Tag Archives: cake

Pave d’Amour


Slice of CakeThis Pave d’Amour or Cake of Love is truly a celebration cake made for all the highlights of life.  It is one of those recipes that looks daunting but actually isn’t. It just requires a schedule and can be done over a number of days or even weeks as desired. While not as fast as some cakes, its complexity is what makes it so special.

The original recipe for Pave d’Amour came from Alice Medrich’s first book “Cocolat”.  Her version is a square cake and is stunning as are all her recipes. While her cake called for a sponge cake, I used the yellow cake which adds to the stability of the cake and also to its taste.  We used the Pave d”Amour as one of our wedding cakes and it is the best celebration cake I know of to this day.  When cut, the layering is stunning and never fails to receive accolades.  When eaten, it never fails to receive well deserved praise.

We used the whipped ganache in multiple other recipes besides the Pave d’Amour at the bakery.  It has a mind of its own and must be made a day or more ahead or it won’t whip.  We tried making it in the morning and whipping it in the afternoon and it simply wouldn’t whip.  So we just scheduled it in days ahead of time and we were good to go.  It can be tricky to whip so take it slow and test it before over beating if you are unsure.  If it is over beaten, it cannot be used.  However, this is perfect when a heavy chocolate ganache would be overpowering.  As with many things in baking and pastry, it just takes getting used to.

While I usually don’t recommend turning cake layers upside down for assembly, anytime a soaking syrup is used it must be brushed on the underside of the layer to be absorbed.

To make the Pave d”Amour cake the following recipes will be needed.  However, I have given you a time table for making these in a week or a month ahead of assembly.  Any of the component parts that have been frozen need to be thawed before assembly.  The buttercreams, if frozen,  can be reconstituted using this method.

Pave d’Amour means cake of love and this is truly a loving gesture.

To make this cake you will need the following:
– 1 recipe Yellow Cake baked in 3 layers- this can be made up to a month ahead and frozen.
– 1 recipe French Buttercream Coffee flavored – using the ingredients listed below.  This can be made up to a month ahead and frozen.
– 1 recipe Italian Buttercream – this can be made up to a month ahead and frozen
– 1 recipe Whipped Ganache, recipe below – this can be made a week ahead
– 1 recipe Orange Liqueur Syrup, recipe below – this can be made a week ahead
– 1 recipe Chocolate Souffle Layer, recipe below – this must be made the day of assembly

Yellow Cake baked in 3 layersYellow cake

Coffee Buttercream – for how to photos and in-depth information click here.Coffee Buttercream2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened but not runny (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla

Place the eggs and yolk in the bowl of a 5 quart mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium high until very light, very pale in color and foamy. Continue beating until the syrup is ready.

This small amount of syrup comes to temperature very quickly after it reaches 220 degrees so watch it so it does not go over 242 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Place the water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and cream of tarter. Stir to combine.

Bring to a boil. Wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water to prevent crystallization. Boil to 242 degrees.

Pour the syrup in slowly trying to stay between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Do not pour in too quickly or it will sink to the bottom of the bowl where it cannot be incorporated. Beat until completely cool.

When the base is cooled, add the butter a tablespoon or two at a time. Beat until incorporated. Do not add additional butter until the previous amount is completely mixed in. When all of the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla with coffee and continue beating to achieve a light texture.

Yields: 2 1/4 cups, 400 grams or 14 grams.

Italian Buttercream - for how to photos and in depth information click here. 
6 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)
3/4 cup egg whites (about 6 whites from large eggs)
3/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter (5 sticks or 570 grams), softened but not runny

This small amount of sugar syrup comes to temperature very fast after it reaches 220 degrees. Watch is carefully to prevent it from going too high. Place the water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and stir; bring to a boil. Wash down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water to prevent crystallization. Boil to 250 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Simultaneously, place the egg whites and cream of tarter in a 5 quart mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 1/4 cup sugar. Beat until stiff on high, then immediately turn them down to low or #1 to hold them. When the sugar syrup is ready, raise the mixer to medium and slowly pour it over the whites. Aim for between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Do not pour it over the whisk as it will not incorporate into the egg whites. Also, make sure it is poured in slowly to prevent the syrup from sinking to the bottom of the bowl, from where it cannot be incorporated. Beat until completely cool.

