Monday, December 30, 2013

What I've Learned About Baking Cakes in 2013

I guess that title isn't exactly correct, but it sounded nice and is appropriate for the day.  I've been baking for awhile, but more frequently by far in this last year and I am having a wonderful time baking my heart out.  I have learned a few things along the way and I thought I might share some of them with you. And who doesn't like a list?  I am a HUGE list maker.  I make lists of things I'd like to buy, activities for Amelie, items I'd like to research on the internet, movies I'd like to see, books I'd like to read.  So.... what's one more list.
I'm sure a lot of these tips might be no-brainers, but a few have really made a difference for me.

Measuring and Ingredients 
  1. Weighing ingredients is the most accurate way of baking. It produces the most reliable results and  you'll have a cleaner kitchen with less dirty dishes. Sweetopia offers a printable chart that shows the weights of common baking ingredients. 
  2. If your recipe calls for 1 cup sifted flour this means you sift the flour before measuring.  However, if the recipe calls for 1 cup flour, sifted this means you sift the flour after measuring.
  3. The temperature of ingredients will affect your baking. Let all refrigerated items come to room temperature before using them (unless a recipe says otherwise) to produce more reliable results.  To quickly warm eggs, place them in a bowl of room temperature or slightly warmer water and check them every few minutes.  Occasionally I soften a stick of butter in the microwave if I'm in a time crunch.  I find that the "soften" setting of my microwave slightly melts the butter so instead I microwave at 5 second intervals and flip the sticks over each time.  My microwave softens perfectly in 15 seconds.
  4.  Melted butter that has been refrigerated back to a solid state is not the same! You can create clarified butter by melting, but it is not used in most cakes and cookies. It does not cream as well. Creaming is necessary to create the air bubbles needed to assist in rising.
  5. Eggs separate better when cold but egg whites whip better when warm/room temperature. Whisk whole eggs in a separate bowl before adding to the batter. 
  6. When a cake recipe calls for butter, it means unsalted butter.  However I can not get in the habit of using unsalted butter. If using salted butter, it is recommended to omit the salt that your recipe calls for.
  7. The quality of your butter matters.  This is one ingredient that I will not buy at the cheapest price.  There are varying moisture and salt contents for different brands of butter.
  8. The quality of your baking powder matters.  
  9. There is debate whether unbleached or bleached wheat flour is better for cake baking.  I  don't have a solid opinion on this.
  10. In short, the answer to the question of when to use baking powder vs baking soda is this:  Baking powder had an acid, but baking soda needs an acid.  An acid as in lemon, yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, or unsweetened natural cocoa powder.  The acid helps to neutralize the metallic flavor of sodium carbonate which is produced by baking soda.  Or just follow your recipe....I had to figure this one out in the middle of baking.
  11. A buttermilk substitution works just as well as buttermilk.  Add one tablespoon of vinegar to your measuring cup and then fill to your 1 cup mark with milk.

