All posts by klenns88

Option Trading – Adjusting Iron Condors

Someone shared this article with me. I would like to add it in my Option Trading collection:) .

Adjusting Iron Condors

Despite what others might try and tell you (usually when they are trying to sell you something), adjusting Iron Condors is not rocket science. You don’t need some fancy system or training that costs hundreds of dollars, and trust me there are hundreds of websites run by slick internet marketers trying to sell these products. There is no special sauce when it comes to adjusting iron condors, all you need is a couple of different choices and a system that you stick to. I will outline a few of those choices for you here today (and you won’t need to pay hundreds of dollars for it!!)

When it comes to market neutral strategies, you can’t do much better than iron condors. This options trading strategy profits if the underlying stock remains within a specified range. What hurts this strategy is sharp moves in either direction after the trade is placed. Sometimes, and it depends on the timing and how you have structured your Iron Condor, you can still ride out these big moves and be profitable. However, at other times, these violent moves can have a negative effect on your position at which point you need to make a decision as to whether to close the trade and take your loss, or make an Iron Condor adjustment. These decisions should all be part of your trading plan and you should know what you are going to do in advance should a big move occur. What you don’t want to do, is close your eyes, cross your fingers and hope that the position comes back into profit. With Iron Condors, you can lose more than you make, so it is VERY important that you don’t let small losses turn into very big losses.

Before we get to how to adjust an Iron Condor, it’s important to have a general understanding of the strategy. The key features of Iron Condors are:

• This strategy is set up by selling a Bear Call Spread and selling a Bull Put Spread.

• They have a limited profit potential, which is limited to the premium collected on the Bear Call Spread and the Bull Put Spread.

• Potential losses are higher than potential profits.

• This is a strategy that has a high probability of success, usually around 80%. This is offset by the risk that you can lose more than you can make. Hence adjusting your losing trades is very important

• You will not win every time with Iron Condors, that’s just a fact of life. Even with adjustments, you will still have some losing trades, as with any strategy.

• The most important consideration is not incurring big losses that give back a lot of your gains from previous trades.

To give you a quick example of what can go wrong, on July 28th I entered the Bull Put side of an Iron Condor on RUT (having already placed the Bear Call Spread a few days earlier), with strike prices of 670 and 660. At the time, RUT was trading at around 799. Then, in early August, we had the mini market meltdown and on August 4th, RUT had dropped to 727. This was a worst case scenario for me, with the underlying index making a sharp move only a few days after I placed the trade. With the risk involved, I had to close the trade for a loss of $3,094. However, a few days later I was able to adjust the trade by re-entering the Bull Put Spread at 560-570 and made $1,222 on that trade which offset some of my losses from the initial position. When you take into account this and the profits from the Bear Call side of the Condor, I was only down $828 for the month, which was a very reasonable result considering the situation. This is an example of adjusting an Iron Condor by rolling the losing side to lower strike prices (if the call side was the losing side, you would roll to higher strikes). I’ll now detail out a few more options for adjusting Iron Condors:

Choice 1) Do nothing and hope the position reverses direction and the losing side comes back into a comfortable level. Yes, this is an option, but as I said earlier, you need to be careful not to let a small loss turn into a big loss. For the RUT trade I mentioned earlier, if I had not closed it on Aug 4th, my losses would have been MUCH larger when the index eventually bottomed around 640 on August 9th. The other thing to consider with doing nothing is the stress you will be under for the remaining duration of the trade and the fact that these positions become hard to adjust the closer you get to expiry.

Choice 2) Roll down (up) to lower (higher) strikes. This is what I did with the trade above, and I did what I called a delayed roll, where I closed the trade and then waiting a few days before rolling it to the lower strike. This allowed me to get further away from the market and also receive more option premium due to the further spike in volatility.

Choice 3) Roll down (up) and out. So, in addition to rolling your strikes down (up), you also roll out for 1 more month. This allows you to get even further away from the market and also pick up extra premium due to the increased time to expiry. The downside to this is that you now have the position open for an extra month, and you may not want the exposure to be open for that long. When trading Iron Condors, you do not want to go too far out in time as the time decay benefits are reduced.

