A Tale of Two Cakes

Every year for Christmas, my in-laws give me an Amazon Gift Certificate.  I finally ordered my books a few weeks ago, and among them was Miette – Recipes from San Francisco’s Most Charming Pastry Shop.  Part of the reason it took me so long to cash in my gift certificate was because I had a hard time deciding on this book.  It had mixed reviews — mostly due to mistakes that went to press with the first two editions.  But really, how could I pass up a cookbook with such an adorable little cake on the front cover?

Scavenger Hunt

After pouring through the book, I decided to try a few of the recipes for our Easter dinner.  These are small cakes — only 6″, so I reasoned we’d need two cakes for our family.  I decided on the Lemon Debutante Cake and the Tomboy Cake (aka, the cake on the cover.)  (Don’t they look cute with my Little Cotton Rabbits?)

Scavenger Hunt

Oh.Emmm.Geeee.  These cakes were SO fun to make and they were really good.  They’re not for the faint of baking heart however — they’re very labor intensive.  But Oh. So. Worth the effort.  In case you love to bake like I do (Hi Linda NoBlog and Brigette!), or if you’ve landed here looking for info on these cakes (the internet was really helpful to me with info about these cakes), I thought I’d share a few observations.

Scavenger Hunt

  • When I went to buy the 6″ cake pans, instead of buying 2 – 6″ x 3″ pans, I bought 3 – 6″ x 2″ pans.  Each recipe makes 2, 3″ high cakes and then you split each 3″ cake into 3 sections.  Since I had three pans, I decided it should work to make three of them and split each in half, still having 6 layers in the end.  One of the biggest complaints on the internet about these recipes is that they sunk in the middle.  Both of my cakes also sunk a little, but I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as if I’d been using the 3″ pans.  The white (lemon) cake didn’t rise nearly as high either, so I didn’t really end up with a second set of three layers, which was fine.  Either way, I think I’ll stick with making the layers in the shorter pans.
  • I heard that someone on cupcake wars tried to make the European buttercream frosting and ran out of time. No Kidding! I’m thinking they should have been disqualified for even trying it. It is very time consuming and patience is the key. The recipe said to add the boiling sugar water slowly to the meringue and then whip at high speed for about 10 minutes while the mixture cooled down. The whole time, I was thinking “How is this going to cool down? Whipping creates friction, right?” After 10 minutes, it definitely wasn’t cool enough to add the butter, so I turned the mixer off and just let it set for 20 minutes. Then you add the butter 1 Tbsp. at a time. Patience.  If you rush it, your buttercream will be ruined. The recipe was surprisingly easy, if you just follow the instructions — and your instinct!
  • The pink frosting in the Tomboy Cake is actually raspberry flavored.  (And boy, is it ever good.  When you take a bite of the cake, you taste the deep, rich chocolate first, and then the raspberry hits you.  Yummmo!)  You have to boil raspberries to get some raspberry juice to add to the frosting. While my juice was cooling, my arm accidentally caught the sieve and the juice flew everywhere. Try not to be such a klutz like me!
  • Our local cake shop is a great resource for the 6″ cake pans. Much more reasonable than amazon.
  • These cakes may be small, but they’re rich. One cake would probably serve 12 people and would have been plenty for the 9 of us.

Scavenger Hunt

So, this little cookbook is a BIG hit with me! The recipes are very detailed, with lots of tips to help you be successful. Plus, they’re delicious. I took the leftovers to work on Monday morning and everyone loved them.  If you decide to get the book, be sure and get the errata sheet — one of the errors is in the buttercream recipe.

Off to pack my gym bag for tomorrow — I need to make a feeble attempt at working off that buttercream!

51 Thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cakes

  1. They both look so good. Thanks for tips. I made a couple of tedious recipes this weekend too. Worth the effort, though. Beautiful pics!

  2. OK. We are twins!!! I bought this book last year. Thanks for the tips as I haven’t tried either of these cakes yet. More evidence…I tell you. We were separated at birth.