Mixing, Preparing Pans, and Baking
  1. Try baking your cake (larger than 9") at 325 degrees.  But don't even think about doing this with cupcakes.
  2. The best pan coating to be wiped along the sides and bottom of the pan consists of an equal shortening, vegetable oil, and flour mix.  You also might want to make sure to use a silicone brush to wipe this on the pan.  The natural bristles don't have a great mouth feel in your cake.
  3. Bake-even strips (or even soaked strips of towel),  should be used around cakes larger than 10" to help them bake even.  A flower nail or heating core in the center of the cake will help the center rise even as well.
  4. Cutting parchment paper rounds to use at the bottom of your pan makes for a much easier cake removal. Cutting them with tabs on the sides that hang over the edge is even smarter.  A leftover butter wrapper will also work in a pinch.
  5. Butter should be creamed longer that you think.  Five minutes or so....
  6. The best stage for flavoring to be added is into your creamed butter. This helps to distribute your flavorings evenly throughout the batter.
  7. I have no idea what speed 10 is used for on the Kitchen aid mixer.  I think I've used up to 8 for whipping egg whites, but for some reason I'm scared to use 10.
  8. Start and end with dry ingredients when alternatively adding them to your mixer.
  9. Its really easy to achieve even layers when multiples of the exact same pan from the same manufacture are used to bake your cake. You can weigh the pan with your batter inside and compare.
  10. Let a cake cool 20 minutes and then remove to cool on a wire rack.
  11. A good warning that your cake is almost done is the scent.  I can always smell the cake baking near the end of it's baking time.
  12. Testing your oven will give you a good insight on how to handle your cakes and cookies. It is best to rotate them so they will bake evenly.  Cakes should only be rotated after 20 minutes so that the structure of the cake will not be disturbed.  I wait much longer for larger cakes.  If you'd like to see the cool spots in your oven, do a toast test with white bread.  You can see the obvious cool spots in my oven below.  An oven thermometer is also a great tool for anyone to have.  You can check your oven to see how accurate it is, and if it is off, you can consult the manual for your oven and calibrate it.  

Frosting Cakes
  1. Freezing the cake even for a day will make the cake much easier to handle, especially for layering cakes. Wrap them in plastic wrap and tin foil to freeze.
  2. While the layers are still frozen, use a long serrated knife to even out the sides of your cake starting from the top with cuts straight down the side of the cake.  (But only if you plan to do a crumb coat and a final coat of frosting.)  See picture above.
  3. The long serrated knife will also level the top of your cake if you can slice across evenly.  If you can't, insert toothpicks halfway into the side of the cake near the top, all the way around, to use as a guide.  Level cake layers will help to ensure that they won't slide off and that the cake won't  crack.
  4. Start frosting the previously frozen and trimmed cake right away to help decrease crumbs in your icing. The first light coat is called your crumb coat. It will help seal the crumbs.  Pop the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.  When you remove it, the icing will be set enough to start the second layer. 
  5. Use a small bowl to wipe your spatula into when crumbs occur so that they don't make their way back into your main bowl of frosting.
  6. The one trick to learn is how to apply frosting so that your spatula never touches the cake but only spreads the icing, by using a figure 8 motion. Always lift off the spatula towards your already frosted cake, not near the edge of your just applied frosting.
  7. Or..... use Wilton's pastry bag tip 789 especially made for frosting.  Icing your cake in wide strips with this tip creates an application that only needs to be evened out with your spatula.
  8. An inexpensive turntable, offset spatula, and straight side spatula or bench scraper are the tools you need to create a perfectly frosted cake.  Offset spatula is used to apply frosting to the top of the cake and straight spatula/bench scraper to smooth the sides.
  9. Run the spatula under very hot water, wipe it dry on a towel, and then smooth your frosting. This is only necessary at the very end of your frosting battle, if you are a perfectionist.
I feel like I could keep adding to this list but I'll stop for now and maybe make a second list in another year.  Or I could make just one more list about baking and decoration cookies......

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sweaters and Scarves

Do penguins and polar bears wear scarves and sweaters? 
If they're cookies they do.

penguins, polar bears

 Merry Christmas!

Christmas cinnamon sugar cookie

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Horsey Kind of Christmas

I love it when someone requests a cookie that I'd like to make for myself.  And in my opinion, what better Christmas cookies can be made than horse themed Christmas cookies?  Because I still miss my horse (12 years later) and because my sister Bev wanted cookies for her barn friends, I had a reason to make horse cookies!
Bev is leasing a horse that she takes on trail rides and she spends a lot of time just horsing around.  One day I will again own a horse, even if it's just for Amelie.  There is no way that she'll be getting a pony.  And if she does, it will be the biggest pony you have ever seen so that I can ride it too.  I've already started my brainwashing scheme.  "Tell Daddy you want a pony!"  This is what I'll be whispering in her ear as she plays with her new princess horse stable on Christmas day.

