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If you have followed this blog for any amount of time, you know I like to bake. It started as a way to channel stress and has turned into something that I 85% enjoy and 15% use to punish myself. This past week a friend of mine was turning the big 2-6 (insert eye roll) and I wanted to make her a cake to soften the inevitable downhill slide into 30. She isn’t a huge fan of things that are overpoweringly sweet so I had think about a little bit.
I came up with a few ideas, but what I finally decided on was a Buttermilk Vanilla Cake, filled with Lemon Curd & Raspberry Jam, with the whole thing frosted with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. That’s a lot, right? It sounds super complicated, and it might have been initially, but broken down step by step, it wasn’t too bad. I don’t do decorated layer cakes often, but I am staring to see improvement in my frosting and assembling. I’ve gotten a lot faster and picked up some tricks along the way, like chilling my cake in the fridge for half an hour after doing a crumb coat. It’s definitely one of those situations where you’re going to get a little better every time you do it.
Decoration-wise I knew two things when I started: the cake needed to be that millennial pink and it needed to work around the fantastic pink “happy birthday” topper I found. I started with a sprinkling of crushed freeze-dried raspberries , put the topper in place, and then I just started piling things on. I used fresh roses, fresh raspberries, white chocolate shards, and edible gold stars… and of course, shimmer dust. Gotta have the shimmer dust. Before I knew it, the cake was chilling in the fridge, and I was trying to figure out how to safely get it across town. I think it turned out okay and the birthday girl was floored so I think this definitely goes into the win column. She also loved the flavor combination and really enjoyed that it was something specifically tailored to her. Lots of fun, but I don’t think I’ll be doing another one of these for a while, a few weeks at lease.
We all have those things we love to do when we’re world weary and in need of something fun and inspiring. A few months ago, Andy introduced me to a show called Man About Cake hosted by the delightful Joshua John Russel, and it has been at the top of my YouTube watch list ever since. Now before you click away thinking “well I don’t want to make big fancy cakes so this isn’t for me”, hold on – if you bake at all, there are great tips to be picked up. For instance, using powdered fruit to flavor your frostings so you get maximum fruit flavor without the added liquid. I’ve also picked up some decorating tips that can be scaled down for cupcakes and smaller single tier cakes, like gilded blackberries and using bubble tea straws to hold your multi layer cakes steady. Here are a few of my favorite episodes:
Impressive, right? JJR and the crew put out new videos on their channel every Tuesday. This month the focus is on wedding cakes, so there should be some really great cakes.
Happy Halloween, everyone! As I sit here trying to keep myself from eating the candy we got for trick-or-treaters – between Andy and myself we are down three Twix and two bags of Peanut M&M’s; those kids better walk faster-, I wanted to share with you something I made this weekend. A Marshmallow Spider Web Cake.
Okay, I know it isn’t the most challenging thing to do, but I had a blast and didn’t completely destroy my kitchen. Which is always a plus. I used this tutorial by The Cake Blog. I wanted to try this last Halloween, but time got away from me so I felt like I had to wait another year before giving it a try. Checking another one of the list. You guys have fun, be safe, and remember you have to be at work tomorrow!
Halloween banner by Chickfetti.
As a kid, you quickly learn that most things are better with sprinkles: cookies, ice cream, and, of course, cupcakes. In the last year I’ve been paying more and more attention to how my bakes look as well as taste, and while I am still unwilling to compromise taste for style, I am very big on getting the most bang for your buck. To be honest, I hadn’t given sprinkles a fair shake. I assumed that the only things available were the same things I had grown up with. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Fancy Sprinkles for the Modern Baker . What the what? Turns out all those crazy shape and color combos I’ve been impressed with on Instagram are available in easy color coordinate containers and bento boxes.
I am also a fan of the names of their combos; “Call Me Maybe” and “Purple Pony Party” are two of my favorites. I must admit I’m not quite to the place where I would subscribe to their monthly bento box, but there are a few projects that I have planned that would benefit greatly from some sprinkled embellishments.
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.
Tuesday 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. Tuesday, 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. There 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 😉 The 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. So, 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.