Cupcakes, Cake, and more Cupcakes!

So I have a confession.  A couple actually. My first, I have been SERIOUSLY missing cupcakes. Like a lot.  Confession number two: I think I’m officially going out of the cake decorating business.  Aside from a few here in there for VERY close friends, I won’t be making them anymore.  I’ve lost that passion.  I’m sticking to baking treats and cooking all my meals from scratch at home.  And, confession number 3: when I make large batches of cupcakes for an event or am just focusing on cupcake decorations….I used boxed cake mix for the cakes. Gah! I know… cardinal sin. But…it’s so much easier. And faster. And…ok. I won’t make any excuses for it. But anyway. Since I’ve developed my “cook and prepare anything and everything at home where possible”thought process, I’ve eliminated the option to use boxed or prepackaged foods. So… when I began coordinating a retirement event at my office, I of course offered to provide cupcakes for the “Tea Party” theme we so creatively came up with.  And therein lies the reasoning for my cupcake creations this week.  All made from scratch, I promise.  I’m going to say this right now. Cupcakes from the box and cupcakes from scratch are not the same.  They are not. I used to think basic flavours, like chocolate, vanilla and red velvet were typically the same in comparing boxed to scratch, so when I made these basic flavours, I always used box.  Boy was I wrong.  I am not even kidding you.  This is not by any means an exaggeration.  The vanilla from scratch cupcakes I made yesterday, are the best. frigging. cupcakes. that I have ever tasted.  Ever. Of all time.  Seriously.  When I bit in t one of the tiny cakes of fantasticness, I felt as though I died and went to heaven. It was that good.

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So what did I make? Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting (from Sally’s Baking Addiction, you can find the recipe here) and Vanilla Cupcakes, from Brown Eyed Baker (find it here), with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting (my own creation).  I also made a teapot cake, and you can find a full tutorial here.  The cake wasn’t easy, but it turned out okay.  Not as nice as the one in the tutorial, but I’m satisfied with it.  I really do love decorating cakes, it’s just the baking, trimming, stacking, crumb coating, and fondant covering that I’m not a fan of.  Making the flowers, the cake board, and all the other little additions like the ball border and the teapot lid.  I love that part.

I have one last confession: I. really. LOVE. sprinkles.  Chocolate sprinkles, peanut butter sprinkles, coloured sprinkles, shiny sprinkles, round sprinkles, square sprinkles, tiny sprinkles, large sprinkles… you name it.  Any shape, colour or size.  I love it.  I do not discriminate against sprinkles.  For my birthday, someone very special to me, my future aunty in law you can call her, bought me 25 different types of sprinkles in amazing glass canisters with metal tops.  They are fantastic… see below for my reaction.  A girlfriend of mine, who also understands my love for sprinkles, also bought me glittery, sparkly sprinkles, as well as a huge container with an assortment of fall coloured sprinkles. So. Many. Sprinkles!!!

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How could you not love sprinkles? They make everything looks so much happier, and tastier, and, and… just better.

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So let’s talk about these delicious and fantastic cupcakes… I’m sure you’re tired of all the adjective I’m using in this post, so I’ll just get to it.  Let’s start with the vanilla cupcakes.  When I’m baking for a large group, I usually like to make a chocolate based cupcake and a vanilla based cupcake.  This way, there’s another flavour for those crazy people who don’t like chocolate.  I have never been that big a fan of vanilla cupcakes, what’s the point of having vanilla when you can have chocolate? I’m so glad I made these, because these cupcakes have change my perspective when it comes to vanilla cake.  The original recipe had just basic vanilla buttercream frosting, but I have really been wanting to make an Irish cream frosting, and since I had some left over Bailey’s in my fridge from my holidays, I couldn’t resist.  Essentially, I made the icing like I would usually make buttercream.  That is, I added 1 cup of butter to my stand mixer, with 3 cups of icing sugar (I usually add 2 – 4 cups, depending on how thick i want it.).  I also added 1/4 cup of flour to thicken the icing without making it sweeter.  I mixed it on medium speed until the icing sugar, flour, and butter were well combined.  Then, instead of adding heavy cream and vanilla to the mix, I added 4 tbsp of Bailey’s Irish Cream.  Annnnd presto. There’s Irish Cream Frosting. Yummy.

