Fun, Fabulous, and Functional Summer Cakes
Andrea Meyer, owner and executive pastry chef of Bisous Bisous Pâtisserie in Dallas, is busy crunching numbers nowadays. Sure, the energetic owner of one of the fastest-growing bakeries in Texas is checking over profit-and-loss statements to ensure her shop is maximizing profitability. But there’s another kind of number she is dealing with, which is becoming all the rage in her local community.
“We are feeling the craze of number cakes,” Meyer says. “We’ve seen a big increase in our cake orders in the past few weeks since debuting these cakes.”
It’s no wonder because the number cakes at her shop are no simple creation. These are multi-layer numerals made of cake and topped with dollops of chocolate icing, chocolate decorations and her signature French macarons.
“Our retail team handles the ordering and communication with the customers,” Meyer says. “We’ve provided them with guidelines on everything from servings per number to flavors, colors and the type of board or box it will be put on or into. They set the expectation for the customer and communicate it with the kitchen staff.”
Bisous Bisous Pâtisserie requires a two-day lead time on cake orders, which allows the shop time to ensure they have the necessary tools to execute. “We make our cake each week in anticipation of the week’s orders and we have pre-made templates for each number in each size we offer. Cake assembly is relatively quick, and our entire team has workshopped these types of orders, so anyone can do them. We don’t deliver, so pickup is pretty seamless, just like any other pre-ordered item.”
Number cakes are a hot trend for summer.
Here’s another great idea for summer celebration cakes. People love their pets, and you can bring customers a lot of joy with a sculpted cake of their favorite dog or pet.
Award-winning cake decorator Al DiBartolo Jr. of DiBartolo Bakery in Collingswood, New Jersey, loves to use Flavor Right’s Custom Ice icing along with fondant to sculpt and create one-of-a-kind cakes that wow his customers at celebrations and special occasions.
“You always want to add a little surprise,” he says. “Take it up a notch. Little things go a long way.”
When you airbrush, tint in the lightest color. “I use Chefmaster colors. They are always consistent,” DiBartolo says. “You don’t want to compromise quality. You’ve got to price it accordingly, but you have to satisfy your demographics. Remember, we’re making memories for people.”
Meyer says she has learned several valuable lessons when it comes to handling birthday/party cake orders that have helped her bakery improve and streamline the process.
“Having some cake in each flavor and projecting necessary fillings/toppings at the beginning of each week is helpful so you’re not in a fire drill with each order,” she says. “We’re not a cake shop per se, so trying to stay ahead of possible orders when we’re producing 60-plus other pastries is a challenge, but we usually allow time in our weekly schedules to flex for orders when we have them.”
Novelty cake ideas
Cake pops continue to be a popular choice for small-serve desserts.
Novelty cakes are a perfect fit for summer parties and special occasions because people are looking for fun.
Charles Niedermyer II, chef instructor at Pennsylvania College of Technology, is a big fan of Guittard chocolate and offers creative ideas for using chocolate ganache in everything from elegant cakes to fun cake pops.
“Cake pops continue to be popular,” he says. “They are easy to pass around. It’s something small people can enjoy.”
To make ganache cake pops, Niedermyer suggests a basic ratio of 40-45 percent ganache to cake. Chopping is a significant labor expense; he buys chocolate wafers. “When you chop chocolate for ganache, it needs to be fine.”
One of the most common mistakes when making ganache is melting the chocolate, Niedermyer advises. You want to make an emulsion. Niedermyer uses an immersion blender to make ganache. You can use a whisk or a robot coupe, also.
“Great ganache can be the center of a great wedding cake. It should be very shiny and reflective,” he says. “I try to never refrigerate ganache if I don’t have to. It can last three weeks at room temperature.”
To make cake pops, save cake tops and other scraps and throw it all in a bag and then right into the freezer. Or if you make a lot of cake pops, make cakes just for cake pops. “We bake cakes to make our cake pops,” he says. “It matters.”
Chimney cakes have gained a reputation as the perfect vessels for holding ice cream due to their cone-like shape.
Experiment with dark chocolates, Niedermyer adds. Customers also really enjoy the higher cocoa percentage chocolates with dairy have. White chocolate (cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder) is a great fit for cakes topped with fruit.
“White chocolate is a perfect vessel for accenting flavors, or a perfect canvas to introduce other flavors. It is spectacular with fruit,” he says. “It is a great way to produce ganache or filling that can be flavored with fruit. More exotic fruits like mango showcase much better with white chocolate. It also colors very well.”
Also, if you want to produce a high-end chocolate cake, replace 10-12 percent of flour in your formula by sifting in cocoa. Cocoas will produce different flavors and aromas.
Another great idea for summer is the chimney cake. Chimney cakes are made by wrapping sweet yeast dough around a cone-shaped baking spit, rolling it in sugar, and cooking it in an oven while basting with butter or oil. This caramelizes it, creating a warm churro-like shell. It’s crispy on the outside but soft and sweet like a donut inside.
Several bakeries across the country specialize in this sweet treat, including House of Chimney Cakes in Anaheim, California. Owner Szandra Szabó grew up in Hungary, making her name as a fashion model and entrepreneur.
However, Szabó sought a different career and moved to the United States to bring some of the foods of her homeland to Californians.
“When I was little I baked chimney cakes with my grandmother,” says Szabó. That family tradition has made its way to The Golden State and is satisfying both California residents and its visitors. House of Chimney Cakes is located just minutes from Disneyland, making it an exciting destination for sweets lovers.
They pair perfectly with soft serve, which comes in flavors like vanilla bean and Dutch chocolate. The final touch on these chimney cakes is that they are topped with ingredients such as Oreo cookie crumbs, graham crackers, caramel popcorn, cheesecake bites and fruit.