Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time to Mow

Today was the Birthday of a very dear friend. Naturally, I wanted to bake him a cake. There is a joke among us about Tom always mowing the lawn. "He's always out there on his tractor!" his wife says. So, I thought it would be fun to make him a cake with a tractor on it. I made an 8" round yellow layer cake from a mix. The frosting was Martha Stewart's basic buttercream. (recipe below). The top surface of the cake was green, like the lawn he is always mowing, and I piped blades of grass. Halfway through, I said to myself "what! are you crazy?" and kept piping. I piped grass around the sides and placed a few yellow flowers there as well. The "icing on the cake" was the tractor I put on the top.

Buttercream Recipe:

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened ( used salted butter, wonder how much difference it made?)
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
beat Butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (after every 2 additions, increase speed to high and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce to medium- high) ( I did not do that part, not on purpose). Add vanilla and beat until buttercream is smooth. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to three days.

Banana Sour Cream Birthday Cake

Recently I gave out my business cards and was so pleased to receive an order for a birthday cake. After seeing my blog, the client decided she would like to have the Banana Sour Cream Cake with cream cheese frosting. (recipe listed below) Good choice , I thought to myself. She asked that I put walnuts on the side of the cake like the recipe calls for. Daisies were also requested. This was a late request so I didn't have much prep time. I made the flowers the night before out of royal icing. They were not quite dry the next day, so when it was time to put them on the cake I had to be really careful not to break them. There were a few casualties. Not being sure how the walnuts would look with the daisies, I was in a dilemma about whether to put them on or not. My daughter Samantha, wise woman that she is, pointed out that it was my job to give the client what she wanted. So, on went the walnuts (which is another long story), and I sprinkled some among the flowers so it would look cohesive. The Birthday Girl was very pleased, much to my relief.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fun (not) with Fondant

Last week in my Wilton class we learned how to use fondant. It is a lot of work to roll this stuff out, then to get it on the cake smoothly was a challenge. I did manage to get it on there relatively smooth with just a few minor defects. Applying the decorations was also easy, but I tend to not know when to stop. The cake was a 2 layer, 8" square (this time I used square pans as opposed to a rectangle that I cut in half) using a classic white mix, however, I did use whole eggs instead of just the whites. I covered it with a crumb coat of butter cream. I took the finished product to my parents house and received many oohs and ahhs over its appearance. I must admit, it was pretty! But, then we cut into it and tasted. Fondant tastes pretty awful and it was difficult to cut without the fondant coming loose. You can do fabulously creative things with fondant, you've all seen Ace of Cakes, (right?), but I'll take butter cream any day.

Monday, June 8, 2009

This cake was a labor of love and a big sticky mess! I made it for my mother- in-law who had just come home from the hospital that week. I wanted to cheer her up with something pretty and sweet. Sweet it was!! I made an angel cake with seven minute frosting. (trying to avoid artery clogging ingredients, not that all that sugar is so much better for you.)
My candy thermometer was MIA so I tried the soft ball method of testing the sugar. The first batch of frosting was just right but didn't quite cover the cake as well as I would have liked. Since I don't like to skimp on the frosting, I had to make another batch. Now mind you, I should be walking out the door to go to her house at this time. So I rushed a little and the frosting was a little too soft. I did not fully understand this until I put it on the cake, my understanding of this mistake grew even more when I started piping. The flowers were a redeeming quality for sure!! And yes, those are little bluebirds of happiness nesting in the flowers. By the time I got it to her house, the second layer of icing had fallen off and was running over the edge of the plate and the piping had disappeared. It was however, very delicious and she was pleased that I thought of her. And, big surprise, I was pretty late and my husband was pacing the floor when I arrived.

This cake(pictured below) was the final cake for Wilton II. The frosting is homemade butter cream, the cake is a chocolate devils food mix.The basket weave was not too hard to do, just very time consuming. The flowers, ahhh the flowers; they are made from royal icing, pure sugar and a little water. They were a challenge to make and also very time consuming. Once I got the hang of making them, I had so much fun. I could not stop placing them on the cake, maybe I went a little overboard. It looks like a garden in bloom. I took this cake to church and got rave reviews. No one wanted to cut it, neither did I, but it had to be done. This last image (above)is a photo all that remained.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Obviously, I don't know how to work this blog thing. I will have to study so I can make the layout more comprehensive. My future posts should look better.

I was asked if i would like to make cupcakes for the May Birthday Celebration at a local nursing home. I seized the opportunity to get creative! My objective was to was to make the cupcakes look fun and pretty, a pleasure to look at. I used a chocolate devils food cake mix. I frosted half of them with homemade butter cream. Since I was pressed for time, I used a store bought can of chocolate fudge frosting for the other half. The important part was decorating them, which as you can see, I did. It was so much fun! Sadly though, I never got to see the residents enjoy them because I was not feeling well and had to have someone deliver them for me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This was a banana sour cream cake with cream cheese frosting. So, so, so delicious! The recipe is from a Kraftfoods publication. The directions said to bake it in a 13" x 9" pan , then cut it in half to make a square layer cake. I did this and even though I trimmed the cake it was still a little wonky, I also had a tough time frosting the corners smooth. Next time I will use round pans. Also, the recipe call for chopped walnuts to coat the sides and a few pieces to sprinkle on top. I did not choose that option because I just love to decorate with frosting.
So there you have it, try this recipe, it is awesome.

The Recipe:
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 cup Breakstone or Knudsen sour cream (don't remember what brand I used)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 -8 oz. pkg Philadelphia cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 pound powdered suger (about 4 cups)
1 cup Planters walnut pieces (did not use)

-heat oven to 350. beat cake mix, eggs, bananas, sour cream and oil with mixer on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
-pour into greased and floured (i used baking spray) 13x9 inch pan.
-bake 35 min or until toothpick inserted in center come out clean. Cool cake completely in pan on wire rack.
-beat cream cheese and butter with mixer on medium speed until blended(well).
gradually add sugar,( I like to sift the sugar) beating well after each addition.
-remove cake from pan and cut in half crosswise.
-place 1 cake half top side down onto a plate: spread with frosting. Top with 2nd cake half, top side up. Frost top and sides. press nuts into sides, sprinkle a few on top.