My student is decorating a lovely cake with Italian meringue buttercream.

For the Vanilla Chiffon Cake you will need three 9 inch cake pans prepared by spraying only the bottom of the cake pans and lining them with parchment rounds.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

8 eggs separated

1 cup cold water

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

14 ounces cake flour

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

14 ounces granulated sugar (divide 9 ounces for the meringue and 5 ounces for the flour)

Place the whites in a bowl of a heavy duty 5 quart mixer with a whip attachment.  Start whipping the egg whites and when they reach the soft peak stage add 9 ounces of the granulated sugar in a thin stream.  Continue to whip until the whites reach the stiff peak stage is reached.  Do not over whip.

In the bowl of a heavy duty 5 quart mixer with a whip attachment, place the yolks, water, oil and vanilla and blend together well.

Sift the flour, baking powder, 5 ounces of the granulated sugar and the salt together and then add the dry ingredients all at one time to the yolk mixture and begin to blend.  Scrape down the bowl and blend until there are no lumps of flour..this should only take about a minute.  What I love about this recipe is that the Chiffon Cake is very forgiving.  You can increase the speed of the mixer to make sure it is well mixed.

Fold in the egg whites and make sure there are no bits of whites unincorporated.  The folding process works best when you cut into the whites and lift the yolks mixture up and over them.  When you make large batches of vanilla chiffon cake..double this recipe for instance, you might want to use a plastic bowl scraper to reach down into the batter because otherwise you might not get the batter well mixed.

Divide the batter between the cake pans at 1 pound 2 ounces per cake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until golden. Cool in the cake pans at least 15 minutes before depanning and make sure the cakes are completely cool before chilling them in the refrigerator.

For the Fresh Strawberry Mousse:

Wash and remove the stems of 1 pound of strawberries

1 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

2 cups heavy cream whipped

Whip the heavy cream and set aside in the refrigerator.

Puree the clean strawberries in a food processor.  Pour puree into a sauce pan and add the granulated sugar.  Allow to sit for a few minutes to start to draw moisture from the puree and cook on medium high heat until the mixture begins to boil and the sugar completely dissolves.   Place the mixture in a large shallow bowl and allow to cool to a temperature of about 110 degrees F.

Dissolve the powdered gelatin in the cold water and allow to bloom.  Blooming means that all the gelatin will absorb the water.  Microwave the gelatin for about 14 seconds or until it is dissolved and is a temperature of about 110 degrees F.

Pour the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir well.  Refrigerate until the mixture has cooled to a tempterature of about 87 degrees F and then fold in the whipped cream.

Clean the tops of the cakes by removing that thin bake layer.  This can be done with a gloved hand or a serrated knife.

The simple syrup can be flavored with pure vanilla extract or Madagascar vanilla bean paste..but it should be a ratio of 2:1 or 2 cups of water to 1 cup of granulated sugar, boiled for 10 minutes and cooled.  Brush the simple syrup as opposed to using squeeze bottles for a more even application of the syrup.  Remember that the chiffon cakes are designed to absorb syrups so don’t be afraid to apply the syrup generously.

Build your cake in the usual manner by lining a 9″ cake pan with plastic wrap.  Add a layer of cake, brush with simple syrup, pipe a dam of Italian meringue buttercream around the cake to hold the filling in, fill with strawberry mousse and put another layer of cake on top of that..repeat!  The top layer of cake should be placed on top of the second layer of mousse upside down so that the bottom is up.  remember you want to have flat tops and straight sides ..especially if you are going to stack the cake for a wedding cake.

Ice the cake with Italian meringue buttercream.  These cakes can easily be covered with white chocolate fondant as long as you chill the buttercream well.  For stacking delicate cakes, make sure your dowels are about 1/16th inch above the surface of the cake so that the cakes on their cake boards are sitting on the dowels and not on the cakes.  It is advisable to deliver delicate cakes in separate cake boxes and not necessarily stacked and delivered.  This is just good advice especially for those of you who might have to deliver cakes up steep hills.

The best carrot cake recipe that I have found is as follows:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare three 9 inch cake pans by spraying the walls and bottom of the pans and lining them with rounds of parchment paper.

Because carrot cake is oil based, it is freezer friendly.  Bear this in mind when you are going to produce carrot cake for wedding cakes because this is a good cake for freezing filled with the cream cheese filling.  Always build the cakes in plastic wrap lined pans and wrap the cake very well for the freezer.

In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer with a wire whip emulsify:

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil

2 cups of granulated sugar

Sift and set aside:

2 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt


3 cups carrots


1 cup walnuts


1 cup raisins (optional)  determine if your bride and groom would like raisins.  They can be left out of this cake with no problem

Add the dry ingredients to the oil/egg mixture and mix until just combines.  Add the carrots, walnuts and raisins and mix until blended.

