Monday, July 27, 2009

Color my world...

While this week shapes up to be quite a busy one, its nothing in comparison with August. It will be all work then, but while I'm still breathing freely, I can share these...

I have a special affinity for very personal cakes... I call them cakestories. I love the creative stimulation from the one offs, and feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that you've made something so personal, and really shared a moment with someone.

This one was for Marie.... She was celebrating her 30th birthday, and as if she needed another reason for a party, she had also just finished her Master's degree in psychology. The Master Plan cake, as its come to be called, incorporated these themes, as well as her personal style and the party atmosphere to make one unique cake, just for her.

First birthdays are big at SC. Now whether these parties are to celebrate the baby, or the parents having gotten through that first, so tough year, is up in the air. Either way, there is certainly something to celebrate! Kat is a lovely mom of a one year old, who came up with the most poetic idea... Based first on the idea that the grandparents call her baby "little bird" the idea came to her to do a cake, all in white, with a bird landing on it, holding a paint brush, as though he had brought color into the world. Such a lovely idea! Often I work to come up with all the ideas, but this time it was brought entirely to me. Wish I had though of this one, but I can't take the credit.


Sunday, July 19, 2009


My first cake for Zlata was a Chanel purse. I was still delivering my own cakes at that time, and I was amazed to find my way to this crazy Russian Restaurant. I had no idea these places existed in NYC!

Next, for her boyfriend, we made a golf bag, followed by a 2d relief muscle man for her brother in law. I wish I had a photo of that one, but time got away from me.

Just this week, Zlata called in for a rush order. It was her brother's birthday and she wanted a hockey rink, with Ranger players in salute formation as though they had won the game. Would have been a great cake, but there wasn't enough time to make sure the players would maintain their salute, so instead, we went back to the 2d relief style, and created this adorable hockey player. Can't wait to see what she thinks up next!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What to do with all the peaches...

Its so easy for me to overbuy... something looks or smells amazing at the market, and I'm of the mind that more is always better. So as I'm sitting at my desk, working on something important I'm sure, that wonderful ripe peach smell wafts up to me. A delicious perfume yes, but also a warning... I'd better do something with them quickly or they will be past their prime.

In a recent exploration through the over stuffed "cabinet of mystery" or the really deep cabinet above the refrigerator, I had rediscovered my popsicle mold. I was pretty sure the peaches would become healthy frozen treats, but once I started thinking frozen, ice cream was on my mind. I asked my husband Jay, ice cream or peach tart, and of course his answer was "both!". The destiny of the perfect peaches was sealed.

So as not to overdo it, I kept the ice cream to a simple delicious vanilla bean, and focused on the peach tart.

Peach Tarte Tatin with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 ½ cup whole milk
6 large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
1T good quality vanilla extract

-Combine heavy cream, milk, vanilla bean (if using) and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until bubbles form on the side of the pot and sugar has dissolved, but don’t allow the mix to boil.
-Place yolk in medium sized bowl. Wrap the base of a bowl in a dish towel to keep it in place. Starting very slowly, pour hot cream into the yolks mixing constantly. You’re working to temper the hot milk into the cool eggs gently so as not to cook them to quickly and get scrambled eggs.
Continue adding the hot milk mixture until they have been combined. Pour this mixture back into the pot, place it over medium heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until you can draw a line in the custard on the back of the spoon and it doesn’t come back together.
-Strain this mixture into a clean bowl and discard vanilla bean if using.. If using the vanilla extract, add it now. If you want to freeze the ice cream now, place the bowl over an ice bath… a larger bowl filled with ice and water. Otherwise refrigerate the mixture until completely chilled.
-freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.

Pate Brisee
6 ounces all purpose flour
1Tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and kept very cold
1 ½ fl oz cold water

-In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. Process to combine completely.
-Add butter and process in pulses until the butter is about the size of peas.
-Through the feed tube, pour the cold water slowly, while pulsing to combine.
-remove dough from bowl and knead once or twice to form a ball. Flatten ball into a 4” disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

-Follow the process above, but work the butter into the flour mixture with the tips of your fingers, working quickly to avoid adding extra heat to the dough. Sprinkle the water over the top, and keeping your fingers wide, toss the mixture to incorporate it.

Making the Tarte Tatin
5 large, ripe peaches- cut in half
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
3 ounces unsalted butter
1 ½ tsp ground cardamom

-Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.
-Have a 10”oven safe sautee pan or 9”cake pan ready.
-in a stainless steel saucepan, combine the sugar and water. If your oven safe pan has a stainless steel base, you can do this all in that one pan. Wipe down the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals. Cover with a lid and cook over medium high heat until the sugar has been boiling for about 3 minutes. Remove cover and cook sugar until a light amber caramel has formed. Remove from heat immediately and carefully add butter and salt, swirling the pan carefully until the butter has melted and combined with the caramel.
-Pour caramel into the bottom of the sautee pan or cake pan. Arrange peaches, rounded side down into the pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you may want to cut the peaches to fit snugly into the center space. Sprinkle cardamom over the cut sides of the peaches.
-Remove your dough from the refrigerator. Using a small amount of bench flour to prevent sticking, roll the dough to about 1/8” thick, and wide enough to fit the top of your pan.
-Place dough over the top of the peaches. Remove any major excess dough, and tuck the rest into the sides of the pan.
-Bake tart until the crust is golden brown and caramel is bubbly, aproximately 30-35 minutes.

The tricky part…. Turning it out…
When the tart is baked, you’re going to place a platter upside down on top of the pan, and using pot holder, flip it over. You need to wait long enough for the caramel to set a bit, but not too long that it cools too much and stick to the pot. If you know you’ve waited way too long, you can heat the pot over the stove for 30 seconds or so to loosen it up.

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