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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Slugger's Buttercream Owl Birthday Cake

It's Slugger's birthday! And she loves owls! I saw a smaller version of this cake and knew I needed to make this cake for her birthday. I have been waiting for months to do this.

I made him from a marbled pound cake. I filled him with vanilla buttercream and his wooden stump with a chocolate buttercream before I carved them. The whole cake is buttercream, no fondant at all, which I was worried about, but I love how he turned out and wish he had a name. I'll have to think on that one. Any suggestions?

Happy Birthday Slugger!

Frida's Red & Rhinestones Birthday Cake

I made this cake for a long-time friend's special birthday party. The theme was red and silver and she loves anything sparkly so I thought this would do the trick. It is a classic white cake with vanilla buttercream and raspberry filling. Happy Birthday Frida!

Seahawks Cake

This was so fun and I am so happy with how this turned out! I made the Seahawks cake for a friend's tailgating party. Go Seattle Seahawks!

Morgan's Black Forrest Cake

Every year for Morgan's birthday, all he wants is black forrest cake. I have tried to make it before, but it has never really worked out. I always find some sort of recipe online that has the work 'easy' or 'quick'. I have found that these types of recipes really do not yield the exact type of cake which Morgan's has envisioned. So, i went as traditional as I could this year, finding the best reviewed recipe I could find, I went to work. It really isn't as daunting as I thought it wold be. I was a little skeptical about using whipping cream instead of a buttercream because I thought it would be melt if not refrigerated and I was worried about serving a big sloppy mess of something that only kind of resembled cake. It actually turned out very good. I wish i had taken a better picture of it, but what it lacked in design it made up for in taste.

A Fall Thanksgiving Cake

I made this cake for a Thanksgiving party. I cut the leaves from gumpaste and hand painted them in a variety of fall colors. The cake is chocolate with chocolate buttercream.

Oh, and handpainting gumpaste leaves is A LOT of work!

My Buddy and Me

Now, I am not someone who is really that into famous people. I didn't have walls plastered with pictures on the New Kids on the Block growing up, I've never waited for hours in line for tickets to a band or show, and as far as having any pictures of mayself with famous people goes, the characters from Disneyland are about as good as it gets. It's not really that I don't care or that I am not interested, I guess...I'm just busy? Really, I have no reason, maybe the opportunity has just never presented itslef.

The week after I took the Mad Hatter Cake Class from Kaysie Lackey at the People's Cake, I found out that Buddy Valastro, The Cake Boss, would be appearing at a local bookstore. I got really excited. Here is my reasoning... I had just taken a class from Kaysie Lackey, ownier of The People's Cake, and she is famous in cake maker cirles for her appearances on Food Networks' Cake Challenges. During her class, we had our picture taken with her and our almost completed cakes. When I saw that I could meet Buddy and have a picture taken with him too, I pictured eventuelly having my own small little cake shop with my own celebrity wall, pictures of myself and all of my new famous "cake friends". Cool right?

So, after convincing Slugger to come with me (there was really no convincing needed, as there may have been a fair amount of squealing when presented with the offer ;)), off we went the meet Buddy.

Buddy is as animated in person as he is on his show, and although we only talked to him for a few minutes, the entire experience was a great time...even if we never did meet Mia Familia. ;)

Me & Buddy

Me, Buddy & Slugger

When Brides Drunk Dial...

This one is especially good...

So, after I got home from my first day of cake class with Kaysie Lackey, which totally kicked my butt by the way, I received an email from a semi-frantic bride. She was requesting a small 8" wedding cake with a whimsical owl theme for that coming Thursday. It was already Monday night. I had two more 8-hour days of cake class. I had guests coming to dinner Thursday night and needed to clean the house and put dinner (and cupcakes) together. There was no way I could pull it off. I emailed her back and apologized for not being able to help.

The next morning, I had another email. The bride was pleading. She just did not want to have a Safeway cake at her wedding ceremony. She and her fiance were getting married in a small family ceremony that Thursday and were having a public wedding this coming spring. Please,, I emailed her back and said I would do an 8" white cake with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream, that she needed to trust me on the design because I was being given limited time, it would have owls, I needed a deposit of half the cost that day, and the cost would be double what I would normally charge. I thought she'd bail. She asked if I could send a picture of my idea and that she would drop the deposit by the house that evening.

I sent the picture. She loved it. She said she would call me when she got home from work for directions to the house.

I texted Slugger, who I have dinner with every Tuesday night, to ask her how she felt about learning to use fondant. I was going to need some help and she seemed the right person for the job.