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting

makes 12-15 cupcakes.

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg , room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks , room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Irish Cream Frosting:

  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream

Baking Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust oven rack to middle position.  Line a muffin pan with paper or tin cupcake liners.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Add butter, sour cream, egg, egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.

3. Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared tin.  Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes.  Remove the cupcakes from tin and transfer to wire rack; cool cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.

4. While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting.  Using the wire whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip butter until it is smooth.  Add icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, whisking on low to medium speed between each added cup.  Add the flour and Irish Cream, and whisk until combined, scrapping down the sides as necessary.

I piped the icing through my Wilton 1M attachment, which is perfect fro your basic cupcake swirl design.  I topped the cupcakes with orange and brown sprinkles.

On to the next creation.  So this was all Sally.  I have every intention of ordering her new cookbook.  You can get it here.  Anyone who knows me, knows I love fall.  It is my FAVOURITE season.  It’s the perfect amount of hot and cold, the perfect amount of sun and cloud, the perfect amount of pumpkin and cinnamon and spice.  I love fall food.  So, for this tea party themed party, I knew that I had to make a pumpkin spice something.  I settled on chocolate fudge brownie cupcakes (the base cupcake is more like a brownie and less like a cake) with pumpkin spice cream cheese frosting.  Are you hooked yet?  I sure am.  I have never made pumpkin anything.  This is my first fall baking anything… or cooking anything worth talking about… Thanksgiving should be interesting.  Did I mention i volunteered to make a turkey dinner?  I topped this cupcake with mini white chocolate chip sprinkles.  They really did something for the taste.

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Chocolate Fudge Brownie Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

makes 12 – 15 cupcakes

Ingredients

Brownie Cupcakes

  • 4 ounces unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 – 2.5 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour

Baking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F degrees.  Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Set aside
  2. Using a double boiler or a heat safe bowl atop a pot, melt the chopped chocolate and sliced butter together.  Ensure that the water is not touching the bowl, you don’t want to burn the chocolate.  Stir constantly and continue until chocolate is melted.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.  Stir in sugar, then vanilla.  Add in eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Mix in the flour and salt.
  3. Pour batter into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the center will have moist crumbs.  Be careful not to overbake the cupcakes.
  4. While the cupcakes are cooling in the pan, make the pumpkin frosting.  Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, butter, pumpkin, and spices on medium speed until creamy.  Add the 2-2.5 cups of sifted powdered sugar depending how sweet you’d like it.  If frosting is much too thin, add in the flour to thicken it.  Add salt to cut the sweetness, if you prefer. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

I again, used a 1M Wilton attachment for my swirl.  These were very good, and I was happy with the turnout of my first ever pumpkin dessert.

photo 3 (1)Okay one last confession… I promise.  I love the idea of a tea party.  So, when we decided to have a tea party themed retirement party for our tea loving co-worker, I was in heaven.

“So you mean to tell me, not only do I get to co-ordinate and plan the entire event, but I have an excuse to bake? Count me in.”

We had co-workers donate their vintage tea cups, tea pots, and plug in kettles.  Some people brought in baking, we purchased scones from a local bakery, and we provided countless types of herbal tea.  We had so much fun!  I have only drank out of a tea cup a handful of times, so it felt kind of fun to use something other than a giant coffee cup, and try a new assortment of teas.

