Valley Cottage 'Cake Wars' Contestant's Fresh-Baked Tips

Rockland resident and recent TV star Gilda Burke reveals her top-secret tricks

Gilda Burke makes baking seem like a piece of pie. The owner of Valley Cottage’s Jolirose Cake Shop, who appeared earlier this week as a contestant on Food Network’s Cake Wars, stumbled upon her sugary craft accidentally. After creating charming cupcakes that everyone adored, her hobby blossomed into a budding business venture, Jolirose Cake Shop. Burke’s towering tiers and colorful creations have left mouths watering across Rockland for the last three years, so we asked the expert to clue us in on some basics and stealthy secrets.     


You Butter Believe It

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When preparing buttercream icing or filling—which, in its simplest form is made from creaming butter and powdered sugar together—always use real butter, Burke recommends. Some recipes may call for other fats like margarine or shortening, but buttercream is best when its namesake dairy product actually makes it into the mix.


Whip It Good

If you over-beat your batter, you can overwork the proteins in the flour, resulting in a tougher cake. Anything longer will be over-whipped and will ruin the texture of your dessert. “This is a step that you really need to keep an eye on,” advises Burke. “This isn’t an, ‘I’ll go do something else while this is mixing’ kind of thing.” 


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Worth the Weight

The kitchen scale doesn’t lie. Burke says your sweet treats will come out “beautifully accurate” and “delicious” when you use weight measurements instead of converting pounds or ounces into cups.


Top Secret

Lastly, in a pinch, Burke drives over to Matter of Health in Nanuet for key ingredients, but there is one item always in stock at her store: Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract, which she explains “works in baking kind of how salt works in savory cooking. It just helps to bring out and enhance the flavor of the food.” A tablespoon goes a long way with this simple staple, and it finds its way into nearly everyone of the Burke’s recipes, so you’d be wise to make room for it in your pantry as well.

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