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Monday 21 May 2012

Miette's Tomboy

This is not the cake I'm talking about in the post below, but I did borrow the 'Tomboy' style to see how it translated to a single layer. I like it! And that's a whole pack of butter in the icing by the way.

There's a bakery in San Francisco called 'Miette'. I know that this will not be news to most; it's a rather famed institution locally and getting well known internationally as well, thanks to mentions online and the publishing of a book of recipes from the bakery.

Needless to say, when we arrived in SF on the final leg of our honeymoon (or: 'How much can Pete and Perce squeeze into 10  days?!'), it was with great excitement, knowing that I was going to get to try one of Miette's coconut mousse bars that I had been dreaming about since learning of their existence. And also, let's be honest, happiness that we were going to be staying in a proper hotel again, having spent several nights staying in the kind of motels that have rooms opening right out onto the forecourt and remind you of those awful American murder films where the perpetrators get away with it.


So, Miette: it was lovely. Everything was small, which was nice, since in Santa Cruz I had been shocked almost speechless by the sight of seven layer cakes. Who can manage seven layers? Even I would shrink from the challenge.

The thing I loved most was the 'Tomboy', Miette's signature cake. It isn't a recipe as such, more a style of frosting. I have attempted to recreate it in this post. We're talking nude sides (shock!) and piped edges (fancy!), with a smooth finish (edgy!) on the top and a sugar flower garnish (classic!). The over-all effect (when looking at the real thing) is very special. The cakes look simple, fresh and sweet. I have not managed this in my photographs; it was my first time working with classic buttercream, and I have since made this a few times and learned a few tricks in the process. However, you get the idea.

You can have a little internet search to get the recipe for this cake, should you wish. I certainly can't reproduce it here for you now, since I just cannot bring myself to type that much. I'm fighting the jet lag and I have my heart set on the buttercream. I'd certainly recommend Miette's book as well. It has US cup measures, but also imperial weights (no metric, sadly). It's actually littered with mistakes for the weights actually, but comes with an errata to correct it, so the recipes work fine so long as you check them against it. It shouldn't put you off buying it, I think it's a lovely book.

The buttercream however, is worth talking about. I didn't follow Miette's recipe for mousseline. I used an adapted version of one of my beloved Rose Levy-B's. She adds a little lemon juice and uses a slightly different method, which works perfectly, but I can't be bothered with the faff of pouring hot sugar syrup from the pan into a measuring jug to stop it reaching a higher temperature. I also add a little extra butter. I followed her instructions to the letter the first time, and the second made my changes; it still worked, so I'm not going back.

Mr. P's Rule Breaking Strawberry Buttercream

You will need:

3 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
85g golden syrup
250g butter, cool, but squishable
100g high fruit strawberry jam (I used Bonne Maman)
2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. In a large heatproof bowl, put the egg yolks and beat them on high speed with an electric beater for about a minute, or until slightly thickened.
  2. Put the sugar and syrup into a small saucepan and stir until all the sugar is moistened. Then place on a medium heat, stirring constantly until the edges of the mixture start to bubble. Stop stirring and remove the spoon or spatula you were using from the mixture.
  3. Allow the syrup mixture to reach a full rolling boil. This means that you should see large bubbles over the entire surface, including the centre. It shouldn't take long.
  4. Begin rebeating the yolks again, on medium speed, and immediately pour in half of the syrup. Avoid pouring it directly on the beaters, as it will splash against the side of the bowl. Beat for around 30 seconds then add the remaining syrup in the same way. This time beat the egg yolk mixture until the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch. That will take maybe 10 minutes or so.
  5. Add the butter gradually, on medium speed. Once all the butter has been incorporated, add the jam and vanilla and beat until smooth. You now have lovely strawberry buttercream.
To ice in a Tomboy style, use a star tip (a large one) to pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge of the cake layer you wish to frost. Then fill the centre and smooth with a small spatula.


  1. Your Tomboy looks fantastic. I've never heard of the Miettes, but I browsed around their website. Those are some amazing looking cakes. I wish I had the skill and patience to make my cakes look like that (and yours).

  2. I have this book and I've always meant to make a 3 layer mini cake like this - not managed it yet although I have just done a 6 inch 3 layer Peggy Porschen one.

    Yours looks like a proper Miette and I'm very envious you've managed to visit there.

    I can't believe there's that much butter in it! I like the book but to be honest, I do feel short changed by some of these Chronicle publisher's books which are a bit thin on pictures - I love the graphics and the covers but feel there should be more photos in most of them. After completing a book with a lot of photos I see it as a cop out if you do a book where barely any of it is photographed cos that's the hardest part!!

  3. Wow, this looks absolutely delicious! I've never had strawberry buttercream on a big cake. Yours looks so like the picture on the book.

  4. "250g butter, cool, but squishable."

    That might be my favorite direction in a recipe, ever. It sound so silly, but I know exactly what you mean!

  5. I come to your blog by chance and I t is fascinating, both in recipes, as in photography and presentation .. this cake, so far, I have to try to make it ..

    I stand here knowing a little more and enjoy ..
    Happy Sunday!

  6. As you seem to love Rose so much I thought you might like to know I was lucky enough to meet her just over three years ago in Devon when she was over here on a visit. I am a big fan of her books too and she is a lovely person, very sweet and down to earth. I was on cloud nine after having afternoon tea with her and some other friends.

  7. For you Mr P, I came home from the pub and measured the angel food cake pan. It is a 10 inch pan. Make the cake! I have bananas for another as writing it up (4 months later) made me want another. Oh, and the Tomboy looks gorgeous--that cake was the one that caught my eye in that cookbook.


That's what he said.

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