Princess Cake aka The Duchess Cake at Duchess Atelier breathed joy into Gramsy
The Princess Cake! What? In Edmonton, we all know this as “The Duchess”, the cake partner of “The Duke” from our very own famed Duchess Bake Shop. After creating The Duke, Giselle Courteau, co-owner and co-founder of Duchess (watch the video), did a good bit of significant research, as she is known to do, to find a cake noble enough and feminine enough to partner with her debonair and delicious Duke.
Giselle Courteau? Yes. French she is. Garner Beggs, her then husband, though a Scottish fraternal name, claimed a strong maternal Swedish influence and the renowned Swedish Princess Cake claimed its place beside The Duke. But, not before a complete redressing by Giselle. Every aspect of the original Princess Cake was examined, refined and re-developed with precision and attention to detail visually and sensually that Duchess Bake Shop is known for. And, renamed! All hail: The Duchess.
I am most definitely a Duchess Bake Shop groupee. Some gals hang out at rock concerts for a peek at the band. I hang out at Duchess and cannot miss sampling every new thing I see in their pastry window. Early on, I bought The Duke. A big one. It is Vanja’s favourite. It is the quintessentional and exceptional chocolate cake. Next, The Duchess. Oh, my.
Light. Moist. Creamy. Ethereal in nature with a tart raspberry pucker scented with citrus. All that enrobed in a thin layer of a fresh pale green marzipan providing structure while presenting a stance of feminine nobility. This cake. The Duchess is Valerie’s favourite cake.
And, look mom! I made it myself! At 62, whoop-di-do! I was so inspired and motivated after this 3 hour learning experience at The Duchess Atelier that I am now going to do the same thing Giselle did with The Princess Cake. I am going to make it my own. Not today, but it will happen. First, I am going to make this cake a few more times.
Fresh raspberries will be added somewhere in this cake. I have some ideas. And a raspberry fruit gelée layer. I am crazy over fruit gelées.
Princess Cake aka The Duchess Cake: Finally, My First Cooking Class At Duchess Bake Shop Atelier
Look at these world class facilities. Just being in this space is a pleasure. I first met Giselle when I interviewed her shortly after opening Duchess Bake Shop 20th October 2009. I had already been on “The Quest to Conquer the Elusive French Macaron” and writing about “Mastering the Art of the French Macaron” about three years before this. Failure after failure after failure, but I persevered. There were no blog posts to read in those days. No one here even knew what the French Macaron was. I learned through my travels and once you try one, there is no going back. Giselle put herself through similar paces times ten while living in Japan, clearly determined and succeeded.
Fast forward several years, and the Duchess Atelier opened. You bet I was the first person on the phone to book myself into a class! Two years later, I made it! Finally. To say getting into one of these classes is difficult, would be an understatement. It was and is not their intent to offer such exclusive classes. They just do such a darn good job that they cannot possibly accommodate the demand. Frustrating as that is, multiply that by two and flip the emotion. That is the degree of inspiration and satisfaction I was completely saturated in when leaving this class.
I try to book in a cooking class whereever we travel, so have been blessed with attending unforgetable world class experiences: The Bread Making Atelier at The Cordon Blue in Paris, Bread Making with Richard Bertinet in Bath, UK, French Maracon Making at LeNôtre in Paris, and so many more. Each of those experiences was unforgettable. This space would surpass all I have been in and this experience would compare well with all, and definitely surpass many.
Let’s start with the welcome! Coffee, tea, juice and goodies. Not just “goodies”, but Duchess Bake Shop goodies.
A folder with clear instructions and a pen.
Mis en place! Yes! We can all crack eggs and measure ingredients, but so many cooking classes don’t go to the expense of having the mis en place prepped in advance. Though the marzipan was prepped in advance, we still have the oppotunity to learn how to work colour into it when making the flower that crowns The Princess Cake (aka The Duchess in Edmonton).
