Waldorf Astoria

The Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem interior. (Flash90)

Just in time for the holiday of Shavuot, when Jews traditionally eat dairy foods, the pastry chef at Jerusalem’s Waldorf Astoria is sharing his recipe for the “ultimate cheesecake.”

Claude Bensimon, a French born and trained confectioner and baker who today serves as the pastry chef at the award-winning Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, has revealed his unique twist on one of the world’s most famous cakes, the Red Velvet. Taking its name from the deep rich color of the pastry, the Red Velvet has been a staple on menus of Waldorf Astoria hotels around the world.

Adapting the cake for the kosher market served as a unique opportunity for Bensimon, who described it as an “ultimate cheese cake.”  While he concedes that the cake can be prepared parve (containing neither meat nor dairy, and therefore permissible to observant Jews after eating meat), the cream cheese filling is what makes it unique. In advance of the Shavuot holiday, when Jews traditionally eat dairy foods and cheesecake is the most popular dessert, Bensimon presented a workshop at the landmark Jerusalem hotel dedicated to the design of this bakery masterpiece.

A second-generation pastry chef, Bensimon was trained in the bakeshops and pastry kitchens of Paris.  In 2001, he fulfilled his longtime dream of making Aliyah (moving to Israel), and in 2013, with the opening of the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, he joined the hotel as head pastry chef.

“The Red Velvet is a cake that requires both patience and skill, but is well worth the effort because it has the special quality of being both visually breathtaking and combining the tastes and sensations of the very best pastries,” Bensimon said.

By: Yehuda Barkai

Here’s the recipe:

Cake Ingredients

5 Eggs

13.2 oz. Raspberry Syrup

2 1/2 cups of Sugar

3 1/3 cups of Flour

2 tsp of Baking Powder

1 1/3 cups of Oil

Rose Water

Red Food Coloring


Whip together the sugar & the eggs.  Fold in with a spatula the raspberry syrup, and add in the baking powder and oil.  Transfer to a baking tray (30cm or cupcake molds), greased with parchment paper and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 30-40 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1.1 pound Pastry Cream

1 pound Napoleon Cream Cheese 30%

5.29 oz. Powdered Sugar

5 oz. Gelatin mass

2 Vanilla Beans

18.5 oz. Whipped Cream


Put 2/3 of the pastry cream in a mixer with the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Heat up 1/3 of the pastry cream and add the gelatin while hot.  Slowly add the mixture to the mixer with the other ingredients.  Mix and fold in the whipped cream.


After the cake cools, slice in half (on the width) and frost with 1/3 of the frosting over half of the cake.  On top of the frost put the sliced cake and then put in the refrigerator for a half hour. After cooling frost the cake with the frosting and put back in the fridge.  Decorate with wild berries & strawberries or with a chocolate plaque or flower.