By Carly DeFilippo


As we gear up to launch our new Techniques and Art of Professional Cake Decorating program on May 2nd, we are very excited to share one of Chef Toba Garrett‘s cake and icing recipes.

Cake Decorating-030

Almond Paste Cake

Tools: 5 or 6 Quart Mixer

Yields: 2, 10” cake layers or 3, 8” cake layers


  • 9 oz (255 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 oz (170 g) almond paste
  • 24oz (680 g) granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 ½  tsp almond extract
  • 12 fl oz (340 g) whole milk
  • 18 oz (510 g) cake flour
  • 1 ½  Tbsp baking powder
  • ¾  tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175-177˚C).  Vegetable spray and parchment line three 8” (20.32 cm) cake pans.  Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter, almond paste and sugar for 4 minutes.  Stop, scrape the bowl, and cream for 60 seconds more.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, to the creamed mixture.  Beat in the almond extract.
  4. Sieve together the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the creamed mixture.  Ladle the mixture into the baking pans.  This is a thick batter.
  5. Carefully smooth the batter with a metal offset spatula.  Hit the pan against the counter to burst any air bubbles.
  6. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes or until the cake slightly shrinks and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cake can last for 3 weeks in the refrigerator if wrapped well and can be frozen.

A buttercream frosting cake featured in Toba Garrett’s book, “Professional Cake Decorating”


Tools: 5 or 6 Quart Mixer

Yields: 2 ½ to 3 lbs (1.13 to 1.36 kg)


  • 12 oz (340 g) of granulated sugar
  • 6 fl oz (177 ml) whole milk
  • 1½ Tbsp (3/8 oz) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3 fl oz (85 g) heavy cream
  • 1¼ lbs (57 kg or 568 g) unsalted butter (cut-up)

Or, for a larger quantity:

Tools: 20 Quart Mixer*

Yields: 10 to 10.5 lbs (4.45 to 4.76 kg)


  • 3 lbs (48 oz or 1.35 kg) of granulated sugar
  • 24 oz (710 ml) whole milk
  • 6 Tbsp (90 ml or 1.5 oz or 38 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) salt
  • 2 fl oz (57 g or 59 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 9 fl oz (266 ml) heavy cream
  • 5 lbs (2.27 kg) unsalted butter (cut-up)

*Recipe can be multiplied 5 times for a 60 quart mixer.


  1. Make custard by heating milk and sugar over a double boiler until sugar crystals dissolve.  Remove from heat and add flour and salt and whisk until flour is incorporated.  Place over an ice bath until the custard has slightly cooled.
  2. Pour custard mixture in mixer bowl with paddle attachment.  Add cut-up butter and heavy cream.  Mix on LOW speed to fully incorporate ingredients or until mixture starts to thicken.
  3. Mix on NEXT highest speed until mixtures starts to look light and fluffy.   This can take 7 to 10 minutes or longer if making larger batches.
  4. Store and refrigerate buttercream in an air-tight container.  Freeze for up to 2 months.

Note:  If the buttercream curdles, it will just take a longer time for the butter to warm-up.  Continue beating until the butter softens and the mixture looks light and fluffy.


© 1995, 2007 Toba Garrett, all rights reserved

By Carly DeFilippo

16950026ICE grad Leigh Koh Peart (Culinary Management and Pastry & Baking Arts ’08) had an dynamic career in the music industry, but something wasn’t quite right. She moved across the world to study at ICE, which led to externships and work opportunities with some of the industry’s top bakers and pastry chefs. Today, she manages an extraordinary custom cakes business out of her home in London.

What were you doing before you enrolled at ICE, and what inspired you to change careers?

I was working in Singapore at the time, running event logistics for MTV music events in Asia. It was great fun but I was ready to learn something new and see more of the world. I always had a love for baking and wanted to take it to the next level. I also wanted to learn how to manage a food business. So I picked the ICE program because I was able to do both concurrently. It was quite intense but really fun, I learned a lot and made such good friends from around the world.

Where was your externship? And what have you been up to since graduation?

I did two externships. The first one was at Financier Patisserie, where I helped to produce their daily range of beautiful French-style pastries. Then I realized I wanted to learn more about the art of cake decorating, so I applied for an externship at Ron-Ben Israel Cakes, which was an amazing experience and inspired me to start my own cake business.