And the teacher? Tricia. Outstanding. Standing ovation. As a retired public school teacher and one who has offered numerous cooking classes myself, she is the crème de la crème of all Cooking Class teachers. The Duchess Atelier is thriving with her at the helm.
Princess Cake aka The Duchess Cake: Filling the Cake
Never expect to serve your cake the day you make it. I never do, and neither does Tricia. Cakes must be frozen before sliced in half, and The Princess Cake visits the freezer many times throughout the making it process. The best part: it is very easy to make. The worst part: there are many steps to making it. It just means planning ahead and I would never make only one at a time. A few cakes in the freezer is always a good thing.
Like the mis en place, they had one cake baked for each of us, frozen and thawed just enough to enable halving it effectively.
The lovely Joanne was across from me and is an experienced cake baker and decorator. I would have loved to get to know her better. You could see her experience in the way she handled everything. A turn table would be a necessity if you plan to make many cakes. I got one long ago, but the one at Duchess is one of the best rated, cheaper and lighter than the very heavy Ateco one I have.
Using a long serated bread knife with your hand firmly on top of the cake, simply start sawing and turning and continue sawing as you turn round and round and soon you will have a beautifully sliced cake in two equal halves. Time for the simple syrup to be brushed onto each sliced half.
Everyone came with a friend. Roxanne was the lovely pal accompanying Joanne. There was one other single gal, Maryann, who had already attended The Duke class, made The Duchess from the cookbook at home the week prior and I could not have had a better partner.
Everything is well thought out. My cake: space 5 and V for Valerie. I got my exact cake every time it returned from the freezer.
Important to layer the jam with an inch to spare as when the top covers, it will spread. Lush Duchess made pastry cream generously layered over the jam. I asked if they used 52% cream when I tasted it. Then I read their recipe. Traditonal pastry cream does not included butter. Their recipe does. Duchess imports its butter from New Zealand as it has the highest fat content of any butter they could find to import on the planet. Ah-ha!
You’ll need to buy the book or experiement with the recipe to make a pastry cream this rich and delicious. Basically, in a 1 cup recipe, instead of the 1/4 cup of heavy cream traditionally used, their recipe uses butter. Not 1/4 cup, though. I am going to work on translating the recipe for the Thermomix machine, so watch for that in the future.
I love baking with others. At home, in my own kitchen, I look forward to baking only when a gal pal is coming over to do it together. I used to love doing it alone and I would be in the eye of the cyclone for days. Now, I am too tired to go like that. The passion is still there, but the insanity has been tamed, shall we say?
Gently, the top goes over the fillings and back into the freezer to set. Wrap after it has frozen, if keeping for a few days before the next step.
Princess Cake aka The Duchess Cake: Making the Chiffon Cake
Not only do we take home our own completed Princess Cake made with the cake prepared in advance, we now learn how to make that cake and will be taking it home to use for our next one. Is that not brilliant? And we get to use the Smeg mixer! What fun!
Mis en place; egg whites already in the mixing bowl.
As my partner, Maryann, whipped the whites until a soft peak formed, as above, then added the sugar with cream of tartar to continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
I sifted the dry ingredients just as Roxanne did with Joanne.
Perfect soft whites ready for the sugar and Cream of Tartar addition. An example of the little tips you’ll learn from Tricia: Cream of Tartar is a potassium acid salt that is formed during grape fermentation. Who knew and more curiously, who would have thought to use that as we now do?
Time to whisk the wet ingredients together, then incorporate the wet with the dry, whisking until well combined.
Ingredients ready to receive the whites. Whites still beating to a stiff peak (be careful not to over beat, though).
This is perfect. Well done, Maryann!
One third of the whites go into the big bowl with remaining combined ingredients. Fold together gently, but well to enable the batter to receive the remaining whites while maintaining more volume.
Light and lovely: ready to receive the remaining whites.
Gently fold, as little as possible, to retain air.
