Cover image for Sweet celebrations : the art of decorating beautiful cakes
Sweet celebrations : the art of decorating beautiful cakes
Weinstock, Sylvia.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [1999]

Physical Description:
viii, 196 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 27 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX771.2 .W45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



In Sweet Celebrations the woman InStyle called "New York's reigning cake diva" shares her recipes, designs, techniques, and tips in a gloriously illustrated book.

Bon Appétit called master baker and decorator Weinstock "the Leonardo da Vinci of wedding cakes," and her stunningly original creations have graced the celebrations of Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, and Whitney Houston. Her repertoire includes not just grand, romantic, floral wedding cakes but cakes appropriate for all of life's festive moments. Now she shares her expertise with bakers who want the perfect cake to commemorate that very special occasion.

Sweet Celebrations includes cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, bon voyage send-offs, victory parties, and more. Graded according to difficulty, there are cakes for the beginning as well as the experienced decorator. Present your favorite graduate with a richly bound pile of books, welcome a newborn with a delectable stack of pastel-colored blocks, or serve the charming cottage cake at a housewarming. Each of the featured twenty-four cakes is shown in full color, with complete step-by-step instructions for baking, assembling, and decorating. In addition there are many inspiring photographs of the fabulous cakes Weinstock has created for clients around the world.

The book provides recipes for cakes, frostings, and fillings, as well as detailed illustrated instructions on decorating techniques. Sweet Celebrations is a must-have volume for home and professional bakers who want to make and serve cakes that taste as good as they look.

Author Notes

Sylvia Weinstock creates her edible masterpieces in a loft building in New York City, where she lives and works.
Kate Manchester, a writer and private chef, lives on Long Island, New York.



Chapter One: Basic Guidance Equipment Folllowing are listed items that you will need to get started. Some are very simple, and you may already have them on hand; some you can order through the mail or find in a well-stocked kitchen store. The standing electric mixer is a wonderful investment; it proves its worth when you have a buttercream that needs to be beaten for twenty-five minutes or more, because it frees you to do other things. Most mixers come with one 41/2-quart bowl, but I strongly suggest that you get yourself two bowls. The standing mixer is something you cannot live without. I would also not be without a turntable. Once your cake is baked, you will use the turntable for every subsequent step, from slicing and trimming to filling, icing, and decorating; it will cut your decorating time in half. It's another key piece of equipment that will make these cakes infinitely easier, and I don't recommend doing a cake without one. Standing electric mixer with dough hook and whip attachments Two 41/2-quart beater mixing bowls Handheld electric mixer Set of graduated mixing bowls Citrus zester Wire whisks Measuring spoons Sifter 14-inch serrated knife Turntable Small offset spatula Icing blade Rubber spatulas Pastry bags and couplings Set of pastry decorating tips Vegetable paste colors Vegetable gel colors Petal dust or vegetable powder colors Paint or pastry brushes Baking parchment or wax paper 6-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch round and square cake cardboards Plastic drinking straws 12-inch bamboo skewers Swivel-blade utility knife Candy thermometer Baking pans (2 of each size): 6 x 3-inch round and square 8 x 3-inch round and square (at least 2) 10 x 3-inch round and square 12 x 3-inch round and square Resource Guide Bridge Kitchenware214 East 52nd StreetNew York, NY 10022(212) 838-6746 Broadway Panhandler477 Broome StreetNew York, NY 10013(212) 966-3434 Creative Cutters561 Edward Avenue, Units 1 & 2Richmond Hill, OntarioCanada L4C 9W6(905) 883-5638 Kerekes Bakery & Restaurant Equipment, Inc.6103 15th AvenueBrooklyn, NY 11219(800) 525-5556Fax (718) 232-4416 New York Cake and Baking Distributors, Inc.56 West 22nd StreetNew York, NY 10026(212) 675-2253 Pfeil & Holing58-15 Northern BoulevardWoodside, NY 11377(800) 247-7955 J. B. Prince Company29 West 38th StreetNew York, NY 10018(212) 302-8611 About Cakes One of the reasons for my success is that I take no shortcuts. All of my cakes are made with only the freshest and finest available ingredients. If you want something to be the best, you must start with the best materials available. I believe that people are willing to pay for a quality