Add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time. Do not add more butter until the preceding butter is incorporated. When all the butter is in, add the extracts and beat to incorporate. Continue beating until very light in texture.Italian Buttercream

Yield: Approximately 2 pounds (910 grams) or 6 cups

Whipped Ganache – This must be made at least one day ahead and refrigerated.Chocolate Ganache set up1 cup 40% cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate (114 grams)

Heat cream until steamy and very hot but not boiling. Submerge chocolate in cream and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted.  Cover directly with film and refrigerate until needed.  This can be made a week ahead of assembly.

When ready to use, place in a mixer bowlchocolate ganache in bowl and beat on medium until spreadable. chocolate ganache mixingchocolate ganache mixedDo not overbeat as it will granulate and cannot be recovered.  If in doubt, stop beating and try spreading it on a plate.  It should spread easily but have the firm consistency of buttercream. If it is too soft, return to the mixer and beat on low.

Orange Liqueur Soaking Syrup -for how to photos see the Orange Cranberry Cake
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup orange liqueur (Curacoa, Grand Marnier, Triple Sec)

Place water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and stir. Bring to a boil; brush sides of pan with cold water and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool completely.  Add the orange liqueur.   Store in the refrigerator. This can be made several days ahead.

I find it easiest to pour the syrup into a 1 cup measure so you can keep track of how much you are brushing on each layer.

Chocolate Souffle Layer – Make this the day the cake it is assembledSouffle ingredients3 ounces semi sweet chocolate (85 grams)
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee (not expresso)
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Draw two 9 inch circles on parchment paper. Circle on parchment

Melt the chocolate over hot water in a double boiler or at half power in the microwave. Remove from the heat. Dissolve the coffee in the water and vanilla mixed together.Coffee, vanilla, waterCoffee, vanilla, water mixed Whisk this into the egg yolks egg yolks with coffee mixtureegg yolks in bowl with coffee mixedand then stir in the chocolate. Set aside.eggs in bowl with chou.egg yolks with choc. mixed

Beat the whites until soft peaks form;Egg whites beating gradually add the sugarAdding sugar to egg whites and beat until stiff. Beaten egg whitesStir about 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate to loosen it. One quarter egg whites in chocolatePour the chocolate over the whites  and fold together.  Chocolate into whites

Folding choc. & egg whitesSouffle finishedSpread 1/2 (125 grams or 4 1/3 ounces each) evenly over each circle to within about 1/4 inch of the edge. Souffle batter on circleSpreading souffle layer Souffle layer spreadBake 7 to 10 minutes until baked through but not dried out. Cool on paper.Baked souffle  layerJust before assembling the cake, trim the soufflé layers into 9 inch rounds by turning the parchment upside down and cutting along the original 9 inch lines if necessary.

Assembly of the Pave d’Amour
Place 1 layer of cake on a 10” cake board upside down. Brush 1/3 cup orange liqueur syrup on the layer evenly.Brushing cake layer with syrup

Spread about 1/2 of the French Buttercream over the layer.buttercream on layerCoffee Buttercream spread

Place the soufflé layer on top of the buttercream by turning the parchment upside down.  Souffle layer on top of cakeCarefully remove the parchment. Removing the parchmentSouffle layer on cake

Spread 1/2 of the whipped ganache over the soufflé layer. ganache on first layer

Top with a second layer of cake and repeat this layering, ganache on 2nd layerGanache on first layerfinishing with the third layer of cake soaked in syrup.Finished cake

Wrap the cake in film and refrigerate cake to firm up before undercoating and finishing.Cake assembled and wrapped

Trim sides evenly if necessary.

Undercoat the cake with Italian Buttercream.  This is also referred to as the crumb coat.   Put as much buttercream as you think you will need to undercoat in a separate bowl so if any crumbs get into it, they won’t transfer to the finish layer.undercoating 1st layer 2Undercoat 1st layer - 2Place a large dollop of buttercream on the top.  Push it out to the edges Undercoating top 1making sure it overhangs the top at the side of the cake. undercoat applied Using a bench scraper, smooth out the side of the cake.  Smoothing sidesThe buttercream that overhung the sides is now above the top edge.  Smooth it out by placing your spatula at the edge of the cake and very lightly bring it in towards the center lifting it slightly as you approach the center.  Smoothing top 1undercoat smoothing top 2Continue in this manner until all the edges are feathered in.  undercoat  finishedRefrigerate to set.