I've been exploring new sugar cookie recipes and I used a new one for this batch.  Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies from Sweet Hope Cookies.  She uses chopped cinnamon chips and ground cinnamon for flavor.  I did try the cream cheese flavoring in my royal icing and it was just okay.  Maybe I'll add more flavor next time.
I've been wanting to make my own sugar cookie recipe (and cake recipe, which is on my list to do) but there are so many cut out cookies that I still want to try.  Egg nog, mint, snickerdoodle, cinnamon oatmeal to name just a few...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Yes! (Engagement cookies)

I'm so happy for my friend Sarah!  She got engaged not too long ago and is planning her wedding for next October!  I was absolutely giddy at the chance to make wedding / engagement cookies.  I'm going to start baking some mini test cakes for her to choose from for her wedding cake.  Let's count the ways that cakes and cookies can be used for wedding purposes: Engagement party cookies or cake,  "save the date" cookies sent by mail, bridal shower cake, bridal shower cookie favors, bachelorette party gifts, bridesmaids gifts, wedding cake and cookie favors.  I really need to know more people getting married just so I can create more mini wedding dresses, or even shoes, steeples, tuxedos, they all sound fun.

engagement cookiesstenciled heart cookies

engagement cookies

These are probably some of the easiest and most simple cookies I've made.  The engagement ring cookie has been done many times, but I had to make one just because they are so pretty. To achieve the silver metallic color, I used a Wilton food coloring spray in a can.  You don't even have to color your icing, it will spray right over with full coverage. There is some over spray so it's best to ice the cookies to the very edge.  I definitely would not recommend using the Wilton pink spray. It's really bad.  As in the ugliest pink you will ever see. I used it to stencil on the side of a cake and it was hideous.  I didn't even take a picture because I didn't want to remember it.
On the subject of spray food coloring, I took another Craftsy class to learn airbrushing on cakes and cookies.  I borrowed my dad's airbrush, but only to practice with as it's already been used with regular paint.  I really don't want to poison anyone.  I love how the heart turned out in the picture above and I'd like to experiment more with stencils and other airbrush effects.
I also went to America's Baking and Sweets show in Schaumberg to see some new products. There were dozens of vendors selling cupcakes, cakes, cookies, brownies, other sweets, and a variety of baking and decorating tools.  A problem arose when I wanted to eat lunch because the only item in the entire room for me to eat that wasn't sweet was a little bit of lunch meat on a tiny piece of focaccia. I kept looking around me wondering if I was the only one that couldn't survive on sugar the entire day!
While I was there, I attended a class taught by the professional chef and certified master sugar artist Eurico “Jing” Palasigue, CMSA from Le Cordon Bleu.

This is a gum paste rose he made prior to the class.  He worked on three flowers that were partially completed for the entire hour class.  I have a lot of patience, but I'm not sure I have that much.  I have also taken a Wilton gum paste flower class but watching a professional was definitely a great experience.
So, back to Sarah.  We'll see what she picks for the design of her cake, I'll have to start practicing my gum paste flowers again. I think I'll even make some fake wedding cakes in the meantime just for fun.  I purchased a fake styrofoam cake dummy - yes, those exist.  It will be perfect for covering with fondant and trying out my new airbrushing skills!  Some people even have an entire fake cake created for their wedding and then have sheet cakes baked to be cut behind the scenes and served to all their guests.  I don't know that I'd ever want to try and balance an entire real 5 tiered cake either. 
I suppose I should have Sarah try my cake first before I get too excited  :-)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Babies and Cakes

I'd like to have 4 children.  I  have two sisters and a brother and I love them.  I'd welcome the chaos. A full house where I call my child 4 names before getting the right one. Amelie will be able to have as many friends over as she wants, as long as they keep their crayons to themselves.  I think a loud house is better than a quite one, especially the kind where your dad bangs on the ceiling from the basement and yells to "stop playing the piano!"  Or a house where normal sounds are trumpet, flute, piano, and an oboe. Maybe not all at the same time, but a different one each day.  A bird, dog, cat, fish, and a rabbit for pets all at the same time? Sure. And as for hand-me-downs, nothing is better than wearing a nightgown that your older sister wore, even if it has her name embroidered on it.  Not to mention using your older sister's Aussie scrunch hairspray in the purple bottle because it smells so good, and then lying about it as if she doesn't have a nose.
Now mind you, I say this after only having one child.  I suppose I'd like for Amelie to have what I had growing up but I do reserve the right to change my mind, especially if my someday number 2 likes to beat her sister up.