product, and that is what they get from me. The flowers for a big cake can be made several weeks in advance, but the cakes are never baked, filled, and iced more than one or two days before an event. My customers always get a fresh, tender, and delicious cake. I understand that for the home baker, it may be unreasonable to bake, fill, and decorate cakes in just two days, but I don't recommend baking the cake more than three days prior to an event. Some layer cakes have a better shelf life than others. A carrot cake, nut cake, or chocolate cake can hold several days without noticeable deterioration, but a sponge or yellow cake should be as freshly made as possible. People often ask what kind of cake mix we use for our cakes. The answer is, of course, that we do not use mixes. All of the cake recipes are classics. I don't use cake mixes because I don't like the taste, and I prefer a cake without preservatives. One also can control the flavor when a cake is baked from scratch. In the end the difference in taste will be noticeable. I haven't created any "new" recipes; all of the cakes in this book are from recipes that I have been using for years, some of which were given to me by George Keller and other pastry professionals who taught me, but most of the time I have no idea where they came from. We have fiddled with them, modified and fine-tuned them, and I am passing them on to you. The structure of the cake is very important. You will be working with cakes that have tiers and decorations, so the cake must hold up. You cannot put tiers of cake and icing and decorations on a delicate angel food cake; it simply will not hold the weight of fillings and flowers. You can fill your cake with mousse or whipped cream, but you must use a cake that is sturdy enough to hold its shape and the added weight. Over the years I have determined which cakes work best for which structures, and the recipes I give here will work well for all of the cakes I discuss. Remember that the cake is part of the palette of the feast, and that it should not overwhelm the meal but complement it. Certain foods and certain flavors marry well, and I have given suggestions for which washes and fillings go well with each cake. Read the recipes from beginning to end before starting, have all the equipment and ingredients out and ready, and use this book as a creative guide. Look at the photographs, and then use your imagination to make each cake uniquely yours. A few very simple tricks will assure a successful cake. First, it's very important to sift the flour. Flour tends to settle and get heavy; sifting will aerate and lighten it and get rid of any lumps, making a lighter cake. I always use the freshest extra-large eggs I can find. Eggs should be cold, because they separate more easily, and butter should always be at room temperature. I always use sweet butter in my cakes; salt is added to butter as a preservative and therefore sweet butter tends to be fresher. Also, I want to be able to control the amount of salt I use in the cake. Baking is not stovetop cooking. You can be creative with a pot of sauce, but baking is chemistry. There is a balance and a relationship to the proportions of eggs, baking powder, salt, and other ingredients. Measure, do not improvise. You can play with flavoring washes and fillings, you can play with design, but following the recipes exactly will yield the best results. I recommend that you butter your cake pans and line them with parchment. This ensures that cakes will come out of the pans evenly, not in ragged sections. Buttering the pan(s) will produce nicely browned, moist cakes. Always preheat the oven. Always fill the prepared pans 3/4 full. Place the pans in the center of the oven to assure even heat. Test with a wooden skewer; the cake is done if the skewer emerges dry. The cake in its pan should be removed from the oven and placed on a wire rack to cool. Only when the cake has cooled to room temperature should it be removed from its pan. To remove the cake from its pan, insert a thin knife along the edge of the pan and run it around the cake. Then invert the pan and the cake should slip out. If the cake does not slip out easily, place the pan bottom over very low heat on the stove for a few seconds to warm the butter in the cake just enough to get it to slip out of the pan when the pan is inverted. Once out of the pan, the cake, on a cake cardboard, should again be placed on the wire rack to completely cool so it will be ready to be trimmed and sliced. Trimming, slicing, filling, icing, and decorating are functions that make a turntable essential. You should also have on hand a supply of various-sized cake cardboards. As the result of the baking process, cakes usually mound up on top. This mound must be sliced off to get a flat-topped cake that can then be sliced into discs about one-half inch thick that will make