I moved to London after my externship at RBI Cakes. I worked as a pastry chef in Michelin-starred Chef Pierre Gagnaire’s Sketch in Mayfair, London. I learned so much working alongside high-caliber chefs, but knew that life in a restaurant kitchen was not what I wanted in the long term. I decided to start my own cake business, Craft Cakes, where I currently make bespoke cakes, teach cake decorating classes and host parties in London.


Describe a typical work day.

I work from home mostly, so I start the day by answering emails or ordering ingredients, and then go on to bake and decorate cakes due for delivery or prepare for classes. I also trawl the internet for new techniques or products for cake decorating all the time. Sometimes I get a bit naughty and sneak off for a lazy long lunch with a friend at a hot new restaurant in town.

What might people be surprised to learn about your job?

It is as fun as it looks! The best part is the flexibility of being self-employed. I can find the time to pursue other culinary adventures, such as running my own supper club. Please check out Two Hungry Girls when you are next in London! We specialise in creative Chinese cuisine.


Five years ago, did you ever think you’d be doing what you’re doing now?

I always had the idea of opening my own cake shop or cafe. I am still working towards that goal, slowly but surely! I’d also like to write my own cookbook or be a cake and baked goods consultant to companies in the F&B industry. Anything to do with cake, basically! It is a life-long obsession.


Well, it’s done. We’ve decorated our fondant cakes and invited our friends and family to our Senior Reception (check out the photos of all our cakes above). Nine months and 100 lessons later, what have I really learned through taking the Pastry Arts & Baking Arts program at ICE? Back when I wrote my very first post, before I knew how to tare a scale, I couldn’t have even imagined that I’d be able to make flowers out of gumpaste. But I also took away a lot more than just recipes and techniques. I agree wholeheartedly with what I wrote then — I did learn much more than what was included in the curriculum. I think we all did.

I asked some of my classmates what they learned, including what they would do differently knowing what they know now. Here is a look at the unexpected lessons my fellow classmates and I gained during our time as pastry students.

As you can imagine, in a three-night-a-week evening class, most of us held full-time jobs. As a career changer, Ivana was learning a whole new set of skills. She shared, “What a humbling experience it is to start something new after working towards one career for 15 years.” More…

I was never one for flowers. This Valentine’s Day, knowing that I have a strong dislike of the traditional red roses overpopulating deli storefronts and florists on February 14, my boyfriend surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of plum-colored tulips. They were beautiful — they were a surprise, they were gorgeous and they even smelled good. But later in the evening, after leaving pastry class, I said to him, “Next year, if you’re going to get me flowers, I think you should make them out of gumpaste.”

Since I last wrote, that’s what I’ve been doing — making flowers out of gumpaste. At the start of each class, I find myself wondering how we’re going to spend the entire class just making flowers. But four hours later, I realize we have kept ourselves happily busy. The process is as tedious as it is relaxing, and as time-consuming as it is rewarding. What starts as a simple bud, comes to life a little more each day as we add petals, leaves and a final touch of petal dust that adds the perfect amount of color, dimension and magical shimmer. At least, that’s the goal. More…

This is the part of the program where we are designers. Yes, we have had the experience of designing our chocolate showpieces, but individually making fonadant-covered cakes last week was our first experience designing solo. Well, it was actually an inedible foam cake, but it still gave us something to roll our fondant over, creating a clean palate for us to decorate. The only requirement was to include a chocolate rose somewhere on the cake.

If you recall, my introduction to modeling chocolate was certainly a challenge. I struggled with rolling it through a pasta machine to make my chocolate ribbon cake. This time, I used white chocolate, working it in my hands to improve its elasticity. I’m not sure if it had to do with the warmth of my hands or the differences between white and dark chocolate, but this was much more successful than using the pasta machine. Creating the rose petals and leaves out of this material was actually quite fun. I love the process of making parts that will become something bigger and then watching each of the petals comes together to produce a beautiful flower. More…

The time has come to trade our plastic aprons and gloves for pastry bags and star tips. As you can imagine, I was quite excited to leave the world of chocolate behind and delve into a new world of marzipan fruits and vegetables and piping techniques for cake decorating.

It is the final stretch of the classroom portion of our Pastry & Baking Arts program. If you walked by our kitchen the past few lessons, you may have thought we were easing into some sort of meditative phase. One lesson we colored and shaped marzipan into everything from apples to asparagus to pigs. That day, I remember wishing I had played with Play-Doh a bit more when I was a kid. I promised myself that I would sit with my niece and nephew the next time I saw them and make oranges, pears and bananas with them out of clay. Maybe it will help them one day, if they ever decide to take a pastry program! More…