Choice 4) You could roll both the Bull Put Spread AND the Bear Call Spread. In the RUT case above, in addition to rolling my Put Spreads down, I also rolled down my Call Spreads down from 910-920 to 720-730. This resulted in an additional $897 in income for the month which further helped offset my losses from the initial Bull Put Spread loss. The risk with this is that you roll the calls down only for the underlying to move back in the other direction and then you could be faced with losses on BOTH sides of the Condor.

Choice 5) Another option that works, is to HEDGE your position by either buying the underlying OR buying some out-of-the-money options. The easiest way to do this is with stock and using delta. Assume your delta on the Put Spread is around 0.15. You could sell 7 shares to hedge half of your current delta (or whatever ratio you decide is appropriate). The risk with this is that if the underlying rises, you end up giving up some of your profits on the Iron Condor, but that’s the price you pay for protection I guess. The other issue is that the delta will change over time, so you may need to buy or sell more of the underlying to adjust your hedge which again could erode some of your profits and also incurs transaction costs. If you chose to hedge with options, you could look at buying some puts (calls) further out of the money than your Condor strikes. Again, use delta as a guide here.

Choice 6) The final option is to simple cut your losses, walk away and wait for another opportunity. As with doing nothing, this is also a decision that you can make, remember that cash is a position! Sometimes it can be better to just close things out, clear your head and come back with a fresh look at things. In this case, you could choose to close both sides of the Condor, or just the losing side.

These 6 scenarios presented above are really the main options when it comes to adjusting Iron Condors. So, there you have it, information that took probably 10 minutes to read that could have potentially cost you hundreds of dollars if you were on a different site. Please feel free to share this post on Facebook or Twitter.

Disclaimer: Trade At Your Own Risk. Investing is risky and can result in large losses. Nothing presented in my emails, twitter , my forum or website is financial advice or recommendations.

Recipe – Texas Style Smoked Brisket

My husband is from New Mexico. He likes spicy food. He loves my Texas Style Smoked Brisket. When I prepare it for my son, since he doesn’t eat spicy food, I will remove chili powder and cayenne to reduce the level of spicy.

Brisket: Purchase from Costco

Smoker: Traeger Wood Pellet Smoker purchased from Costco.

  • 1 (4-pound) beef brisket, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Barbecue Sauce, recipe follows
  • Barbecue Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cane syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Set the brisket on a large sheet of plastic wrap. In a medium bowl combine the dark brown sugar, chili power, paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne, dry mustard, and cumin thoroughly. Rub the mixture onto the brisket and wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Place on a baking sheet and let marinate refrigerated at least 6 hours or overnight. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

Allow plenty of time for cooking. When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Leave temperature set to Smoke, and pre-heat, lid closed (10-15 minutes).

Place brisket fat side up on the grill grate, insert thermometer probe and smoke for 4 hours.

After 4 hours turn grill up to 250F.

When internal meat temperature reaches 160F, remove brisket from the grill, add apple juice  and wrap in foil – DO NOT remove thermometer probe.

Place foiled brisket back on grill and cook until internal temperature is 204F.

Remove brisket and allow it to rest in the foil for at least 30 minutes.

Serve with Barbecue Sauce on the side for dipping.

Barbecue Sauce:

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ketchup, brown sugar, cane syrup, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, Essence, and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the flavors marry, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before serving.

Yield: about 4 cups

Recipe – Smoked Salmon

A lot of people like my smoked salmon or halibut I made. I am posting the recipe now.

Fish –  I like to use Alaska Wild salmon or halibut. I buy fish from Troller Point Fisheries few times a year when they have dock sell at Port of Everett. In the spring & fall they arrive with a wide variety of products—including Troll King & Coho Salmon steaks, fillets, and whole fish, Ling Cod, Pacific Cod, Smoked Salmon, Lox and their famous Halibut and Black Cod and the Sweet, Firm, Wild and Very Tasty Alaska Spot Prawns.

Smoker – I use Traeger, the wood pellet smoker bought from Costco.

Here is the recipe I use.


  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
  • 2 large salmon fillets or sides, pin bones removed

In a bowl, mix together salt, sugar, brown sugar and peppercorns. Spread extra-wide aluminum foil a little longer than the length of the fish and top with an equally long layer of plastic wrap. Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the plastic. Lay 1 side of the fish skin down onto the rub. Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the flesh of the salmon. Place second side of salmon, flesh down onto the first side. Use the remaining rub to cover the skin on the top piece. Fold plastic over to cover then close edges of foil together and crimp tightly around the fish.