But here's to babies, babies, and more babies....

teddy bear cake topper

Johnny's cousin Lori needed a gluten free baby shower cake for her friend.  I'm always up for a baking challenge. In the process I learned about new ingredients and it tasted great!  I know because I baked a test cake and ate it.  No, not the whole thing.  But a pretty big portion.  I just kept taking bites, thinking to myself "does this taste gluten free?"  I'm not sure, let me take another bite.
 I took a class on the Craftsy website to practice figure making and the baby was my project.  He couldn't just be left alone on the cake so the teddy bear kept him company.  I made the figures with a fondant and gum paste mix.  It's like playing with play-doh, just a little more tricky.  The other problem is that it's edible, so the whole time you are tempted to eat it.  Eating a baby's head would just be weird.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Inspiration & Pinspiration

I love reading blogs and I have stumbled upon quite a few that always have great recipes and awesome photography.  I can't possibly share them all, but these are a few of my favorites.

Sweetopia  has made my baking life easier.  She has really cute printables listing the weights of all the common baking ingredients.  I have changed the way I bake by weighing all my ingredients with a kitchen scale.  It makes less dirty dishes and is very accurate, which produces much more reliable yummy results. Pouring ingredients into a bowl on top of a scale also keeps my kitchen a little bit cleaner.  No more sugar and flour coating my counter tops from measuring spills.  Well, not as much.

Half Baked is very inspirational.  I've spent hours looking at these cakes.  I promise that you will see the most beautiful cakes on this website. Watch out, it will make you want to become a cake decorator.

Best Friends for Frosting has recipes, party decor ideas, and interviews with professionals in the baking community. A lot of trendy party themes and dessert items to get ideas from.

Sweetapolita is where I learned that simple is sweet.  She doesn't do any of that Wilton fluffy wedding decorating.  It's definitely more of a bakery style of decorating. Beautiful colors, wonderful creamy frostings, and of course great cake recipes.

Bake at 350's cookies are the absolute cutest, but she definitely has some desserts recipes that I'd love to sink my teeth into, and they aren't all cake.

Design Seeds allows you to search beautiful color palettes by picking one color you are fond of.  The combinations are amazing. I love to browse and imagine what my house would look like with one of their color schemes.  It's rather time consuming to try and recreate these colors in icing or frosting for cookies or cakes, but I do have my favorites that I'll try one day.
Colourlovers features many pattern for inspiration.

Inspiration for creative projects can come from anywhere really.  My recent favorite tv series is Downton Abbey.  I would love to use some of the patterns from the clothing, especially since you can see an obvious art deco influence at the end of the third series. Martha Stewart always outdoes herself.  And where would we all be with out Pinterest?  My day is not complete until I've spent at least 5 minutes there.  On a side note, I'm excited to say that I figured out how to edit the html for my blog so that you can easily pin any of my pictures to your Pinterest board!!!!  All you have to do is hover over a picture and you'll see the "pin it" button appear.

I am sure that you all have heard of Wilton, and it is definitely a great site.  I feel like they take the latest trends and then create products that allow you to copy them.  I see this mostly with their newest pans such as macaroons, push pops, whoopie pies, etc.  I've taken some Wilton classes, they are fun and I would take more to learn new skills.
But because they are so good, and so good at over doing it, I have to share some of their oldies.  My sister has a Wilton cake decorating book from 1997 and she sent some of the pictures to me so we could laugh about how much decorating styles have changed. Sorry for the poor picture quality.

