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The Whimsical Bakehouse: Fun-to-Make Cakes That Taste as Good as They Look [Paperback]

Kaye Hansen , Meredith Vieira
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 26 2010
Three neon-bright layers of cake, tilted at a jaunty angle and adorned with edible chocolate candles; a Jackson Pollock–inspired cheesecake spattered with chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter icing; and a swarm of plump bees perched atop a rainbow of candy-colored cupcakes—these are only a few examples of the unfettered creativity at work at the Riviera Bakehouse. There, mother-daughter bakers Kaye and Liv Hansen turn out some of the most charming, refreshingly eccentric cakes ever to grace a birthday or wedding celebration.

Kaye and Liv believe that a cake should taste as good as it looks, so they skip esoteric (and inedible) decorations in favor of simple buttercream, flavored whipped cream, and tinted candymaker’s chocolate, covering their luscious cakes with amusing designs and gorgeous color that are easy to make and delicious to eat. The cakes themselves are no less enticing, pairing old-fashioned favorites like Banana Cake and Spice Cake with sumptuous fillings such as French Custard and Chocolate Mousse. Simple step-by-step lessons, illustrated with photographs, explain how to re-create Liv’s charming chocolate designs, from the bright polka dots that shine against dark chocolate glaze to the shimmering stars that adorn the enchanting “Starry Night.” Templates for the delightful designs allow you to adapt these techniques to create your own unique decorations.

With time-tested tips and complete information on everything from mixing colors to adjusting pan sizes, the Hansens explain all you need to know to get started. Whether you’re dreaming of an elegant Chocolate Apricot Pecan Torte or a three-tiered butter cake filled with spiked mocha cream and embellished with fantastical spring flowers, The Whimsical Bakehouse is the ultimate guide to creating delicious, showstopping confections that are completely original.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Product Description

About the Author

Kaye Hansen is a self-taught baker who began her food career as a freelance caterer. In 1988 she and a partner opened the Runcible Spoon in Nyack, New York, and six years later Kaye took over Ardsley, New York’s, Riviera Bakehouse, which she owns and operates with her husband, Peter.

Liv Hansen trained as a painter before turning her eye for color and composition to buttercream and melted chocolate. This is their first book.

From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


If the Cat in the Hat were a baker, this is what his specialty might look like. It is probably our most popular cake—we make more than 100 a week in two different sizes—and it has become our signature design. The first incarnation of the Mini Birthday Cake was true to its name—a 4-inch round cake—but soon we were making them in all sizes, and even stacking them up to five tiers high (see page 118). If you prefer not to work with as many colors as we show here, try some of these alternatives: a glazed background, tone on tone (such as light pink to dark pink), or all white.

What you will need:
Cake: one 10-inch round cake of your choice (we recommend Chocolate Butter Cake, page 65)
Filling: Cookies and Cream (page 65)
Icing: Kaye’s Buttercream (page 37) or House Buttercream (page 36)
Decoration: 1 to 2 cups white wafer chocolate to make assorted chocolate candles
Colors: Teal, green, yellow, blue, violet, neon pink, and orange liquid gel colors and neon bright pink, green, blue, or violet candy colors (plus yellow)
Tips: #102 and #104 petal tip, #18 and #199 star tip, and #4 round tip

How to:
Bake the cake and let it cool completely. Prepare the filling and icing. Fill and crumb coat the cake as directed on pages 30-32. Chill the filled cake.
2. Melt 1 go 2 cups of white wafer chocolate. Set aside 1/4 cup of melted chocolate. Using the Color Mixing Chart on page 26, tint the chocolate with your choice of candy color. Pour the chocolate into a pastry cone and cut a medium-size hole. On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper pipe out as many 5-inch candles as you will need. They should be at least 1/4 inch wide and 1/8 inch thick. Set aside to harden.
3. Tint the reserved chocolate yellow. Pour the chocolate into a pastry cone and cut a medium-size hole. When the candles are hard, flip them over and pipe yellow chocolate flames on their tips.
4. Prepare the colored buttercream of your choice; we used 2 1/4 cups purple, 3/4 cup orange, 3/4-cup lime green, 1/4 cup teal, 1/4-cup neon pink, 1/4-cup blue, and 1/4 cup yellow. (See the Color Mixing Chart on page 26).
5. Ice the cake with purple buttercream or the base color of your choice. Adhere the cardboard round supporting the cake to your base.
6. Place the orange buttercream in a pastry bag with a coupler, and with a petal tip pipe or a Ruffled Ribbon Border (page 67) around the bottom edge.
7. Place the yellow or blue buttercream in a pastry bag with a coupler. Pipe a Bead Border (page 67) above the Ruffled Ribbon Border: With the same tip, pipe yellow linear swags. Place the lime-green buttercream in a pastry bag with a coupler; and with a star tip pipe lime-green Spiral Swags (page 68) using the swag lines as a guide. With the same tip, pipe an evenly spaced ring of rosettes around the outer edge of the cake top. There should be the same number of rosettes as there are candles.
8. Place the teal buttercream in a pastry bag with a coupler, and with a star tip pipe a shell border around the top edge.
9. Stick the chocolate candles into the rosettes so the flat sides face the front, pressing them halfway into the cake.
10. Place the neon pink in a pastry bag with a coupler, and with a petal tip pipe bows where the swags meet.