There will still be streaks, but be sure to wiggle out all lumpy bits before dividing into pans.
We had ingredients for a double batch and I would always make a double batch.
Trish’s mantra was: “Don’t fuss! It will be fine!” and she is right. You will see. She also offers lots of tricks to hide imperfection.
Smooth top gently to edges.
Each participant is “in the moment” with their batter. The room is humming with quiet satisfaction.
Into the ovens they go. I do not recall the name of Tricia’s helper. Shame on me. She was clearly an experienced baker and the best assistant. They have both been with the company for 5 years. There were 4 cakes in each oven.
The cakes will be a little lumpy on top. “Don’t fuss! It will be fine!” And, you can see, it was.
Princess Cake aka The Duchess Cake: Snack Time
Clean up consists of placing the dirty dishes in a tub and wiping our space. Effortless. The dishes disappeared as magically as the tray above from Café Linnea (building attached) appeared once the cakes were in the oven. Break time. Of course, we all needed nourishment after such grueling work. What a lovely tray. A bite of everything for each person.
I have been to Café Linnea only once, simply as I don’t go out much. I would go every day, otherwise. It is another restaurant opened and owned by “The Duchess Group”. They cure their own meat and make their own sausage, so you bet I was going to be sampling each. The salmon rillet was nice. Each of the 4 meats were spectaular. Unforgetable, even. And the cheese? Oh, my. Reminicent of Prince Edward Island’s Avonlea Cloth Bound Cheddar, and maybe it is just that? Every bite rose to the occasion.
How I just wanted to fill a little paper bag and take all of these home with me. Instead, I dropped by Duchess Bake Shop after the class. How could I not? This did give me the opportunity to taste the Financier which I hadn’t before. A different flavour every month, I was surprised to find this one Rhubarb and vanilla as there was more to this… a definite je ne sais quoi that had me savoring each bite.
Well. This was their first claim to fame: the French Macaron. Over the years, smaller and pricier, yet each perfect. Depending upon the filling, can be a little too sweet for some, but you’ll never hear that from me. It is the texture and flavours that are addictive. Cassis is my first favourite, but with a gelée filling, not buttercream. And violette. That is a rare find. The Macaron Gâteau is my consistant “go to” when I visit Duchess: individual size or the petite macaron gâteau.. I am compelled. Bound. It is an inescapable urge. This month the flavour is L’amour, simplar components to my favourite most unforgetable flavor combination (named Ispahan) at Lauderie. However, at Duchess, my favourite is the Petit Macaron Gâteau des Rêves with Passionfruit and Coconut. I haven’t had one that disappoints.
Princess Cake aka The Duchess Cake: Making the Dome
Edified. Cake frozen and ready to be shaped into a dome. Tricia demonstrates each step first with her valuable tips, making it so easy for each of us to execute such precision.
Knife at an angel, slice off the edges of the top cake. Yes. It is that simple. “Don’t fuss! It will be fine!” See?
And, voilá! Now time to slather whipping cream all over the cake and create the characteristic dome that The Princess Cake is known for.
Whipping cream prepped for us as well. “In real life”, you would whip your cream before taking the cake out and shaping the dome. Or, you would shape the dome, place the cake back into the freezer while you whipped your cream.
Lots of it and very thick. Plop most of it on top of the cake. Remember how I said that I could proove Trish’s mantra to be true? See my cake? Slicing an edge off for the dome, a whole chunk fell off. I just went with it, and it was fine. I never saw it in the finished product. Smooth around top very thickly, then pull over onto the sides, again thickly.
Plop the remainder on top and start to pull up from each side vertically to bring the cream up and over to form a dome. Back into the freezer.
Princess Cake aka The Duchess Cake: Decorating the Cake
Time to make the flower pinacle that crowns The Princess cake.
The demonstration, first, by Tricia. Mis en place, below. Love that.
Need only a nudge of food colouring from the end of a toothpick.