Pour into cake pans evenly.  Remember to weigh your batters no matter what a recipe says.  Then divide your batters by weight.  Once you have weighed one recipe it will be the same for all future recipes.

Bake this cake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes until done and cool in the pans.  Depan and chill well before filling with Cream Cheese Icing.

A note for wedding cake makers:

You want to ice the carrot cakes for your tiered wedding cake with Italian meringue buttercream and not cream cheese icing.  Cream cheese icing is too soft and will be unpleasantly messy for cutting.

Cream Cheese Filling

8 ounces softened cream cheese

3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

4 ounces unsalted softened butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

In the bowl of a heavy duty 5 quart mixer with a paddle, blend the cream cheese, butter and confectioners sugar to a smooth consistency.  Add the vanilla and lemon juice and blend well.  Do not over mix.

This lovely filling will firm up in refrigeration.  Pipe a dam of buttercream to contain the cream cheese filling in your cakes.

Red Velvet cake is another wonderful cake that should be filled with cream cheese filling.

Lovely fondant covered cake in Tiffany Blue with large bows made by my student, Evie.

Fruit Ganache

May 31, 2012

This beautiful little cake was a pleasure to make for one of my very sweet brides.

We have all heard of Chocolate Ganache and there are a number of ways of making Chocolate Ganache which I intend to share with you in upcoming postings on this blog.  However, I discovered that fruit ganache can be made as well and for people who have objections to the use of gelatin in their fruit mousse, the fruit ganache becomes the best alternative method for making wonderful mousse.  I make fruit ganache with lemon curd or orange curd, cooked raspberry puree, blackberry puree or strawberry puree.  The concept translates well to different fruit and I invite you to experiment and find a formula that works for you.

For Lemon Ganache that can become a Mousse

You will need:

10 – 12 ounces of  good quality white chocolate (E. Guittard or Felchlin or Callebaut are excellent white chocolates)

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 good sized lemons)

Peel from the lemons

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups heavy cream

Whip the cream and reserve in the refrigerator.

You can boil the lemons whole in a saucepan of water for a minute if you wish to remove residue on the skin of the lemon before you cut large strips of the peel.

Juice the lemons so that there is 1/2 cup lemon juice.

Place the 5 yolks into the saucepan with the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.  Whisk and add the lemon juice and lemon peel.

Turn the heat onto medium and while whisking constantly, bring to just the boil.  Add the 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter to the mixture and whisk it into the lemon curd well.

Pour the lemon curd into a fine mesh strainer over the white chocolate.  The hot lemon curd will melt the white chocolate.  Cool to about 87 degrees F and then fold in 2 cups whipped cream for a lovely mousse.

This fancy wedding cake was made for a wonderful bride and groom whose wedding was at the ever glorious Arctic Club in Seattle, WA

If you do not have access to frozen raspberry fruit puree, there is another way to make wonderful fruit mousse using frozen fruit that you can find in the grocery store.   Believe it or not, I find the O (organic) Raspberries that are private packed for Safeway to be superior than just about any frozen raspberry I have used.  You are welcome to use fresh organic raspberries as well, but they are not always available and raspberries are very delicate berries.

For Raspberry Mousse

You will need a saucepan, a good digital thermometer, measuring cup for the gelatin and a strainer.

10 ounces raspberries, frozen or fresh

1 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

2 cups heavy cream

Whip the 2 cup of heavy cream and reserve in the refrigerator.  Place the frozen raspberries in the saucepan with the 1 cup of sugar and turn the heat on low just to start to melt the raspberries.  When the liquids start to escape from the berries, mix the sugar and berries well in the saucepan and turn up the heat.

Bloom the gelatin in the cold water.

Bring the raspberries to a boil and allow the sugar to dissolve completely.  This should not take more than a minute.

Strain the raspberries well and press out the liquid.  Return the liquid to the saucepan and reduce to 1 cup.

Pour the raspberry liquid into a large bowl and allow to cool to a temperature of about 110 degrees F.
Melt the gelatin in the microwave for about 15 seconds or to a temperature of about 110 degrees F.  Pour the melted gelatin into the raspberry liquid.  Refrigerate to cool to a temperature of about 87 degrees F.

Fold in the whipped cream and voila..this is the most delicious raspberry mousse.  It is light and delectable.

Coconut Pecan Icing

May 29, 2012

This is the best coconut pecan icing or filling you will ever make or eat or share with friends and family.  This is a cooked icing and will thicken as it cools so don’t worry about it being on the thin side when your finish making it .. it will  be perfect when it is allowed to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.

