Monday, November 16, 2009

Paint bucket oops!

This cake was for a neighbor. It looked so much better in my head, but it was good practice. What you don't see is the awesome hammer that I made to go with the nails and the paint brush. Where are they you may ask? My three year old climbed on the counter and ate them! Yes, that is why this is not a full time hobby as yet. I was really proud of that hammer too. I took white fondant added a little brown coloring and mixed just enough to get a really nice wood grain look for the handle. Ah, so sad. I knew I should have taken a picture!
I took this picture thinking I was finished, but the cake just bugged me. I wished that I had just made a round spill instead of trying to get all "dripping over the edge" with it. But the paint can bothered me too.So, I added more "paint" to the can and I liked it a lot better. Unfortunately the extra fondant was too heavy for the can and it looked a bit squished by the time they were ready to eat it. The poor nails do not make any sense without the hammer, and just so you know I made them bent on purpose! They were pulled out of the wall as part of the pre-painting prep work. See, now it makes sense!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Suanna's Masquerade

I am so proud of this cake! As you can see I figured out how to do the topsy turvy and make it look right.
Diamonds--Neapolitan layer about 7 inches tall.
Circles--Orange cake layer, mmmm, one of my favorites.
Stripes--plain old boring yellow cake because that is all the groom likes!
Groom's Cake--Batman in the Chicago Bear's colors (it only looks black in the picture). I etched the stitching on the flipping footballs, you just can't see it in the picture.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Baby Shower Cake

I revisited the Duckie theme with this baby shower. I'll be honest and admit that I forgot I had agreed to make this cake until Friday at about 2:30pm. The shower was Saturday morning at 10am! It came together although I kept cringing at the uneven top!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tatyana's Birthday Cake

Here are some pictures of a birthday cake I made a week or so ago. This sweet girl asked for yellow icing with pink roses. I should have just made it her way, but I let my head get in the way. Since her mom was paying me I thought it should look like something you would pay for. Now that the whole thing is over, I've decided I'm going to surprise her some day with cupcakes that are frosted in yellow with pink roses on them. Shame on me for trying to tell her what might look "nicer."

This cake turned out nicely...except for my writing. I was paying special attention to making the writing as neat as possible, and I think I've made improvement. Then I started adding roses, then vines. I went a little crazy and before I had stopped to notice what I was doing, I had a wayward vine making my writing efforts useless. That was an a...n...a but that silly vine turned it into a g! You can almost see above that it isn't connected, but it looks like it is. Where was my brain?
Luckily,Tatyana still loved her cake!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Chocolate Orange Cupcake

Ok, I don't know what has come over me. It isn't healthy in the slightest. I've caught the recipe bug. I've tried another from scratch cake recipe. This one turned out a lot denser and would lend itself to cake sculpting much easier than some of my other recipes. Which is a good thing. This recipe has a light orange flavor to it, but my favorite part is the orange infused chocolate icing. OH MY GOODNESS!!

I like chocolate oranges at Christmas time and that is exactly what the icing tastes like. I seriously could have stuck my head inside the bowl to lick it clean! Unfortunately, my husband doesn't like any flavors added to his chocolate. So, I had to spread these little delights around to some of my neighbors. Don't you wish you lived close to me?

Cake Ingredients:
* 3 eggs
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (either from real oranges or buy 100% juice)
* 3 cups flour (if you want a lighter fluffier cake try using just 2 cups flour)
* 1/2 cup powdered sugar
* zest of 1 orange (1/2 for the cake, 1/2 for the frosting)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 9inch cake pans or cupcake pans.

2. Place the eggs and sugar in a mixer and beat for about a minute. Slowly add the remaining ingredients and beat until everything is well incorporated and it looks smooth. Stop the beater to scrape down the sides when needed.

3. Divide batter into the desired pans and bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Mine didn't really get brown on top, but the sides and bottom were lightly browned. My cupcakes took about 25 minutes and a cake would be around to 35 minutes.Orange Infused Chocolate Frosting:
* 1 1/2 cups (about 11 ounces) of bittersweet or dark chocolate--60% cacao (you could try it with milk chocolate, I just like my dark!)
* 1 pint heavy cream
* 1/2 cup butter softened, not melted
* 4 cups powdered sugar

My favorite dark chocolate, just 1 block left!

1. Place the cream and chocolate in a sauce pan and melt together. When it is melted and nice and creamy, take it off the heat and let it cool. I let it cool for about an hour.

2. Place in the mixer. Start it up and add the softened butter, mix well and then slowly add the powdered sugar. I probably should have put the chocolate in the fridge because it was still too soft to use as icing, so I put the whole mixture in the fridge to let it firm up. When it was "icing" consistency I stirred it up and started spreading. Mmmm, it was soooo good!

