Monday, June 8, 2009

Happy Birthday James!!

Here are a few pictures of my darling husband's birthday cake! In case you didn't know - that's a Texas Tech double T and a World of Warcraft Horde symbol!

I made the decoration out of colorflow about a week before and let it dry completely before placing it on the cake.
The cake was James's personal favorite - white cake with cream cheese frosting.
The white cake recipe is VERY light and airy, as white cake should be!
This was my first attempt at cream cheese frosting for decorating, so I used the Wilton buttercream recipe and just substituted half of the shortening for cream cheese. It was much tastier than the regular wilton buttercream, but still held up really well for decorating.
White Cake
Adapted from allrecipes
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Sift 2-3 cups of cake flour and THEN measure out your 2 3/4 cups. This is very important! Any time a recipe calls for sifted flour, make sure you sift and then measure. I got 2 3/4 cups out of about 2 cups of unsifted flour.
2. Sift together salt, baking powder, and cake flour three times. (Keep adding air baby!)
3. Cream butter with a mixer and gradually add 1 cup of sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.
4. Beat in flour mixture and milk, alternating about 1/3 of each at a time until it is all incorporated and smooth. (Don't overbeat here, you'll stir up all the gluten and make it tough)
5. In a separate mixer bowl, whip egg whites until they reach stiff peaks. Beat in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar.
6. Fold vanilla and egg whites into cake batter carefully. You want to salvage all that air you just beat into the egg whites.
7. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes for two round pans or one 9x13. (I used a 7x11 but did it in two layers).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Baby Scott and Baby Born!

Last night we had a couples shower for our friends:
Kyle and Cece...and baby boy!
Jake and Felecia...and baby boy? or baby girl? Jake told us last night he felt like the moment you have a baby is one of the few huge surprises God gives us, so they're waiting to find out the sex. I don't think I could ever have the willpower!

We're so blessed to have both couples in our bible study group and as friends. We can't wait to meet their new family members.

It was a dinner shower, and the menu was all italian, so I tackled another TWD recipe that I've been dying to try - tiramisu cake. It's basically a dense vanilla cake soaked with a coffee syrup, but the best part is the whipped marscapone filling and frosting. Oh. My. Goodness.
Not my most beautiful cake (the marscapone frosting was pretty thin and I couldn't get a great smooth finish like I can with a solid buttercream), but I was very happy with the taste. When the cake came out of the oven I was worried - it didn't rise much and it was pretty dense. But after soaking it with the coffee syrup and letting the whole thing hang out in the fridge overnight I was glad it was the perfect density to stand up to the coffee syrup and to compliment the light airy frosting/filling.

I won't type out the whole recipe because I followed most of the instructions pretty explicitly. I topped with a dusting of cocoa powder (only a few hours before serving) a handful of chocolate covered espresso beans, and two little white royal icing flowers I had saved from a previous project.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wilton Flowers

I took Lessons 1-3 from Course 2 all in one day last Saturday, and yesterday I FINALLY got around to making a batch of royal icing at home to play around and make a bunch of flowers.

For the most part they turned out so cute! This was my first time to make royal icing. Make sure that everything that will touch the icing (mixing bowl, beater, spatulas, icing bags, tips, couplers) are all completely grease free. I've been warned that any spot of grease can turn the entire batch of icing into liquid. I didn't soak my tips in vinegar or anything, just washed them in hot soapy water using the tip brush to make sure they were clean all the way through the tip. I used new disposable bags, since I can never seem to get all the grease off of the permanent bags.

I split one batch of royal icing into 4 colors (pink, dark pink, yellow-orange, and white) and had plenty leftover after making a few of each flower.

Here come the flowers:

These are primroses:
The one on the left has the correct star center. The petals are basically 5 little hearts.

The pansy:

The daisy:

The violets (basically the same as apple blossoms, just a little smaller and one less petal)

The apple blossoms: We also learned mums, victorian roses, rosettes, and daffodils. I don't think I beat my royal icing quite long enough because it was a little thin and I couldn't get any of those stiffer flowers to turn out last night. I'll post pictures when I do another batch.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

For the love of Triangles

Happy TAKS week!

My husband LOVES math. And more than math, he LOVES triangles. His students often have to defend me when he tells them that he loves math more than he loves his wife!

I sent him to school today with two cakes for his fellow teachers, so of course they had to be triangles!
The white cake is Dorie's Perfect Party Cake prepared the same way as my earlier post.
The chocolate is Bakerella's yellow cake with peanut butter filling and chocolate buttercream.

Things I learned on this cake:
-To make a triangle cake, you can use a shallow square cake pan, cut the cake into two triangles, and then stack them to make a 2 layer cake. My plan worked perfectly!
-Red icing takes a lot of food coloring! I used wilton's "No Taste Red" which lived up to its name. Definitely use it if you need a true red icing for a CHS or a Red Raider cake!
-I made all the bold lines with the basketweave tip, which I loved! they went on very smooth and neat and I love the thick bold lines.
-If you're making an oddly shaped cake, make sure your board is big enough! I had to drag a box out of the garage to cut up and cover for the boards.

