RECIPES: Chef Lance Whipple on how to create award-winning cake at home

The 35th Annual Scottsdale Culinary Festival is right around the corner.

The six day culinary extravaganza kicks off Tuesday, April 9 to Sunday, April 14 and guests can expect more celebrity chefs, more food creations to devour, and even more enthralling entertainment.

Along with top-tiered culinary stars and classic events, the 35th Annual Scottsdale Culinary Festival will bring back a smorgasbord of beloved events for 2013.

This year's festival also marks the 25th annual Wine Country Brunch - a battle of top brunch spots in the Valley - where guests will vote on their favorite brunch items.

At this year's Wine Country Brunch, the inaugural caked decorating competition - Take the Cake - will be hosted and judged by a board of top Valley pastry chefs, including the Four Seasons Resort Executive Pastry Chef Lance Whipple.

Chef Whipple was stopped by Sonoran Living to show guests that it's possible for viewers to create an award-winning cake at home:

When baking a cake, the first and most important aspect of its success are the ingredients.

Separate and sift all dry ingredients such as flour, salt, and baking powder from wet ingredients like water, oil, and eggs.

Incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients batches at a time; otherwise, ingredients won't be able to mix properly throughout the dough.

After the cake has baked, you want to cool it completely before moving forward such as torting, filling, or frosting.

To create a professional looking cake, you will want to torte it. Torte is a fancy word for layering. Take toothpicks and stick them into the side of the cake for a guide before cutting with a knife.

To keep the top layer sturdy slide a piece of flat, hard material such as cardboard to support the top layer while frosting the bottom layer. When frosting, use a piping bag to distribute the icing, making it easier to spread.

The ace of all cakes would not be complete without decorations. Fondant is an easy and great way to add a pop of color to any cake. Prep the fondant by kneading it out until it's a workable consistency. If it's sticky, knead in some confectioner's sugar.

Then roll out the fondant until it is sized to your cake. Then, start in the middle of the top layer, move fondant outward and down the sides to smooth and shape to the cake and remove air bubbles.

If an air bubble appears, insert a pin on an angle, release air and smooth the area again. Trim off excess fondant using a knife.

In addition to covering the cake, fondant can be used to add detail and height. A great way to add height is with a textured bow. Roll out a sheet of fondant about 8" wide by 15" long and 1/8 inches thick.

Cut out 6" long strips, with each strip pinch together at the ends and adhere with a little water, and let loops dry. For the streamers, cut two 6" strips, cut a "V" shape at the end and let dry. 

To assemble the bow, in the center of a piece of wax paper, apply a small puddle of royal icing for glue. Arrange 7 of the loops on the bottom later, turning some on their sides.

For the second layer, add another dollop of "glue" to the center, and arrange loops on opposite sides. For the top and center loop, apply glue directly to pointy end of the loop.

In addition to fondant, cast sugar can be used to create detail decorations molds. These molds can be made from whisking an egg white with food color of your choice (or no color) till frothy.

In a separate bowl mix confectioners and granulated sugar, and then pour in egg white mixture and blend until the sugar is the consistency of wet sand.

Then, fill your favorite mold with the cast sugar and let sit till it's dried.

For more information on the 35th Annual Scottsdale Culinary Festival, Wine Country Brunch and Take the Cake Decorating Competition, visit www.scottsdalefestorg.com or call 480-945-7193.

MIDNIGHT CHOCOLATE CAKE

15 oz     Buttermilk
10 oz    Oil        
3 ea         Eggs
15 oz    Hot Water
3 ½ oz    Cocoa Powder
24 oz    Sugar
½ oz        Salt
¾ oz     Baking Soda
1 #        Flour

METHOD:
Combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs in a mixing bowl. Heat the Water and whisk in the cocoa powder, then pour the cocoa mixture into the liquids. Whisk on speed #2. Add the sugar in two parts. Scrape the bowl. Sift the dry ingredients together and add slowly into the bowl. Scrape again. Mix on speed #2 until combined with no lumps.

Pour into sprayed pans about 2/3rds of the way up.  
Bake at 350 for 24-30 minutes

YIELD:
2 - 9 inch cakes

CARAMEL FILLING

Sugar    12 oz
Cream    12 oz
Butter    6 oz     

METHOD:
In a larger than needed pot, moisten the sugar with water and then put on a medium heat to cook to a dark caramel color. Off the heat, Carful add the cream while stirring
Once the caramel cools

to room temp add in the butter and mix until combine.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING

Butter                      1 lb    
Cocoa Powder          6 oz    
10 x sugar          1 lb    2 oz
Milk                  2.5 oz       
Chocolate Sauce    2 oz          

METHOD:
Mix the butter, sugar, cocoa, powdered sugar until it makes a smooth paste.  Mix milk with chocolate sauce then add to mixer slowly.  Mix until combined and smooth.

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