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Aug 31, 2009 05:36 PM

Rose's Heavenly Cakes - Cookbook

I just received today (from Amazon) Rose Levy Beranbaum's latest book, "Rose's Heavenly Cakes". I have not yet had a chance to look at it in detail, but there are some great-looking cakes in there !

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  1. Thanks! I love her and wasn't aware of a new offering. Does it have lots of her usual tips and "understanding" section as in her Bibles? Or is it more a collection of recipes? I must have a look-see at the bookstore. Does she still offer measurements by weight?

    22 Replies
    1. re: cinnamon girl

      It does not have her "understanding" section, but does have a lot of tips. There are a lot of cakes I have not seen before. She does still offer measurements by weight; I wish more books did that as I hate to mess around with cups and tablespoons. It infuriates me when I see recipes with butter measured in tablespoons (as an example).

      1. re: souschef

        How did you get the book so early? I placed my order last week but won't receive it until possibly as late as Sept. 23. No fair! :)

        Does she have any new flourless cake recipes? I'm dying to know. Thanks!

        1. re: amy_wong

          If you want a flourless chocolate cake recipe, you need the Ottolenghi one - it is utterly wonderful.

          1. re: buttertart

            Thanks for the tip. Do you know if the Ottolenghi book has lots of vegetarian options? I'm tempted to get a copy since it seems to be very well reviewed.

            1. re: amy_wong

              Yes, there are many veg recipes - check Home Cooking for the August COTM discussions. An excellent book all around.

          2. re: amy_wong

            I pre-ordered the book from Amazon about a month ago :)

            There is a special section on "Mostly Flourless Cakes and Cheesecakes". A couple may be new (it's hard for anything to be really "new"). There is one called "Chocolate Feather Bed".....description: "Slim layers of flourless mousselike chocolate cake filled with whipped ganache conspire to give the impression of diving into a downy-soft feather bed".

          3. re: souschef

            thank you souschef. I can't stand volumetric either. It's so time-consuming and imprecise. Totally agree: the butter/tbsp thing is utterly ridiculous. It's got to the point where I won't buy baking books unless the measurements are by weight. At the very least it would have to be pretty compelling . . . I hope you'll let us know which recipes you try and your assessment of them!

            1. re: cinnamon girl

              The first cake I'm planning to make is the one on the cover. It's called a "Bernachon Palet D'Or", which is her transformation of a Bernachon chocolate into a cake - a sour cream chocolate cake filled and glazed with creme fraiche ganache, then glazed with a "lacquer glaze". I'll let you know how it turns out.

              There are quite a few very nice-looking cakes.

              1. re: souschef

                Oh man, must get this book. Anything in any way associated with Bernachon must be good.

                1. re: buttertart

                  Do you have the Bernachon book that she translated? I bought it recently used on Amazon for $2 !

                  BTW I was in the Bernachon storein Lyon many years ago and tried a few different chocolates. They were good, but not spectacular. However, just down the road was a simple, unassuming store that had far superior chocolate.

                  1. re: souschef

                    I must get that. We were there in 2002 at Christmastime (500 gm marrons glacés please...) and had some wonderful chocolates, incl the best plain chocolate I have ever tasted and a praline that had about 5 different textures and flavors in it, all divine.

                    1. re: buttertart

                      Ah, you like marrons glacés as well! I have not had Bernachon's, but really love the ones from a confiserie in Geneva. I have tried to make them a couple of times, but failed miserably. I am planning to try again this fall, using a few new ideas, and will start a thread about my plans.

                      1. re: souschef

                        My favorite confection of any. I tried making them once a long time ago (I think the recipe was in the original Gourmet cookbook) and failed miserably. Look forward to seeing your thread.

                  2. re: souschef

                    Looking forward to your picture of it!

                    1. re: souschef

                      I made the Bernachon cake this weekend for a birthday, and quite frankly, I was disappointed. It was boring ! I have found that every cocoa cake I have ever made (including other recipes from RLB) has been missing the intensely chocolatey taste that I like, and this one was no exception.

                      As a trial I first made just the base cake to taste it. It was dense and moist, but I felt that it just did not have any pronounced flavour. I felt it was missing something, but a pastry chef friend who tried it thought that it would maybe come together with the other stuff on it, and she liked it, so I decided to proceed.

                      My creme fraiche supplier was out of the stuff so I decided to use sour cream instead for the ganache, per RLB's alternative. I used 72% chocolate instead of 62%, but did not think it would make a huge difference as one of the alternatives when using sour cream was to also use creme de cassis for a tarter flavour.

                      The ganache went on well, and it took a bit of time, but I was able to get it nice and smooth. I left it overnight in an airtight container in the fridge, and the next morning found that the ganache coating had cracked in spots all around, and in some spots on top. Picture attached. I used a hot spatula to patch the spots. In restrospect I should have not thrown out the leftover ganache, but kept it to use as putty to fix the cake.

