Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hunting themed birthday cake

My friend's husband is turning 70 next week.  She wanted to throw him a surprise birthday party as he is a recent survivor of prostate cancer.  He is also an avid hunter.

This is a full sheet cake, two layers.  One half is dark chocolate filled with raspberry puree, the second half is vanilla bean filled with cheesecake filling.  Frosted in vanilla buttercream.

Camouflage design on the outside with the words dad, grandpa, friend, husband and brother hidden in the camo. 

Edible image of him with his mule train. 

The elk and rifle are frozen buttercream transfers.

The prostate cancer awareness ribbon is made from marshmallow fondant, and has silver dust on the outside edges.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas candy canes

It's been a while since I've baked any cakes.  Since I was in a baking mood, and needed recipients for my cakes, I decided to take one cake to work, and give the other to a work client. 

I came across an idea on Pinterest for a cake that mixed white cake with a bit of red food coloring and Andes peppermint chips and chocolate cake all in the same round pan.  I was inspired by this recipe and made it my own.

Despite looking at several stores, I was unable to find the Andes white peppermint baking chips, so instead I used the mints that are individually wrapped.  Once unwrapped and chopped, they worked well.
I mixed up my favorite chocolate cake recipe and my favorite white cake recipe.
I scooped two cups of the white cake batter into a separate bowl and added a bit of Americolor red gel and 1.5 cups of the chopped mints.

In a 9x13 pan and an angel food cake pan, I randomly dolloped the three different batters.

Baked at 350 degrees until it tested done.  About 40 minutes for the round, 50 minutes for the rectangle.  Cooled 10 minutes then removed from the pan to finish cooling.

I whipped up my buttercream recipe, put about 2-3 cups in a separate bowl, and added 8 more chopped mints.  I didn't color it though.
Once my cakes were cooled, I trimmed the outside edges off the rectangle cake, then leveled and torted each cake.  I measured the width of the round cake so I could cut the "leg" of the candy cane to the same width.

I placed a smear of buttercream on my decorative cake board to adhere the cake to it, and laid the arch down, then the leg down.  Then I spooned on the mint filling before covering it with the top layer of cake.

Crumb-coated then a final layer of frosting before smoothing it out with a Viva paper towel. 

Meanwhile I made some marshmallow fondant using Kraft peppermint marshmallows.  I made the fondant in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, this was the first time for me doing it this way.  My old KA Classic did well!  First I sifted the powdered sugar into my mixer bowl.

Then I placed the marshmallows in a greased bowl, added the water and flavorings, then microwaved for 1 minute 20 seconds.

Once the time was up, I stirred it until no lumps remained.

I didn't get pictures of the fondant in the mixer, but the KA kneaded the fondant really well.  Once done, I wrapped it well in plastic wrap to rest over night, then rolled it out on a mat.

I sprinkled cornstarch all over my cake board to keep the fondant from sticking to it.

Covered the cake with the fondant, smoothed it out, then cut off the excess.

After cleaning up the board and removing the excess cornstarch, I then colored a bit of the fondant a darker shade of pink (not quite red), and made stripes  using my clay gun.  Attached the stripes to the the cake, and dusted lightly with pearl dust.

Added the Merry Christmas message to each.  They are ready for delivery!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Baby shower cake - book style

My cousin asked me to make a baby shower cake for her friend, who absolutely loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar book.  Even though I'm not much of an artist, I thought I could do it.

This is seven 6" round single layer torted cakes, filled with chocolate buttercream, frosted with vanilla buttercream, and covered in marshmallow fondant.  The caterpillar is hand painted.

While not an exact duplicate, I think it came out very well.  My cousin was very pleased.  I can't wait to hear how the recipient liked it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fresh strawberry jam

My mother-in-law brought us eight 16-ounce packages of strawberries on Saturday.  I was needing to figure out a way to use them all up, without having to make strawberry shortcake for days on end.

I put the call out on Facebook looking for ideas, and my aunt sent me a recipe for fresh strawberry  jam.  It did not require any cooking or special canning equipment, which was great, as I've not ever canned jam before.

After a quick trip to pick up some plastic Ball jars that are specially made for the freezer, some pectin powder made specifically for freezer recipes, fresh lemons, and a bit more sugar, I was ready to get started.

I cut the tops off all the strawberries.  After popping a couple of them in my mouth to do some quality taste testing, they got the thumbs up for the jam.

