Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Cinnamon and brown sugar definitely make me think of fall! So,I tried a new cookie recipe, Brown Sugar Shortbread. I guess it is called shortbread because there are no eggs in it. This is a very dry crumbly dough so I was very unsure about it. No need to fear, they are a very crisp and light cookie. Cut into fun shapes and covered with a cinnamon icing, they are a perfect cookie for the thanksgiving dessert table.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I grew up on pecan pie. My mother is from Georgia where it is pronounced "pe-caahn". So of course, that is how I have always said it. My niece knew a man from South Africa and he said "pe-kin". He and my mother had a few debates over the proper way to say it. Nevertheless, it is still the most wonderful creation and an annual holiday tradition. I don't know why I never make it in the summer. I guess it is one of those things that is just not done (at least not in my family).
The ingredients must be not be beat with an electric beater (except for creaming butter and sugar). I learned that the hard way. Doing it electrically adds too much air so that when it bakes, the bubbles rise to the top and brown which makes your pie ugly.It is not a pretty pie to begin with, unless you are my friend Margie who painstakingly places each pecan into perfect circle formations on top of the crust before adding the filling. That pie was a thing of beauty! But my pie, with the pecans just tossed into the filling tastes like heaven!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I can hear the rustling of the leaves and the excited laughter as the girls ran across the neighborhood lawns, the candy bags filling up. It was such a social activity, all the kids getting together, all the moms waiting on the sidewalks. I loved Halloween when my daughters were little! Making costumes, decorating the house and carving pumpkins, my favorite fall activities. Oh yes, and The Otisville Elementary School Halloween parade, so much fun marching around the block, everyone in costume, anticipating the classroom party afterward. What a time it was!
Now Halloween is the "kick off" to the baking frenzy season. I have started with cupcakes, because who does not love cupcakes for a Halloween party. I have added "eyeballs" to my menu, a little creepy but oh so good! And of course, iced sugar cookies because they are always delicious!
Friday, September 10, 2010
Last summer I made a cake for a bridal shower. It was a lemon cake with lemon butter cream topped with hand painted royal icing flowers. It was my 3rd cake order so I remember it well. A few weeks ago, I received a call from the bride. She was celebrating her 1st anniversary and wanted me to make her cake because she loved her bridal shower cake so much. I was extremely flattered!
This is a 3 layer, 6" chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream frosting. I get great pleasure making beautiful cakes and I put love into all of them. This one was special since I also made the shower cake. The flowers are made out of royal icing and painted with food coloring mixed with clear vanilla extract. I am so pleased with the way they looked and really, I just love this cake. I do hope the anniversary couple love it as much as I do.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I made this first birthday smash cake for a sweet, really sweet baby boy named Desmond. (he is the Tutu from the last cake) Desmond loves bananas so his parents thought it would be so fun to give him a cake that looked like a banana. I'll try anything so of course I said "I would love to do it".
I made a pound cake and froze it. After a few days, I took it out of the freezer and started carving. Using a real banana as a model, I colored vanilla butter cream and covered the cake. I added cocoa powder to the ends and along some edges to give the appearance of brown spots. This was intended to be a practice cake, but I was really pleased with the result so, it became the cake I presented.
I went to the birthday party and got to witness the fun. Regrettably, I forgot my camera. Hopefully I can get some action pictures from the parents to share with you.
Friday, September 3, 2010
My neighbor's sons are now grown men with children of their own. Beautiful children that look so much like them. The sons of two of the sons were born twelve hours apart. A joint celebration was planned for their 1st birthday and I was asked to make the cake. Yay! It was a "Winnie the Pooh" themed party. I took a napkin and made butter cream to match the colors in it. I also brought in some of the design, by making honey pots and bees out of fondant which were painted with vanilla and food coloring. The lettering is also fondant. I have little alphabet cookie cutters that I just love. This has become my preferred method of writing on cake, so neat and consistent. I still have trouble piping letters so i try to avoid it. I am looking for script alphabet cutters. How great would that be!
Tutu and The General?? One of the babies is named Desmond and the other is Lucas, who they say looks like Dwight Eisenhower, hence the nicknames lovingly bestowed on them by their uncles, the brothers, my neighbors sons, awesome dads!
It was a really lovely cake it and I got so much pleasure from making it.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
There is something to be learned from every project. These flip flops were a challenge! They were made for a little girl named Riley who was celebrating her 8th birthday. Riley had seen a cake in the form of flips flops featured on the cover of a magazine and just knew she had to have this for her birthday party. When her mom contacted me to see if I could make this for her I said "yes, I can" without hesitation. We talked about the details and I developed a plan on how to accomplish this. It was to be a vanilla cake, but not a full size cake, with vanilla butter cream. Riley's mom wanted individual cakes, with polka dots, a little chocolate, a little sparkle. So I decided to make the polka dots out of milk chocolate and white chocolate which would be dyed pink and green. Oh, if only I knew...
I thought that if I warmed milk chocolate chips, they would melt enough so they would flatten into perfectly round discs. But, NO, they would not change their shape at all. Sooo, I thought, I know, I'll melt them all together and pipe the dots, didn't work! I ended up using chocolate candy melts that I piped into the dots, not very ideal either, but I made it work. Why, oh why, oh why did I not just use chocolate butter cream??? I thought of this when it was too late
The sandal straps: I initially planned on using rainbow licorice. Since the flip flops were only 2 1/2" long, I knew I would have to cut the licorice in half lengthwise and trim them. I played with this and played with this. I could not get the licorice to hold a shape and I was not going to put them on the cakes if they wouldn't stand up. Plan B; fondant dyed to match the white chocolate chips, which had been dyed to match the rainbow licorice (which I did not use). The fondant held up, although a few pieces broke and I freaked out a bit, but I got it to work. (big sigh of relief)
Theses little cakes ended up looking really awesome and Riley loved them, which was the most important thing!
