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My friend the Glorious Baker Flo Braker

Jan 24, 2010 | From the kitchen of Rose

Flo Braker.jpg

Flo Braker is one of those people for whom the expression "to know her is to love her" was invented.

The first time I met Flo was at the second annual meeting of the International Association of Culinary Professional many years ago. In fact, the group was then called the Association of Cooking Teachers! Flo was doing a baking demo for the group. It was held at a hotel in New York and through some administrative food service mishap Flo discovered at the start of her demo that all the tastings of her miniatures she had prepared were locked in a walk-in frig to which no one had the key!

To my amazement, instead of being either annoyed or flustered, Flo laughed with joyful amusement at the absurdity of the situation and proceeded to do the demo with what was on hand. I was utterly charmed. She did have a few finished samples that had escaped the lockout which she passed out to the rather large group and I was determined to land one of them. I got to try the exquisite little Drie Augen cookies, thus named because they have 3 little rounds cut into the top resembling 'eyes' which reveal the jam sandwiched between the two layers of the cookie.

The next time I saw Flo was at the coming out book party for her first cookbook The Simple Art of Perfect Baking. It was held at Peter Kump's cooking school in the upper east side. When Flo described the desserts she had prepared from the book I was confirmed in my initial impression that she was the most charming person I had ever met. I was, at the time, in the process of writing my own first cookbook--The Cake Bible--and in the taxi going home I confided to Richard Saxe (also an esteemed baking author who is sadly no longer alive) that I saw no reason to continue writing my book as Flo's cakes were absolute perfection. He gently contradicted me reminding me that there is room for many voices and approaches to cake and baking. But this story is only to illustrate how deeply I was impressed by Flo's work--her sense of style and design, her divine combination of flavors and perfection of textures.

Since this time, more than two decades ago, Flo and I have shared many delicious meals and moments and I always bask in her warmth and generosity. Hardly a year goes by that we don't exchange birthday cards--easy to remember as we share the same birthday month. So I'm now sharing with all of you a little of our history and a recommendation for a fantastic chocolate cake recipe from her newest book Baking for All Occasions.

Flo's Book Jacket.jpg

It was the dessert I made for this past New Year's dinner for Elliott and me and it is so lusciously moist we have been eating it for dessert every night since! (I did share some with my favorite neighbors the Meneguses.) I knew it was going to be terrific when I tasted the batter! The brown sugar lends the most delightful tangy sweetness and the unsweetened chocolate contributes the cocoa butter that delivers a full melt in the mouth hit of chocolate. I know it would be fabulous filled with the billowy Divinity Frosting and gilded with Milk Chocolate Paint (photo in book) but it was completely satisfying unadorned as well.

Flo's Chocolate Cake.jpg

Knowing me you will not be surprised to learn how reassuring and delightful it was to bake from a recipe that had all the weights listed in ounces and grams as well as the usual volume. And how enjoyable it was to follow the clear and precise directions and see yet another so effective way of expressing the various processes that I myself give expression to in my books. I kept thinking: "yes, I like that...yes that really works...!"
For Flo, as for all of us born to be bakers, baking is love, and with her great heart you can just imagine how great her baking has to be.

Next I plan to make the Prune Plum-Apricot Oversized Frangipane Tart. What a terrific combination of elements.

Fellow Blogger Rachel B has posted the recipe on her blog along with a small correction of when to add the melted chocolate (should you be working from the book).

click here


Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from tracy
05/20/2013 06:54 PM

Hi Tracy,
We prefer using butter because of its flavor. However, for some chocolate recipes, you may want to use a blend of mostly softened butter and some oil to add some moistness. In Rose's Heavenly Cakes, we have three basic butter cupcake batters and a chiffon batter for cupcakes with accompanying frostings.
If you like cream cheese, we have a recipe for a white chocolate, cream cheese, and butter recipe in The Cake Bible and Rose's Heavenly Cakes that has a 1 day shelf life at room temperature.
The butter in all of Rose's buttercream recipes when refrigerated will soften within a couple of hours at room temperature. The time to soften will be even less on the cupcakes.
If you like chocolate frostings, we recommend ganaches as they can be kept at room temperature for 3 days.
Rose & Woody


hi I have two questions please... what would you suggest for cupcakes oil or butter?? Ive been using oil for cost purposes but what in your opinion is better thanks
how to keep the different types of buttercreams not turn into a huge blob of butter after being refrigerated on the cupcakes thanks so much for any advice


Thanks Rose. Nothing wrong with a choc chunk studded choc cake but I hear ya :o) That happened to me too one time; a lot of it solidified on the inside of my KA mixing bowl. When I made it again this past weekend, I decided to "help" the chocolate a little bit by adding a little bit of oil to it.
Thanks again!


hanaa, i think the only reason the coffee is added warm is to help ensure that the chocolate is smoothly integrated. once i added the chocolate not quite warm enough and little bits of it hardened. not a bad effect but not what's intended either!


As mentioned before, I made this cake about 4 times now and love it. Out of curiosity... right before the batter is ready to be poured into cake pans, you add lukewarm water or coffee to the batter and stir it in. Besides thinning out the batter, is there anything else that this step does? Something on a chemical level? Thanks!


I have this book so am quite happy to have the recommendation of this cake. Especially if you liked it sans frosting as I prefer my chocolate cakes without. Thanks for the review.


I love this book and wish there was some way of contacting Flo to tell her. I've made quite a few recipes but my absolute favourite is the Blackberry-Blueberry Chiffon Cream Pie. I make the ginger snaps for the crust from another recipe in the book.

It's great that you two are buddies - my two favourite baking book authors!


I LOVE that recipe. Made it for the first time last December and simply adorned it with a mint-flavored choc glaze. Took it to a party and everybody loved it. Made it once more since then. And will make it again next week for a friend's bday. I too was very excited to see weight measurements in her book :o)



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