Apply a finish coat of buttercream as you did the crumb coat to the Pave d’Amour Finish coat on sidesButtercream over top edgeSmooth out the top and decorate as desired.  I used a #7B tip to pipe this S design.Piping 1piping 2Piping 3piping 4piping 5

Finished wholeI normally pipe a bottom edge.  I have no idea why I forgot it.  Actually I do have an idea – we were moving out of the house we lived in for 47 years into a marvelous apartment and I think my head was not fully engaged in finishing the Pave d’Amour

So pipe an edging around the bottom and you will have the Pave d’Amour cake.  However, no matter how good it looks  it can’t compare to the extraordinary taste.

Pumpkin Mousse Torte


This recipe contains raw egg yolk and as such may not be the best choice for the elderly or very young. Although, I haven’t tried it, I can’t think of a reason the egg yolk can’t be omitted and still have a good dessert.

Finished photoI can’t even remember when we started making these at the bakery.  I do remember it took many tries to get the amount of gelatin just right so it would keep it firm but not turn rubbery, a sure sign of too much.  But I can sure tell you we sold hundreds and hundreds.  As popular as it was with my clients, I don’t think anyone could love this more than my grandson, Sam.  I do remember we had gone to Chicago to take care of him for a few days so his parents could have a weekend get-a-way.  Sam was still in a high chair and was a hugely picky eater – something that dismayed all of us. In an attempt to get something into him, I gave him a bite of my pumpkin mousse.  Well, that sure opened the floodgates!  I couldn’t scoop the dessert into a spoon and offload it into his mouth fast enough.  He barely swallowed and his mouth would fly open again for another bite.  He reminded me of baby birds being fed by their moms!  Sam even requested it for his 7th birthday cake.  Not an unusual request, except it was July in St. Louis.  Hot, hot, hot and humid!   Did I mention it was outdoors?

This is a very straight forward recipe with little to trip you up.  Just make sure everything for the pumpkin mousse is at room temperature.  Then the warm gelatin needs to be poured in a steady stream while the mixer is running.  If the pumpkin mixture is cold, the gelatin can immediately set forming undesireable rubbery blobs.  Very unappetizing!

A cheesecake pan is, as always, my recommendation over a springform pan.

A reader brought to my attention the need to do something with the leftover pumpkin. If you go  Streusel Topped Pumpkin Muffins.  If you make  1 1/2 times the recipe you will use the remaining 3/4 can of pumpkin.  If you are a tad short, that’s fine.  They also freeze beautifully.  Continue reading

Apple Cake with Pecan Caramel Top


Finished 4While apple pies get most of the attention  an Apple Cake with all of its spices, lots of apples and raisins is no slouch. We made many of these for catered events where there was no refrigeration as the plated deserts could sit for hours at room temperature.

This is a dense cake filled with fruit. The pecan caramel top compliments the cake and adds a luxuriousness that a buttercream would not.

Any apple that bakes well can be used. Many prefer Granny Smith apples,but  Pink Ladies or Gala apples are also good choices. Continue reading

Coconut Cream Cake


Finished photoThis is the Coconut Cream Cake that was so very popular at the bakery. Fairly early in the life of the shop, I got a mailer from General Mills touting their flours. It was a beautiful color brochure with cakes and sweet breads. I tried the cakes and the one that just amazed me is the one we used  with minor changes. This very almond flavored cake is the most moist white cake I have ever eaten.  We used the white chiffon cake for our wedding cakes and it never ceased to get raves.

Because this is a very loose batter, it is important when folding in the whites to make sure you go to the bottom of the bowl each time. When making one cake this isn’t a big deal, when making a batch in a 60 quart bowl, it is very important so that all of the layers have all of the ingredients. If making this in a large batch, it is also important to scale out quickly as the batter can thin out if it sits too long. Continue reading

Espresso Fudge Cake


Espresso Fudge CakeThis Espresso Fudge Cake consists of four layers of moist chocolate cake filled with a coffee buttercream highlighted with brandy. I am not one to drink coffee and when I do it has lots of cream and sweetener.   But I could easily eat this buttercream all day long – so if you hesitate because of the coffee, I encourage you to try this anyway,  The combination of a chocolate fudge cake and a coffee buttercream makes this Espresso Fudge Cake a stand out.

Both the cake and the buttercream are very easy to make.  This cake uses an American Buttercream which essentially is a matter of adding all the ingredients to a mixer bowl and beating until light and fluffy. Continue reading