BornGrace

What I do while I figure out what to do next . . .

Archive for the tag “birthday”

Fabulous Pumpkin Cupcakes

Let me just start off my saying that these will now be my go-to fall cupcakes.  They are sort of a combination of sweet muffin and cupcake and they are absolutely fabulous!  I have used browned butter in my blueberry muffins and have completely fallen for the wonderful and deep flavor that it adds to baking and these cupcakes are no exception.  Combined them with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting and pretty much YUM is all I have to say.

adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
RECIPE:
Preheat oven to 325F
Line muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.  Batter will be enough for 12 cupcakes.  You could possibly make more if you do not eat as much batter as my family did.  It was worth it – I don’t think it is possible to ever make more than 12 in my family.
Brown butter.
Melt butter in small saucepan or medium heat.  This will take some time.  Expect around 10 minutes.  The first time I browned butter I kept wondering “is this it?”  You can walk away but the first time I would hang out stirring gently with a wooden spoon.  First the butter will foam up and then go clear.  When it is ready you will start to smell a wonderful nutty smell.
Then small rust-colored flakes will appear on the bottom of the saucepan. You are done. Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.
Grate the fresh nutmeg.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, and brown-butter mixture.
Add the flour mixture, and whisk until just combined.Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.
Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe from Baked Perfection

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed with whisk attachment until fluffy

Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then cinnamon and vanilla; mix until smooth.

Put in pastry bag with large star tip and frost in a circular motion beginning on outside of cupcake and finishing in center.

Enjoy!!

Birthdays are for the Birds

So, how cute is this cake??  It was for my husband’s birthday and he was out of town and I had NO IDEAS.  And I kept having NO IDEAS.  I had pretty much decided I was heading to the Cake Box and picking up 6 cupcakes the next day and calling it a night.  But at 10pm I found a recipe that I wanted to try.  I had all the ingredients.  It had glowing reviews (as are many people, I am in search of the perfect white cake).  When I made my girls’ 13th birthday cake (lemon, white and chocolate) I found a very strong white cake.  Absolutely perfect for fondant and we all liked it.  But hubby wasn’t sold.  Now remember, up until last year, this is the man who wanted the straight from a box, just add water Angel Food cake – so strong is not where is heart is.  So I was in search of light and airy tasting but with enough umph to hold up the fondant.  I know the cake would look soooo much better if it was big.  But I didn’t need big.  Also when you start baking at 10pm from scratch – well, let’s just say I’m too old to pull a cake all-nighter.  It also would have looked better with 2 layers of the square – but I only had one pan (and see earlier comments about lateness of hour and ingredients).  But back to perfect.  I love love love how it came out.  I found an inspiration picture and it just fit.  His favorite colors are red and blue.  He is a “bird guy” and we are both from Virginia (state bird Cardinal).  The cardinals are perfect.  I drew them free-hand on paper, cut them out, and then I traced around them with a knife in the red fondant.  Then I tweeked until they were right.  If they hadn’t been right nothing else would have mattered.  The tree branches and red petals are just piped free-hand with no particular plan.  I added the cardinals last.

The cake was wonderfully light.  And if I had had enough time to really let it cool and firm up it may have worked better, but I just popped it in the fridge with a crumb coat, threw in some hollow dowels for support and hoped for the best.  The lower layer in particular sagged a bit with just the fondant.  If it had been taller and I could have spread the weight of the fondant around more cake – may have been fine.   I really liked the taste (and I even messed up the recipe and added 2 sticks of butter rather than 1.5).  The frosting was an awesome whipped frosting.  Gorgeous, light, really tasty (well except to my one child who doesn’t like whipped cream – must be a texture thing).  If anyone wants the recipe – shoot me a comment and I will add it.

 

 

It’s all about Balance

I’ll be the first to admit it.  This cake was a struggle.  I had very clear ideas of how I wanted it to come out in my head and IT WAS HARD!!!  I made some compromises along the way.  There was no way to make the balance beam elevated and still have the girl on top.  It was hard enough getting her to stand at all.  But I do think that the low beam fit the age group – and also works with the other elements in the cake. I also had to sacrifice some form for function with the legs to get them to “hold her” which meant the leotard didn’t look as “real” as the gymnast wearing purple.  She was just way way too tippy and that frustrated me to no end.  But there are other things that really make me smile.  I LOVE how the foam pit came out.  I hollowed out the center of the cake and cut the foam bits out of fondant that I dusted with powdered sugar to resemble chalk.  And I like the chalk stand near the uneven bars.  I also like how I thought to work Charlotte’s age into the leotard of the gymnast.  She liked that!  And as caught up as “I” get in the details — I have to remind myself that I am making a cake for a child’s party and if the child it happy – it’s a winner!

