Of course you can turn out a gorgeous cake in a small home kitchen with just a few ingredients. B. Keith Ryder has carved out a second career doing just that.

Ryder is a self-taught cake baker and decorator who has run a business out of his Falls Church home for the past five years. Called BCakes by BKeith, he specializes in wedding cakes.

For our cake, he wanted to create something elegant but quick.

His makeover involved a marbleized dark and white chocolate wrap to go around the sides of the cake. The wrap stood up a couple of inches higher than the top of the cake, forming a collar that could hold a layer of fresh berries.

"You could assemble this cake in about 20 minutes," he said, by just making the wrap and using fresh berries to decorate the top and around the bottom. But he decided he had time to add a little extra oomph. He crowned the top with chocolate roses formed out of . . . Tootsie Rolls! "This is so easy. Kids love doing it," he said.

To make the chocolate wrap, he melted white chocolate chips on low in the microwave to make about a half cup of melted white chocolate. He then drizzled the white chocolate on a piece of freezer paper placed shiny side up on a baking sheet. Two cups of semisweet chocolate chips were melted in the microwave and the dark chocolate was poured over the white. The chocolate was then refrigerated to harden it (15 minutes minimum, although 30 minutes is better).

While the chocolate chilled, Ryder made the Tootsie Roll roses. (He microwaved the candies for a few seconds to soften them first.) He broke off half of a Tootsie Roll and formed it into a ball, then used his fingers to flatten the other half into a thin, quarter-size disc that resembled a petal. He wrapped the petal partially around the ball, then repeated the process with another piece of candy, adding petals in layers around the ball until he created a rose.

Once the melted chocolate was set, he peeled off the freezer paper and wrapped the chocolate layer around the sides of cake. The raspberries and roses went on top.

Instead of hassling with piped frosting around the bottom edge of the cake, Ryder used big, beautiful strawberries.

-- Candy Sagon