Swing your partner round and round....

Is this a gingerbread man in his pajamas?  Weird.

I feel so proud to say that my cookies look better than this.

And my personal favorite....Rabid Elmo.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Boo! Halloween Cookies and Pumpkin Carving

My mother-in-law asked me to make cookies for her, probably about 5 months ago.  She said whenever you want, when you have time. took me awhile.  But I was so happy I waited.  I know fall is her favorite time of year, as well as mine, so naturally it's my favorite themed cookie to make.
I could probably make 50 different versions of a fall leaf, the possibilities are endless.  I chose a "sponge" technique for these particular leaves.  Yes, it's slightly 80's, but you can't tell me that you didn't have some kind of sponged painting over a stencil somewhere in your house at one point.
I chose a darker ivory (Americolor Ivory) for the base color, squirted other fall colors onto a plate and  used wadded up paper towel to "sponge" on the cookie.

I thought about adding some red "blood" drops off of his fangs, but decided that was taking it a little too far and probably too gross for me. I know the giant spider cake I made had some blood, but I definitely can't handle any of that gory business. The last haunted house I went to was about 16 years ago and I hid my face in the coat of my friend's little sister the entire time. I also think I was scarred by watching Children of the Corn way too early.  

Piping and flooding the pumpkin in sections with some drying time in between gave these cookies a little more dimension.

We just carved our pumpkins last night. I'm so very spoiled.  My husband does things for me like cleaning out the inside of the pumpkin so that I was able to only partake in the fun part of carving. It was still a lot more work than I remembered. We both chose animals that Amelie is very into right now.  Johnny did an awesome job on the owl.  I picked a simple black cat with a mustache whiskers.

Of course Amelie wanted to "help."

Have a Happy Halloween Everyone!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Biggest Spider I Have Ever Seen!!!!

I had the privilege of making a birthday cake for a spunky little 5 year old, Kamy Picard.  She is probably one of the smartest 5 year olds that I've ever known.  I could have asked her what was wrong with the spider and she would have know.  Can you figure it out?
Yes, he only has 6 legs.  I finished making these 6 legs and just decided he was creepy enough (or I thought that no one would really care if he had two more legs.)

Kamy had a halloween themed birthday party this year and she wanted something scary on her cake.  To be specific, she didn't want cutesy scary. She wanted "blood and spiders" scary.  What is more scary than a spider eating a finger?  I believe she even asked for the piece with the finger on it.

Scary cake

I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe and made some fresh strawberry filling.  And then I had some fun.   The spider body is formed from a rice krispie treat recipe and covered with a marshmallow fondant. The spider legs are a fondant and gum paste mix rolled onto wire and then bent to form the legs.  The finger is fondant and the blood is royal icing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Pear Tree and Browned Butter Frosting Recipe. Yum!!!

I am lucky enough to have a pear tree in my back yard. I don't know why I say that with pride.  I didn't plant it. It's even growing in a nasty brush line across the back of our property.  I just think it's neat that  in the middle of all the junky, weedy bushes a pear tree grows and produces delicious fruit. I also love it because I can say that I get free organic pears.  There are only 2 people I know that would actually be envious.
I start watching it in August and in a couple of weeks time I'm nagging Johnny to help me pick the pears.  I guess I should say I'm actually asking him to climb the ladder and dangerously balance on one of the branches so I can shout, "no, this one!" or "no, that one!" as he chops at them with his pocket knife and I watch, and duck out of the way as they fall.  It's not my fault, I'm too short for the ladder to allow me to help at all.