Place wrapped fish onto a plank or sheet pan and top with another plank or pan. Weigh with a heavy phone book or a brick or two and refrigerate for 12 hours. Flip the fish over and refrigerate another 12 hours. Some juice will leak out during the process so make sure there’s a place for the runoff to gather.

Unwrap fish and rinse off the cure with cold water. Pat salmon with paper towels then place in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) until the surface of the fish is dry and matte-like, 1 to 3 hours depending on humidity. A fan may be used to speed the process.

Smoke fish in the smoker, keeping the temperature inside the smoker between 150 degrees F and 160 degrees F until the thickest part of the fish registers 150 degrees. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature, wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days. I use 220 degrees F for 3 hours when I prepare the fish for lunch or dinner.

Moving Preparation for Home Buyer

Now that you have a new address, send out all your change of address notices.

Complete your Change of Address notices and mail them to the following.  Keep in mind that the post office will forward your mail for 30 days but they do expect that you are sending notices to everyone who sends you mail.

    • Post Office
    • Friends and relatives
    • Magazine and mail order subscriptions
    • Professional organizations of which you are a member
    • Clubs, social or civic organizations with mailings
    • Charge accounts, insurance carriers, and creditors
    • Driver’s bureau to receive tag notices
    • Voter Registration officials

Don’t forget the needs of your furry friends!

  • Do not transport your pets much farther than they have safely traveled in the past without consulting your veterinarian. To transport animals by air, you need an airline-approved animal carrier. A moving company can inform you of any state regulations for pet entry, vaccination or quarantine procedures. Ask about regulations, licenses, tags, etc. for pets. Also, do not forget to obtain a copy of your pet’s medical records.

Keep detailed records – some moving expenses are tax deductible!

Keep detailed records of all moving expenses if your move is job related. Many expenses, including house-hunting trips, are tax deductible. If your move is 35 miles or more from your home, you can deduct your family’s travel expenses, including meals and lodging; the cost of transporting furniture, other household goods and personal belongings; food and hotel bills for up to 30 days in the new city if you have to wait to move into your new home; and the costs associated with selling your old home or leasing your new home.

Note:     There is a ceiling on deductions which is outlined in detail in the IRS’s Publication 521, “Tax Information on Moving Expenses,” available free form the IRS offices.

When you close on your new home, you should complete the following:

    • Ask your bank about electronically transferring your funds to a bank in your new area. Discuss branch options and arrange for check cashing in your new location.
    • Close out your safety deposit box.
    • Obtain travelers checks for traveling funds and for funds while you are settling into your new location.
    • Ask your insurance agent to transfer coverage to your new home. Make sure all coverage (life, health, automobile, personal belongings, etc.) is in force while you are en route.
    • Schedule a moving company to assist you or begin notifying people who are helping you of your planned move date.
    • Begin depleting your store of canned and frozen foods. Defrost your freezer and use charcoal to dispel odors. 

Now that you have a new address, you can begin transferring or canceling home services: 

    • Electric and Water (City of Austin (512) 000-0000).
    • Telephone (Southwestern Bell: Residential (800) 000-0000; Business (800) 000-0000).
    • Cable Television (Time Warner Cable: (512) 000-0000).
    • Trash (City of Austin (512) 000-0000).
    • Gas (Southern Union Gas (512) 000-0000)       Make arrangements for canceling home deliveries and services such as the following.

Arrange for service at your new address. 

  • Newspaper (Austin American Statesman: (512) 000-0000).
  • Cleaning Service (                                                                  ).
  • Lawn Service (                                                                       ).
  • Laundry / Diaper Service (                                                     ).

Real Estate – Close Your Real Estate Transaction

What is a Real Estate “Closing?”

A “closing” is the meeting the Buyer, Seller, and their agents (optional), and representative from the lending institution and title company wherein the actual transfer of title to the property occurs.  The purchase agreement or contract you have signed describes the property, states the purchase price and terms, sets forth the method of payment, and usually names the date and place where the closing or actual transfer of the property title and keys will occur.  This meeting is also referred to as the settlement.

