Pastry chef Meghan McGarry's raspberry lemon ruffle cake is bright and full of color — exactly what you would think of when you think of a mom's love.
And when Meghan thinks of Mother's Day, the first thing that comes to mind is cake — a tradition that dates back to long before she started her successful business empire, Buttercream Blondie.
It was Meghan's mom, Mary, who helped her discover her talent for baking. Growing up, every time a guest came over to their detached home in the Bronx for dinner, Mary would prepare a beautiful cake for dessert. Whether it was a birthday, holiday or just time for tea, Mary found a reason to celebrate life.
"The times I spent baking cakes with mom are, without a doubt, my favorite childhood memories," Meghan recalls. "Mom always let me lick the beaters once the batter was done. Isn't that every kid's dream?"
On Mother's Day past, Meghan would help her mom bake a cake for both of her grandmothers. Now, baking duties rest entirely in Meghan's hands.
"From early on, I always made my mom a basket cake with buttercream flowers on top," Meghan remembers. "Flowers and buttercream have always been two of her favorite things."
This year, Meghan is making her mom her signature raspberry lemon ruffle cake. A canvas of lemon cake layered with decadent lemon curd is painted with cascading pink ruffles of raspberry buttercream and topped with an altar of fresh fruit.
"The raspberry cream cheese buttercream is definitely the star of the show," McGarry says. "My trick for the stunning combination of color and flavor is freeze-dried raspberries. Usually when you add flavoring to cream cheese frosting, it can get either a little soupy or too sweet. You won't have that problem ever again."
The No. 1 thing to remember as you go to follow Meghan's recipe is this: Do not overthink it.
"When you're icing a cake, it doesn't have to be perfect because sprinkles hide a multitude of sins," Meghan says. "In this case, raspberries do. You pile them right on top of the cake."
While Meghan, who studied under Jacques Torres, loves piping, it may not be for you.
"You can make a naked caked by nixing the ruffles and letting the fruit take the spotlight atop of the pastry," Meghan adds. "Don't be afraid to make it your own. You have the tool — the recipe — now, go have fun with it."
If you still find yourself intimidated by the ruffles or perhaps just short on time, Meghan also has a delicious cupcake adaptation of this A-list recipe. Now, it's time to go make mom proud.
"No gift beats competes with a homemade sweet, especially when the secret ingredient is love," Meghan says.
Recipe: Raspberry Lemon Ruffle Cake