Tag Archives: Cake

Buttercream Artistry

When Andy and I were planning our wedding, one of the things  we surprisingly didn’t agree on was the cake. I thought a cupcake tower would be a fun idea, but Andy had a rare diva moment and proclaimed that cupcakes weren’t an acceptable option, he wanted a cake, a three tier cake to be specific. I let him have his way, largely because I didn’t care about the cake, but I had one stipulation, I did not want something covered in that ever popular substance, fondant. It makes for some truly gorgeous cakes, but it doesn’t taste good and flavor is infinitely more important to me than style, which ended up being a good thing since (I think) our cake turned out hideous, but it tasted great. One of the excuses the baking staff gave for the monstrosity was that the floral accents we’d selected were simply impossible to create with mere frosting. Well, I am calling bullshit on that. I saw this article on Bored Panda about artist Atelier Soo and the gorgeous buttercream creations coming out of the Seoul based bakery.

Insane, right? I’ve seen some sugar paste blossoms that couldn’t even come close to this!   I’m not even sure it should be legal to eat these creations. They’re so painstakingly crafted and meticulously detailed, it breaks my heart that their one clumsy fork swipe away from being destroyed.   

I apologize for all the pictures; there were just so many beautiful creations, and I had the damnedest time narrowing them down. Now I am not saying that the bakery here in Tally dropped the ball, or that I’d expect this level of mastery for your average cake decorator, but I am saying if I ever find myself in that situation again I am going to be a lot less accommodating when they try to sell the “gum paste stamp” idea to me again. And for the record, dogwood blossom and cherry blossoms do not look exactly the same. Clearly, I’m not bitter about this at all, right?

 

Images from here


Im a Happy Happy Fat Kid

I’ve been in this town long enough to know about all of the great local places to find sweet treats, and I enjoy sharing my finds with pretty much anyone remotely interested. Consequently sometimes people assume that my delight in local means that I must also have a disdain for chains. Not true; well, not entirely true. I respect quality, and while I do try to help support local businesses, if it’s after hours or a day that there shop is closed? You better believe my chubby butt isn’t going to let that get in my way.

Recently, a new chain called Nothing Bundt Cakes opened up near a couple of the restaurants Andy and I frequent. Unfortunately for Andy, I found out it was open while I was out a dinner with a friend, and she and I hit it up before parting ways. Don’t feel too bad for him, though; I, of course, softened the blow of my betrayal by bringing him a mini cinnamon bundt.

This shop is undeniably cute; I mean, it is pretty much tailor made for baby showers. They have nine different flavors of cake all topped with their signature cream cheese “frosting” and are available in a couple different sizes.

I thought it was pretty cool that they had a tiered option (see above) it was something I hadn’t really considered with bundt cakes.

In addition to cakes, this shop also offers cute party supplies and kitchen items. I had a brief, but very real moment when I saw the Kate Spade display where I wanted to just throw my credit card at the cashier and buy ALL the things. Things I don’t even need, but I love Kate Spade so much and those lemons were just like  this gorgeous pair of wedges she had last year (which legit almost bought). Ultimately, I decided I wouldn’t get a lot of use out of lemon print wedges; stupid practicality, stupid.

Yes, my husband is in a tank top. It pains me, but he was on the tail end of a skin allergy flare and was doing his best to keep cool. This did not keep me from mocking him, though. I also gave him his bundt cake first, so the cats would swarm him and I could eat in peace.

Not entirely effective as you can see. Stanley figured out my game and might have gotten the teeniest bit of frosting from mommy. He ended up with most of it on his nose which led to me having to chase him down and wipe it off. I live a charmed life.

If you’re interested, three flavors have been tried so far; the double chocolate, cinnamon and pecan bundt cakes all get a big thumbs up from us. Be prepared though; it took me two sittings to make it through mine, those things are rich!


Chocolate Lavender Cake with Blackberry Filling & Lavender Frosting

Well guys, I’ve done it. I written the first cake recipe of my 31 before 32 birthday challenge. It was a little labor intensive, mostly because I started with only a vague idea of what I wanted my finished product to look like, but I think things turned out pretty well. Plus, it was pretty delicious if I do say so myself. The recipe looks long, I know, but that is also because I included how I assembled and decorated the cake. You don’t have to take it as far as I did; this cake would still delicious without the fussy presentation. Here we go.

Ingredients:

Cake

Blackberry Filling

  • 4 pints of blackberries (minus 10 pretty ones*)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Lavender Frosting

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 6-8 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp powdered lavender*
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 drops of food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Either the night or several hours before you bake your cake, combine the ganache ingredients in a microwave dish and cook at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the cream. Set aside uncovered for at least 3 hours to cool.
  2. Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box and fold in the chopped lavender after the batter is combined. Split the batter evenly between 3 9″ pans and bake as directed.
  3. While the cakes are baking, combine the filling ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened sufficiently (A). Allow to cool to room temp before using.
    1. Put a plate in the freezer for about fifteen minutes before taking it out to test a spoonful of hot filling. Take the filling off the heat while testing. Push your finger through the filling on the plate – you’re looking for it to wrinkle and not flood back in to fill the gap.
  4. While the filling and the cake cool, beat softened butter (using a hand or stand mixer) adding the powdered sugar a 1/4 cup at a time until the frosting reaches the right consistency.
  5. Add in the food coloring and powdered lavender and beat for an additional two minutes.