  3. P.S. I love your new header.

  4. I love the book, I use a few of the recipes at work, I’m a pastry chef. I bought the book after visiting their cute cute cute bakery on a trip to SF a few years ago.
    Your cakes turned out very pretty, and I know exactly how yummy they were!

  5. How fun! I love making buttercream frosting and didn’t realize that I was making “American” – or that there were two different styles, until I saw that guy on Sweet Genius turn his nose up at it. I don’t know if I’ve ever made a cake from scratch. Maybe once. I should make a 2012 bucket list of things I should try! Thanks for sharing all your great tips. As usual :)

  6. oh my. as for European Frosting, mmm never heard of that, wonder what it’s “actually” called over here?
    love your little knitted bunnies too! xxx

  7. Just wiping the drool off the keyboard ….. oh my, those cakes look good – I am definitely going to visit you!!

  8. I WANT CAKE, NOW!!!!

  9. Love your cakes Anna, it’s so worth it when you put all that time in and they taste yummy! I want to try the 6″ size ~ cute cakes! Oh and good luck at the gym…. I’d much rather bake lol

  10. YUMMERS! I can taste that frosting…think I just gained 5 pounds!

  11. linda noblog on April 12, 2012 at 5:20 am said:

    your cakes look so professional anna! you are s.o.o.o talented! your table looks fabulous…love the rabbits & love the eggs that grace the cakes!!

    thanks for the shout out & sharing your obs with us…as you know i do enjoy bake smaller goods & will definitely try the recipe for the tomboy cake ( i just printed out the errata sheet!)

  12. I am so hungry now. Yuuuuuuum.

  13. Oh. My. Goodness. Those look way too good!

  14. I need to work out after just looking at these photos ;)

  15. Those little cakes look awesome!
    If you need some help cake taste testing next time you try a recipe – just give me a call!! LOL

  16. Oh my! The cakes look wonderful! I’ve ordered online from country kitchen. They have great products and very reasonably priced!

  17. Now aren’t those just the sweetest little cakes – how pretty. Sounds like they aren’t for the faint of heart as you said – that’s ok I’ll just come on over to Thimbleland and have me a nice little slice with a cup of coffe – black please no cream lol.

    Hugs – Mrs. Farmhouse

  18. Thanks for the link to the errata sheet, i have the cookbook, though I haven’t worked up the courage, fortitude or spare time to attempt one of the cakes, the cookbook is a good one.
    But on the offchance I do I will print out the changes and stick them into the book…..yours look just as delicious in person….

  19. Oh my gosh! I have been thinking about purchasing that book. A couple months back, when I was in B&N, I spotted it and took a photo of the cover. There is nothing Frannie and I like better than a deep, dark chocolate cake with a simple light pink frosting! Yours looks fabulous! Maybe you’ve heard of this trick before – sometimes I like to make super mini cakes, so every time a open up a large can of crushed tomatoes, I wash it out and save it. They are the perfect size for baking 4″ cakes – I like to do a few layers so they’re nice and tall. FYI – my favorite are the cans from “Centro” tomatoes. Super, duper cute!!!

    P.S. – I think Frannie’s party was the hit of the year – the next day at school the girls were saying how it was the best party they had ever been too. Even a teacher sat down with the girls at lunch time to hear all about it. That’s a nice compliment.

  20. I’m drooling here! Those are some beautiful cakes, and thank you for your amazing attention to detail in reporting on the book.

  21. (fingers in both ears:) la la la la la Sorry, can’t hear you! la la la la

    You’re crazy! but, they did turn out beautifully! ;p

  22. Chuckling over ina’s comment above. I agree they look beautiful. I would have went straight for the Tomboy whereas my hubs would have claimed the lemon all to himself. Your coworkers are so pampered! Too bad there isn’t a way to share with your bloggy friends.

  23. Yes, yes they do look super cute with the rabbits there. They are so perfect looking I can’t stand it. I can’t believe it. They are beautiful.

