Talk Food Festival: Gesine Bullock-Prado

Posted on Sep 23, 2013 10:45am

Gesine Bullock-Prado, pastry chef and author of "Bake It Like You Mean It," joined THE TALK to show us how to make some beautiful fall-inspired cakes and pastries.



For the pumpkin cake

2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup cornstarch (helps to keep cake flexible for rolling)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup maple syrup
8 eggs, separated
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup canola oil

2-3 drops orange gel food coloring (optional)

For the vanilla cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup non-fat buttermilk

For the filling

2 (8 ounce) packages Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

4 cups confectioners' sugar

pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

For the icing

5 egg whites

1 cup sugar

1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature

pinch salt


For the pumpkin cake

• Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

• In a very clean bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, combine the salt and egg whites.  Whisk until light and foamy and slowly add 1 1/2 cups of the granulated sugar, very slowly, until the egg whites hold a stiff peak and shiny.  Don't over whip to the point that they become dry.

• Transfer the whites to a clean metal bowl.

• In the original mixing bowl (you don't have to clean it) add the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of the remaining sugar the maple syrup, pumpkin puree, the oil, and the dye (if using).  Whisk until just combined. 

• In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients for at least 30 seconds to distribute the leavening and then sift over the egg yolk mixture.  Fold the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture until smooth and well combined.  Add 1/4 of the egg whites and stir to lighten.  Add the remaining egg whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain

• Transfer the batter into the prepared sheet pan and using a large offset spatula, smooth the batter evenly in the pan.

• Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently poke and just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Allow to cool completely.

For the vanilla cake

• Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Spray a 10" round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment.  Set aside.

• In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter and beat on high until light and fluffy.

• Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well to incorporate between each addition.  Add the vanilla.

• In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder, whisk for 30 seconds to distribute the leavening.

• Add half the flour to the mixing bowl on slow, just to combine.  Add the buttermilk and then the remaining flour.  

• Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and springs back lightly when touched.  Allow to cool completely.  Once cool, split the cake evenly in half horizontally.

For the filling

• Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whisk until smooth.

For the buttercream icing

• In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt.  Place the bowl over a gently simmering saucepan of water, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely melted and the mixture reaches 180ºF on a sugar thermometer.

• Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on high until the bowl is cool to the touch and the meringue is stiff, shiny and white.  

• Add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly until the buttercream thickens and becomes smooth.  You may not need all the butter.  If the mixture looks as if it's beginning to curdle, this is a sign that the buttercream is about to come together.  Add another small hob of butter and let the mixer do its thing.

To assemble

• Leaving the pumpkin cake in the pan, cut each sheet of cake into long strips, 4 inches wide; you'll get 3 strips from each pan, altogether.

•Divide the cream cheese filling among each strip and smooth evenly.

• Roll the first strip, cream cheese filling side in, into a tight roll.  Move the roll over to the start of the next strip and continue rolling, with the end of the first roll touching the beginning of the second.  Keep adding strips to make a big fat spiral of cake!  You may have more cake than you need.  Stop when the spiral is 10… in diameter.  Save the left over cake and carefully scrape off any filling on it.  

• Spread a thin layer of buttercream over one of the vanilla cake layers, just enough to cover the top (save the rest of the buttercream to ice the outside of the cake).  Place your giant spiral cake on top of the buttercream.  Smear a thin layer of buttercream over the top of the spiral and top with the remaining layer of vanilla cake.  If you have a 10" cake ring, secure it around the cake to protect while it sets.  Otherwise, wrap it in plastic wrap.  Place the cake in the freezer to set for 1 hour.

• While the cake sets, preheat the oven to 200ºF.  Tear up the extra pumpkin cake with the filling taken off and place on a sheet pan.  Bake for 5 - 10 minutes in the 200º oven in order for it to dry out but don't let it brown.  Allow the cake pieces to cool and then place in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse until the cake turns into a powder.  Set aside.

• Remove the cake ring or plastic wrap and cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream.  Place in the fridge for 20 minutes to set.  Smooth the remaining butter cream over the cake in an even layer.  Cut leaf patterns from a piece of parchment to create a stencil, about 6-10.  Smooth the leaves over the surface of the cake.  Gently press the cake "powder" over the cake.  Once the cake is coated, gently remove the parchment to reveal the leaves.




For the cake

1 cup cake flour

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(1/4 cup confectioner's sugar)

For the filling

2 packages vegan cream cheese

1 stick Vegan buttery sticks

4 cups confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch salt

To finish

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar


• Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Spray a half sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.  Set aside.

• In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the spices for 30 seconds.  Run the whisked flour mixture through a sieve.

• In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the pumpkin puree, apple cider vinegar, canola oil, and the vanilla extract.  Whisk until well combined.  Add the flour mixture and whisk until a smooth batter forms.  

• Transfer the batter to the sheet pan and spread evenly in the pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the cake just starts to pull from the sides of the pan and springs back when gently poked.  While still warm, sprinkle confectioners' sugar over the top of the cake.  Place a tea towel over the cake and flip the cake over onto the towel.  Roll the cake, horizontally, with the towel and allow to cool completely.  