Monday, August 16, 2010
I have wanted to make this cake ever since I saw it on the Martha Stewart Show. I filed it away for a special occasion. My daughter, Samantha saw this same cake on a cake blog and indicated that she wanted one. Ah, the perfect occasion presented itself in the form of Samantha's 21st birthday.
The original recipe called for swiss meringue butter cream. Since I have never made that(I vow to try it soon), I decided to make seven minute frosting. I also used slightly different colors in the cake. In addition, I wanted to try using fondant circle cutouts to decorate the cake with. Surely you have seen many cakes done in this fashion. The first one I saw like this was on Ace of Cakes, but that cake was completely covered in fondant.
So, I made the cake, filled the layers with a good amount of frosting and covered thoroughly with frosting. It looked beautiful in it's shiny white simplicity! I added the fondant circles and the "Happy Birthday Samantha", also made of fondant. After covering the cake, I went to bed. The next morning I noticed the circles were losing their shape a little, the fondant was going soft! was it the humidity? Had I not let them dry long enough? what was happening? I am so glad i didn't make this for a customer. There was another surprise when we cut the cake. I expected that the white frosting would stand out against the different colored layers, making them really pop. Where was the frosting??? It disappeared!! It still looked pretty but I was disappointed. It tasted great, nice and moist, so I think the cake absorbed the frosting. Now that I think of it, I did make another cake with seven minute frosting and when cut, it too had vanished. Any ideas as to why this happens?
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I cannot remember where I saw the recipe for these brownies. I knew when I saw it I had to make it one day, so I saved the recipe. Finally, the perfect opportunity presented itself. My husband's boss, who is a big chocolate lover, was having a party! I knew he would love these. They were a little tricky to make. You spread half the brownie batter in a greased pan. I used spray and am not sure if I will do that again. As I was spreading the batter, it slid around the pan. Then, I had to spread the coconut mixture (coconut and condensed milk)on top of the brownie batter. In order to do this, I placed several small spoonfuls on top of the batter and carefully spread it around. The difficulty was in not pulling up the batter as it stuck to the coconut, it had to be done slowly, requiring great patience. Next, I topped the coconut mixture with more brownie batter. Although I prefer to make brownies from scratch, you can use a mix.
They were so scrumptious, I wish I had a piece right now!
Hometown Helpers is a neighborhood volunteer program in my community. We offer help to our elderly and disabled neighbors by providing rides to the doctor, the bank, the supermarket or sometimes just a friendly visit. This helps them stay connected to the community. We recently had a picnic that brought together our volunteers and neighbors, many of them had never met. It was a potluck event, so naturally, I brought a cake. It was a 10" vanilla layer cake with cream cheese frosting, the sunflower is made of butter cream. I chose a sunflower because it is the symbol used by Hometown Helpers.
It was a very successful event. We had a great time and it was nice to match up faces with voices from the phone.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
An old friend of my daughter's recently graduated from college. I was honored when she asked me to make a cake for her party. After some discussion and research on her part we came up with some ideas. I took some artistic liberty and this is what I came up with. This is a two layer, half sheet, vanilla sour cream cake with vanilla butter cream frosting. "In the real world you have to wear shoes" is something a professor said to her after she arrived barefoot to class. It left an impression. Since my lettering skills are questionable and this was a big statement,I decided to do the lettering out of fondant that I dyed and marbleized to go with the color theme. A few months ago my daughter Samantha gave me mini alphabet cookie cutters. I had actually given them to her, but she thought I would make better use of them. Thank you Sam,they are my new best friend along with my battery operated sifter.
This cake was made with love and I was very pleased with the result of my labor and the reaction when I delivered it. Let me know what you think.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
I made six cakes this week, it was insane!!!! This last one was a 12" yellow layer cake with a ton of butter cream frosting. It was for the 10th birthday of a little girl whose nickname is Muffin. My husband met her today and says she is adorable. Happy Birthday Muffin.
Anyway, I had so much trouble this week. The frosting was too soft, the frosting was not soft enough, there was not enough frosting and so on and so on....., I wanted to scream! (and I did!) But in the end, I turned out some beautiful cakes. This is the only cake I photographed because I was too crazy. Six cakes is lot when they are all due at the same time, don't know if I would take that on again.
What is summer without watermelon and lemonade? Now you can enjoy both in the form of cookies!! Who doesn't love sugar cookies? The lemon slices in addition to looking lemony,(is that a word?) they taste lemony because they are covered in a lemon glaze.
The watermelon slices just look pretty and taste like scrumptious cookie. Maybe I'll try making the glaze with watermelon juice, wouldn't that be interesting?
Friday, June 11, 2010
This cake was made for a baby boy shower(obviously). It is an 8" chocolate layer cake with "blue" butter cream frosting and filling with little tiny fondant baby clothes.
I enjoyed making this cake so much, a lot of love went into it. I wish I could be at this shower to see the reactions to it (pretty vain of me). I can't take credit for the idea, I found it after some intensive "google-ing" of baby shower cake ideas. I actually saw it on several different sites. Now I want to make one for a girl, talk about fun!