  24. Oh, I wish I lived near you! I’d have run over for left over cake and supplied the coffee!!!

  25. Gosh those are gorgeous. I’m sitting here drooling! :-)

  26. Oh. My. Goodness. Those cakes look amazing! So pretty and – you’re right – they do look sweet with the rabbits. Very nice presentation ;)

  27. Oh, I’d forgotten that I wanted to get that book myself. Beautiful little cakes that take too much work? Yes, please! Seriously, those are right up my alley, but alas, I rarely have time to wash the dishes like I should. I do have the 6 x 3 cake pans, though!

  28. Oh, seriously Anna, those are gorgeous cakes! You are most definitely a fountain of talent. :) Sweet banner- love the phlox!
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  29. When I began reading this post I thought” Oh I would buy that book just because of the cover”.I am like that. Now that I have read the whole thing I am not sure I would but your cakes look sooooo beautiful and my mouth is watering.

    As always the sight of your header makes my heart leap!

  30. They are so perfect!
    I nearly bought that book with an Anthropologie voucher I’ve got (a) because we visited their bakery in San Francisco and (b) the pages had the cutest laser cut edging! Might see if the have it in the London store…

  31. Oh my….those are the best looking cakes!! I’ll be right over…there’s some leftover right :-)?!

  32. When I see this I dream of caloryfree chocolate cakes,wouldn´t that be marvellous?

  33. Howwonderful! I love to bake and make candy but haven’t tried anything this detailed (other than in class at Sur la Table). I also adore the little stands for your Easter cupcakes below!

  34. Oh, the cakes are so beautiful…and look so delicious. Maybe someday I will get the courage to attempt cakes. The buttercream frosting…sounds so wonderful I might have to add this book to my wish list just for that recipe!

  35. Oh this is not good…I’m craving cake! :o)

  36. you are one serious girl when it comes to baking, Anna! The results you got are fantastic though!!

  37. Beautiful cake and they look delish too. Could you slice me a sliver of that lemon cake please?

    I made a lemon icebox cake for Easter. So good!

  38. hidy ho.
    you did such a beautiful job on your cakes.
    so impressed.
    i have the book also, but i bought mine for the princess cake recipe and the scalloped pages!
    but what inquiring minds want to know is… what other books did you buy????
    hope your weekend was wonderful.
    i’m guessing mine was better… :)

  39. Such beautiful cakes Anna! Your range of talents never cease to amaze me. :)

    Love the new header pic too! So cute!

  40. Oh Anna – sublime. Really.
    Now … I’ve made some cakes that *looked* like these in the past, from a distance, out of scene paint, polystyrene and clipped foam ….

    These not only look awesome, they sound so delicious. I only wish I could taste them.

  41. Impressive…if only I could have a taste. It looks delicious.

  42. Yuummmmy!!!! They look SO good – good enough for the front cover of the book! So impressed!!

  43. they both look beautiful and yummy!!

  44. those cakes look amazing! Good for you for putting in the time. I recently made a special labor intensive cake from Savour Magazine and my husband didn’t really like it, he almost got it over his head since he requested it, lol.
    Anywhoo these look incredible.
    Love the header too cute :)

  45. Dang. I need to live next door. These little cakes look delicious, but they would NEVER get made at my house. I was feeling pretty proud when I piped icing on to cupcakes for the middle girls birthday last week. Yep. Me. With a piping bag. I know. Crazy.

    Good work, Anna. Send some of that baking mojo my way.


  46. Ooops. Forgot to say that I LOVE little cotton rabbits. So cute and her blog is lovely too.

  47. Great book. You know I was born in SF, sadly Miette was not around then. Enjoy!! Clarice

  48. Wow. I am so terribly impressed (and inspired). I love it when a project is difficult and every bit worth it. When something really creative and special happens. And I love it that you shared.

  49. Wonderful looking desserts. I’ve wanted to buy this book for the longest. I love the photos and the pretty scalloped edges of the pages but I read so many reviews about the mistakes I decided to wait for the re-print. So the re-print has errors too?

    I may pick up the book anyway, even though I’m really not a good enough baker to fix mistakes as I go if they’re printed wrong-lol

  50. Yum, those cakes look delicious. I went to the Ferry Building in SF a few years ago, but I don’t remember that bakery. Next time I will look for it! Glad that the book worked out so well for you.

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