Lights, Camera, Action

Thankfully, boy child has come over to the dark side of fondant, because there is no way this cake would have looked as good without it.  Plus, I have done black icing before, and while it might have been wildly fun for the 4 year-old boys involved;  I was not exactly the most popular Mom with the other parents when they picked up their little darlings and realized that black icing doesn’t really wash off.  Kind of ever . . .

This cake was super simple.  Absolutely no structure what-so-ever involved.  The only really really important part is the lining up of the angles of the clapper.  If they are off, the whole cake suffers.  It’s the only non negotiable part.  Also do the math.  Measure well and then measure again before you do the word boxes.  I took a ruler and a skewer and lightly marked the surface and then followed with the piped icing to get it right.  I think my hand must have cramped up a bit, because the words at the top make me much happier than the words at the bottom.

Enjoy!!

Not a “yes, dear” sort of wife

When my husband told his dad he wanted to marry me, his dad wanted to make sure that he understood that I was never going to be a “yes, dear” sort of wife. I took it as a complement. At least he didn’t call me a b*tch :-). That said, I have found it to be rather annoying over the years when my daughters demonstrate their inheritance of that particular trait. Witness their 11th birthday sleep-over cake.  I don’t remember what the original sketch looked like, but I liked it and showed it to them expecting all sorts of oohs and awes.  (This is when my husband likes to point out that I don’t actually want anyone else’s opinion, I just want a rubber stamp of my good taste . . . duh?!)  Not what I got; I think Eleanor suggested I might want to check out a book she had on drawing faces and Grace decided that I needed to make each face representative of the actual child invited to the party.  SO MUCH HARDER . . .   And it was more than a little disconcerting seeing said children gleefully devouring their own heads a couple of hours later.  But, to give credit where credit is due – my girls’ ideas were right on the money.  That’s Eleanor in the pink sleeping bag on the left and Grace with the short hair and purple bag on the right.

ENJOY!!

A Little Mermaid in Your Life

This was my first attempt with gum paste.  I wasn’t sure what the right medium would be for all the sea and sand creatures, so I bought fondant, gum paste and marzipan.  I’ve never worked with modeling chocolate, but that is TOTALLY on the list – just need to convince my husband that what he needs more than anything for his birthday is a cake which allows me to express my love for him in modeling chocolate.   But back to the mermaid.  Everything is edible except the Barbie torso and head and I am only moderately scarred from frosting the naked Barbie boobies.  I made all the sea creatures, coral and sea shells the evening before so the gum paste (the final winner) had time to harden.  I do need to do some more tests on keeping the colors vibrant because they do tend to mute in the gum paste as it dries.  Even with all that done ahead.  It still took 1 1/2 to 2 hours to just assemble the cake.  Thankfully, it was very straight forward and we had no structure issues to deal with.  Plus the Birthday Girl was THRILLED!

Tanks for the memories

Ok – this was an AWESOME cake.  I earned so many Mom points for this one. And I totally winged it!  I felt like I really owed him a win after the cake collapse of 2008. (More on that later – suffice it to say — I needed to do some research on structure and karma).  I was called out by a friend on the fact that there were no in process pictures of my last cake– and how could I PROVE I really did it.  But there were no pictures of the cake collapse either and I admitted that one. But just for her, I am submitting the token – crumb coat in the fridge pic into evidence. Everything is edible except for the army guy.  I wanted him to look realistic and I am still at the level of Simpson looking molded figures – and I’m ok with that.  I was really happy with the gum paste that I used for the large gun and hatch.  The mottled way that it took the color as it dried, worked with the camoflauge look I was going for.  Boy child did not like the taste of fondant at age 7 – and even though it might have made the cake look better.   I was more interested in making the cake taste the way the child wanted it to.

Nailed it!

From the look on his face, I’d say I nailed it 🙂

Also, for me, no party is complete without the coordinating cookies.  The kids really love them, and I think they really add to the theme.  Plus they make ME happy.  They also make me have to exercies A LOT the week after a party.  SOOOO worth it!

Enjoy!

 

 

Feeling Pinky

Well, it started with my 7 year old wanting a “dog party”.  Which is fine, except I’ve already done a dog party.  Not as much fun FOR  ME :-).  Thankfully, as we browse the pages of Birthday Express, she decides that a pink poodle pajama party (ok I added the pajama part – I’ve done a regular party) is really the way she wants to go.  And it’s not that she isn’t a cuddly kid that wouldn’t love a regular dog.  But she is kind of a “jazz hands” type of girl and she needs a little pizazz with her parties.  She has also requested that I pronounce fondant the way The Cake Boss” does.  So it’s not just me with the issues 🙂  Thank god for Pinterest. Can you say INSPIRATION???  I have a whole little board full of ideas, some I’ve stolen from my Valentine’s board because hey, pink is pink.  And thankfully, most of the people invited to the party haven’t heard of Pinterest yet and I can get all the credit for not only execution, but the imagination too!


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