Wednesday, March 13, 2013

This is Huge!!

I have never made a full sheet cake before so I was a little concerned about all the details, particularly,what do I put it on and how do I box it?
I purchased a 30"x 24" piece of plywood and some pretty white vinyl tablecloth fabric to cover it with. I also glued some 1" cubes on the bottom to elevate the board so we could get our hands under it in order to lift it. The box was constructed out of assorted cardboard boxes that just happened to be in the house. I knew there was a good reason to save all those boxes. 
The cake was half chocolate and half vanilla with chocolate butter cream frosting. Since this was for a  baby girl shower there are lots of pink flowers. As I have mentioned previously, my writing has a lot to be desired so this is not my proudest moment. The flowers are gorgeous and hopefully that  makes up for my penmanship failure.

I Would Be Delighted

This cake was made for a friend's baby shower. This amazing young woman has a gluten intolerance so would not be able to indulge in her shower cake. Jenn's mother-in-law, also a friend of mine, asked if I could make a special gluten free cake just for her. "I would be delighted" I said! I used a gluten free cake mix which is a perfect size for a 3 layer, 6" cake. The frosting, which is made of butter cream, was dyed to match the colors of paper goods for the party. I also tried to replicate the design of the paper plate . When it comes to writing on cakes, well, I kind of suck. But, I did it anyway because it completed the design. While the writing was not too bad looking, the cake itself was very pretty.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I had the honor of making my mothers 80th birthday cake. There was a cake that I saw on Gesina's blog called  "The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me". I was going to make it for my daughters college graduation party but just did not have the time because of my kitchen remodel. I finally got to try it out for this occasion. I did it a little differently though. I used regular butter cream instead of italian meringue butter cream, I used vanilla extract in place of lemon extract and finally, I used a different color scheme. Blue is my mothers favorite color so I thought I would make different shades of blue. I was surprised when some of my colors were kinda green, then I realized this was because the cake batter was yellow. It was still incredibly pretty, not to mention delicious! Everyone said it was the best cake they ever had! 
The flowers on top are made from blossom fondant. The centers of the flowers are corn syrup with the most amazing sugar sprinkles that I almost didn't buy.
As you can see, I had a hard time squaring it off. I frosted it at my parents house and did not have enough butter cream to make it properly square, but that's okay, we all enjoyed it, especially the birthday girl!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Everyone's Favorite Shortbread Cookies

These cookies are my most requested cookie. My mother loves them and so does my mother in law. I very rarely go visit without a box of these. They are so simple and delicious. It's just butter, sugars, flour and salt.

Mine Craft Cake

I cannot believe how long it has been since I posted here. The summer disappeared beneath kitchen construction, the fall whizzed by with vacation and hurricane Sandy.
So hear we are with Christmas breathing down our necks!
One of my recent awesome experiences was making an 11th birthday cake for the grand daughter of a dear friend. The birthday girl wanted a Mine Craft themed cake. I had never heard of Mine Craft so I had to do some research. What I found was pretty fascinating but I was concerned about how I was going to pull this off. Have you seen Mine Craft? It is all rectangular and pixilated with lego shaped characters. I knew this would be hard but I never turn down a challenge. 
The cake was to be an 8" square so I had to learn how to make a perfectly square cake. Have you ever done this? Much harder than I imagined and very time consuming. Once again, I checked out "You Tube" to learn how to do something. I watched an instructional video by "Cup A Dee Cakes". I think I did a decent job of squaring off my cake and next time I will know more about what I am doing.
The top of the cake is covered in fondant, the sides are butter cream and the figures are made from rice krispie's and marshmallow. What do you think?

It may look a bit amateurish but that's okay,
 because I learn as I go.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm So Glad....

I am a big fan of Gesina Bullock Prado! I have read her book "Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker" twice and am constantly referencing it. I have been wanting to try her recipe for carrot cake and was "So Glad" when a friend asked me to make one for her daughters birthday. I tried it out first on another friend who invited us over for dinner. I said, "I will bring dessert", giving them no choice about it.
I confess that I had a lot of trouble with the cream cheese icing. The recipe called for 16 oz. cream cheese and 4oz. butter. I usually use 8 oz. of butter and 8 oz. cream cheese. I wanted to follow Gesina's recipe but added more sugar hoping to firm it up a bit. Oh, I remember what I did. The first cake I made, I used low fat cream cheese and realized afterwards  that must have been the problem. The cake did get rave reviews form my friends though. When I made it the second time, I used regular cream cheese and it was firmer but not as firm as I would have liked. It had to be put in the refrigerator constantly in order to work with it. I wonder if this is typical.
All in all though,  I must say, this is by far the BEST carrot cake I have ever had!

What Was I Thinking????