The title company transferring ownership of the property to you will prepare a new deed.  Your lender will require you to sign a document, usually a promissory note, as evidence that you are personally responsible for repaying the loan.  You will also sign a mortgage or deed of trust on the property as security to the lender for the loan.  The mortgage or deed of trust gives the lender the right to sell the property if you fail to make the payments.  Before you exchange these papers, the property may be surveyed, appraised, or inspected, and the ownership of title will be checked in county and court records.

What Should I do to Prepare for the Closing?

As previously mentioned, you should have already conducted any inspections, etc. you wish to have done on the property.

There are two kinds of title insurance.  A lender or mortgagee’s title insurance policy protects only the lending institution.  Lenders require this type of insurance and require the borrower to pay for it.  That does not mean that the borrower will receive its protection.  An owner’s policy is necessary to protect the owner against loss.

You will also be required to pay all fees and closing costs in the form of “guaranteed funds” such as a Cashier’s Check.  You will be notified of the exact amount by your agent or escrow officer at closing.

What is an Escrow Account?

An escrow account is a neutral depository for funds that will be used to pay expenses incurred by the property, such as taxes, assessments, property insurance, or mortgage insurance premiums which fall due in the future.  You will pay one-twelfth of the annual amount of these bills each month with your regular mortgage payment.  When the bills fall due, they are paid by the lender from the special account.  At closing, it may be necessary to pay enough into the account to cover these amounts for several months so that funds will be available to pay the bills as they fall due.  You may also be required to refund items prepaid by the Seller.  For example, if the Seller has paid the special assessments or taxes for that year, you may be required to refund the value of the months remaining the year when you take possession of the property.  An escrow fee is usually charged to set up the account.

Real Estate – Loan Application Checklist

Loan Application Checklist


    • Picture ID with social security number of borrower and co-borrowers.
    • Payment to cover the application fee.
    • Name and complete address of all landlords for the past two years.
    • Banks for foreigner’s loan
      • East West Bank: Jingjing Zhao
        华美, 国泰,汇丰


    • Employment history for the past two years including names, addresses, phone numbers, and length of time with company.
    • Copies of your most recent pay stubs and W-2 forms (past two years).
    • Verification of other income (social security, child support, retirement).
    • If self-employed, you need copies of the past two years signed tax returns including all schedules, and a signed profit and loss statement of the current year. Retirees need tax returns for the past two years.
    • If you have rental property income, bring a copy of all lease agreements.


    • Copies of all bank and credit union statements for the past three months.
    • Copies of all stock/bond certificates and/or the past three statements from all investment and retirement accounts.
    • Prepare a list of household items and their values.
    • Copies of title documents for all automobiles, boats, motorcycles, etc.
    • Face amount, monthly premiums and cash values of all life insurance policies. (Cash value may be used for closing costs or down payments. You need documentation from the carrier indicating cash value).


    • Credit cards (account numbers, current balances, and monthly payments).
    • Installment loans (car, student, etc.). Same details as for credit cards.
    • Mortgage loans (property address, lender with address, account numbers, monthly payment and balance owed on all properties presently owned or sold within the last two years). Bring proof of sale of properties sold.
    • Child care expense/support (name, address, phone number).


  • Bankruptcy – bring discharge and schedule of creditors.
  • Adverse credit – bring letters of explanation.
  • Divorce – bring Divorce Decrees, property settlements, quit claim deeds, modifications, etc. for all divorces by yourself or your spouse.
  • VA only – bring Form DD214 and Certificate of Eligibility.
  • Retirees – bring retirement and/or Social Security Award Letter.

Option Trading 05212014

Using options to earn income, I could get into stocks at a discount to their trading value, protect my portfolio and grow my capital consistently. While high flying stocks could produce spectacular gains, they can also crush a portfolio. Through consistent annual gains while controlling any losses, my portfolio would grow annually.

This year I am focusing developing the option strategy around earnings. I have been actively using Iron Condo and Strangle for earnings trading since the beginning of year, especially after April 23, 2014. I strongly feel if I treat my trading as a hobby, the return will like a hobby; if I treat my trading as my business, the return will like a business.

Here are my trades for this year which has exceeded 20% of ROI. I haven’t had any losing trades. I hope that I am not over confidence and keeping the winning record for the rest of the year. I am also working on the exit strategy in case there are any losing trades.