This year I used a few of those pears to make an almond pear cake with a cinnamon brown sugar butter cream frosting.
I used this recipe from Country Cleaver and it had a great flavor. The only thing that I would change is to start checking the cake at 23 minutes instead of at the 30 minute mark.  Usually my oven bakes slightly slower that normal, but I would still recommend this timing for you as well.  The recipe uses a cooled browned butter.  Browned butter is exactly what it sounds like.  I browned my butter in a stainless steel pan so that I could accurately assess the color and it turned out just right.  It took me a minute to warm up to the nutty taste of the frosting but after a couple bites I was completely convinced.  This is a great cake and the flavors pair very well together. If you're looking to try a new cake with a new flavor, this is the one.
Of course I had to try to put a couple pears on top of the cake.  I piped some chocolate pear outlines and stems and let them harden so I could add them to the silly butter cream pear forest surrounding the top of the cake.

Browned butter frosting.

Browned butter frosting

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October Is My Favorite Month

October is my favorite month and not just because it is the month in which I was born.  I do love my birthday tho.  Some people ask that you not make a big deal about their birthday.  Not me.   I especially love it when it gets spread out over 3 or 4 events.  Dinner with this side of the family, dinner with that side, dinner with a friend, dinner with Johnny.  Oh, you want to give me part of my present early and then go out to dinner another day?  Sure.
 Anyways, I said October is my favorite month and not because of my birthday. I love October just because of the pumpkin bread, pumpkin farm, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin spice shakes and just about everything else that goes with fall.  We even successfully grew our own pumpkins this year. Of course there were only 3, the perfect number and I felt we needed even more.

I made a few of my favorite fall cakes in the last couple of weeks.  Johnny's cousin needed cakes for her house warming party.
A 12" red velvet cake with cream cheese butter cream frosting. I chose a c-motion border and added white fondant leaves with veins painted in gold luster dust. The gold sugared leaves are made from piped white chocolate, sprinkled with gold sprinkles.

Fall cake with gold leaves

Fall cake with gold leaves

A 12" yellow vanilla cake with butter cream frosting.  I chose a rustic frosting, and piped the same white chocolate leaves and covered them in fall colored sugar.  I loved these little acorns.  I dyed some fondant brown and orange-brown, shaped the acorns, rolled the tops in the fall colored sugar and painted some gold shimmer on the bottom. 
White chocolate sugared leaves, fondant acorns

A 12" carrot cake with cream cheese butter cream and butter cream frosting pumpkin decorations for the dentist office at which John's mom and aunt work.
buttercream pumpkins little pumpkin.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Camping and Cookies

I have a few summer pics to add to my blog o' memories.  I'm a little late, since it's October 3rd, but I've since learned that blogging takes a lot of time.
Every year (usually more than once a year) we go up north to Boulder Junction, WI.  It is my husband's one and only favorite place to vacation.  I used to love it, now I like it, and maybe not quite as much as he does.  What I used to love about camping was being able to get some exercise in while enjoying beautiful scenery.  I did go on a nice bike ride this past trip on my own, although I think I may need to rent some camping baby gear in the form of a bike trailer or backpack in the future.
Through my somewhat neutral ramblings here, I do have a point.  Nap time while camping is quite nice.  Naps for Amelie, that is.  Usually nap time means cleaning or yoga or something that I feel I need to do here at home.  There isn't much that can be done in a campsite, except maybe read.  I got smart and decided to bring my cookie decorating supplies up north this year.  It was simplified for the picnic table location, but enjoyable to look at a lake and decorate cookies.

cookies while camping
Thank you cake themed cookies for Aunt Patti

Camping and Cookies
Fourth of July cookies for the little girls. The spider was supposed to be a firework.

This is how Amelie enjoyed her s'mores by the campfire. She was strapped in her little pink coupe.

My niece Kylie's campground birthday party.