I am in the process of  kitchen remodel hell! This began on June 13th and it is still going on! In the middle of this, we went on vacation (it had already been booked way before I decided to do the kitchen), and I had already committed to do a cake for an event that was being held on July 5th, the Thursday after we got back. Now you know why I titled this "What Was I Thinking?". I still have no kitchen sink so I am bending over the bathtub to wash dishes. Thankfully my appliances were delivered on Monday! My dear friend Joanne offered me the use of her kitchen and I really considered it. In the end I decided it was better to tough it out here, there is no place like home.
It was insane and exhausting! All my equipment was dispersed among my daughters empty bedrooms so I spent half my time looking for stuff. My husband rigged up a temporary counter for me, small but it was a clean flat surface to work on. I never realized how many times I washed my hands while baking until I had to run back and forth to the bathroom sink.

         The end result was fabulous! The event was a wedding rehearsal dinner. They wanted to have a frog on top of the cake representing the groom and a girl figure sitting down next to it representing the bride. The frog was made from rice krispie  and marshmallow, covered in fondant. I have never made a human figure before but, of course, I said "Sure, I can do that for you!" The girl figure was made of just fondant. In retrospect, I should have used the rice krispie mix on her body. The fondant was soft and kept slumping so I had to keep working it. The cake was vanilla with strawberry filling.  I dyed the butter cream with the colors of pond water in mind and applied it to the cake in a way that would  show texture and movement.
          My husband delivered the cake yesterday. It was not assembled because I was concerned about it not surviving the car trip. Therefore, I only have pictures of it in pieces. I asked if they could send me a picture of it after it was all put together. When I get the picture,  I will post it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Slippery Little Suckers

Some friends were coming over for dinner and one of them is gluten intolerant. A perfect opportunity to try making something gluten free. So,I picked up some "Bob's Redmill" gluten free baking mix thinking I would make a pie of some sort.
This stuff handles so differently from regular flour and let me say this; it tastes gross when it is raw. It had me worried but I continued.  I had some pears and thought  that a pear tart would be lovely. I found a recipe on Martha, it looked easy enough. Well, it was a little tricky because those pear slices were slippery and I just could not arrange them nicely. So, this looks a little messy and in spite of the dough being gluten free and being nasty tasting when raw it turned out to be quite good.  I know this looks burnt in some spots, I assure it was not. I want to make it again sometime but with puff pastry instead. Mothers Day is coming up, maybe I'll make it then!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Once Upon A Time...

This cake tells a story. I will start at the beginning, before the story. It is the week before Valentines Day so, of course I am mad busy baking Valentine treats. I also have my mothers birthday coming up and want to make her a cake for our family celebration. Then, my sister calls and tells me she has tickets to go see "The Chew", do I want to go with her? Of course I do, NOT because it is "the Chew" but because I love to spend time with my sister. This means a trip to Long Island so we can take the train together. I figure I can take a day to go have some fun. This turns into two days because we have to get a 6:19 A.M. train so I have to go and spend the night before on Long Island too. This is still doable until......My neighbor contacts me to see if I can make a birthday cake for her mother, the party is this weekend and since her mother is a major frog collector and as of late started collecting fairies, can you make a frog/fairy themed cake? I am not one for backing away from an opportunity to make an awesome cake plus I really love this family so, I said I would gladly do it. Now I am feeling some pressure. I want you to know that I finished this cake 30 minutes before the delivery. 

This is a 10" chocolate layer cake with vanilla butter cream frosting, the filling is strawberries and butter cream The frog body  is made from rice krispies and marshmallow which was covered in royal icing, then fondant. The legs are fondant as is the lily pad it is sitting on. The wings...were made from fondant but for some reason they did not get hard enough to stand up so, last minute I made them out of sculpy. There was no choice and they ended up looking fabulous. I inserted straws into the cake to support the weight of the frog.
The little frogs are made from white chocolate poured into a candy mold.
So, here is the story; The big frog who is also a fairy rules the pond. All the little frogs swimming to the surface are about to be made into  fairies and will then live to serve the big fairy frog. They all live happily ever after!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Few Firsts