In a saucepan melt:

6 ounces unsalted butter softened


1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

4 egg yolks

Whisk altogether and cook this mixture until it reaches a temperature of about 160 degrees F or until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon and running a finger across the spoon will leave a track.

Remove from the heat and add:

2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Pour into a clean container that has a tight fitting lid.  Cool with lid off the container and then refrigerate with a lid on.  It will thicken as it cools.

This filling is good in chocolate cake as for a German Chocolate Cake.

Chocolate Mousse

May 27, 2012

This very pretty cake is being made by a cake enthusiast who has done a great job decorating this delicious little cake.

For the best Chocolate Mousse you will ever make or taste or serve….here goes!  As for the dark chocolate, in the USA please don’t hesitate to use E. Guittard dark chocolate.  It is amazing what has happened with chocolate since I was a young chef…but Guittard was our high-end chocolate way back when and it is still good.  Not that the lovely imports aren’t wonderful, they are but please don’t forget about Guittard.  I use it in my fondants as well.


8 ounces dark chocolate

Whip in the bowl of a heavy duty 5 quart mixer until the volume has tripled and become very light and fluffy:

4 ounces egg yolks

4 ounces  whole eggs

Then add to stabilize the egg mixture with:

2 ounces granulated sugar

Boil to 240 degrees F:

6 ounces granulated sugar moistened with

1/4 cup cold water


1 lb heavy cream and set aside in the refrigerator

2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract or Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste


Melt the chocolate and set aside.  The chocolate needs to be 90 degrees F when it is added to the egg meringue.

Whip the cream and set aside in the refrigerator.

Whip the whole eggs and yolks in the bowl of a heavy duty 5 quart mixer and when the eggs become light and fluffy, stabilize with 2 ounces of granulated sugar, continue to whip until the sugar is dissolved into the egg mixture.

Bring to a boil the 6 ounces of granulated sugar moistened with cold water and cook until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F.   When the sugar has cooked, pour over the egg mixture slowly.  The hot syrup will not over cook your eggs because it will go for the granulated sugar that has stabilized it.  Whip until completely cooled.

The chocolate can be added to the whipped egg/sugar mixture and folded in very quickly with a very sure hand and a large rubber spatula.  Fold in the cold whipped cream and add the vanilla.

Your chocolate mousse is done.

You can flavor the chocolate mousse with all sorts of wonderful things like Grand Marnier or Hazelnut Paste.  Use your imagination and conjure up some delectable flavor combinations of your own.

When using as a filling for a wedding cake that is stacked and tiered, remember to use a buttercream dam around the rim of the cake before filling with the chocolate mousse.  The buttercream dam will assure that the filling will not ooze out.

If you are using chocolate mousse that has been refrigerated for a period of time, simple allow the mousse to sit at room temperature long enough to soften slightly before filling your piping bag otherwise your mousse will separate and soften or liquefy which is not pleasant.

French Vanilla Cream

May 27, 2012

In the bowl of a  heavy duty 5 quart mixer with a paddle attachment beat to the ribbon stage:

1 whole egg

2 egg yolks

1 cup granulated sugar

Add to the egg mixture:

2 Tablespoons corn starch

2 Tablespoons all purpose flour

Heat in a large saucepan:

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 Tablespoons Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste

Whip 2 cups heavy cream and set aside in the refrigerator.

Bloom 1 Tablespoon powdered gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water


Heat the milk and cream to a boil.  Slowly add the very hot milk to the egg mixture by first tempering the egg mixture with a small amount of the hot milk and then adding the rest of the hot milk and blend with the paddle of the mixer.  Pour the entire contents of the mixer bowl back into the saucepan and return to the stove.  Whisk constantly until a bubble appears in the thickened mixture.   Cook for about a minute whisking even faster to prevent lumps from forming and to keep the mixture from scorching.

Remove from heat and pour into a shallow bowl.  Add the Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste and place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming as the mixture cools.  Chill in refrigerator for about 15 minutes and take the temperature of the mixture.

When the mixture is 87 degrees F.  melt the gelatin in the microwave for about 15 seconds and then add the melted gelatin and mix thoroughly.  Fold in the whipped cream.  This is a stabilized French Vanilla Cream which is suitable for using as a filling in a wedding cake and especially suitable if you are using sliced strawberries or other fruit in the filling of the wedding cake as well.


This filling is good with Tres Leches Cake, Dark Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Chiffon Cake with Fresh Fruit Filling etc.

If you want to use this in Eclairs or Profiteroles or fruit tarts, simply omit the gelatin and reduce the whipped cream by 1 cup.