It turned out so nice that I am also entering this cup cake in the Gourmet Girl Magazine's Cup Cake Crawl. For rules and details go HERE.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Nathan and I decided to have a bake off tonight. I don't know if we were bored, desperate for some dessert, or if we just watch too much Food Network. We love to watch shows like Chopped and Dinner Impossible where chef's are challenged to make a meal out of surprise ingredients or without much notice. We felt like we were in one of the shows, or a combination of them. For some reason I have not been paying much attention to the status of our pantry and we were low or out of a lot of basic things. For instance, the last of the oil was used last night, the last of the milk this morning for breakfast, and I only had about 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.

So, our challenge was to see who could pull off the best dessert with ingredient substitutions. As I was trying to figure out what I wanted to make, I only knew one thing for certain. It would be in cupcake form. I was invited to participate in the Gourmet Girl Magazine's Cup Cake Crawl. For rules and details go HERE. The deadline for that is the 19th so I didn't think I was going to be able to pull it off, but Nathan's challenge got me moving. Nothing like a little spousal competition to motivate you.

I'm afraid I didn't take pictures of each step, but here is the recipe.

* 4 eggs
* 2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cup melted butter
* 3/4 cup peanut butter
* 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
* 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk (the yogurt and evap milk were my substitutions for buttermilk and it turned out quite yummy, but feel free to do 1 cup buttermilk instead of the yogurt and evap milk)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup cocoa powder
*2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (higher elevations may not need as much--this is for my Utah friends--I'd try 1 1/2 teaspoons and see what happens)
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1. I preheated my oven to 350 degrees and put my baking cups in the muffin pan. I hate them, but I didn't want to clean up afterward!

2. I put the eggs in my stand up mixer and beat them until they were starting to get a little frothy (about 1 minute on medium) then I added the melted butter, peanut butter, and sugar and continued to mix. Scrape down the sides as needed. I remembered how my last from scratch cake fell, so I let it mix a good 2 minutes to get a lot of good air whipped in. Then I added my yogurt and milk and beat for another minute.

3. My batter was looking good and I could see the air bubbles in it so I slowly added the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and soda. Once those were well incorporated I added my flour last. And guess what? I let it mix for another 2 minutes on med-high. I wasn't taking any chances (I forgot I was just doing cupcakes, so I don't even know if a 9 inch cake would have fallen or not!)

4. I filled my cupcake pans 2/3 full (The batter still looked a little thin, but not too thin, does that make sense? Sometimes my cake batters are really thick like pudding, don't know why) and baked them for 23 minutes. They came out a lovely shade of lighter chocolate. I should have cut one open for you to see. It was like dark brown sugar and the texture was almost more muffin like than cake like. They had a very light peanut butter flavor and the chocolate was light as well. I kept thinking they would be yummy for breakfast without the frosting. Maybe that is where the last dozen will end up!5. I then made a quick cocoa butter cream frosting and sprinkled some shaved chocolate on them.

Here is my NEW favorite icing recipe, from Conversations With a Cupcake

"Bittercream Frosting

1 pint heavy cream
11.5 oz. 60% Bittersweet cacao chips
½ c. butter
4-5 c. powdered sugar

In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate chips and heavy cream until a thick, smooth ganache forms, to keep the mixture from burning, stir constantly. Put in fridge until chilled. Remove from fridge and beat in butter & powdered sugar until frosting is a spreadable consistency. Frost. Chill cake. To serve, remove from fridge 10-15 minutes before serving."

Of course I didn't have heavy cream or enough powdered sugar. So my frosting was not nice and thick and creamy, but it still tasted good. I used a little more of the Belgium chocolate from Easter. I only have 2 lbs left! What will I do when I run out?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

NieNie's Heavenly Chocolate Cake

Ok, so a few weeks ago, this genius of a woman created the perfect chocolate cake for Stephanie Nielsen of the NieNie Dialogues. I don't even know her name, but her website is called Conversations with a Cupcake so what is not to love?! Anyway, I was reading the recipe and my mouth was watering. I haven't tried to make a completely from scratch cake for years because mine never turn out. (I make what I call hybrid cakes--part mix, part homemade by doing my own things to the mix) Anyway, I decided to give this cake a try for a cook out that I was invited to for the 4th of July. All I can say is WOW! Mine didn't even turn out perfect but it was good enough to need a gallon of milk to wash it down. It was so rich and chocolaty that you just couldn't resist another bite.

Here is my journey with this cake. For the full recipe and story you can go HERE.

Melting some of that yummy Belgium bittersweet chocolate that was left over from the Easter Egg adventure, with oil for for the cake batter.

This is what it looked like after it was all melted.

After adding the eggs, sugars, cocoa, flour, buttermilk and other ingredients, I put them in the oven in pans dusted with cocoa instead of flour.

They smelled heavenly, but for some reason they sunk in the middle. They seemed more like a brownie than cake. I don't know what went wrong. I've contacted the recipe maker to see if she can guess.

