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'Whimsical Bakehouse' cakes look like fun, but they taste even better

| Sunday, Nov. 10, 2002

If Dr. Seuss' "Sam I Am" character loved cake as much as he does green eggs and ham, he'd probably be a regular customer of the Riviera Bakehouse.

The bakery turns out more than 100 crazy birthday cakes each week. The brightly colored, multitiered, lopsided wonders are its signature, and celebrities such as television news personalities Meredith Vieira and Tom Brokaw come by frequently.

"If you ever find yourself in Ardsley, N.Y., you, too, must make your way to (Riviera Bakehouse), because, as lovely as this book is, it's just a sampling," Vieira writes in the introduction to "The Whimsical Bakehouse: Fun-to-Make Cakes That Taste as Good as They Look!"

Published in September, the 160-page hardcover features the Tipsy Birthday Cake and numerous other spectacular creations from bakery owner Kaye Hansen and her daughter, Liv.

Many of the cakes are decorated with wafer chocolate, also known as confectioners' chocolate, and buttercream that has been colored, piped, molded, sculpted or otherwise fashioned into themes such as Safari, Starry Night, Winter Wonderland, and New York, New York (with a chocolate city skyline).

The book is filled with descriptions of basic techniques, photographs and directions for completing designs from simple to complex. There are recipes for batters, frostings and fillings as well.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite cakes. You could buy the book to learn how to decorate it with fancy flowers. Or you could just slather on cream cheese frosting and be ready to eat it in a fraction of the time.


Carrot Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups carrots, grated
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup raisins

Grease and flour two 9- by 3-inch round pans. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Have all ingredients at room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, oil and sugar at high speed until light and fluffy.

On a piece of wax paper, sift together the flour, soda, cinnamon, and salt.

With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until 75 percent incorporated, then add the carrots, walnuts and raisins. Mix just until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before turning them out of the pans.

Makes two 9-inch cake layers (8 cups of batter).


Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla

In the bowl of an electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat the butter until creamy. Add the cream cheese and cream it with the butter. All at once, add the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla; beat at low speed until smooth. Continue to beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Makes 2 cups frosting, enough to fill and ice a 2-layer 9-inch cake.

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