged me around the knees exclaiming “I LOVE your CAKE!” I was also vastly relieved when Daniel pronounced that the cake exceeded his expectations. (I was almost afraid he’d never talk to me again after having so disrupted his kitchen and wedding preparations.) The truth: In all due modesty the cake exceeded my expectations as well! It was the best gift I could offer to two dear friends one of whom is a chef whose work I so deeply admire. Sarah, The Flower Girl Rose and the Webers of Della Fattoria The Weber's Bread from Della Fattoria The wedding dinner included delicious and tender Broken Arrow Ranch wild boar sous vide, Grimaud guinea fowl en crepinette (lacy caul fat), and several different wines, my favorite of which was the NV Sean Thackery Pleiades XV, Bolinas. By happy coincidence I was sitting opposite the wine maker! The tables were also graced by custom-blended perfume by Mandy Aftel (black pepper, pink grapefruit, cocoa, coffee, agarwood, cedar, nutmeg, Peru balsam) The after dinner coffee was extraordinarily good: Blue Bottle (available on line). And finally came the cake cutting ceremony after which it was whisked into an adjoining back room. The cake was cut and plated under my “mother of the cake supervision” but before it could be brought out to the serving area, most of the guests had stormed in and it vanished within minutes. The Cake Cutting Ceremony

The Chocolate Wedding Cake in the Cake Bible

Karen Question: I am planning on making the chocolate butter wedding cake for a friend's wedding next weekend. Your chocolate base cake formula appears to have more butter (530 grams butter for 12 inch layers or 75.67 grams x rose factor 7) that the 3-tier chcolate butter cake to serve 150 (400 grams butter for 12 inch layers) although the other ingredients are the same. Could you please advise what is the correct amount of butter to use?

Rose Reply: You're right! Originally I made the cake just as it appears on page 486-487 but decided to add more butter to make it more moist. You could instead just add a little syrup. I changed it in the base but forgot to change it on the larger recipe. If you opt to go with the higher butter it would be 16 oz./454 grams for the two 6 & 9 inch layers and 18.5 ounces/525 grams for the two twelve inch layers. Do let me know what you decide to do! Either way it will be delicious and chocolatey!

Lori's Lovely Cake

A house is beautiful not because of its walls, but because of its cakes.– old Russian proverb lori sent me this most lovely photo and note, and I had to share it. I also happen to love Russian proverbs and especially this one as being of half Russian heritage it explains much! oleary_cake.jpg

I just wanted to share this picture of a cake I made this past weekend, using your recipes! Your charts for scaling the base recipes and how to adjust the baking powder are a lifesaver. Two layers are the all American chocolate butter cake, the other two are the white velvet butter cake layers. All cakes are raspberry filled and finished with buttercream and rolled marshmallow fondant. A side note to anyone attempting fondant ribbons horizontally... use a hand-crank pasta machine for the skinny ribbons, and for layered ones, assemble them and *then* put them on the cake (I use piping gel brushed on the back)... much easier to get them straight that way.