I have never made meringue butter cream, simply because I was afraid to. 
I had been baking all week and had two cakes to make at the end of a long week, both requiring butter cream frosting. I didn't have enough confectioners sugar and did not want to run to the store (twenty minutes there, twenty minutes back and you know how it is the supermarket...) because the clock was ticking away. I decided to make an Italian Meringue.  Why not take a chance and overcome a fear. I got the recipe from the book "Sugar Baby" by Gesine Bullock-Prado and followed the recipe to the "t". This recipe requires a lot of patience and determination. Everything that Gesine said would happen, did. It curdled, it fell apart but I kept on whipping it and I ended up with a lovely butter cream. I will have to double the recipe next time because I had barely enough to cover a three layer cake. Which brings me to my second first. Since I did not have enough butter cream, I decided to make lemon curd to fill the cake with. I checked the "Sugar Baby" book but did not have the organic agave nectar called for in the recipe, so I used Martha Stewart's recipe. It was so easy, what was I so afraid of? Perfectly tart!
All of the above was so I could make my mother a beautiful cake for her 79th birthday.
It was a 3 layer lemon cake, cannot remember where I got the recipe but it did have greek yogurt in it. The flowers are made of fondant (Duff's) and the flower centers are mini marshmallows that were cut in half. I thought they would stick because, well, marshmallow is sticky. Nope, they fell off so I had to make royal icing to glue them on with. Since there was not  enough Italian Meringue butter cream, I had to steal the regular butter cream from my other cake to do the piping with. I  have made this lemon cake a few times before and it was perfect, this time it was a little too dense, not sure what happened. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sad But True

This was a first for me. A friend of my husbands asked me to make a cheesecake for Christmas. Naturally, I said "oh sure", then I said oh shit! I never made a cheesecake. So, after I did a quick "google" search, I decided to would try Alton Brown's recipe. One of my problems was trying to figure out how to get it off the spring form base and onto a cake board. Alton's recipe was made in a regular cake pan lined with parchment, one of the reasons I chose it. Of course I had to make a practice cake to ensure  its  deliciousness. I followed his instructions to the "t" with the exception of the pan size. The recipe was for a 9" pan and I used a 10". The cake was a little shallow, but incredibly delicious and very light. My husband and I had a piece a night for a week :-) It was a winner! The only thing was that I wanted it to be a little taller as if it were made in a 9". 
So this is where the trouble began :-(  I had a moment of brilliance and decided to double the recipe and make an 8" cake and a 10" cake. How hard could that be? The 10" went on the top rack in the oven and the 8" was placed on the bottom rack, one on the right the other on the left.  Again, I followed the baking instructions. When  it was time to remove them from the oven, they were a little jiggly. I was pretty sure that that my practice cake did not do this. So I continued baking for another 10 minutes. I was afraid!! After I turned off the oven I let them sit in the oven for another hour. They were still jiggly!!! I was sure if I let them cool for six hours in the frig they would be perfect! NOT!!! I took the 10" out of the pan, got it on a cake board and then realized it was raw in the middle. WHAT THE HELL????? I was freaking out a bit. The 8" was also undercooked. It is now 1:00 a.m. and my husband will be up in three hours to take this cake to work. I had to get the cake back in the pan, no easy task, not very pretty, not even remotely  pretty! Thank God I had a back up cake, I would give Donald's friend the 8" . That had to go back in the oven too. The clock is ticking and now my husband is awake, he heard me swearing. The cakes come out of the oven and they have to cool before they come out of the pan. I test for doneness and put them in the frig.It is 3:30 a.m. and I cannot wait any longer. I have to get this out of the pan and into a box. The darling 8"baby comes out of the pan, it looks perfect! I am so relieved and happy, we are rejoicing! I am rushing, I am delirious, it is waaaaay past my bedtime. I flip it over onto the cake board and.......SQUISH! My beautiful cheesecake is now a pancake. Needless to say, Donald's friend did not get his cheesecake. I ended up sharing them with family over the holidays and they were ugly but very delicious!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pumpkin Required

In my opinion, Thanksgiving requires that all baked goods have pumpkin in them. Why, you make ask. I don't know, that's just the way it is. So, I made spiced chocolate pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for some people at my husbands job. Soooo good, really!
I had left over cupcakes, perfect for our Thanksgiving desserts. Only, I did not feel like making cream cheese frosting, too effort. Instead, I made caramel frosting. So simple! Melt butter and brown sugar, bring to a boil, add milk, then confectioners sugar, whip it. While the frosting is still warm, dip the cupcakes into it. Let me tell you, these were out of this world mmmmm, delicious! I topped them off with little fondant pumpkins because, I just had to!

Can She Make a Cherry Pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy....?

Over the summer, when the cherries were ripe, I decided I should make a cherry pie for Thanksgiving. I purchased a cherry pitter, pitted the cherries, which were purchased at the farm market, and froze them. I was so excited about this pie! I got the recipe from "Confessions of A Master Closet Baker" by Gesine Bullock Prado. One of my all time favorite books! 
It was not a perfect pie :-(.  First, the juices oozed out of the crust. I anticipated this and put a baking sheet on the rack below. Thank God I did because it was like a lava flow! It had been in the oven for nearly an hour when I took it out. The crust did not look quite done in certain places. Weird, right? So I turned up the heat and that did the trick of browning it. Out of the oven again and onto a cooling rack. Something just was not right. When I tilted the pie a little, there was a wave of motion. What the hell? I realized it was juice from the cherries and proceed to dump some out but was afraid of breaking up the crust so I didn't drain it all. That's when it went back into the oven for another 30 minutes! When the pie came out of the oven, it actually looked pretty good! It also tasted outrageous! I am looking forward to next summers cherries and will not wait for thanksgiving to make a pie.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chocolate Ruffles