So on to my cake.  It was a lot of work covering this cake. I had to recover it like 5 times before I finally got it right, and even then, there were some seriously visible imperfections.  I hid them well, and in the end I got the cake to look pretty close to what I had imagined.  Many said it looked like Mrs. Pots from Beauty and the Beast.  I have to agree. It is an adorable cake. No one wanted to eat it!  We sent it home with the guest of honour who seemed to be quite happy with it.

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My cake was a hit, my cupcakes an even bigger hit. I am so happy that I finally got to make a pumpkin flavoured dessert.  Maybe I’ll make another over the weekend…I have a lot of leftover pumpkin purée!  Hope you enjoyed.  Happy Baking!photo 2 (7)

Cheetah Print Cake

photo 1 (2)Every now and then I am reminded that I am a baking novice.  It doesn’t matter how many cakes, cupcakes, cookies or dessert bars I create or decorate, I will at some point make a mistake.  After all, I have only been baking since November and decorating cakes since December.  I have a bit of a story to tell with this post today, about the most recent cake I baked and decorated.  The cheetah print birthday cake I designed last week turned out very nice, and it tasted very good, but it’s creation was not without a few…hiccups…along the way.  First off, baking can be pretty expensive.  I’ve gotten some cash flow in for my last few cakes, which has really helped, but it’s nice to try to save money where you can, right?  So my XBOX cake required an extra batch of buttercream than usual, but I didn’t actually use the entire second batch.  So I thought, hey, I’ll save this for the next cake that I’m going to do since it’s only a few days away…I’ll refrigerate the buttercream, and then just re-whip it when I’m ready to frost the next cake.  Brilliant!  So I pulled out my buttercream, and started whipping it, but it was really REALLY thick, so I added more cream, and then more….and then just a little more.  Okay, I added ALOT of cream.  So I frosted my cake, and tossed it in the fridge to crust over.  Well, I took it out…and the icing was…well…runny, and wet…and it wasn’t hard in the least bit.  Apparently, there is such a thing as too-thin buttercream.  And I really should have noticed while I was icing the cake, because there was something different about the consistency.  But it was late, I was tired and I just couldn’t wait to get the fondant on there.  We’ll come back to this one….so for the fondant.  I really really wanted to make my cheetah spots looks seamless to my cake, so I was able to find one tutorial online where the blogger rolled out her fondant until almost the size of her cake, added black “blobs” and then smaller pink “blobs” on top of the black and slightly off center, and then rolled it out to the final size of the cake.  And there you have it, leopard print fondant.  Well it was not that easy.  Fist off, once my fondant was rolled I started adding my blobs….but it took me a while to get them all on there, and then my fondant started getting stiff.  Once it was all rolled out, I rolled it onto the cake and started smoothing, but the firmness of the fondant caused wrinkles.  The cheetah spots started lifting, and where the spots lifted, it left thin “weak spots”, causing tears.  What made it even more difficult was that due to the extreme thinness of the buttercream, the fondant wasn’t setting properly, and when I tried to smooth the fondant over the cake, I starting losing the shape of the cake.  I ended up having to cut off all the fondant from the cake and had to chuck it all out.  I ended up scraping off all the icing, and re-whipping NEW buttercream and re-iced the cake.  It was very frustrating.  So now, the cake was freshly frosted with a nice firm layer of buttercream.photo 2 (1)  Here was my next issue.  I tried re-rolling the spots into the white fondant I was using to cover my cake, but I still had the same issue, my fondant was firming too quickly and it ripped again as I rolled it onto the cake.  So, the solution for next time, I think, would be to form my spots first, toss them under a practice board to protect them, and then roll out my main fondant colour right before I’m ready to apply the spots.  This way, it won’t harden as quickly and is less likely to tear or have the spots lift.  Of course at this point I was having a stroke and could not bear for this to fail a third time…mostly because I was close to being out of fondant and without a car to go get more.  So…I covered it in plain, white fondant, and added the spots on separately afterwards.  I still had problems covering the cake at this point.  I think because by this point the icing was too soft because of all the smoothing and covering I was attempting.  The fondant ripped in a few places, again, but I patched it with shortening and covered the obvious areas with the spots I made.  I created the spots by placing pink blob of fondant off center on a bigger black blob, rolled it out, and then glued it on the cake using gum glue adhesive.  I place it on a covered cake board, and created a black ball border to hide any imperfections in bottom part of the fondant.  I then added a customized wine glass as the cake topper.  This was the actual “birthday present”.  I placed it on top of a slightly larger pink fondant and surrounded it with a smaller ball border.