Gloves on, Maryann does us proud as she kneads the colour into the marzipan. The Princess Cake usually has a pink rose on top. The Duchess Cake has a yellow flour.
Roll out thin. But, not too thin and cut little circles with the small end of the number 807 tip.
Six, eight or 12 circles: make a simple or complex flower. Whatever you like. Roll gently from the middle out on each tiny circle to form the petals.
Roll a cone shape with a point between your palms. Use the end as the stamen.
Place your first petal well above the stamen (which is nicer thinner and more pointy than mine, above). Continue to attache petals around the stamen until you are pleased with your little flower.
That’s a good marzipan thickness for the cover over the dome.
Roll into a perfect circle (turning often is the trick to make that happen), using icing sugar to “flour” the board.
Use the cake board to determine size of circle needed. Plop it over the frozen dome and follow the instructions from Tricia in the video to get a flawless cover.
Once the cake is covered into a lovely smooth dome, seal the edge around the bottom with your hand and cut remainder off with a pizza cutter.
Ribbon sticks effortlessly. Flower in place. Watch the video to see how.
We are all in awe. Accomplished bakers and novices alike in the room together today each made a very professional looking Princess Cake. Incredible!
Princess Cake aka The Duchess Cake: Bringing it Home
Upon arriving home, I took some time for a quiet little celebration. Just me and The Princess. I posed her here and there in her beautiful apparel, completely ga-ga over what I had learned, how easy it was. This unexpected intellectual coup d’etat had my brain racing through corridors open to future cake making possibilities: possibly the best part of the entire experience.
Or, maybe enjoying the first slice of The Princess Cake on my favourite china in the quiet solitude of my warm kitchen was the best part?
It’s hard to compare one with the other, but bite after bite, I found myself completely lost in the moment, as one should when honoring the labor of one’s love.
It was then, that I recalled a moment temporarily forgotten, yet one etched in my mind as the taste and texture experience ethereal coupled within the incredible environment of the newly renovated Rijksmuseum Cafe on a one day trip through Amsterdam in June of 2015. There was a resplendently regal cake a top a very high pedestal on the cafe counter reigning over the comings and goings of we lovers of art from the Golden ages. Imperial in stature, puffed and primped with pride and colour, the so-named “Ottima Torta” which is latin for “delicious” cake. It appears the Rijksmuseum had also translated the Swedish Princess Cake into a version of its own.
This photo of Rijksmuseum Cafe cake above is courtesy of TripAdvisor as I could not locate images I took of the table setting. My piece is the one above and I had a cappuccino, too, while Vanja enjoyed a lunch. Who knew that a few years later, I would be learning to make this very cake. This whimsical magestic enchanted cake that has held its place powerfully in my memory alongside the etchings of Rembrant and Vermeer.
Recipe for the Chiffon Cake is included, including instructions to make it in the Thermomix Machine. If you want the complete set of recipes to make this cake, you will have to buy the book!
- 85 grams or ¾ cup cake flour
- 63 grams or 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 2 large eggs separated or 5 if doing a double cake
- 3 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pre-heat oven to 325F or 160 C
Line bottom of cake pan with parchment, but do not butter or spray it
Sift together: flour, 63 grams sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla, and lemon zest
Add sifted dry ingredients to wet and whisk until lump-free; set aside
Fit your stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whip the whites on medium to high speed until soft peaks form; gradually add the one tablespoon measure of sugar combined with cream of tartar
Continue to whip until stiff peaks form; do not over whip
Using the spatula, gently fold 1/3 whites into the batter until whites have just disappeared and batter is thick; add remaining batter and very gently fold together until just mixed (be careful to not over fold)
Gently pour batter in cake pan; smooth top
Bake 30-35 minutes until centre springs back to touch or toothpick comes out clean
Materials and Equipment Stand mixer with whisk and paddle attachments 8 inch round cake pan parchment