Fun at Trout Lake.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cake Bomb

Don't tell me it hasn't happened to you. I know something you've made has ended up in the trash. 
I had a home economics class in junior high. We made biscuits and coffee cakes and plenty of other simple culinary delights. It's quite fitting because I remember the cookies and coffee cake, but some how everything else we learned in that class has slipped my mind.  Oh, I think we also sewed a little apron and maybe a stuffed mouse with a button eye.  I remember that when we were watching the teacher mix together the ingredients she would always interrupt our shenanigans with her stern,"if you don't pay attention, you won't know what to do and it will not turn out right!!!!!"  Wellllllllll, she was right, wasn't she?
I believe the first cake I made post-home ec. was for Johnny after we were married.  Good old Duncan Hines yellow cake mix and a chocolate can of frosting.  For some reason it seemed like it would be a good idea to make a really cool star out of my square cakes. Why I chose the star shape, I have no idea. The cake was cut in sections, reassembled and frosted. I think half of the cake ended up smeared in the frosting because I frosted the cut sides. Needless to say, it didn't look like a star. Johnny still remembers this cake.

Someone I know made cinnamon cumin chocolate chip cookies. She heard that cinnamon would add a nice flavor to her regular chocolate chip cookies, so she added a little to her dry ingredients.  Her house didn't have that wonderful aroma of cookies baking, for some reason she smelled tacos. With one taste, she could tell something was off.
A relative of mine made a really great version of green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. You know the casserole with beans, mushroom soup, and french fried onions?  Well this version has a small red round plastic lid baked inside.  Mmmmmmm, yes the lid to the french fried onions.
Or how about chicken coated with frosted flakes instead of corn flakes?  

These are the kind of baking stories that I love to hear the most. Which is why I want to tell you one of my favorite websites.
Take a good 15 minutes and look at some of these cakes. Hilarious.

I have a picture to show to you of my cake fail from a few months ago, but first I'll show you a pretty little cake I made. A lemon chiffon cake with a light whipped lemon buttercream frosting, and a couple little fondant flower buds.

Fondant flower buds

Fondant flower buds

Here is my cake fail. It didn't even make it out of the oven.  Well actually it did, but it was consumed by my garbage can.
If you concentrate and look through the dirty oven door (yes it's clean now), you'll notice the giant overflowing cake dripping onto the foil I placed beneath it.  I would have been fine with it if I figured out why it happened.  I used all correct fresh ingredients, measured and weighed perfectly.  I threw out my just opened can of baking powder and I didn't have the problem again so it may have been the culprit.
Baking is a science, they say.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Blackhawks Cookie for My Guy.

I made this one for Johnny.  He ate it as soon as I gave it to him.  I don't normally get sad when someone eats these cookies that I put a lot of time into, but I only made one of these.  He put it down on the counter halfway through the cookie and I was almost a little relieved.  I used a projector to get the right image, but yes this cookie took awhile to decorate.  I'm glad he enjoyed because I made it just for him, but also because the Blackhawks seem to be doing pretty good since then.

Blackhawks sugar cookie

Picture Fun Spring 2013

Amelie and I have shared a couple of sweets lately.
My sister Bev and her husband Shane got Amelie a Zoku pop maker for her birthday and we just tried it out a couple of weeks ago.  I love it.  You can use 100 percent fruit juice, yogurt, and fruit chunks to create your own popsicles in less than 7 minutes.

We love to go to the Kenosha lake front on weekend afternoons.  This is Amelie getting upset that I'm not sharing my ice cream fast enough.

Smelling the flowers

Loving Daddy

Rustic frosting

Lately I've been seeing a lot of cakes with "rustic frosting."  I kind of like this idea.  What it really means is not having to spend precious minutes of your time obsessing over perfectly smooth cake sides which also allows for more decorating time.  Although I have a hard time letting it go because the feeling to make it look "pretty" is still there. I made this simple cake for another birthday at the dentist office that my aunt and mother-in-law work at.

rustic frosting technique.

Below is a cake that I did not create.  You can find the source at this site. But it shows the easy swirl technique.

If you google the term "rustic frosting" you'll see a few different styles.  Using an icing spatula and creating swirls and swoops or lines dragged up the side of the cake is as easy as it gets. Try an easy "rustic frosting" technique on your next cake!