 

Assembly

  1. Carefully, using a serrated knife or leveler, cut the domed top off of each of the cake layers producing three flat even(ish) layers.
  2. Fill piping bag (or ziplock bag) with 1/3 of your frosting.
  3. Starting with the bottom layer make a frosting ring around the bottom and middle layers of your cake.
  4. Split the black berry filling between the two layers carefully spreading across the cake to the frosting ringed edge.
  5. Stack the middle layer onto the bottom layer and the gently top with the top layer.
  6. Using the rest of the frosting in your piping bag (and a little from the bowl if you need) quickly cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and then place into a refrigerator to set for 25 minutes.
  7. Next, cover the cake in a more generous layer of the frosting, making sure to have a slightly thicker coating on the very top of the cake. Place in the refrigerator for an additional 25 minutes.
  8. Next spoon the cooled ganache over the top of the cake, creating drips down the side.
  9. Garnish the top of the cake with the remaining butter cream and the reserved blackberries. I also elected to use tiny chocolate candies.

Notes:

  • I wanted to try my hand at the “naked” frosting look for this cake, so most of the frosting was on the top and the top half of the side. This way there was still the frosting flavor, but the look was sill achieved because the more frosted bits were covered by the ganache.
  • Andy took the cake to work with him the day after I made it, and it didn’t even make it to lunch time. Which to me is a pretty good indication that the flavors were all balanced. That being said, despite my fondness for lavender, I didn’t want to over do it so that particular flavor could absolutely be turned up if you are baking for an audience with the same fondness. Be careful though; too much and you end up with a soapy taste.


Apple Pecan Cake

This past weekend I finally crossed of #8 on my 30 before 31 list! I completed my 12th recipe from cookbooks I already owned. It actually turned out to be a more difficult challenge than I’d anticipated: I am much more inclined to check out what is in my pantry then bake accordingly than I am to go buy all of the ingredients and then have a set bake day. Regardless, I did it, going out on one of my favorite recipes of this whole thing, a quick and easy Apple Pecan Cake.

Notes:

  • I made a couple of changes to the basic recipe to really bring this cake home. First of all, I used brown sugar instead of white for that rich molasses-y taste that pairs so well with apples. Next I cut out the allspice (since I don’t really care for it) and doubled the cinnamon. I also added a tablespoon of vanilla extract, I don’t know that it made much of a difference, but…..it’s what I did.
  • The mix was a bit unusual, so much apple! You couldn’t really pour it into the plan, you had to plop it out in chunks and press it as level as a possible so that it can bake evenly.
  • I bake pretty regularly, but this recipe got the most enthusiastic response out of Andy that I’ve seen in a while. He ate four pieces the day I baked it. Clearly I need to add this to my regular rotation.

I am putting in a little extra effort these days to get as many items crossed off as I can, although there will be a couple that I know I won’t be achieving. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


I Made A Cake!!!!

Monday I got an email from my husband asking if I would be willing to make this birthday cake for one of his coworkers. My knee jerk reaction was “mmmmm, I don’t think so”, but then he told me it was a surprise birthday cake for the lady who had sweetly sent me my beloved “Baking the World a Better Place” kitchen sign. There was no way I could say “no” to something for the nice lady who gave me presents, right? So I told him I’d try. The rest of the conversation went like this: When did they need it? Wednesday. Next Wednesday? Nope, this Wednesday. Okay then, emergency run to the grocery store it is.

Here’s how things went down.

l1Tuesday night I baked three layers of triple chocolate cake, sandwiched chocolate chocolate chip buttercream between the inner layers, and dirty iced the outside with vanilla buttercream. After all that was done, I placed it carefully in the fridge so it could “set up” over night. l2Tuesday, I made another batch of vanilla buttercream and gave the set cake its final coat of frosting using a icing smoother and the Viva towel method to smooth things out a bit but still maintain the charm of classic buttercream. Then I made my very first drip glaze for the top and side of the cake.  l5There was a minor set back; the Dunkin Donuts near my house was out of pink frosted donuts, plus they had no alternative colors with the required sprinkles. So I bought plain white frosted, took them home, brushed them with a little heavy whipping cream, and dipped them in my own damn sprinkles. That’s right people, I Tim Gunn’ed the thing 😉 l4The rest was really easy. Stack donuts, cookies, and roses, and finish with a handful of sprinkles to tie everything in. Andy was even kind enough to drive me back to his office so I could guarantee that my precious cake baby arrived safely. l3So, will I be taking up cake decorating as a new profession? Probably not, but I did better than I though I would, and Andy said his coworkers were very pleased with the results. I’m gonna chalk it up as a win, and now I have a couple more tools in my baking arsenal.