“Yes You Can Desserts” Class With Chef Richard
Chef Richard & Your DBF Blogger.
I took a “Yes You Can Desserts” class last Wednesday at The Montage Beverly Hills in the new Scarpetta restaurant kitchen with Chef Richard Ruskell. I jumped at the chance to learn how to make the Montage’s Chocolate Blackout Cake as Chef Richard is incredibly buzzed about in the dessert world:
- May 2011, he won “The Best Cake Artist in America” Food Network competition.
- He’s a six-time Food Network Challenge winner.
- He was named one of the “Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America” by Chocolatier Magazine.
- He’s appeared in Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Pastry Art & Design, Travel + Leisure – among others.
My interest in baking goes back to childhood. While my Mom is an incredible cook and baker (a rarity), I gravitated more to baking. While I don’t do it often, I’ve been told I make a “killer” chocolate chip cookie and awesome cakes (Red Velvet, Chocolate Sour Cream, and Chocolate Chip are my specialties). I even won a Valentine’s Day baking contest at work a few years ago with my Red Velvet concoction …
I say “concoction” because it was really a disaster I ended up saving. The night before the contest, I made the cake. I put the two cake tins with the batter in the oven and baked them for the allotted time. Maybe I shouldn’t mention, but I had lived in that apartment quite awhile (years) and had not used the oven … anyhow, when the timer went off and the batter was still liquid, I freaked! I called my Mom who said, “Don’t you have an oven thermometer?” … No! (I do now.) So, I kept checking the pans until the cake looked done.
Unfortunately, you can’t just bake and bake cakes like that without consequences. Basically, the cakes were too done on the outside but fine on the inside. The result? They would not come out of the pans and had to be pried out … thereby falling apart.
My Mom said “Not to worry. It’s a layer cake so patch it together, frost it, and no one will know the difference!” … aren’t Moms always right? So, that’s what I did … and no one knew the difference (until now) and I won the contest!
I digress … back to the class. The Montage kitchen is really stunning. The marble bar area was perfect for our small class to sit in and watch Chef Richard’s demonstration.
Here Chef Richard adds cake crumbs to the sides of the cake for added pazazz.
The Chef adds cake crumbs to decorate.
While the class was fun, I definitely learned some baking stuff (for all you bakers, below are a few nuggets I didn’t know):
- Greasing & flouring the pan is OUT! Just use Pam Canola spray and put a piece of parchment on the bottom … the cake comes out beautifully!
- Bake the cake the day before you frost it (it will set up better in the refrigerator overnight and be more ready to be frosted the next day)
- With layer cakes, space them out in the oven so they’re not on top of each other and rotate them during baking as most home ovens are very uneven with heat
- Before frosting, slice off a thin layer from the cakes top … those nooks and crannies that are on the original top are a bad foundation for frosting
- Chef Richard prefers butter cream icing rather than cream cheese frosting (as he feels the latter is gritty and too sweet due to the powdered sugar) … I think I still prefer cream cheese
- His favorite cooking supply stores are Surfas in Culver City and NY Cake Supply West on Pico (although he likes Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table also)
The best part? We got to take home a cake that he made. Voila!
The Montage Blackout Cake – we got to bring home.
Chef Richard will be teaching more dessert classes once a month through November – on topics including “Buttercream: Be not Afraid!”; “Chocolate – Without the Fear!”; and “The Secrets of Mousse.” I’m going to try to attend for sure!