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Archive for June 1, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: How To Ice A Cake

Frosting a cake seems easy enough, but anyone who’s tried knows just how difficult it is to create a clean and smooth surface.

Pastry chef and cake artist Marina Sousa of creates exquisite party cakes (check out the portfolio on the website). She shares this trick of the trade: simple steps to a seamlessly iced cake:

1. BE DILIGENT. “It really starts in the oven,” says Sousa. “Baking the cake to the right consistency is essential for it to stay together.” So, don’t underbake, overbake or take creative license with the recipe!

2. COOL THE CAKE. Next, it’s important to let a cake properly cool before icing it. If the cake is still warm, the icing not adhere well.

3. START WITH A CRUMB COAT. Once it’s cooled, ice the cake with a thin layer of the frosting, which is called the “crumb coat.” Spreading this thin layer on and letting it dry will seal in all the little crumbs so they can’t mess up your final layer.


Your cakes may not be this fancy, but your frosting can be just as smooth. Photo courtesy


4. ADD THE FINAL FROST. After about 15 minutes, it’s time for a second and final frost. Start with a thick layer on the sides, working from the top toward the bottom, always wiping off your spatula before putting it back in the icing bowl. Finally, spoon a mound of frosting in the center of the top of the cake and spread it out toward the edges. Take long strokes, all in the same direction, until you have a smooth, crumbless finish.

Watch this video on how to ice a cake.


The difference between frosting and icing is in the sugar:

Icing is made with confectioners’ sugar (also called icing sugar), frosting is made with granulated sugar (table sugar). The two words are often used interchangeably, but that doesn’t make it correct!
Find our favorite cakes and cake recipes in our Gourmet Cakes Section.


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RECIPE: Birthday Cake For Every Day Of The Year

No, this isn’t the cake, but one of the
creative appetizers at E&E Grill House:
smoky grilled bacon slabs on a salad of
Savoy cabbage dressed with aïoli and cider
vinegar. The cake is below. Photo courtesy
E&E Grill House.


We recently were a guest at a relatively new steakhouse in New York City’s Theatre District. E&E Grill House is a lovely change of pace, with a much more modern vibe than the typical steakhouse, including sleek white walls with occasional splashes of color (like a red wall dominated by a colorful Alexander Calder print). With all respect to classic steakhouse decor—dark paneling, damask and leather banquettes—we prefer E&E’s style.

Chef Eric Simeon’s menu has creative flourishes, such as Peekytoe Crab Fritters With Thai Basil-Chili Sauce; Smoked Baby Beets With Goat Cheese, Fennel and Pistachio; and Tuscan Kale Salad with shaved watermelon radishes, pecorino cheese and bread crumbs in a honey-and-whole-grain-mustard vinaigrette. For vegetarians, there’s Smoked & Grilled Tofu with grilled broccolini and yuzu-ginger sauce. Here’s a photo gallery of the food).

Your choice of beef cut can be garnished with one of eight sauces, including Benedict, Blue Cheese Brulee, Caramelized Shallots, Cultured Bone Marrow Butter, Bearnaise, Roasted Garlic-Mustard, Salt-Cured Foie Gras and Telicherry Peppercorn. The service is great.



As much as we enjoyed our beef dishes, we left dreaming of a dessert called Birthday Cake: velvet chocolate cake (deep chocolate, not red velvet) with cream cheese frosting and a side of confetti ice cream—a ball of vanilla rolled in rainbow sprinkles.

It was so good, we couldn’t wait for our next trip to the neighborhood—just for the Birthday Cake.

Not your birthday? That’s OK: It’s your un-birthday. Or, as the Mad Hatter, March Hare and White Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland so memorably sing:

“Now statistics prove that you’ve one birthday
Imagine, just one birthday every year
Ah, but there are 364 unbirthdays
Precisely why we’re gathered here to cheer.”

Want a weekend cooking project? Bake this cake! It may be just the thing to bake for Father’s Day, too.

Thanks to E&E pastry chef Christopher Peneiro for sharing his delectable Birthday Cake recipe with us.




  • 1 pound, 12 ounces cake flour
  • 6 ounces Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon + teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 pounds +2 ounces sugar
  • 8 medium, eggs
  • 1.5 cups of brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 1.5 cups buttermilk
  • 1 ounce vanilla paste
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup crème fraîche

    Our new favorite birthday cake—and unbirthday cake, too. Photo courtesy E&E Grill House.


    Preparation: Cake

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

    2. Mix together cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

    3. In a separate bowl, mix together melted butter, sugar, eggs, coffee, buttermilk, vanilla paste and olive oil. Slowly stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture, blending until smooth.

    4. Pour batter into two 8-inch round cake pans. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.



  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), softened (room temperature)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, chilled
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    1. Beat cold cream cheese with softened butter and vanilla until combined.

    2. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar that has been sifted after measuring. Continue to add more sifted powdered sugar until you reach a consistency and sweetness that fits your taste. (Editor’s Note: We don’t add much additional sugar. The cake and ice cream are sweet enough for us without over-sweetening the frosting.)

    3. Layer the cake with frosting and serve with a ball of confetti ice cream.



  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream per person
  • Rainbow sprinkles (you can find them online)

    1. Scoop round balls of ice cream and roll in sprinkles.

    2. Return to freezer on a plate or tray until ready to serve, covered with plastic wrap or foil. You can do this the day before.
    We hope you love this cake as much as we do.


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