This James Beard Award Winner's Wedding Cake Recipe Was Legitimately Made In A Microwave

When "food" and "James Beard" come up in the same sentence, most people may think of exquisite meals, fine dining restaurants, and top-level chefs. The term "microwaveable cake," on the other hand, brings to mind the novelty (and admittedly low-brow) dessert of the '80s, when many households had a microwave and Betty Crocker microwave cake mix at their disposal. As Pillsbury put it, conventional cakes "tend to come out heavy and soggy with bumps and cracks" when prepared in the microwave, explaining why you wouldn't expect such a creation from a fine dining establishment.

Rest assured, though, that the chef who came up with this microwavable cake recipe certainly knows her way around a kitchen. James Beard Award-winning chef Debbie Gold has worked in multiple Michelin-star restaurants and even appeared on Bravo TV's "Top Chef Masters." She was the executive chef at The American for several years before taking over the kitchen of another Windy City restaurant, per the Chicago Tribune: Tied House. Back in 2018, the Michelin Guide reported that Gold's menu featured "decadent desserts like sheep's milk yogurt ice cream with goat cajeta, pastry cream and white balsamic," as well as a "deconstructed wedding cake." The chef shared the secret (read: the microwave method) behind this quick-turnaround menu item with curious diners.

This microwave angel food cake was 'delicious and very light'

While the title of Gold's creation was "deconstructed wedding cake," it wasn't something diners were expected to put together themselves (as was the case with a deconstructed macchiato sold in Australia). Instead, Gold's cake fit the "deconstructed" mold as defined by On The Gas: "broken down into the parts that make it." Chefs often use deconstruction as an art form, presenting a dish with "all the key components...but not necessarily mixed together."

Deconstruction isn't always successful. Case in point: a deconstructed chicken pot pie that failed during an episode of "MasterChef." However, Gold's deconstructed wedding cake was beautiful, starting with decadent vanilla frosting swooshed on the plate, followed by three or four broken pieces of fluffy angel food cake. It was served with a seasonal jam and, for an extra romantic feel, dried rose petals.

As for why Gold chose to make the cake in the microwave instead of an oven, Gold appreciated that the method allowed for quick individualized servings of the cake, piped into cups, to be heated in under 40 seconds. She also said the microwave resulted in a "delicious and very light cake," and the Chicago Tribune apparently agreed. A review likened the dessert to "a piece of wedding cake after the obligatory bride-groom smooshing bit."

Gold is now the executive chef of Chicago restaurant Found. An angel food cake with "meringue kisses" and strawberry frosting is on the menu, but it's unclear whether this one involves Chef Mike.