Tell us about the flavor and décor of your cake.
Ron: Layers of spice cake (a vanilla cake flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, and a touch of clove), with dulce de leche cream filling and dark chocolate ganache. We wanted to capture in frosting the ancient technique of laying marble tiles in a complex pattern as the background, and capture the transition between summer and fall with a mix of mid-season sugar flowers.
What is the biggest trend in wedding cakes right now?
Ron: Trends come and go, but the most important element in wedding cakes now is customization. We strive to develop a relationship with each couple, so their cake will complement their design and taste sensibilities. Our clients insist on a delicious cake inside and a unique design on the outside, which for me is the perfect “marriage” between style and substance.
What's your favorite flavor combination?
Ron: My favorite flavor ever is ginger, and I like to add it as a spice to cakes, even a bit in a carrot or chocolate cake. I also love making a buttercream with candied ginger that is simply beyond.
About Ron Ben-Israel:
When most of the tots his age were making messes in the sandbox, pastry genius Ron Ben-Israel preferred to observe his Viennese mother’s culinary magic as she whipped egg whites into frothy meringue or transformed flaky crust into ethereal apple strudel. “I was enchanted,” he gushes. “Watching a fruit reduction become a gelée was fascinating. But I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that the art and science of baking would become my life’s passion.”
Passion, indeed. Ron is fervent when he talks about baking and creating his extraordinary confections. His dedication to his art is both reverent and joyful at once: Each time he fashions a cake—and he’s designed thousands of stunning, one-of-a-kind gateaux in his career—he’s as thrilled as he would be if it were his first masterpiece. As Ron cheerily observes, “Each cake is like a performance—my team and I feel like we are attending countless opening nights every weekend.”
Ron certainly knows about opening nights: A former dancer, he fell in love with a chocolate-maker while on tour in Canada, and with typical resolve, he traded in his ballet slippers for a whisk and a spatula. Fortunately, the discipline he had acquired during years of scrupulous training and a rigorous performance schedule—and during his military service in the Israeli army—helped him as he pursued his new vocation. Like many aspiring chefs, he traveled to France and apprenticed in Cannes, Beaujolais, and Lyons.
Ultimately, New York provided Ron with the most exhilarating and challenging stage for his culinary visions. His artistry has become legendary and he has truly become America’s cake maestro, the wizard and darling of the industry. “I had originally gone to fine art school to study set design, but then dance took over. And now it’s fondant and cake. I am so pleased that the kitchen and I found each other. I’m where I was meant to be.”
And so today, the master confectioner choreographs in sugar. His specialty and wedding creations are consistently featured in national periodicals, including Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides Magazine and New York Magazine and are also prominently highlighted in books, such as Vera Wang on Weddings. Curtain up!”
Visit Ron Ben-Israel Cakes at weddingcakes.com
Photography by Heather Waraksa