BornGrace

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

Archive for the tag “cake”

To Lamb or not to Lamb

Well this lovely little cake was part experiment with a new cake and frosting recipe and part brain fart.  Excuse my language.  Every Easter for I don’t know how many years I have made and decorated various lamb or egg shaped cakes.  Kids vote – lamb usually wins.  One year I had thumb surgery on Good Friday and my 11 year old did the lamb cake.  It was lovely – it’s not that hard.  Well, unless you completely forget that it needs to be made with a very dense pound cake type of cake.  Guess what I forgot this year . . . I didn’t take a picture of the collapse.  Thankfully, it happened before I frosted it.   It was kind of like those abandoned buildings when they explode – it crumbled and disappeared within itself – would have actually been quite amusing if it had just exploded all over the kitchen instead.  Clearly I don’t get out enough . . . ANYWAY . . .

Lamb cake failure aside.  I had very conveniently also made 2 small rounds with the extra batter.  The recipe is awesome.  I absolutely LOVE the cake.  The frosting is a whipped white chocolate frosting and it is a really nice complement to the cake and I would absolutely make it again.  But it is not the Perfect Buttercream that I am searching for.  Also, the recipe said that if you refrigerate the cake it should be left at room temperature for 2 hours before being served.  We had it a room temperature day one.  But I really like the way the frosting tasted cold – so YMMV on that one.

 

Cake Recipe: (Adapted from Bake Me Blush)

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg at reoom temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups ice water
  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Icing Recipe:

  • 6 oz white chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare pans and set aside.  Because I was using an odd shaped pan I sprayed with baking Pam.  For the rounds the recipe states to add parchment paper and spray or butter.  I just sprayed and had no issues with sticking.

In a large bowl sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy 3 to 4 minutes.

Add sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, 3 minutes.

Scrape down bowl and add egg.  Beat until just incorporated.

Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture alternating with ice water in 3 separate additions. Scrape down and mix on low a few more seconds.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Take care not to overbeat.  Gently fold egg whites into batter.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans and smooth tops.  Bake 40-45 minutes until a toothpick in the center of each cake comes out clean.  DO NOT OVERBAKE.  The cakes will be gently pulling away from the sides of the pan.

 Transfer cakes to a wire rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

Invert cakes onto rack and remove from pans.  Allow to cool completely.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

In microwave at half power, melt white chocolate for 1 minute.  Stir and continue microwaving at 20 second increments until white chocolate is creamy.  Set aside.  Chocolate can also be melted on the stovetop in a glass bowl over gently simmering water.  Do not allow the bowl to touch the water.

In medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together sugar and flour.  Add milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly.  The recipe said to whisk occassionally.  Do not do that.  Put in the effort.  Don’t burn your sugar and have to start over.  Ask me how I know. . .  Actually, I didn’t start over, I just scooped out the brown bits and hoped for the best and it was fine 🙂   But still.  . . whisk until mixture has come to a boil and thickened.  About 20 minutes.  I’m not sure when the timing starts.  Certainly does not take 20 minutes to thicken after it comes to a boil.  Mine was completely thick from when I just began whisking to about 16 minutes.  I gave it the full 20 but really it didn’t change as far as I could see.  There was also no flour taste to cook off after that point either.

Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed until cool. You can feel the heat rising out of the bowl.  Just takes a few minutes to cool.

Reduce speed to low and add butter.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Increase speed to medium high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy.   Add white chocolate and vanilla and continue mixing until combined.

Frost cakes and ENJOY!!!!

And please leave me your comments if you try this cake.  Or just think it looks like something fun to try. Or if you just want to be nice and let me know that you are out there 🙂

 

 

 

 

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!!

Perfectly Smooth Icing Tutorial

Perfectly Frosted Buttercream!!

Upside Down Icing Technique for Perfectly Smooth Icing Tutorial on Cake Central on Cakecentral.com.

So, I haven’t tried this.  But I saw it on www.cakecentral.com and thought hey. . . that’s an idea!  I am more than a little concerned about the FLIP.  But there is something oh so appealing about a perfectly smooth buttercream cake that makes me want to give it a go.  Especially since I have now seen two separate tutorials in the last 2 days about how to go about it.