                      The glaze went on beautifully. As the book states, there is lots to glaze it in one shot. Picture attached, before I screwed it up by writing on it - did it at the last minute as usual.

                      I am also attaching a picture of a slice as the book does not show the inside.

                      I was very surprised that while the test cake seemed moist, the final cake seemed really dry (did the time in the fridge do that?), and seemed to really lack something. Other people at the birthday lunch seemed to like it, but perhaps they were just being polite.

                      That's it for me and cocoal cakes. Never liked them; time to turn the page when I see them.

                      1. re: souschef

                        I don't know if this will help. I've been looking at a couple of chocolate cake recipes for an up-coming birthday.
                        I have not made either one yet, but maybe one of them will have some chocolate flavor. Maybe some one else has made one or both of them and can report on the quality.

                        1. re: yayadave

                          No thanks - cocoa cakes !

                          I think I'll stick with RLB's Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte and Alice Medrich's Queen of Sheba...the two best chocolate cakes after my favourite (the chocolate hazelnut fig cake).

                          1. re: souschef

                            How disappointing. I haven't had much luck with cocoa in fancy cakes - and particularly do not like Dutch-process cocoa, period. I do however ave an old family recipe that does make a good cake w/cocoa - you stir boiling water into the cocoa and let it cool before using in the cake - Medrich uses this technique in some of her cakes - makes a nice plain cake. The glaze with gelatin in it intrigues me (and looks swell in your pic).

                            1. re: buttertart

                              I think I did make a chocolate genoise (from the Cake Bible) that uses the same technique, and I think it turned out okay, but I don't think it was spectacular....was a long time ago.

                              When making chocolate madeleines I melt chocolate with the butter.

                        2. re: souschef

                          It still looks gorgeous, souschef - after fixing it that is. In answer to your question tho', I find that the fridge does really dry out baked goods. But how else are you supposed to get a glaze to set in warm humid weather? If your a/c is always on, I guess you can put it in the fridge just long enough to set the glaze. But I'm hardly going to leave my a/c on just for my cake!

                          As for cocoa cakes, I'm not experienced w them. But I find that brownies w/o cocoa powder are missing something. So I always add cocoa to "boost" the chocolate flavour. Like Buttertart, I'm not a fan of Dutch-processed. Natural un-Dutched cocoa is much deeper in flavour. Which did she recommend? But I don't think I've ever tried just cocoa . . . whatever cocoa recipes I've used have always had choc chips or chunks or something chocolately.

                          Creme fraiche or sour cream in the glaze is intriguing. Can hardly wait to get my hands on this book. Could you have made truffles out of the leftover ganache rather than jettisoning it? Or too runny? Thanks for filling us in SC.

                          p.s. (edit) I see down thread that you routinely put cake in the fridge overnight before finishing. So I don't know if my above comment is relevant. However, you do wrap it well in plastic, which you wouldn't have here . . . dunno!

                          1. re: cinnamon girl

                            You have to put the cake into the fridge to set the ganache. In this case I had it in a "cake saver". The ones I wrap are genoise; they may dry out a bit, but you use a soaking syrup.

                            RLB recommended Dutch-process cocoa, so that's what I used, made by Droste.

                            I could easily have made a few truffles out of the leftover ganache, but decided to jettison it so it would not be temptation for a large mouse at home who knows how to open the fridge. Leftover cake components are no temptation for me.

                2. My copy is arriving Sept. 9 and I can't wait to try her new recipes.

                  Staying somewhat on-topic, I have a few questions about Rose's recipes for butter cakes.

                  1. The chocolate butter cakes I make have been pretty good, but a bit fragile so that I have problems transferring layers. I tend to break the top layer as I place it on top of a previously frosted bottom layer. Do you have the same problem? I usually let the cake cool down for two hours before I start frosting. Is there a correct way of transferring cake layers?

                  2. The last batch of butter cake I made was not as moist as previous ones. Is there any reliable way of ensuring moistness? I think it may have to do with the oven in my new house too. This is the first time I have had Rose's butter cake form a huge dome and crack on me. The oven in my old place baked like a dream and kept temperature. I hope this is the reason why the cake has been dry.

                  3. I'm not so profligate as to get rid of the oven just so I can match the performance of the oven in my previous place. Is there a way I can work with this oven in the meantime? I have an oven thermometer which tells me that the oven is at the right temperature. This is why I'm puzzled with all the domed cakes. Will magic cake strips work?

                  Thanks in advance. I need help.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: amy_wong

                    1. After the cake has cooled down completely I wrap it in plastic and leave it in the fridge overnight. Most books recommend that. It is then easier to work with. I use the bottoms of two springform pans to transfer layers.

                    You should ask Rose herself about the other two questions, at

                  2. I got it (and the Bernachon book, cheap, thanks for your encouragement7) yesterday. Have been going through it - there are some wonderful-looking cakes in there - am planning to make the Cradle Cake (a buttermilk loaf cake nestled in chocolate and nut meringue) or maybe the Hungarian walnut cake tomorrow. Will report. PS the instructions include temperatures at which the cakes are done (around the 190 deg F mark, but varies from cake to cake somewhat) . This is very useful and something I've never seen before. Someone posted on this board inquiring about temps but I can't find the post, hope the poster is interested enough in baking to see this!