So despite all the issues I had with this cake, I really like the way it ended up looking .  I am, absolutely, going to practice this design.  I love, love, LOVE animal print so much and I really want to experiment with how to perfect cheetah print.  I really love how my zebra print cake turned out, and I’m dying to try out giraffe print.

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Oh…and one more thing.  I usually like to do two chocolate layers of cake with a vanilla in the middle, as you can see, this time I did the opposite.  Why?  Because while I was shaving one of my chocolate cakes, for some reason I stopped paying attention and cut it down way too thin on one side…luckily i had already baked two vanilla cakes so it wasn’t a huge deal, but I will need to make sure to pay more attention when doing this, as it is not the first time I have made this mistake and I won’t always have an extra cake lying around.  Lesson learned! 

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Minecraft Themed XBOX Cake

166Okay. So. Most. Challenging. Cake. EVER.  A co-worker of mine asked me to make a cake for his daughter, she’s turning 17 so obviously this cake had to be special. His idea was something XBOX related, like me, she enjoys a good video game….and she likes Minecraft, which everyone knows is one of my personal favourites.  So, what better than an XBOX cake with a Minecraft theme? I found a few simple tutorials online, but nothing really to help me create this.  So…I kinda just went in blind and hoped for the best.  And besides, how hard could it be?  Really…it’s just a curvy rectangle with lines and buttons…. It was really hard!  Surprisingly enough, I didn’t have THAT much of a difficult time frosting the cake, which shocked me since this cake had edges, and we all know how horrible I am at icing corners with buttercream.  But, I stuck it out and made incredibly thin frosting, and I barely had any issues.  You know what I did have issues with? Covering it with fondant.  The problem was my corners kept ripping.  I actually at one point had to rip all the fondant off of the cake and start again.  I think my biggest mistake was not tossing the cake in the fridge for a half hour to crust over the icing.  I usually do this, but I was anxious to get things moving, as I only gave myself two days to bake, carve, frost, cover, and decorate this cake.  And…well…it was the first cake I’ve made for someone who isn’t my family so I REALLY wanted this to work out.  I’m actually pretty happy with how it turned out.  This is my first cake like this, and my first cake that isn’t a traditional cake design (ie rectangle, square, circle), so overall I think I did a good job.

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Step one was to trace the actual XBOX, and then carve the cake to that shape.  That was actually pretty difficult.  Did you know that an XBOX is 10 inches by 10 inches?  I was hoping to make a cake that was the exact size of the actual XBOX.  YOu can imagine my disappointment when I measured the XBOX after I baked the cakes.  No, there is no way to turn a 9 x 13 cake into a 10 x 10 without making a mess, so  I basically took it in an inch on all sides and then cut it.  No big deal.  I am really impressed with my corners though…Look at those things…They’re straight! They’re shape! It’s an XBOX!

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Next, I covered it with black fondant.  Because the fondant was a little soft, once it was covered there still was some bumps and grooves…It wasn’t perfect. You could tell it was a cake and not an XBOX.

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I made the button by cutting out a piece of the black fondant with a medium circle fondant cover, and then fitting the grey and green circle piece I made into the space.  Then, I created the Achievement logo and wrote happy birthday on it. I still obviously need work on my piping skills, as I mentioned in my last post…Hopefully the Wilton class will be in my radar soon.

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I created the lines on the cake with a pizza cutter, this is meant to be the fan.