Bonus cake to anyone who solves the equation! :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Cake

Last night was my final class from Wilton Course 1. We combined the final two classes, so we did figure piping, balls, shells, drop flowers, leaves, stems, and the famous Wilton rose! I'm sorry the lighting is AWFUL in these pictures!

I have had SO much fun taking these classes. If you've got a spare evening per week, I definitely recommend taking the plunge and taking the class. It's the best $17 (plus supplies....hehe!) that I've spent in a while. It would rate very well on James's infamous "fun:money ratio". (not to be confused with the fun:work ratio, also very important when deciding how to spend your free time).

James asked what my favorite part is: making the cake, making the icing, or decorating, and I couldn't pick! I have LOVED trying out flavor combinations and deciding what kind of cake/filling/icing to do. A pretty cake is worthless if it doesn't taste good! But I've also really loved learning the techniques.

Friday I start Course 2, which is mostly royal icing flowers. I can't wait!

This week my cake is a combination I made up. It's a peanut butter cake (which I didn't realize was so uncommon until I started researching for recipes!) with peanut butter filling and Wilton's chocolate buttercream frosting. I think if I made it again, I might try leaving out some of the butter. The cake was super greasy coming out of the pan, but serving it two days later it is still moist and is very tasty - but I think it's almost TOO moist, falling apart even.

Peanut Butter Cake
Recipe from Allrecipes


1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans. (I used my one 8" deep wilton pan)

Combine 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup butter or margarine. Cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each one. Add cake mix alternately with the water. Stir until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 25 minutes or until cake tests done. Allow cakes to cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Level cakes, fill, and frost.

Easy peanut butter Filling:

This is the peanut butter filling from the Million Dollar Cookies. I just made a big bowl of it, rolled it out into a circle on parchment, and placed in the middle of my cakes.

Mix 1/2 cup peanut butter with 1/2 cup powdered sugar until well combined. That's it! :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

My cake class was cancelled for this week, but I had been reading reviews and blog posts all week for Dorie's Perfect Party cake (Both Totally Daring Bakers and Tuesdays With Dorie baking challenge groups did it in the last year and I've always wanted to try it!) So I decided to make it anyway, and just play around with my book and the techniques I already knew to practice.
I got the base of icing SO much smoother than the first time by using the papertowel (I used parchment paper) technique!

The cake is a white cake with a light lemon flavor, and I filled it with homemade meyer lemon curd and blueberry preserves. It is SO good. I would make it again in a heartbeat. A lot of bloggers mentioned they had trouble with Dorie's cake rising. I didn't have that problem at all, and I:
a) Used Dorie's recommended Swan's Down cake flour
b) used all room temp ingredients (eggs, buttermilk, butter)
c) I baked in one 3" deep pan instead of 2 1" pans. My cake teacher recommended this, and I've loved that all my layers on my cakes have the exact same edge because they came off of one cake. And with the wilton leveler, leveling and cutting layers is a snap!
Here are the recipes copied and pasted for the lemon curd and cake. I used meyer lemon for both the zest in the cake and the juice & zest in the curd. Meyers are a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon, so they're sweeter and you can actually even eat the rind!

Lemon Curd

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

In the top of a double boiler, beat eggs and sugar. Stir in lemon juice, butter and lemon peel. Cook over simmering water for 15 minutes or until thickened.
Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

(Here is the full recipe. I made the cake part in my one pan, and then used wilton icing and filled with the curd & preserves so I didn't make her buttercream. But I wanted you t have all of her instructions, she's so thorough!)

Perfect Party Cake
From Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”
Makes 12 to 14 servings
For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make The Cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)

To Make the Buttercream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake: Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
Serving: The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but it’s best to let it set for a couple of hours in a cool room. Serve it at room temperature with anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.
Storing: The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to 2 days.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cake Time!

Last night was my second cake class, but the first time to really get my hands dirty!

I was so excited when I got a coupon for 30% off total purchase, so I went to Michaels and got all of my cake loot! I even got this super cute bag (that's supposed to be for scrapbooking) to keep it all in!I went over to Natalie's house (we're taking the class together!) on Sunday night and we made, thinned, and colored all of our icing and filled and iced the base of our cakes. We had a great time, but it was definitely harder than we thought!
Last night we learned stars, dots, printing, piping gel, and basic cake covering techniques.
Cake wrecks here I come!! :)
This is my first ever cake, so don't be too hard on me! I did a dot border on the bottom and the top and then printed my name with a star outline, and then did a heart (which I used a cookie cutter to imprint and then trace) and then filled it with stars.
I did a Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate cake with a fudge filling and it was pretty good! I just had a piece for breakfast :)