The first one that I saw involved  VIVA paper towels and I just have a sinking suspicion that I would end up licking an awful lot of stuck buttercream off of a paper towel, and still have a crappy looking cake at the end of the day.

What does make me feel hopeful is that both methods involve a very hot spatula of some sort and I think I may be able to distill all the techniques down to that one simple element.

So, I’ll give it a go.  You give it a go.  And let’s meet back here to compare notes!

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

Not a Pie!

My husband felt that today’s post needed a recipe.  So as I sat here eating diet Jello Boston Cream Pie pudding (actually, quite good), I decided Boston Cream Pie recipe it is for the day.  I had never made one before his birthday last March.  I’m pretty sure that before I started my google search I thought he wanted me to make him a pie for his birthday.  My husband doesn’t make too many birthday requests so I tend to want to jump all over them when he does.  And if he wanted a pie, a pie it was.  After all, I had honored his request for years to make the same Angel Food cake from the box (just add water) that his mother made.  Whenever I’m in search of a no fail recipe (and have no time for testing) I tend to head either to Ina Garten or Martha Stewart.  I feel like they both vet their recipes quite thoroughly.  I don’t know if I couldn’t find a Contessa one — but Martha’s was SPECTACULAR!

So I thank you Martha!  You have come through for me again.

Enjoy!!!
Boston Cream Pie

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
  •  1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  •  3/4 teaspoon salt
  •  2 large eggs
  •  2 large egg yolks
  •  3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 7 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Pastry Cream Filling for Boston Cream Pie (recipe follows)

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Lightly butter a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan, and line with parchment paper. Butter parchment, and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess; set aside.
  2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk eggs and egg yolks on medium speed for 1 minute. Gradually add sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat milk and butter until hot in a small saucepan over medium heat; being careful not to boil the milk. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. With mixer still running, slowly add hot milk to egg mixture. Gradually add flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing until incorporated. Transfer to prepared pan.
  4. Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan, leaving the cake bottom-side up. Let cool completely.
  5. Make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring heavy cream to a boil. Place chocolate in a medium bowl, and pour cream over chocolate, stirring until chocolate is melted and well combined. Set aside to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
  6. To assemble cake: Remove pastry cream from refrigerator. Beat with a stiff whisk until cream is smooth. Split cake in two even layers; spread bottom half with the pastry cream filling. Top with remaining layer. Pour glaze over center of cake, allowing it to spread, covering top and dripping down the sides. Chill cake for 20 minutes before serving.

Pastry Cream Filling

  •  2 cups milk
  •  1/2 cup sugar
  •  4 large egg yolks
  •  2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and 1/4 cup sugar over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar until well combined. Whisk in vanilla and salt. Whisk in cornstarch, 1 tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. While whisking egg mixture constantly, slowly add 1 cup of the heated milk to the egg mixture. Strain this mixture into milk remaining in saucepan. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap against the filling to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

 

 

 

A theme a theme. My country for a theme

I’m pretty much all about the theme.  I learned it from my mother.  You don’t just clean your house before a party.  You change all the light bulbs from 100w to 25w because it really is all about creating the illusion.  And with a theme it just looks like you are so much more pulled together than you necessarily are. When you have twins born the day before Halloween, I figure you have a built in theme every year.  So, whatever they chose to be for Halloween – poof we had a cake.  This year was one of my personal favorites.  They were supposed to be Grumpy and Happy from the Seven Dwarfs (I was the magic mirror – and I felt I was going to be seriously cool 🙂

Happy to be a pumpkin!

But then Eleanor derailed me and decided to be a pumpkin.  I don’t know why.  I’m not sure she felt a need to justify her reasoning to me.  Threw my theme for a loop.  But then it made me feel like a good mother when I let her out of the theme obligation and into the cutest pumpkin costume ever!  I feel like this birthday was well in advance of my experiments with fondant (therefore I cannot guarantee that the stem and leaves are not in fact play doh – actually looking carefully, that is definitely a play doh rolling pin to the right :-)).  It was also the first time I tried free hand drawing of a character.  I still love it!

Only downer of the whole event was that everyone kept telling Grace what a cute Santa Claus she was!  Hello . . . her hat SAYS GRUMPY!  She will actually get quite up in arms about the whole things still today.

  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!

 

 

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