Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Must Have: Find your favorite kind of CAKE!

Let's talk CAKE.

I have a theory...there are two kinds of people:

Group #1) Those who like cake, and
Group #2) those who say they don't.

I find this interesting, especially the second group who claim that they are not cake people. To them I would say that they haven't had the opportunity to taste a really GOOD cake. I've been given this reason time and time again, when meeting with clients for a wedding cake tasting during a consultation. Actually, when I hear that, I have to hold back a grin, because I know that they are soon going to change their perception and move to the first group of those that like cake. I take them on as a challenge to help them open their eyes to the wonderful world of cake; quality cake that is.

I think there are several reasons why people say they don't like cake. Their experiences have included poor quality frosting or too much frosting, dry cake, or cake made with inferior ingredients. I know that some people love boxed cake mixes, but a box mix can't compete with a cake made from scratch, using quality ingredients.

Most celebrations revolve around the cake; weddings, birthdays, baby showers, office gatherings, and holidays. We have all had some kind of cake at one time or another. And on top of that, there are many flavors of cake to choose from--white, yellow, chocolate, marbled, cherry, red velvet, lemon, orange, strawberry, carrot, and on and on. Everyone has their preferred flavors and then you could really divide the cake people into chocolate lovers and the rest. But that is another topic for another post.

What makes a cake really GOOD?

I believe that there are three key aspects that make the difference between a "just OK" kind of cake and a "WOW, this cake is AMAZING". They are: ingredients, technique and the correct ratio of a QUALITY frosting to the amount of cake layers. All three of these attributes are very important and when they are done correctly, you will have a DELICIOUS cake. If even one of these are missing, then the cake is less than excellent and just becomes another cake that isn't memorable (or at least not memorable in a good way).

Ingredients = Need to be fresh, of good quality and the amounts need to be measured accurately, so the cake will come out correctly every single time it's made.

Technique = A cake needs to be mixed using the correct method. Cake batter can be over mixed, under mixed, ingredients incorporated at the stage or at the wrong temperature--all of which can result in problems during the baking process and ultimately the final product.

Correct ratio of a QUALITY frosting to cake = More frosting is not necessarily better. The icing on the cake should compliment the cake or enhance the flavor, not take over completely. And a quality buttercream makes all the difference. Ever eat a cake with too much frosting and the taste leaves a lingering unappealing aftertaste on your tongue? You know the kind I'm talking about--this can ruin a potentially good cake. Picture a smooth, creamy buttercream that is so silky and is filled with a vanilla flavor that works with the moist cake, so that one bite is never enough. That is what GOOD cake should taste like.

I know I haven't mentioned the appearance of a cake. Yes, it should look appealing, because seeing the cake is the first of several senses we use and that first impression is important. My goal with every cake I make, is to make it beautifully delicious; which means it needs to look inviting and with that first look, you just know that the taste will match or exceed its appearance.

Back to those clients I have had over the past several years that have come in to taste wedding cake samples. I'm happy to have them come in and sit down to taste different flavors of cake to help them make a decision for their big day. I've even had the bride or the groom mention again, how although they really aren't cake people, that they just need to find something that will be suitable for their guests. I just smile and say, "It's OK if you don't eat the entire piece of cake, but just give it a try." I cut them a piece of the cake, made just hours before, and set it in front of them.

And then I watch and wait.

The bride loves cake and digs right in. The groom, tentatively cuts his with his fork and takes a small bite. I watch as a look of surprise passes over his face. He goes in for a second bite. Neither is saying anything, but I'm hearing sounds of enjoyment. And then it happens--the moment I've anticipated and enjoy every single time. The bride asks the groom, "So, what do you think?" The groom doesn't say anything, because he is on the last bite of cake and the plate is almost as clean as it was before the cake slice was laid on it. Finally, I hear "WOW, this cake was so GOOD! And I don't even like cake!"

And just like that, another non-cake person experiences a change and is open to moving up to the first group of those who like cake. I love watching this happen. It's just another perk to doing what I love and sharing it with others.