up the filled cake. I usually discard the bottom slice that was next to the pan bottom, because it tends to have a browned crust. With the cooled cake on a cardboard cake board, place on the turntable. Using a long, sharp, serrated knife, mark the cake horizontally at 1/2-inch intervals. A cake baked in an 8 x 3-inch pan will usually yield three to four segments, depending on which cake you have used -- some bake higher than others. Hold the knife against the cake and parallel to the base of the turntable, and turn the turntable while keeping the knife at arm level. As you spin the turntable, apply a subtle but firm inward pressure, allowing the knife to go deeper to cut through the cake; this is the first slice. Now take a long icing spatula and lift the edge of the cake slice slightly. Slide a cardboard cake base under the first (top) slice, and remove. Repeat at the next 1/2-inch mark. Repeat until you have sliced the whole cake. Very often the cake will yield four or even five slices. Use cake cardboard to support your cake slices until you are ready to assemble the cake layers. If you have cake slices left, you can always wrap them tightly, date them, and freeze them for up to one month. It is important that the cake slices be completely cooled before you attempt to fill them, otherwise the filling will soften, melt, and make a mess, with the slices sliding out of alignment and oozing filling. Only the first cake layer will remain on a cardboard and will sit on a platter or wooden cake base. Once you have put filling on the first cake slice, use a long spatula to ease the remaining cake slices off their cardboard and onto the filling below If you are baking the cake ahead of time, after you have trimmed and sliced it you can plastic-wrap the slices on their cardboards and freeze them until you are ready to fill and decorate the cake. When you are ready to fill the cake, place the first cake disc, on its cardboard, on the turntable. Assuming that you have prepared your filling with the mixer and that it is soft and workable, using a plastic spatula fill a pastry bag that you have equipped with a #789 tip and squeeze out a bead of filling in a close spiral, starting at the outer edge of the cake disc and winding inward to the center. The same principle applies to a square cake, where the spiral has square corners. When you have covered the cake disc with a spiral of filling, smooth and level the filling using a larger metal spatula so that it is even, and then place the next cake disc on top and repeat the process until the entire cake is filled. Don't apply filling on top of the uppermost slice, because that is where icing will be applied. Using your large metal spatula, holding it vertically against the side of the cake as you rotate it on the turntable, you can smooth out any filling that may squeeze out between the cake disc slices. The filled cake should be refrigerated to chill and harden the filling so that the cake discs will not slide out of alignment. It is preferable to do a crumb coat before the final icing. When you are ready to begin icing, fill a clean pastry bag with buttercream icing and attach a #789 icing tip. Place the cake on the turntable and apply the icing to the stacked cake, icing the sides of the cake first, then the top. Smooth the icing with a blade or an icing spatula. Remember that the icing should be at room temperature. If it is too cold, it will be very difficult to spread; too warm and it could slide off the cake. Do not be discouraged; practice is the name of the game. In various sections of this book, I have defined and given formulas for the various ingredients and terms to which I have already referred and which I may mention hereafter in giving hints about formulas for icings, fillings, washes, and other ingredients for wonderful cakes. Please make reference to all parts of this book so that all aspects of making wonderful cakes are clear to you. My listing of equipment and ingredients for each cake may seem repetitive, but it is intended to make it easier for you to assemble the tools you need. Copyright © 1999 by Sylvia Weinstock Baby Block Cake Serves 15 to 20 When I think of a baby, I think of a quilt, blocks, and toys in shades of pastel blues, pinks, yellows, or greens. These soft colors always seem to recall the nursery. This is one of the easiest cakes to make, especially when you use letters or numbers, the baby's name, or the date of birth on the blocks. These blocks also remind me of the baby name bracelets that hospitals place on the baby's wrist. I have three tiny pink ones, one for each of my daughters, and I treasure them. You can string the blocks out like a bracelet, or stack them. This cake works for a baby shower, but it could also be used for a christening, or a birthday for a baby or a toddler. Taken a step further, the cake could be a symbol for building