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After the “XBOX” portion was complete, I had to add to the design to make it more “minecraft”.  I created a creeper, and gold and diamond blocks.  I surrounded the cake with 2D blocks, either diamond, coal, gold, or just regular stone.  If you don’t play the game…you probably have no idea what I’m talking about right now. Hehe.

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So, there you have it… probably the most frustrating cake I have ever made, but I love it…because I love XBOX and I love Minecraft and I love cake!  I really wish I could tell you about my next cake…It’s one of my bestie’s birthday…She’s turning 28.  She sometimes reads so I can’t give any details, but I will say this: it involves alcoholic beverages, pink, and cheetah print.  Use your imagination!  Happy Baking!

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Baby Bum Cake

photo 2 (4)So my cousins Brandy and Steve just had their third baby (yikes)…and he decided to make an appearance like eight weeks early! (double yikes).  So of course, the little guy had to stay in the hospital for a few weeks until he was tough enough to face the world.  My Aunt Michelle asked me to make a cake in honor of his arrival home.  And, of course…I couldn’t say no…I mean, it’s a cake..and I get to make it, there’s no question.  But then she specified what find of cake she wanted, and I panicked slightly.  She wanted a cake with a little baby bum and baby feet poking out from under a blanket.  And I was all, “Hmm…no it cant be done I’m too much of a novice.”  But I did some research and pulled out my best You Tube and Googling skills, and of course I couldn’t help but try it.  “Challenge Accepted.”  I found a bunch of picture how toos all over the place, and that’s when I realized that while this would probably be a little tough, it wouldn’t be super impossible to do.  The hardest part was the feet, but even then I didn’t really have any major problems.  So lets start with the lessons learned from my last cake.  I have been having trouble covering my cakes because my cake frosting techniques aren’t quite stellar yet.  This time, I really tried to make an efforts to frost my cake as close to perfect as I could get it.  I made the frosting alot thinner than I usually do, and that REALLY helped.  Another thing I found really helped is the way I covered my cake with fondant. I usually put the cake directly on a cake board and cover it on there, and then cut the extra pieces off with my pizza cutter.  This time I put the cake on a cake circle, and to cover it I put it on top of a large can of tomatoes (it doesn’t hav eot be tomatoes…i can be beans, peas, potatoes…hehe.) and draped the fondant over the cake.  The can allowed me to see how much of the excess fondant I was cutting off, it didn’t pull as much so I had zero rips to repair, and i had a much neater edge.  Since the cake circle was raised I was able to push the fondant edge under the cake circle slightly, creating a cleaner finish.  I was very happy with the brightness of the colours too, since this was an issue I had with my last cake.  Another thing I enjoyed about this cake was that I took the time to cover the cake board.  I hate the tinfoil look that most cake boards have, so covering the board in fondant really added to the overall look of the cake.

The cake was three layers: two layers of chocolate and vanilla in the center.  I took alot of care when covering my cake this time around, and I think it really paid off.  This is probably the best job I’ve ever done (so far).  The baby bum part of the cake is actually a full other cake.  I found a 3D soccer ball cake mold and filled one half with vanilla cake mix.  The instructions said to bake it for 25-30 minutes…. but it took almost 40 for this cake to cook all the way through! I almost chucked it initially because I thought I had put too much mix in the mold.  The cake was decorated with different sized polka dots (the small and medium wilton circle fondant cutters) and with a bow-tie style bow.  I know I posted a tutorial for this type of bow last cake, but I enjoy this one a little more.  It adds more detail to the center tie, making it look more realistic.  You can find it on the CakeSuppliesPlus YouTube channel.

I first covered the cake board.  Roll out your fondant as you would if you were covering a cake.  Ensure it’s big enough.  Use piping gel to stick the fondant to the board.  You can also use water, but I’ve used both and I find the gel works the best.