So, I decided to mix something up to fill the holes in with. I wanted to make a no bake cheesecake mixture out of cream cheese and whipping cream, but I didn't have any cream cheese. Are you surprised? I had already been to the store twice to get items for this cake and I was not going back again. So, after learning that none of my neighbors had cream cheese either, I mixed up some vanilla yogurt, whipped cream and crushed oreos. Hey, I figured it was worth a try and somehow it all worked in the end! The only problem with this was that it didn't get firm enough to spread the Mascarpone Mousse over it, and there was enough mousse that I could have just filled it with that, but I didn't know.
Then I melted more bittersweet chocolate to mix with mascarpone cheese for a mousse to put under the Bittercream frosting still to come. I needed to put this in the fridge to cool before adding the butter and sugar. I don't think I quite left it long enough, but it was still spreadable.Finally, more melting chocolate for the frosting. Everything was so yummy that I could totally see someone dieing of chocolate overload! yeah, this cake does not fit in with the "healthy living" part of my blog, but sometimes you just have to enjoy life!

Well, this is the bottom of the cake, so maybe not the best photo, but can you smell the chocolate?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Topsy Turvy Learning Curve

I am going to make my youngest sister's wedding cake this coming Halloween. She wants a Topsy Turvy Masquerade cake. Well, that is new for me so I decided to practice. I called some friends and asked them to join me for a little party, because we all know that I don't need to eat all that cake!

Some things worked and some didn't, so I think it was a successful try. I loved the bottom layer with the circles. It will be a double layer on a wedding cake of course, but I just did a single layer because I was so caked out. So, as a double layer it will look even better! I also really like the second layer. I now know some new tools that I need to acquire before October...a good diamond press and a fondant roller cutter. That will make it easier and help keep everything uniform.

The second layer also looks good with the trimming that I did, but the top layer looks awful! As I was going to sleep I had my stripe ephifany. Now I know how to make it work, but I was too tired to discover that trick while I was actually doing it. The trimming is also off. I think it needs to be a steeper cut. This layer does not look topsy turvy as much as tipsy. It looks like it is just sagging right off! Oh, well, like I said it was a good practice run and it will go better next time.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Weekend of Cake

It has been a busy weekend. My son Adam had a birthday and so did one of my neighbors. I made both cakes. It was good to be baking again. It has been a long time. There were some...complications...along the way. I don't know if it was my cake recipe or the 24 hours of rain that affected things, but it all came out well in the end.
Friday--Adam's cake (the race car) is finished. The duck's were made as well as the pond.
Look how cute the little duckie is!
By 9pm he had lost his head! Oh, no!
Saturday--Duckie #2 is on the pond and duckie #3 is cooling.
My hands just couldn't take a fourth star job, so the toddlers cake is just "fluffy"
Close up of Adam's car. I made chocolate butter-cream for the black. Starting with chocolate made it easier to get a true black for the tires.

One more cake adventures coming up on Monday.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ice Cream Cake

Here is a post that I put on my Food Blog and finally decided that I should stick it on here as well. This cake was easy and other than baking time, it only took 15 minutes to decorate.

My daughter wanted an ice cream cake for her birthday so I let her make one. I've never tried to do this before, but I wanted to try a new pan that my friend bought for me. She got it at a yard sale for $0.10 and it didn't come with instructions, so we made it up. It looks like it is the Betty Crocker BakenFill , but one piece is missing. It worked pretty good, but the inside bit did not seem to cook very well. It was still gooey when I gave up and tossed it. :)

I like to make what I call "hybrid" cakes. They are not homemade exactly because one of the ingredients is a boxed cake mix, but I don't follow the directions on the box. Years ago I found a book at the library called The Cake Mix Doctor and I've never looked back. Here is what I put into this cake:

3 eggs
1 melted stick of butter
1 cup of milk
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 devil's food cake mix

Mix it all up, put it in the pan and bake at 325 or 350 until done (depends on pan sizes, you can look at the box for idea of times. I like to do it at 325. It takes a little longer, but it bakes more evenly without rising as much in the middle).

No matter what kind of cake you make, it needs homemade frosting. My friends make fun of me for saying that, but it is sooo true. Case and point--I've been making cake and frosting for years for my family; a few weeks ago I made a cake but bought frosting to save time. Everyone kept telling me that it just wasn't as good as it looked and they kept pointing fingers at the cake. Two days later I made the EXACT same cake, but took the time to make the home made frosting and they loved it! Proof that it does make a difference. Here are my two favorites:

Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) real sweet cream butter (I use salted)
1 cup crisco shortening (not butter flavor)
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons flavoring (vanilla and almond are my favorites)
1--2lb bag of powdered sugar.

Mix it all up for stiff consistancy (roses), add 2 tablespoons water to thin it out to frost a cake.

Chocolate Glaze
1 cup sugar (normal granulated sugar, not powdered)
1/3 cup butter (I've used real and margarine and both work)
1/3 cup milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Place the sugar, butter and milk in a small sauce pan over med-low heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture boils. Boil for one minute, while stirring constantly. Remove the pan from heat and stir in chips. When the chips are melted and smooth you can pour it over the cake. It will be thin while hot but will firm up when it cools. Cool for 20 minutes before cutting the cake.