Monday, June 28, 2010

4th of July Cupcakes

If you are looking for something fun to make for your back yard barbecue, but don't have tons of time; you've come to the right place.  These cupcakes are fast, fun, and delicious.  What more could you ask for?

Start by baking some cupcakes in your favorite flavor.  I made chocolate, of course.

Mix up frosting in red, white, and blue.  Now before you say, "hey, that's not red, it's pink!" let me tell you what happened.  I ran out of my no flavor red color.  I tried to make a convincing red with the colors I had.  I fell a bit short.  Don't make my mistake.  Make sure you have plenty of no flavor red before you start this project.

Place a 2D icing tip in your piping bag.  Then fill one third of your piping bag with the red icing.

Now fill another third with white icing.

Fill the last third of the piping bag with blue icing.  This is the most tricky part.  Just remember that it doesn't have to be perfect to work.  Just get it in there the best you can.

Now pipe a rosette on each cupcake.  Start on the outside edge of the cupcake and circle toward the middle.

There you have it...festive 4th of July cupcakes!  I'm sure your red will look better than mine.

Happy 4th of July!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Four Loop Bow

I just love fondant bows.  Sometimes they are the perfect thing to top off a special cake.  Just like ribbon bows, they can come in many different styles.  This four loop bow works great as a topper.

Start by rolling your fondant out on a surface that is generously dusted with corn starch.  Roll it to a uniform 1/8th of an inch.

Use a pizza cutter and a ruler to cut the fondant into ribbon strips.  I'll let you in on a secret...I made two bows.  The first one I made using 1" wide strips.  The second I made with 2" wide strips.  I'll show you the first one later.  I liked the second one much better.

Cut the strips to the desired length.  Make four strips the same length as you want your finished bow, plus 1".  For example, if you want a 4" bow(like mine), cut four lengths of fondant ribbon that are 5" long.  This will make all your loops.  Cut a 5th piece that is 3" long for the center loop.

Take one of the 5" pieces and brush the end with a little water.  This will act as glue to hold the ends of ribbon together.  Put a piece of rolled up paper towel in the middle of the ribbon and fold the fondant over.  Then gather the ends of the fondant to make the wrinkles in the loop.  Gently set this aside to dry and repeat with the other 5" pieces.

With the shorter piece, gather each end and wrap it around a piece of paper towel with the ends overlapping.  Using a little water to "glue" them together.

Now take two of the 5" loops and gently press the gathered ends together.

Now, place the center loop in the middle with the gathered ends down and the ribbon running the same direction as the loops you have already placed.  I thought I had a good picture of this step.  I was wrong, sorry.  I hope my explanation makes sense. 

Take the support towel out of the center loop when it is dry enough to support itself.  Brush a little water inside the center loop where the next loops will touch.  Place the remaining two bow loops with the gathered ends tucked inside the center loop.  Gently press down the gathered edges.

Let your loop dry before removing the remaining towel supports.

Now, I promised you a look at that first, undesirable bow.....

Here it is.  Don't you agree that the larger width ribbon is prettier?  If you don't like the first bow you make, don't give up.  Just make another one!  In this picture I have already painted the larger bow with vodka to remove any corn starch and give it a nice sheen.

Doesn't that make a lovely little topper?


Monday, June 21, 2010

Turquoise and Beige Bridal Shower

I recently made this cake for a friend of mine.  She was throwing a bridal shower for one of her friends and wanted a special cake for the occasion.  She brought me a picture of a cake that she liked but the colors were all wrong.  The bride's colors were turquoise and beige.  So we made a few changes and "viola".

I applied the ribbon on the bottom tier with the same method I used here.

In my next post I'll show you how I made the bow on top.

Hope you enjoyed it, Nessy, and the bride-to-be.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dam the Filling, Full Speed Ahead

Many cakes that I make have only the buttercream in between the layers. For special occasions or for a change of pace it is nice to add a filling. There are unlimited flavor options for filling a cake. Once you choose the flavor that you think will compliment the cake itself, it's time to build the cake. The danger in a filling is that it can cause the frosting to bulge on the finished cake. This makes the layers very obvious and the cake looks frumpy. There is a great solution! Dam the filling.

Take some of your frosting and mix it with some more powdered sugar until it is thick enough to form by hand but still thin enough to pipe through a large round tip or coupler.

As you assemble the layers, pipe around the edge with the thickened frosting.

This will create a dam to hold your filling in.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Truffle Filling

I'm passing on this recipe for the purpose of filling cakes, but it got it's name from it's original purpose...truffle filling.  Every Christmas I enjoy making candy for the season.  One of my favorites is chocolate truffles!  I love biting through the crisp chocolate coating to the gooey, rich filling.  I decided to try it as a cake filling and, low and behold, it's just as delicious in a cake as it is in a candy.

Start by heating 1 1/3 cups of heavy cream in a sauce pan.  Bring it to a simmer.

Next add 1/2 cup of unsalted butter.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Graduation Cake

It's that time of year.  Hear the pomp and circumstance playing in the background?  It's graduation time.  Sounds like a great reason to have a party and, most importantly, make a cake!  Who can pass up such an opportunity?  Certainly not me.

My friend, Maria, joined me to make this graduation cake for her older brother who was graduating from high school.  Maria had never decorated cakes before.  She does, however, have a great interest in culinary arts.  I think that maybe someday she might be Chef Maria.

I have to tell you the story behind this cake, lest you think I'm crazy for putting a pink graduation cap on a boy's cake.  The graduate in question was asked what kind of cake he wanted for the party.  He said, "I don't care what it looks like as long as I can eat it."  Don't ever say that when your sister is making the cake!  We considered everything from a Barbie cake to putting the wrong name on the side.  In the end we went with the small, pink graduation cap that would stick out like a sore thumb.  Believe me, it could have been much worse.  That's one of the great things about making cakes for friends and loved ones.  You can put any personal touch(or gag) you want.

As you can see, the graduate is very interested in theatre and music.  I have to brag on Maria.  She made these little theatre masks and trumpet free-hand!  She also made the cute, little grad cap. 

The graduate loved it.  It was chocolate and vanilla marble cake with a truffle filling! Yum!

Thanks, Maria!  I had fun making this cake with you.  I can't wait to see what you'll make in the future!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Make Your Own Fondant

Fondant is an extremely versatile medium for cake decorating.  I have used it for covering cakes(of course), making cut out decorations, modeling figures, making bows, making flowers.....this stuff can be used for almost anything.  When people ask me what it is like I tell them that it is kind of like a play dough made out of sugar.  As an art major, my emphasis was in clay so this stuff is right up my ally.

I've used a few different brands of pre-made fondant.  I was inspired to make my own because it costs so much less than ready made.   After trying a few recipes I found one that I really like.  In fact I prefer working with this homemade fondant over the pre-made stuff.  This recipe came from Michele Foster.

I feel that I must warn you from the get go that I have never made this recipe without my wonderful stand mixer.  If you don't have one be prepared to use a great deal of elbow grease to get this done.  On the up side, if you make this many times by hand you might get arms like Rambo.  It would be like combining weight training and baking.  What a deal!

Here we go.

One thing that drew me to this recipe is the list of ingredients.  I had heard of them and had most of them already in my kitchen.  I could purchase every ingredient from my small town store.

Measure the milk into a small bowl.  Mine is a large, Pyrex measuring cup.  Make sure it will work as your double broiler later.(keep reading, I'll show you)  Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and let it set to absorb the milk.