       It was time for our annual gathering of family before my mother-in-law returns to Florida for the year. This event always falls out at the same time as my brother-in-law's birthday. He is a huge chocolate lover so every year he requests a very "chocolatey" cake and I am always happy to indulge him. This year my m.i.l. asked me to include all the birthdays of everyone present by writing " Happy Birthday Everyone". I still hate writing on cakes so I used leftover fondant letters from previous cakes. Somewhat of a cop out, I know.
       The decorating of this cake was inspired by a cake I saw on another cake blog. I thought it was so beautiful. The baker had piped vertical rows of butter cream ribbon, graduating the coral color from light to dark. It was stunning. Since I was making chocolate, I decided that graduating from dark to light would be so lovely. I "mis"remembered what the inspiration cake looked like, that is why my ruffles are horizontal. I actually ran out of butter cream!
         To assure that my brother-in-law's chocolate desire was fulfilled, I made a dark chocolate cake with a brownie and chocolate glaze filling. It was out of this world!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Every year I try to add something new. This year I made cupcakes that look like  bloody brains and also a bloodshot eyeball. Fun and quiet yummy in a creepy way!
(Last years pictures were much better.)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chocolate Candy Cake

This  cake was made to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of a friends son. How well  does anyone know an eighteen year old boy, who knows what they want? Nothing too feminine, meaning no flowers or maybe "man" flowers, what ever that might be. What are his favorite things? Kinda hard to know when he doesn't reveal too much about himself. I was stumped. So I just started looking at  pictures of cakes, not a hardship I can assure you! I came across a few cakes that were decorated with candy, not cutesy but rather sophisticated. That was what I would do! I made my version using "Kit Kat" bars around the circumference, as well as malted milk balls. Originally I wanted to use fall colored "M&M's" also. After going to four different stores, I realized that would not happen. No one had them,arghhhh! Ah, but "Reese's Pieces" come in fall colors. With peanut butter on my mind I thought of "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups" and decided to chop them up and put them in between the layers. "Oh no", I thought, "what if someone has a peanut allergy!". A quick text, and I got he okay to go ahead with the peanut butter. So, I made a 12" vanilla layer cake with chocolate butter cream frosting and tons of candy. It was fun and I want a piece. Maybe there are leftovers :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

First and Last (wedding cake)

I finally made a wedding cake. I loved so many aspects of doing it but quite frankly, I will never do it again! I know, "never say never", but as of today that is how I feel. It was so stressful, the worry over every little thing was monumental. 
  The most difficult part was leveling the cake and stacking it. My dowels were so exact because I shaved and sanded the ends to make sure they were all perfectly matched. I used a level when trimming the cake to assure that they were just right. This cake was level.!
  Another problem I had was placing butter cream flowers up the side of the cake. I made them 3 days in advance and left them (in a safe place) out to dry. They were still fragile and I lost quite a few in placement. I made plenty just in case of this. 
  It is August, it is hot and humid. I started the car and ran the A/C to get it cool enough so the cake wouldn't melt in transport. My husband carried the cake down stairs while I was outside, he didn't want me to watch because I would have made him nervous. Than he took it out of the house to soon and I thought I would have a heart attack! He said I acted a little psyhco. Who, me?
We drove to the wedding location, about 20 minutes away, in a freezing cold car. I was wishing for gloves. We live in a rural area, so there were lots of hills and curves along the way. A few flowers fell off the cake, but I was prepared with extra flowers and butter cream. Also a piping bag and spatulas.  

  I can't tell you how relieved I was to have this over with. I have worried since then about the possibility of the flowers falling off before the cake was served, or the cats who were lurking around had a butter cream feast when know one was looking. Most of all, I worry about whether they loved it or not!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Do You Want Fries With that?

I have been wanting to make a hamburger cake and was so happy when someone asked for one for their son's birthday! The cake was made of  3 layers, two vanilla, one chocolate. The chocolate became the burger and obviously the vanilla layers became the bun. I froze the cake in order to carve the shapes. (I heard freezing made it easier to carve) Since I wasn't using fondant, I did a modernist spin on the  tomatoes, onions and pickles with butter cream. The lettuce was also made from butter cream but it was actually leafy looking. There was no cheese on this burger because the birthday boy is not a fan of cheeseburgers. I don't know what happened to the condiments after the hamburger bun top was put on. Did they maintain their shape or did it all squish into one mass of butter cream? I think the most difficult part was mixing the color for the bun. I actually used a real bun as my guide along with my daughter Jess's acute sense of color mixing. I hope it was a hit with the birthday boy and enjoyed by all!