blocks. Just change the colors and customize the message or logo, and it could be used at a corporate party. Two squares make dice -- any gamblers here? Level of difficulty: 1 Timing: This cake can be baked, filled, and iced in 1 day; or prepared in stages as early as 3 days ahead. Hints: This cake is designed with 2 blocks side by side supporting a third block on top. The 3 blocks serve 12 to 15 people; however, you will have enough cake to make a fourth block to fill, ice, and use to serve extra guests or send home with the guest of honor. This cake is an exception to the "trim first" rule. This time you slice and fill first and trim later. If you choose to make a bracelet, you may want to round the corners slightly, and use all of the blocks instead of just 3. When you color the buttercream, start with tiny amounts of gel coloring; your objective is to create soft, baby pastels. When it is time to pipe letters and numbers on the blocks, make sure the cakes are cold. Then if you make a mistake writing, it will be easy to remove the decoration with an offset spatula and begin again. If the cakes are too warm, you risk ruining your smooth icing work. This cake needs square edges, so the chocolate fudge cake or classic yellow cake would work very well. Fillings should be stable to keep the layers flat; try the orange or basic buttercream filling with the chocolate fudge cake, or chocolate or mocha buttercream filling with the classic yellow cake. If you want to use fresh raspberries with the vanilla or chocolate buttercream filling, I suggest pushing them into the filling to keep the layers even. Special Equipment Two 8 x 8 x 3-inch square cake pans Four 8 x 8-inch square cake cardboards Four 4 x 4-inch square pieces cake cardboard Turntable Ruler Pencil 14-inch serrated knife Standing electric mixer Two 4 1/2-quart bowls Mixing bowls 10-inch icing spatula Two pastry brushes 4-inch offset spatula Three #14 pastry bags Three sets couplings #789 icing tip #13 star tip #6 round tip Icing blade Damp kitchen towel Structural Support One 18-inch round cake board or platter Ingredients 2 recipes Classic Yellow Cake (page 17) 1 recipe Raspberry Wash (page 38) 1 recipe Basic Buttercream Filling (page 31) 1 cup fresh raspberries (optional) 1 recipe Basic Buttercream Icing (page 28) Gel food colors to make: 3 cups baby blue 3 cups pale pink 3 cups light yellow Assembly: Bake and cool, then trim only the tops and bottoms of the cakes, not the sides. Score and slice the layers at 1/2-inch intervals; you will have 3 to 4 slices from each 8-inch cake. Wrap and freeze any leftover cake. Apply the wash and fill the first 3 slices, pressing fresh raspberries into each layer. Place the fourth layer atop the third, pressing down gently to be sure the top of the cake is level. The cake should be about 4 inches tall. Chill for at least 1 hour. Lay the four 4 x 4-inch cardboard squares on top of the cake with the edges touching, being careful not to overlap. Score the top of the cake with the serrated knife in a cross fashion where the cardboard edges meet. Remove the cardboard pieces and cut the cake from top to bottom so that you have four 4-inch square blocks to give 4 blocks. Place a cardboard square on top of one block and use the cardboard as your guide to carefully trim the two brown sides of each cake with a serrated knife. Do your best to make the blocks perfectly square. Repeat for the other blocks. With an icing spatula, remove any excess buttercream filling that may have oozed out, and use a dry pastry brush to remove any excess crumbs. Dab a tablespoon of buttercream on each of the 4 squares of cardboard, and place a block of cake on each square. Crumb-coat the cakes (see page 14) and refrigerate for 1 hour. Fill 3 pastry bags with tinted buttercream, one each in pink, yellow, and blue. Remove 1 cake from the refrigerator. Using the #789 icing tip and the blue icing, hold the bag so that the serrated edge of the tip faces out. Pipe each side of the cake with 2 wide horizontal stripes across, each stripe just touching the next, to cover the sides of the cake. Repeat, using 3 stripes on top of the cake, so the entire cake is now covered in blue icing. Put a bead on each edge of the cake. Repeat with each block cake, using pink icing on one, yellow on the other. Using an icing blade, start with the top of the cake. Hold the blade at a 30-degree angle and, using almost no pressure, glide it over the top of the cake to smooth out the lines. Place any icing from the blade into a clean bowl. Wipe the blade with a clean, damp towel. Holding the clean blade at exactly the same angle, glide over the top of the cake in the opposite direction. This should remove any air bubbles. Again, clean the blade as above. Move to the sides of the cake, and this time hold the blade at a 45-degree angle with the bottom edge of the blade flat