I washed all the plastic jars and lids, and set them aside, ready to receive the red deliciousness!


 After mashing the strawberries with a potato masher, I mixed in the powdered pectin, then let it sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it was entirely dissolved.  I then added the corn syrup, stirring well.  Next came the sugar (lots of sugar!).  This is the fun part.  Keep stirring, then taste a little to make sure all sugar is dissolved.  Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice, and voila!  It is ready to put into the jars.

If you use a wide-mouth funnel, it will make the task of filling the jars a lot cleaner.  Be sure not to fill them over the fill line, or else when you freeze it, it will expand and pop the lid off while in the freezer.

Place a label on the jars stating what the contents are, especially important if you are making raspberry jam too!

One batch I customized by adding some vanilla bean paste.  This batch will be used with more dessert-like recipes, rather than on toast or biscuits.

Once you've filled the jars, put them in the freezer for 24 hours. 

They are then ready to pop the top and enjoy on your favorite whole wheat toast, buttermilk biscuits, or even mixed with some cream cheese to make stuffed french toast.
Store unopened jars in the freezer for up to one year.  Once opened, keep in the refrigerator for one month (as if it will last that long!).
From all of my strawberries, I was able to get 22 half-pint jars, four pint jars, and a small bowl of strawberry jam.
I can only hope that all canning is this easy!  I'm ready to try something new.
Fresh Strawberry Jam
4 cups hulled, well-crushed strawberries (approximate 8 cups fully ripe berries)
2 ounces powdered pectin (I used the kind specifically for freezer recipes)
1 cup light corn syrup
5.5 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Turn crushed strawberries into a large bowl.  Stirring vigorously, sift in powdered pectin slowly.  Let stand 20 minutes, stirring strawberries occasionally so pectin thoroughly dissolves.  Pour in corn syrup and mix well.  Gradually stir in sugar.
When sugar is thoroughly dissolved, stir in lemon juice.  Ladle jam into jars, cover, and then place in the freezer for 24 hours. (The jam won't freeze solid because of the sugar concentration.)  If you want to keep jam longer than one month, store it in a freezer at a temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit below zero to 20 degrees above.  Otherwise, you can store it in the refrigerator to use.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happy birthday Emmalynn!

Birthday cakes for little children can be so fun!  Especially when they know what they want.  This little girl was set on Elmo.

This is a 9x13 two-layer white vanilla sour cream cake with strawberry filling and vanilla buttercream.  The little numbers, letters and stars are made from fondant.  Elmo's body is also cake.  The customer provided Elmo's little head, which is actually a snack bowl!

When the mom and grandma came to pick the cake up, they absolutely loved it!  I hope the birthday girl does too!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pink giraffe baby shower cake

Recently, our cousins asked us to be the God parents of their second daughter, who is due mid-September.  We, of course, agreed to this request.  Not having our own children, it was heart-warming to know that we'd help to raise this child, and get to spoil them!

I helped throw the baby shower for the mom yesterday.  The theme was baby animals - monkeys, giraffes, lions, zebras, etc.  I found the perfect cake to make for the shower, using adorable giraffes as part of the decorations.

This is a double barrel cake.  The bottom part of the cake is actually two tiers.  The bottom tier is white chocolate cake, and the middle tier is triple chocolate fudge cake.  Top tier is a yellow vanilla cake.  All filled with vanilla buttercream, made with all butter, frosted with ganache, then covered with marshmallow fondant.

The dots are made with marshmallow fondant as well.  The giraffes, bow and blocks are all made with gumpaste.

The cake was a hit!  The shower went very well.  Now comes the hard part.  Waiting for the next seven to eight weeks for the baby to arrive!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Baby shower cake

My sister-in-law asked me to make her niece's baby shower cake.  She is having a boy and wanted the cake decorated in blue camouflage. 

This is a 10" round cheesecake lovers with white chocolate cake, covered in vanilla buttercream flavored with just a hint of cheesecake flavoring.

Sweet 16!

I made this cake for my niece who turned 16 this month.  It's a deep dark chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, and marshmallow fondant.  I used a chocolate marshmallow fondant to create the zebra stripes.  It's blinged out also using fondant.

Because we live a few states apart, I did ship it to her overnight, and I'm happy to report that the cake shipped very well.  The entire package that I sent her was zebra themed.