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: buttertart

                      I was planning to make the Palet D'Or this weekend for my wife's birthday, but got vetoed - she wants her favourite Chocolate Chestnut Cake instead.

                      1. re: souschef

                        Happy birthday to Mme Souschef. A girl after my own heart. I made the Cradle Cake - it is delicious as a whole - and the buttermilk cake inside the dacquoise layer is WONDERFUL, the best white cake I've ever made. I think next time I will use almonds as the nuts (I used walnuts i/o the pecans called for) - you could cut it in layers and make a reasonable (smaller) facsimile of a Zuger Kirschtorte with it, with a dribble of Kirsch syrup and buttercream.

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Mme Souschef says thank you! She said that the cake was especially good - I have recently changed from Callebaut chocolate to Felchlin. Attached is a picture of the last remaining piece. I hope you all like the food porn pictures I attach.

                          I'm glad to hear that the Cradle Cake turned out great. I really like buttermilk and sour cream cakes as they are moist.

                          1. re: souschef

                            The cake looks great, thanks for sharing the photo!'

                            I'm definitely a fan of Felchlin chocolate too, but it's not always easy to find. Do you have a source that you can recommend?

                            1. re: btnfood

                              My source is in Montreal. They carry a wide variety of Felchlin. Check this thread:


                              1. re: souschef

                                Very interesting thread. Thanks!

                          2. re: buttertart

                            Note that this cake stays nice and moist but the meringue detatches from the white cake to some extent on standing. Would be good to make and eat up same day.

                          3. re: souschef

                            How is your chocolate chestnut cake put together? Is it from the book or no?

                            I love love love chestnuts. But I always wonder if you lose the chestnut flavor if you blend it with chocolate. What do you think?

                            1. re: karykat

                              The chestnut cake is from a magazine. I posted the recipe here recently:


                              You do lose the flavour of the chestnuts, but the combination is texturally and taste-wise something new to enjoy. You should make it if you love chestnuts, and report back on your opinion.

                        2. A real breakthrough in this book (in addition to the temperature notes): She suggests putting a 9" springform pan inside a 9"silicone pan when baking in a water bath. The aluminum foil method has never worked for me, and the "leakproof" springforms are in my experience not. This is a great book, my favorite since the Dorie Greenspan "Baking From my Home to Yours". The precise recipe instructions, the recipe ideas, wow. And an overall rather more relaxed tone then the Bibles have.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: buttertart

                            The aluminium foil method works fine for me. I have used it numerous times when making the Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte from TCB. BTW it's a great cake to cover with rolled fondant.

                          2. Looking at the pine cone cake in the book brought back a fond memory:

                            For our first Christmas after we got married, my wife and I decided to host Christmas dinner for our families, with me doing the cooking; my wife stopped cooking after she lost the recipe for toast.

                            I planned an ambitious dessert - a chocolate pine cone cake that appeared in Bon Appetit (and referenced in the book). I put it together, including making my own marzipan, but it did not look right, and asked my wife to take a look at it. On looking at it, she covered her mouth with her hand and ran from the kitchen, laughing. When I asked her what was so funny, she said that it looked like a torpedo !!

                            It still tasted great !

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: souschef

                              You made your own marzipan?! Did it have to cook a long time to get that texture? Did you need some kind of glucose or corn syrup or otherwise liquid sugar, in addition to the regular sugar? Or was this a one-off which you've since forgotten? ... understandable!

                              1. re: cinnamon girl

                                That was a one-of. However, I recently made pistachio marzipan using a recipe in The Cake Bible. It uses corn syrup, and does not involve cooking. The only problem is getting a fine enough texture - using just a food processor you cannot duplicate the smooth texture of commercial marzipan, where they use large rollers. The next time I make it I plan to further grind it using some muscle - a marble rolling pin and a marble pastry board.

                                1. re: souschef

                                  Re: DIY marzipan. I am in awe. It must have been beautiful. I wonder if those super expensive blenders that mulch things would grind finer? Vegi-Mix or something? I know a regular blender grinds finer than a FP but a bit of a mess getting it out of the container. Do coffee grinders grind finer than blenders? I've fantasized abt a grain mill after reading abt them in RLB's bread book. I suspect your marble rolling pin or a mortar and pestle would be a heckuvalot cheaper!

                                  1. re: cinnamon girl

                                    I recently discussed the very thing with my favourite chocolatier, and she recommended the use of a coffee grinder; she makes her own marzipan. I would have to buy one just for that purpose, and, as you said, the rolling pin is cheaper (I already have it).

                                    1. re: souschef

                                      Be careful you get a good strong one, I burnt out a Krups on poppyseed straight out of the box.