Pink Pearl Lady Cake


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    10 to 12

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C
Baking Time 30 to 40 minutes for the cake; 15 to 20 minutes for the cupcake

This special cake was created to honor my dearest friend and much esteemed colleague Lisa Yockelson. Lisa and I love heart shapes, her favorite color is pink (mine is rose), and because she is indeed a pearl of a person, these became my inspiration for the cake. A tiny touch of food coloring turns the cake batter a pale pink. White Chocolate Fondant, offered to me from cake baker Beth Anne Goldberg of Studio Cake in Menlo Park, California, is a delicious variation of my classic rolled fondant. The fondant pearls owe their exquisite luminosity to a light gilding of luster dust.

Plan Ahead Make the fondant a minimum of 6 hours ahead of composing the cake.



4 (to 6) large egg yolks, at room temperature ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons (69 ml) 2.6 ounces 74 grams
milk cup (158 ml), divided 5.7 ounces 161 grams
pure vanilla extract ½ tablespoon (7.5 ml) . .
red liquid food coloring teaspoon . .
bleached cake flour 2 cups (sifted into the cup and leveled off) 7 ounces 200 grams
superfine sugar 1 cup 7 ounces 200 grams
baking powder teaspoons . 12.4 grams
fine sea salt teaspoon . 2.2 grams
unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) 8 tablespoons (1 stick) 4 ounces 113 grams

Special Equipment

One 9 by 2 inch heart-shape or round cake pan (8 to 8⅔ cups), encircled with a cake strip, bottom coated with shortening, topped with parchment cut to shape, then coated with baking spray with flour | One cupcake liner set in a custard cup or ramekin, if using the heart-shape pan | Optional: one pearl bead mold (see Note)


Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Mix the Liquid Ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 3 tablespoons/44 ml/1.6 ounces/45 grams of the milk, the vanilla, and red food coloring just until lightly combined.

Make the Batter

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture to the batter in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liner, filling it two-thirds full (1.8 ounces/50 grams). Using a large silicone spatula, scrape the remaining batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surfaces evenly with a small offset spatula. (If using the round pan, scrape in all of the batter; you will not need to fill the cupcake liner.)

Bake the Cakes

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (15 to 20 minutes for the cupcake), or until golden brown, a wire cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, and the cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.

Cool and Unmold the Cake

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the cake, pressing firmly against the pan, and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cool completely upside down. This will slightly flatten the dome. Cool the cupcake in its liner. (You will not need the cupcake to complete the cake; eat it as a baker’s treat.)

Make the White Chocolate Plastique

See recipe.

Make the Strawberry Mousseline

See recipe.

Bevel the Cake

With a small serrated knife or Microplane, bevel the edges of the cake. This will make it easier to form smooth edges and to keep the fondant from cracking when it curves over the cake.

Split and Frost the Cake

With a long serrated knife, split the cake into two layers, each about 1 inch high. Slide a transfer disc or the loose bottom of a tart pan between the layers and lift off the top layer. Spread the bottom layer with 1 cup/6.3 ounces/179 grams of the mousseline. Start by dropping large blobs of it onto the cake. Then, using a small offset spatula, spread it back and forth without lifting up the spatula in order to keep the crumbs from lifting away from the surface of the cake. Spread the remaining 3 tablespoons of strawberry butter evenly over the mousseline.

Slide the upper cake layer from the transfer disc on top of the frosted layer. Begin by lining up the edges as evenly as possible, and then pull the upper layer slightly toward you so that it aligns neatly with the opposite edge before setting it down. If it is not perfectly even, slip a small metal spatula between the layers and lift and stretch the upper layer slightly.

Apply the Undercoat

Brush off any crumbs from the cake and parchment strips. The mousseline undercoat needs to be a thin layer, as smooth and even as possible, because the fondant will reveal every imperfection beneath it. When applying the mousseline, first do a thin crumb coating on the sides and top layers. If necessary, fill any gaps between the layers with mousseline.

Refrigerate the cake layers for about 1 hour to firm the mousseline. Apply another thin coating of mousseline to form flat, smooth surfaces on the sides and top. Smooth the top edges of the cake so that they are slightly rounded. Refrigerate the cake for another hour, or until the mousseline is firm. Slowly slide the parchment strips out from under the cake.

Apply the Fondant to the Cake

The fondant rolls most easily if it is 80°F/27°C. It can be softened if set in the microwave for about 5 seconds. Knead the fondant until it has softened enough to roll.

Lightly coat a smooth countertop and rolling pin with nonstick cooking spray. Roll the fondant into a ¼ inch thick 13 inch round disc.

Slip your hands, palm sides down, under the fondant and lift it above the cake. Drape the fondant evenly onto the cake. As the fondant is smoothed over the surface of the cake it will stretch slightly, but avoid pulling it because it will tear. Quickly smooth the fondant onto the cake, starting at the top center to prevent air bubbles, using the palm of your hand in a circular motion, and gradually easing it over the sides. (If an air bubble should form, it can be pierced with a sharp needle and smoothed out.) Use sharp scissors to cut away the triangular excess at the point of the heart and then smooth the seam with your fingertips.

Using a pizza cutter, sharp knife, or single-edge razor blade, trim the fondant flush with the serving plate. If using a pizza cutter, angle it away from the cake to avoid marking the side of the fondant and cut about ½ inch away from the cake to ensure that it will not be short. After it is smoothed into place, trim, if necessary. Knead together the fondant scraps and cover them with plastic wrap to keep them soft and pliable.

Make the Pearls

Using the fondant scraps, make about 11 pearls. Pinch off small bits of the fondant and roll them with your finger, 1 at a time, in the palm of your hand into ⅓ to ½ inch balls. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly. Place a tiny amount of luster dust in your palm and, with the index finger of your other hand, roll the pearl in the luster dust to coat it. Set it on top of the fondant. Continue with the remaining balls. If the pearls are made shortly after the fondant is applied, they will stick to the fondant. Alternatively, dab the bottom of each pearl with a bit of melted white chocolate before setting it on top of the fondant.

If the fondant at the base of the cake is not perfectly even, you can make additional small ivory pearls to set around the base (see Note).

Let the cake sit, uncovered, for a minimum of 3 hours before serving or storing.

Compose the Cake

When ready to compose the cake, invert it onto a flat serving plate or rigid cake board that is spread with a little mousseline, and set it onto a countertop. Slide a few wide strips of parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean.

To serve, use a serrated knife to slice the cake.


Lightly covered with plastic wrap or in a cake keeper: room temperature, 2 days; refrigerated, 5 days.

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