Exec Time Symbol Exp Strike Type
1/6/2014 MU Jan2 14 25 Call
17.5 Put
1/21/2014 COH Jan4 14 61 Call
46 Put
1/21/2014 ebay Jan4 14 59.5 Call
48.5 Put
1/28/2014 FB Jan5 14 65 Call
70 Put
46 Call
40 Put
4/22/2014 FB Apr4 14 73 Call
53 Put
4/28/2014 DDD May1 14 40 Call
58.5 Put
5/7/2014 TSLA May2 14 245 Call
170 Put
5/13/2014 VIPS 14-May 190 Call
115 Put
5/19/2014 CRM May4 14 60 Call
47 Put


Since there is an earning for QIHU next Wed 5/28, I am working on identifying the right strikes for the trade I am going to place next week.

Disclaimer: Trade At Your Own Risk. Investing is risky and can result in large losses. Nothing presented in my emails, twitter , my forum or website is financial advice or recommendations.


Recipe – 我用的鲜奶油蛋糕的方子 (Recipe for Asian Style Cake)

I found this recipe from Wenxuecity. I tried it few times. My friends like it very much. I like to share it with everyone:)

下面是我一直在用的戚風蛋糕方子如下:(8寸烤模的用量) 蛋黃部分:蛋黃四隻,牛奶 60克 ,白糖 40克, 沙拉油 40克, 低筋面粉 80克, 泡打粉(baking power)1/2 茶匙 蛋白部分:蛋白四隻, 塔塔粉(cream of tartar)或者白醋又或者檸檬汁少許,白糖40克 蛋糕的制作过程及烘烤时间可以参考周老师的网页: (我各人的经验而言,就是配料用上面的方子,制作顺序和方法,用周老师的网页。基本就没有失败过。以前也用周老师的网页里的配方,时而成功,时而失败。) 鲜奶油霜饰的做法,我试过一些,最喜欢下面的这个方子: 如果做鲜橙味的奶油,我建议向奶油内放的橙汁少一些,然后奶油不易太稀,容易装饰。 我一般都是做好奶油后,把夹在蛋糕中间的奶油部分单独放在一个碗里,然后加入一些酸奶油,感觉这样做出来的味道更香浓。因为加入酸奶油后,会比较稀,不容易成型,所以只放在蛋糕的夹心处使用。祝你成功!! 戚風蛋糕 9或10吋一個 做法: 1) 烤箱預熱到350F。準備一個9或10吋的活動蛋糕模,不可塗油或墊紙。 2) 材料準備好。把蛋白蛋黃分開,蛋白絕不可沾到油分水分或蛋黃。夏天用冷藏的蛋比較好分。 3) 蛋黃加糖、鹽攪打,再把沙拉油一匙匙加入攪拌到均勻。加牛奶拌勻。(若是喜歡可以放一點香精) 周老师的美食教室   109.鲜奶油戚风蛋糕