against the turntable. Glide first in one direction, clean the blade, then glide in the opposite direction. If there are holes or air bubbles in the icing, smooth them out with an offset spatula or an icing blade. If you make a hole, use some of the excess icing from the bowl to fill it. Using a 10-inch icing spatula, smooth the top of the cake. Holding the blade at a 30-degree angle, start at one corner of the cake and pass gently over the cake to flatten the top edges. Clean the blade and repeat with all 4 sides until the edges of the cake are square and smooth. At this point, the cake should be fairly smooth and square. Now go around the cake and remove any crumbs, smooth any repairs, and make sure the cake is completely square and smoothly iced. Slide a spatula or a knife blade under the cardboard base, pick up the blue cake, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the next block cake from the refrigerator and repeat using pink buttercream. Repeat with the third block cake and the yellow buttercream. Set aside the pastry bags containing leftover icing; you will use them again in Step 17. When all of the blocks are iced, place the pink cake off-center to the left on your cake base. Place the blue cake beside the pink, making sure one edge of the pink cake is 1/8 inch from the blue, angling the blocks away from each other. Place a teaspoon of buttercream icing on the corners closest to each other. Place the yellow cake on top of the two bottom cakes, using the two buttercream drops as glue to hold the top in place. It's okay to have a corner of the yellow block hanging off to one side, but not more than 2 inches. Using a knife or a skewer, lightly trace the "A," "B," and "C" on the 3 block faces. Change the tip on your bag to the #6 round tip fitted to the pink icing. Pipe a 2 1/2-inch "A" on the face of the yellow block. Switch to a #13 star tip. Trace the inner and outer edges of the "A" using a close, dragging pearl. With blue icing and the #6 round tip, pipe a 2 1/2-inch "B" on the face of the pink block. Change to the #13 star tip and trace around the inner and outer edges of your "B" using the dragging pearl technique. Using yellow icing and the #6 round tip, pipe a 21/2-inch "C" on the face of the blue block. Change to the #13 star tip and trace the inner and outer edges of the "C" using the dragging pearl technique. If you wish, you can repeat with other letters or numbers on the opposite face of each block, using the same colors and piping techniques as in Steps 17 through 19. When piping is completed, use the pink icing and the #13 star tip to pipe a dragging pearl border on all the edges of your pink block. Repeat this with the blue icing and the blue block, then the yellow icing and the yellow block. Refrigerate the cake until serving time. Copyright © 1999 by Sylvia Weinstock Excerpted from Sweet Celebrations: The Art of Decorating Beautiful Cakes by Sylvia Weinstock All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
Basic Guidancep. 9
Equipmentp. 9
Resource Guidep. 10
About Cakesp. 11
Crumb Coatingp. 14
Basic Cake Recipesp. 17
Classic Yellow Cakep. 17
Lady Baltimore White Cakep. 19
Spice Cakep. 20
Chocolate Fudge Cakep. 21
Carrot Cakep. 22
Almond Cakep. 23
Hazelnut Cakep. 24
Icings, Fillings, and Washesp. 27
Basic Buttercream Icingp. 28
Chocolate Buttercream Icingp. 30
Basic Buttercream Fillingp. 31
Flavored Buttercream Fillingsp. 32
Cream Cheese Buttercream Fillingp. 32
Chocolate Buttercream Fillingp. 32
Mocha Buttercream Fillingp. 33
Orange Buttercream Fillingp. 33
Lemon Buttercream Fillingp. 33
Raspberry Buttercream Fillingp. 33
Chocolate Mousse Fillingp. 35
Royal Icingp. 36
Washes: Simple Syrupp. 38
Working with Sugar Doughp. 39
Coloringp. 41
Handling Sugar Doughp. 41
Storing Flowersp. 43
Equipmentp. 43
Basic Flower Instructionsp. 45
Spray Flowersp. 46
Pansyp. 47
Irisp. 48
Violetp. 50
Calla Lilyp. 51
Rosesp. 53
To make the budsp. 53
To make the petalsp. 54
To make a calyxp. 54
Additional Decorationsp. 55
Ribbonsp. 55
Bowsp. 56
Loop Bowsp. 57
Piping Techniquesp. 59
Basketweavep. 60
Nantucket Weavep. 62
Cornellip. 62
Dotted Swiss, Pearls, Writingp. 63
Leavesp. 63
Dragging Pearl Borderp. 64
Looping m or up. 64
Lily of the Valleyp. 65
Swagsp. 66
Specialty Cakesp. 67
Antique White Tiered Wedding Cakep. 68
Baby Block Cakep. 73
Balloon Cakep. 78
Box Wedding Cakep. 84
Cornelli Heart Cakep. 90
Calla Lily Cakep. 94
Fairy Tree Cakep. 98
Gift Box Cakep. 104
Hatbox Cakep. 110
Lily of the Valley Cakep. 115
Marzipan Fruit Cakep. 121
Peach Rose Wedding Cakep. 126
Potted Iris Cakep. 132
Ribbon Cakep. 138
Shaggy Dog Cakep. 143
Handbag Cakep. 147
Shopping Bag Cakep. 150
Stack of Books Cakep. 152
Straw Hat Cakep. 156
Sunflower Cakep. 161
Teacup Cakep. 164
Thatched Roof Cottage Cakep. 170
Round Cakesp. 175
Clown Cakep. 175
Basketball Cakep. 180
Globe Cakep. 185
Indexp. 189
Metric Equivalenciesp. 196