If you haven't enjoyed a really good slice of cake--keep looking. It's out there. Sometimes you have to taste many kinds of cakes from different sources, but you will find it. And if you happen to be in my area, try a Jillicious Cake--you might just become a member of group #1; those who like cake. I love a challenge.

What is your favorite kind of cake?

P.S. My current favorite is the Caramel Hazelnut Spice Cake (pictured in this post) & the latest edition to the completed 2009 Jillicious Holiday Menu found here.


  1. Jill, congrats on! How long has it been running?

    Totally love your writing about cake lovers. It is entirely true. As usual enjoy every bits of your post: cake, photo and the message!


  2. My favorite cake is a GOOD carrot cake. And I have to agree with you...the quality of the cake is so important. Though I have a fav cake, I often still believe I belong to the 2nd group! :P I prefer tarts, and pastries, and pies over cakes...but occasionally I do crave for a piece of cake! And I especially like cakes that serve with some kinda sauce --- weird huh?! :P
    Hope someday I'll be fortunate enough to try your cake! :)

  3. I may have to join Group #1 after reading your post! The pics alone may convert me!

  4. I am in the second group for the reasons you mentioned, I can't take bad cakes, and most cakes served at parties are BAD! I make a point of not wasting the calories on a bad cake, and I feel like a total snob. My problem is not only cakes that taste bad, have too much toxic looking frosting, but they are also too sweet. A cake that makes me want to drink a glass of water immediately to get that horrible super sweet, greasy feeling off my mouth is not a good cake. I don't get cake mixes, if you bother baking a cake, start from scratch. Your cakes look amazing as usual. I said it before, but I wish we lived closer. Keep on baking!

  5. WOW! Amazing cakes! I would like to try all of your cakes and just try to pick one favorite, which is probably impossible! I'm sure they do taste as incredible as they look, and I like your strategy on gaining cake converts:)

  6. Kris: Jillicious Desserts is my full-time business, so has been up for almost 3 years now. :) Thanks for the congrats! And I'm glad you liked the post.

    Jenny: I know what you mean about still being in the second group. If you have bad cake, then it's hard to stay in the first one. I think cake with a sauce sounds great, not weird at all! :)

    Danny: That's right, remember who is the BOSS! Ha ha! :)

    Laura: I know what you mean about most cakes not tasting good and have too much frosting. I think that's why making cakes are probably one of my favorite desserts to make--so hopefully I can change that for people. :)

    Sue: Thanks! I think it's a good way too. :)

  7. My favorite is definitely Red Velvet! Oh yum I want some cake!!

    p.s. I made a pie here the other day and all of the Australians kept calling it cake. it was very strange...

  8. YUM! That cake looks and sounds delicious. My favorite is a good chocolate cake with vanilla frosting/filling. I like chocolate cake that has a strong chocolate flavor, and I think the vanilla is such a nice contrast. Lovely post and photos.

  9. Oh wow. Now I'm craving cake! That looks amazing - and I love your theory! My uncle would never eat any dessert, but when I was 2 I got him to eat a piece (No one's done it since)!

  10. Megan: That is very strange--pie is not the same as cake. :)

    Msmeanie: I agree--a good chocolate cake and a good vanilla icing is a nice contrast.

    Lauren: Good job! I think it's a good thing to encourage people to try good cake. :)

  11. What a wonderful post! You're spot on about cake--it's often bad, so we think we don't like it. I personally will die happy if I never have to eat another white sheet cake with crisco frosting. In fact, I intend to ensure that I never do.

    A GOOD cake, however, is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. I tend to prefer simple cakes, maybe only one layer, with something simple on top. My all time favorite cake was a chocolate pound cake that a friend of my mother made when I was young. It was light and the texture was absolutely perfect. Deeply chocolate, it had a light fudgy frosting--not too much, just enough. I dream about that cake.

    Now I'm hungry.

  12. I usually supply the cake for most friends and family so fortunately I have a bit of an influence on flavours. I typically love anything chocolate. That's my fallback. But really, happy with anything - except super sweet frosting!