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Stack and frost the cakes.  Make icing as thin as possible.  This will help to keep the edges smooth, making it easier to cover in fondant.

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Next, I took the little sphere shaped cake I made and covered it in buttercream.  Then, I covered it in fondant.  I made it look similar to a diaper, so it would really look like a baby bum wearing a diaper.  I found having the mini cake on top of the bigger cake was more cost efficient than using a bunch of fondant to try and mold a big blob into a diaper.

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Then, I covered the main, larger cake in fondant and created the bow using half gum paste, half fondant, so that it would harden faster.  I applied the bow and a 1 inch ribbon strip around the cake.  I added the polka dots in a lighter blue.

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I was pretty lost with the legs and feet.  I found a website with a pretty decent tutorial so I used alot of the tips from this site for the toes, feet, and legs.

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I placed the bum and legs on the main cake and secured it using buttercream, as the gum paste glue that I used last cake destroyed too much of the fondant once the top layer was removed.  The blanket was created by rolling out fondant, and then by using a fondant embosser to create the shooting star design.  I glued sugar pearls to the edge and then placed it on top of the bum.  I used gum paste glue to secure it.

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This is my favourite cake so far (yes I know I say that every time but really, this is my favourite).  I love the concept, and it looks quite detailed and complicated for something that turned out to be rather simple.  I think I just love baby themed cakes…they’re all cute with adorable colours and polka dots and ribbons and bows.  I think that what I loved most about this cake was the fact that I did a really great job icing the cake and covering it with fondant.  I feel like it looks very well done (and of course I love the baby feet…I enjoy how realistic I was able to make them).

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After doing this cake I realized how awful I am with icing!  The “Welcome Home Lincoln” that I piped on the cake board was literally the hardest thing I had to do on this cake.  I’m thinking that I may take another Wilton cake decorating class in the late spring, most likely class 1 or 2 so I can learn how to work with icing a little better.  Anyways, I had tons of fun doing this cake…I am currently working on an XBOX cake with a minecraft theme, and I can’t wait to see how that turns out.  And no, I have not forgotten the chocolate chip cookie fight.  I will post cookie number four later this week. Happy Baking!

Baby Shower Cake and Cupcakes.

Since my BFF is pregnant…like super pregnant…like about ready to pop out a tiny human of awesomeness kind of pregnant…I of course, as her BFF, had to plan a baby shower for her.  So what better way to celebrate then to create a magnificent baby shower themed cake and cupcake display?  Answer: There actually is no better way to celebrate.  I created a beautiful 3 layer, 2 tiered cake (2 layers of chocolate with a vanilla layer in the center), and 60 fabulous cupcakes.  I of course had a little help from my baking sidekick Stewy,  and together we made an amazing bunch of tasty treats.

Stewy picked up some really fun baby shower decorations at Michael’s, and we pretty well used those to decorate our 60 chocolate and vanilla cupcakes.  We chose blue, green, and orange as the colours (to compliment the cake and match the colours chosen for the baby room).  In terms of the icing, it was of course buttercream, and we simply died the icing to match our colours.  I used a new technique for a large majority of the cupcake swirls.  Using a standard 1M tip from Wilton, instead of doing a basic swirl, starting on the outside and working in, I did the opposite, starting my swirl in the middle and working my way out.  The icing doesn’t “stack” and it creates a rose.  You can find a tutorial here.  

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On to the cake…I had a lot of fun doing it and it actually didn’t take me that long.  I had dreams of teddy bear and letter block toppers, but I kind of failed on those ones…But I will practice. My teddy bear ended up looking incredibly creepy rather than cute, and I didn’t want to scare any children.  This tiered cake ended up working out alot better than the last one, because I actually stacked it properly.  I used cake circles to stack the cakes rather than mini cake boards, and when I inserted the dowel rods into the cake, I did so before I covered the tier in fondant.  The cake was fresher and there were no ugly poles sticking out of it once the top layer was removed.  Mind you, I thin k next time I stack the cake I will glue them together using buttercream rather than gum adhesive glue.  When we popped off the top layer it definitely pulled a nice chunk of the bottom layer’s fondant with it.  I also vowed that I would always do 3 layers per tier rather than two, which worked out well and made for much nicer, taller tiers.

