Amanda Reddke: Surprise-Inside Cakes

Amanda Reddke

There is plain cake and then there is CAKE that shouts out to you: Eat Me! Laugh! Smile! Be Amazed!

Which would you eat: Plain or Fantastic?

If you chose the latter, then Amanda Rettke’s Surprise-Inside Cakes (William Morrow 2014) is just the book for you. Some are whimsical, some a bit garish, but all of the cakes in this book are achievable by a good home cook. She tells the story of how she started making surprise-inside cakes:

The first surprise-inside cake was the Jack-o’-Lantern Cake (page 189). I wanted to bring a cake to a church potluck, but couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t too ghoulish or scary, so I settled on a jack-o’-lantern. But then I was nervous that there would be a bunch of pumpkin cakes, so I wanted to try and make mine different.

Surprise-Inside Cakes by Amanda ReddkeShe put a cake candle inside – so when you cut it, you can see the yellow flame burning – just like a real jack-o’-lantern.

My end design was a far cry from the original plan of execution, but every single moment of labor and planning was worth it when I saw people’s faces. (p. 3)

Don’t start with that cake – try something simpler and work your way up. There is a chart on page 7 listing the recipes by difficulty. She suggests you start with Rainbow Cakes (pp. 40-43) a three-tiered brightly colored layer cake with a second layer cake inside – each layer a different color of the rainbow. The photograph by Susan Powers shows a multi-colored cake, topped with matching twirls of colored frosting. Think Easter Eggs and you’ll get a good idea. You cut out a column from one set of three layers and replace it with the other – thus, you end up with two cakes. There are basic recipes in the beginning of the book for White Cake, Chocolate, Red Velvet, Strawberry, and Brownies (pp.19-23) and recipes for different kinds of frosting. Once you get good at cutting out and scooping out cake to create different forms, you can try more complex cakes, such as a spring-themed Daisy Cake (p. 79) with a flower in the center, or the fanciful Cherry Cake (p. 266-9) in honor of Washington DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival next month – this one has red cherries with green stems made out of cake inside. Many of the cakes are more serious affairs – like the Ombre Cake (p. 37) with Dark Chocolate, Chocolate, and White layers – it reminiscent of a LeNotre cake, Gateau Concorde, of alternating layers of meringues and mousse with different flavors.

Do you have a birthday or family gathering coming up and you want to make a big splash? Amanda Rettke’s Surprise-Inside Cakes is just what you need.

About Juliette Rossant

Juliette Rossant is an American author, journalist, and poet. Following publication of her book Super Chef (2004), she began an online magazine... (more)