Classic, moist, and delicious, this versatile cake is sure to please any die-hard chocoholic or party of screaming kids. It is the most popular cake at the Bakehouse.

Grease and flour two 10x3-inch round pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine and whisk until there are no lumps:
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup cocoa powder

Add and whisk until smooth:
1 cup cold water

On a piece of wax paper, sift together:
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat at high speed until light and fluffy:
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups sugar

On medium speed, add slowly and cream well:
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Add the dry ingredients alternately to the butter and egg mixture with the cocoa, mixing until smooth.

Pour 3 cups of the batter into one 10-inch pan and the remaining batter into the other 10-inch pan. Bake the less full pan for 20 to 35 minutes and the fuller pan for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before turning them out of their pans.

Yield: 9 cups of batter

Yum, yum, yum. You might think this is for kids only, but adults love it just as much. We have even used cookies and cream as a wedding-cake filling. It is simply delicious.

In the bowl of an electric mixer at high speed, whip until stiff:
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Gently fold in:
20 chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, crushed into medium pieces

Yield: 6 cups

From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best birthday cake ever...! Dec 14 2003
After my last feeble attempt at decorating my daughter's birthday cake, I decided that maybe I should take a class. But then I visited a friend who had just made her son one of the Whimsical Bakehouse's cakes. It was breathtaking! I ordered the book right then, and this weekend, made the Winter Wonderland cake. The cake itself was rich, delicious, and very easy to make. The buttercream icing, which is typically not my favorite, was equally heavenly, as was the raspberry mousse filling. But the real fun was in the decorating. Kaye Hansen is clearly an artist in the world's most delicious medium. Her instructions are easy to follow and written for average non-professional baker-types (like me). Armed with the decorating essentials they recommend in the introduction, I created a candy snowman, a small forest of trees, and a few dozen polka dots. The results were unbelievable -- the 3-D effect of the candy is difficult to describe, but it makes the cake come to life. I followed the recipes and candy-making instructions to a T, but next time, I hope to get more creative with the design. The book offers a range of projects that encompasses basic occasions (birthday, baby shower, wedding, seasonal, and of course, whimsical), but it really strives to teach techniques that send you on your own decorating adventures. I'm already contemplating my next trip! Well worth every penny, and a joy to explore -- buy this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE IT! June 18 2004
By Renee
I purchased this book because I enjoy baking birthday cakes for my children, but, I'm a novice cake baker/decorator and am in need of some guidance. The simple instructions and wonderful pictures are an asset and the recipes alone are worth the price of the book. Some decorating techniques are currently beyond my capabilities but they are inspiring and with each cake I'm improving my decorating skills. I was truly pleased by ALL the recipes I have tried. Each was as good, if not superior to the 'better' bakeshops in my city. I have made the house buttercream, cookies and cream filling, pinwheel cake, and vanilla cupcakes. Plus, by following their instructions, I made my first 3-tiered cake that didn't tilt to one side!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only book that you really needed March 5 2004
I've read and bought several cake books and this is by far the only book that you will be needing if you're looking for new style and inspiration. It is not for newbies(I actually tried it when I first started cake decorating) and boy you will need a lot of time in your hands. My advised is to only used disposable pastry bag cause you will definitely use a lot of them. The icing taste good and the cake designs and colors are just outstanding, your cake will definitely stand out.This book has a lot of illustrations & pictures on how-to's. Cakes and Fillings are all yummy and easy to make. Although the decorating takes a lot of time, labor intensive. But this book is a keeper and definitely worth every dime.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book did not disappoint me at all. The pictures ( both exemplar and step by step directionals ) were PLENTIFUL and all in vibrant color. Imagination and creativity flourishes in this book. The techniques are easy to follow. This book would be worth every penny if it were nothing more than a showcase for these wild and whimsical cakes. The best thing is that you just know that you can create something of your very own without having to replicate their designs (unless you wanted to). This whole book is outside of the box. The recipes are plentiful but you don't have to use them. This book is just great. I can't imagine my library without it! Get it, you won't regret it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT June 20 2004