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The first steps were to bake and layer the cakes, and then cover them in a coat of buttercream.  Again, I’m still having trouble with frosting cakes but I’m getting better.

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Then, once the frosting had hardened slightly, I inserted the dowel rods into the bottom tier of the cake, measuring them against the tier and cutting them beforehand.  I made sure they weren’t protruding past the top of the cakes, and then covered the cakes in fondant.  The bottom was covered in blue fondant, and the top green.

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Next, I rolled out some orange fondant and cut out a 1 inch strip using my fondant ribbon cutter.  I then decorated the top layer with white polka dots…you can’t have a cute baby shower cake without polka dots.

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I made the “bow straps” using the ribbon cutter, and then attached them to the cake.  The bow was actually relatively simple.  You can find a tutorial here. I followed her directions exactly and the bow turned out perfect.  *Note:  I did add gum paste to the orange so that the bow would harden faster.  I placed the bow on the cake (using gum paste adhesive) while the bow was still relatively malleable so that it would not crack or break while I pressed it on.  Adding gum bast to things like bows and ribbon decorations can make things much easier as it is more “cooperative” when you are trying to make shapes (particularly delicate shapes for things such as flowers and figurines).  

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Next I made the BABY letter blocks, using silicone letter stencils and a pizza cutter, and glued them into place at the front of the cake.

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I made some fun little roses put rolling out fondant and then swirling it around itself until it resembled a flower.  I thought these were more “baby-like” than the typical gum paste rose that you’ll find on a more traditional cake.  The original cake that I got my inspiration from can be found here.  This cake also had some vary cartooney roses that I really enjoy. I added an orange ball border (can you tell I like ball borders?), and voila! The only thing left to do was eat it…and I did!  The taste was great, and I really don’t regret making the third layer on each tier.  The vanilla in the center was visually a great touch and it really added to the flavour.

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So I think that this is one of my favourite cakes so far.  I just love everything about it! Lessons learned:  Covering the cake board would have been a nice touch to the overall display.  The “tin foil” look isn’t super appealing to me when it comes to things like baby shower, wedding, or bridal shower cakes, so next time I plan on covering it with white fondant, and possibly adding a design.  I think I could have toned down the colouring a little on the cupcakes.  I’m excited that they were nice and bright, but the tones of the orange, blue, and green didn’t match the tones of the cake.  This isn’t a HUGE deal and I of course received no complaints, but I think I would rather have added less colouring to the buttercream so that it matched a little better.  Also, I still really need to work on my buttercream techniques.  The worst thing about my fondant covering is that I often see the imperfections of the icing through the fondant.  Sometimes this leaves bumps on the sides and I can really notice it.  This can only be learned through doing more cakes!  I am so excited to make more.  But speaking of “making more” I promised another chocolate chip recipe this week.  I will make the mayo based chocolate chip cookie recipe within the next few days and I am super pumped to see how they taste.  Wish me luck! Happy baking.

Zebra Print Cake

So this week, instead of the usual dozen or two of cupcakes, I decided to focus on a cake! I graduated (yes graduated – there’s a certificate and everything, and it’s signed so you know it’s legit) from my Wilton cake decorating class, and for my Master cake I created a zebra print cake with a hot pink fondant bow and ball border.  My masterpiece was a 2 layer 9 inch cake, one layer was chocolate and the other french vanilla (sorry to disappoint but they were totally box cakes – scratch would have been too much and apparently doesn’t turn out as nice).  This is the third cake that I’ve ever made, and I must say it’s my favourite one so far.  This week, rather than cupcakes, I will again be focusing on creating a cake….I love February! So far I have 3 birthday cakes! My aunt loved the zebra print for her 50th…stay tuned for a NASCAR cake for my hunny’s dad!