戚風蛋糕 9或10吋一個 
9或10吋活動蛋糕模…1個 (容量約為2840cc)(戚風蛋糕的損耗率為9%)
1) 烤箱預熱到175℃。準備一個9或10吋的活動蛋糕模,不可塗油或墊紙。
2) 材料準備好。把蛋白蛋黃分開,蛋白絕不可沾到油分水分或蛋黃。夏天用冷藏的蛋比較好分。
3) 蛋黃加糖、鹽攪打,再把沙拉油一匙匙加入攪拌到均勻。加牛奶拌勻。(若是喜歡可以放一點香精)
4) 麵粉和發粉一起篩入,拌勻。放置一下會更均質。  
5) 蛋白加塔塔粉打起泡,再把糖分幾次加入,打到硬性發泡。刮起測試時有一半機率能拉出不下垂的尖峰就是硬性發泡,不能再繼續攪打,否則會打過頭而造成失敗。用機器攪打常常不均勻,測試前要先用打蛋器或橡皮刀把邊緣和中間的蛋白拌和一下。
6) 把一半蛋白糊刮到蛋黃糊中,先用直形打蛋器拌到半勻,再換橡皮刀以從下往上翻的方式拌勻;再把蛋黃糊倒回另一半蛋白糊裡,依法攪拌,要確定盆底沒有蛋黃糊沈澱。  
7) 入活動模裡,敲幾下使大氣泡破裂。  
8) 放入烤箱下層,烤35-40分鐘,用手輕按有彈性即是烤好。 
9) 烤好取出倒扣,一定要放到完全涼透才能脫模,否則會變形。蛋糕中間高於模子,倒扣時會壓到,所以要墊高一點;這樣也可以讓溼氣散發,免得表皮黏在桌面上。   
香精少許(可省略)水果切片……適量 做法:
2) 剩下的1/3繼續打到更硬。擠花的奶油要硬一點,擠出的花樣才有立體感。  
3) 把蛋糕邊緣從模子上切開,脫模。  
4) 把表面凸起部份切掉。  
5) 倒扣在蛋糕轉台上。若是沒有蛋糕轉台,就倒扣在一般平盤上也可以,只是抹周圍的奶油時比較麻煩。把模型底盤切開拿掉。  
6) 把蛋糕橫剖成兩片。若沒有長蛋糕刀,就用水果刀也可以,切得不平整也無妨,夾上夾心就看不出來。  
7) 一側抹點鮮奶油做記號。把上片蛋糕拿開。  
8) 在切面上塗一層柔軟的鮮奶油。  
9) 加上水果,再一塗層鮮奶油。水果上下方都要有鮮奶油,不然會出水浸溼蛋糕。  
10) 把上片蛋糕疊回來,記號處要對齊。頂部要平整。  
11) 周圍抹上鮮奶油。抹刀或橡皮刀要壓著奶油塗開,不要太用力而直接刮到蛋糕,不然會沾到蛋糕屑而污染奶油,使整個蛋糕表面像麻子臉。  
12) 用刮板把周邊奶油刮平。  
13) 上面也塗奶油並刮平。  
14) 擠花袋裡裝菊花嘴,填入較硬的鮮奶油。袋口扭緊。在蛋糕上擠自己喜歡的花樣。(花嘴種類繁多,但除非要做特別的霜飾,不然只要一個菊花嘴就夠用了)  
15) 再用一些水果裝飾即可。  
  鲜奶油霜饰的做法 Flavored whipped cream is an easy filling and topping for a gorgeous berry-stacked cake. Finishing the whisking by hand will give you  more control over the final thickness of the whipped cream. Want more layer-cake how-to? Read the complete article to learn how to bake, fill, assemble, and top spectacular layer cakes. Get inspired by our recipe slideshows featuring spectacular layer cakes and fun cupcake recipes. Stay inspired by subscribing to Fine Cooking magazine where you’ll find triple-tested recipes and techniques for bakers of every skill level.

  • 3 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 5 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer for 20 min. in the refrigerator or 5 min. in the freezer. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl and whisk on medium-high speed until it just starts to thicken. Slow the speed down to medium and gradually pour in the sugar. Continue to whisk until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and continue to whisk by hand until the cream is smooth, and stiff peaks form (the cream will stand up straight when the whisk is raised).

Raspberry or Strawberry Whipped Cream: Instead of vanilla, add 2-1/4 cups raspberry or strawberry purée (purée the fruit in a blender and strain) to the cream when you add the sugar. Increase sugar to 7 Tbs. Before you begin whisking by hand, taste and adjust the flavoring. (Note: the purée increases the amount of whipped cream, so you may not need it all; save the extra for topping other desserts.) Lemon Whipped Cream: Instead of vanilla, add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest to the cream when you add the sugar. Increase sugar to 8 Tbs. Before you begin whisking by hand, taste and adjust the flavoring. Orange Whipped Cream: Instead of vanilla, add 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice and 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest to the cream when you add the sugar. Before you begin whisking by hand, taste and adjust the flavoring. Chocolate Whipped Cream: Omit vanilla and increase sugar to 6 Tbs. After soft peaks form, turn off the mixer and add 1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed. Whisk by hand until the cream is smooth, and stiff peaks form. Let the cream sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to dissolve the cocoa. Whisk briefly before using. Mocha Whipped Cream: Omit vanilla and increase sugar to 6 Tbs. After soft peaks form, turn off the mixer and add 1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed, and 2 Tbs. instant espresso dissolved in 2 Tbs. boiling water. Whisk by hand until the cream is smooth, and stiff peaks form. Let the cream sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to dissolve the cocoa. Whisk briefly before using.