For the filling

• Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk on high until smooth.

• Unroll the cooled cake and spread the filling evenly over the cake layer.  Roll again horizontally to form a jelly roll.  Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.


Makes 8 individual tarts


For the ladyfingers:

4 eggs, separated

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup granulated

1 cup cake flour, sifted

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1 cup ice cubes

For the filling:

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream, divided

6 egg yolks

Pinch salt

5 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup raspberry puree**(see note below)

For the assembly:

2 cups fresh raspberries

2 cups mixed whole fresh berries

1 spool decorative ribbon, 1 inch wide


Make the Ladyfingers:

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt until foamy. Slowly add 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Transfer the egg whites to a clean bowl.

  • In the same stand mixer bowl (you needn't clean it), combine the egg yolks and the remaining sugar. Whisk until the yolks become thick and pale and the mixture forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted.

  • Sift the flour over the egg yolk mixture and add one-quarter of the egg white mixture. Using a large rubber spatula, fold together gently. Add the remaining egg whites and fold into the batter

  • Transfer the batter to a large pastry bag fitted with a large open tip. Pipe 8 circles, each 2 inches wide, on the first sheet pan; these will act as the base of your cakes. On the second sheet pan, pipe the remaining batter into strips 3 inches long. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the circles and strips with half the confectioners' sugar; allow the sugar to dissolve into the batter completely. Dust again with the remaining confectioners' sugar and allow to sit undisturbed for 3 minutes.

  • Place a piece of parchment next to the sheet pans. Lift the parchment holding the ladyfinger batter and tilt up a bit, so that the extra confectioners' sugar on the parchment falls onto your empty piece of parchment.

  • Open the oven doors and toss the ice cubes onto the bottom of the oven. Close the doors for 10 seconds. Place the ladyfingers in the now steaming oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sugar beads on top and the ladyfingers are lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

Make the filling:

  • In a large saucepan, combine the milk and 1 cup of the cream and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the granulated sugar, egg yolk, salt, cornstarch, and raspberry puree. Whisk on high speed until combined. Once the milk mixture has come to a simmer, slowly pour it down the side of the bowl into the whisking egg yolk mixture and continue whisking until well combined.

  • Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk constantly until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface so that a skin doesn't form. Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.

  • Remove the filling from the refrigerator. It will have firmed up quite a bit; stir it with a wooden spoon until it loosens and is smooth.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the remaining cream until stiff peaks form. Using a large rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the filling until combined. Transfer the raspberry filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip.

To assemble:

  • Place 8 metal rings (*see note below) on a parchment-lined half sheet pan. Line each ring with ladyfingers, the sugar-dusted side facing out, by standing them up side by side until the ring is filled. Place a ladyfinger cake round into the bottom of the ring, trimming the round if it's too tight a fit with the standing ladyfingers. Repeat with each of the remaining rings.

  • Place 3 raspberries on the bottom layer of each ring. Pipe filling into each ring until it just reaches the top of the standing ladyfingers. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

  • To serve, carefully remove the rings. (Heat the rings gently with a kitchen torch or blow dryer for easier removal if necessary.) Arrange the mixed berries atop the filing. For an especially adorable presentation, gently tie a ribbon around each tart.

A Note from the Sweet Talker: Confectioner's sugar, aka powdered sugar: You know the stuff, but what you might not know is that it's full of cornstarch. In many applications, this extra cornstarch doesn't really affect the recipe. But in some cases, it's best to make your own confectioners' sugar for maximum results. To make your own, simply add 1 cup of granulated sugar at a time to your food processor or blender. Pulse until the sugar becomes a powder. Run the powder through a fine-mesh sieve to eliminate any residual granules, and then measure per the recipe. For recipes like individual lady fingers, making confectioners' sugar from scratch (i.e., minus the cornstarch) is key for the sugar to bead properly on top of the lady fingers. Plus, it's so easy!

*Here's a helpful little hint for assembling mini desserts like these. Get your hands on a load of cat-food, tomato sauce, or tuna-fish cans that have been thoroughly cleaned and have had both tops and bottoms removed. This gives you a set of lovely metal rings. You could buy professional cake rings, but why bother? This is so much cheaper and works just as well.

**Fruit purees are terribly easy to make. Place your berries (4 cups small berries or 3 cups chopped strawberries) or other fruit in a saucepan with ¼ cup sugar, or to taste. (Berries such as currants and gooseberries are tart and may require more sweetness – do a taste test.) Simmer the fruit over low heat until the sugar has melted. Allow the mixture to cool. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse the fruit mixture until smooth (you can use a blender or an immersion blender for this process as well). Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds, and voila! Puree! Freeze any extra puree in a zip-top bag. Purees are lovely in mousses, as sauces to accompany plated desserts, and as a topping for sundaes! You can also buy fantastic premade purees in an array of flavors from ordinary (raspberry) to exotic (passion fruit). My favorite brands are Boiron and L'Epicerie. Check the internet for availability.

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