Step one was to make the bow.  You can find the tutorial for creating fondant bows here.

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Then, after baking my cake and coating it with a layer of buttercream, I covered it with fondant.  Let me tell you, for some reason I had the worst. time. ever. baking this cake.  First, I’m stupid, and thought hmmmmmm. I wonder what would happen if I put the entire cake batter into one, nine inch pan.  Would that work? Of course… So ya I tried it.  It does not work.  Never do this. Ever.  The sides will burn and the inside will not cook.  Like at all.  Any idiot could have googled this.  But nope. I decided to try it out without any research…and it blew up in my face.  That’s the novice baker in me coming out.  Yikes.  So.  I learned my lesson, and tossed the cake, and decided to make a new one.  The second cake I made was properly separated into two individual nine inch pans. Yay Kelsey! Ou, except for some reason, once the cake was cooled, when I popped it out of the pan it just did not want to go….well, half of it didn’t.  So the cake split in half.  I was so angry.  One of the cakes turned out fine though.  Riddle me that my friends.  Anyways, hence the reason why one layer is chocolate and the other vanilla.  But no matter it tasted great.

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After covering the cake with fondant, I made the zebra stripes.  Tip:  BUY PRE-DYED BLACK FONDANT.  I kid you not my friends dying it black takes a lot of time, dye, and messy hands.  I rolled out the fondant as thin a possible, used my ribbon cutter to cut out 1-inch thick strips, and then cut those into triangle like strips.  I then glued them on the cake in an alternating pattern.

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I placed the bow on top, and then created the ball border.  Basically the border is fondant balls glued on to the edge of the cake.  I used a medium sized Wilton circle cutout to cut out a bunch of circles of the same size.  I cut those in half and then rolled each half into a ball.

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And there you have it!  My Aunty was so happy she cried.  I’m so proud. Happy decorating!  FYI – If you want a cake done I will be happy to make it for you so I can have more additions to my portfolio, and I will only charge you cost.  Keep that in mind if you live in my area!

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Gum Paste and Fondant Flowers

So this week, instead of my usual “cupcake flavour of the week”, I decided to put some of the skills I’ve developed from my cake decorating course to use and created some amazing flowers to top some basic chocolate cupcakes.  This took a lot of time and effort over the weekend, but in the end I was able to create eight cupcakes with daisy toppers, eight cupcakes with rose toppers, and eight cupcakes with fondant blossom and sugar pearl toppers.  The daisies and blossoms were simple enough, but the roses took a lot of time, about 10-15 minutes per rose, plus some preparing the day before.  Can you say dedicated? Eek. Anyways, I had tons of fun putting these together, and so far they’ve been a hit.  At risk of this post being the longest post ever with all of the details I’d have to divulge regarding each flower, I decided to create a new section on my blog labeled “TUTORIALS”.  This page will be the designated how to page, and I will refer to it from now on for all of my future tutorials.  On another note, this week is my last cake decorating class! Yes, I am quite sad about this…I just want it to go on forever! However on the plus side I will be completing my master cake this Thursday, and will be giving it to my Aunt for her 50th birthday.  I’m planning a zebra print cake, yes, you heard it right, zebra print, with a hot pink bow.  It will be centered on a fondant covered, decorated cake board that I already prepared in last weeks class. Hopefully this doesn’t blow up in my face, zebra print looks complicated.  Wish me luck! I will update with my progress on Friday.

This weeks cupcakes were a “floral themed” bunch.  Here are some pictures of the scrumptious awesomeness that were my cupcakes. Follow the links to see the tutorial for each flower.  If anything is unclear comment and I will get back to you ASAP.

Gum Paste Roses

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Gum Paste Daisies

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Fondant Flower Blossoms with Sugar Pearls

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