By A Customer
I bought this book because I was looking for fresh ideas on decorating cakes. I was absolutely amazed by the beautiful chocolate run-out designs shown here, (though the colors of the cakes themselves are a bit bright and tacky for my taste). I was a bit disappointed that the basic confectioners chocolate and candy colors are not available in my country but was more than compensated for that by the sumptuous recipes this book includes! I have tried several already and they are fabulous. This is absolutely the most original cake-decorating book I've ever seen. Go ahead and order!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one goes to "11" :-) April 8 2004
By Sharama
I'll borrow the old "Spinal Tap" line, "This one goes to '11'" :-) and add that I'm sorry I can only rate it a "5". It's inspirational, fun, and will have you making a mental list of cakes, fillings, ideas, etc. that you won't rest until you've gone through them all. (By the time I reached the "Cookies and Cream" filling I'd already gained a few tons in virtual pounds ;-) I highly recommend to anyone who has a sense of fun and loves to bake. Yum.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new avenue! Feb. 26 2004
By A Customer
When I first saw this book, I was so blown away by the visuals that I knew I had to have it. I got it for Christmas and have used it numerous times already. I love the ideas, the colors, the tips and the knowledge that I have taken from this book to create my own masterpieces. The only real negative comment I have is that the cakes (the chocolate butter and golden butter)are not as moist as I have had in other from scratch cakes(but I was so impressed by the innovation and technique that I felt the book deserved 5 stars in spite of this). I have changed various methods and techniques to see if it was just me, but they both always come out the same. I do love the fillings though, and I think that Liv is a genius. I saw the bakery profiled on Food tv and she is so quick and precise, it was amazing. Again as a whole I love this book, it's bright, beautiful and opens a new avenue in cake decorating.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars fun to make
cakes were fun to make and the text was pretty clear not as many new ideas as expected but would recommend it
Published 18 months ago by Anne W Newman
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what i was hoping for
Visually, this book did not do it for me. Some of the cakes looked good, but overall they just didn't inspire me to make any of them.
Published on July 29 2011 by Jennah
5.0 out of 5 stars So cute and Whimsical!
I haven't tried direct ideas from this book yet, but reading it gave me a lot of great ideas of my own. The cakes are just beautiful! Read more
Published on May 10 2011 by Jennifer Banks
1.0 out of 5 stars Dissappointed :(
I thought it would have designs for more professional looking cakes. Most of the designs looked like a child helped with it. It was not the book I was looking for at all.
Published on Jan. 8 2011 by lisa marie kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparks the imagination!
I love this book ! the recipies are delicious and the ideas on how to decorate the cakes have "Sparked" my imagination :0)
I highly recommend all the Whimsical Bakehouse... Read more
Published on July 8 2010 by Stephanie Lemay
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely an Adventure!
Hi Everyone! I purchased this book a few months back to add to my collection. I do own my own business and wanted to expand the flavors and fillings in my portfolio. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2009 by Michelle Marie Aristizabal
3.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas but somewhat disappointing
I bought this book because I was looking for an alternative to inedible-tasting fondant. The cakes are certainly whimsical. A couple are tacky but the majority look marvelous. Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2008 by A. Ng
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for Cake Bakers
This book is filled with beautiful workd of art. Each and every cake has its own individual charm. All the recipes that I have made have been a huge hit.
Published on June 17 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably Tasty!
The cake and frosting recipes are delicious! You really can make a fun, decorative cake that catches attention -- but tastes fantastic too! Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by A. Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars made believers out of my in laws!!
I got this book because of the reviews I had read, and I love it! I made a three tier cake for my little boy's third birthday party, and while I was rushed making the icing and... Read more
Published on April 3 2004 by j McKenna
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