So, in order to actually get this cake done on time, the minute I got home from cake class I started to work. I got the cake baked and in the oven. Pulled it out and put it in the fridge to speed up the cooling process. At this point in the evening, I was getting a little worried because I had not heard from the bride and she was supposed to be bringing me the deposit for the cake. None the less, I kept working on her cake.

As I was molding some super cute bride and groom owl toppers for the cake, she finally called. When I answered, she seemed a little exasperated. So, I asked how she was doing. She seemed a little caught off guard be my question and then admitted that she had just gotten back from dinner with her fiance and that she had drank a couple of glasses of wine. She then goes on to tell me that she had decided to have her mom make the cake for Thursday, but that they were going to have a bigger public wedding this coming spring and would love for me to do that cake instead. I set down the owl topper I was working on, closed my eyes and proceeded to listen to her slur her way through a complete description of the wedding cake they would want me to make, a potential cake for her birthday in a few months, a possible cake for a Christmas party...for the next 25 minutes.

I was irritated, which I feel would be a normal reaction ;), but decided to finish the cake anyways. We had a wonderful owl themed cake for dessert on Thursday and I learned a very important lesson along the way. Never...never start a cake without meeting the person and getting a deposit...ever.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mad Hatter Cake

I am so excited! I got to take a 3-day cake class from cake designer, Kaysie Lackey. Kaysie has won two Food Network Cake Challenges (so far) and a myriad of other awards. I have never taken a cake class before and now I am hooked. I am currently sitting here thinking.."what's next?" I learned so many new things about cake. Carving, stacking, was a great experience.

The best part is that we made the cake from a recipe that will hold up for a long period of time. This was made to be a display cake and therefore will be living in our kitchen for approximately 9-18 months. If you really want to see it, come on over.

Now, I just need an excuse to make more cake in order to use all my new knowledge. So...who needs cake?

Kaysie's Original Design

Kaysie and I with my unfinished cake

My final design

Toy Story Birthday Cake

Toy Story Bithday Cake for Mauricio who is turning 3. Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream.

Anna's Cupcake Birthday Party

I know this post is super late, but better late than never...right?

When I came up with the theme for Anna's 2nd birthday party my husband's immediate response was "Are you sure this isn't a party for you?" Although, yes, I do love cupcakes and while, yes, my birthday is just 2 weeks previous to Anna's, I emphatically told him "No, it's not for me. It's for her. Won't it be cute?"

I can back this statement up completely. Here are my justifications for having a birthday party for my little girl that I would actually love to have for myself.

1. She's 2. She doesn't really know what she wants and therefore the choosing falls to the mother.
2. 'Cupcake' was one of her first words (not kidding).
3. Anna does not have a lot of friends her age. Therefore, our parties are mostly made up of older children and adults. I thought it would be fun to have a cupcake party, sweet like our little girl, but fun and interactive for all age groups attending our party.

That's when the whole thing got out of control...

If you love cupcakes like I do, there are so many ideas out there for how to host a great cupcake party. Here's what we decided would work best for us (without over doing it):)

This year I went super simple for the invite. After finding the cutest 3D cupcake stickers at Impress at University Village, I went out and bought some simple pink ric rac at the craft store. I printed the invite info on one side of the card and then glued a picture of Anna to the other side. I glued the ric rac along the bottom of the card and stuck the sticker right on top in one of the corners. Voila! Not the most impressive of invites but it did the trick.

The invites asked guests to come ready to create by wearing their best apron.

Slugger, in her cute owl apron, with Anna

I also made matching Thank You cards using the same idea. I just used my "thank you" stamp on one of the top corners. They were super simple and super cute.

Decorations for the party became a semi-time intensive project. I saw so many cute ideas online but had to limit myself to just a few. The main project was an applique cupcake tablecloth. I bought a plain white tablecloth at the Target and appliqued a bunch of different cupcakes in lots of different fabrics all along the edges of the tablecloth. I love it...and the best part is that we can use it again and again. Although, I don't know how many more cupcake parties we will be having. I also made a pennant style banner out of the same fabrics I used for the applique cupcakes on the tablecloth. I don't have a good picture of it, but it turned out really cute. We also made a big 'Happy Birthday Anna' sign to hang in the living room for the party.

Anna's Birthday Banner

Fancy Cupcake Tablecloth

Matching birthday pennant banner

Anna's Cupcake Birthday Party Outfit
Not only are cupcakes for eating but they are also for wearing. I made Anna this super poofy chiffon ruffle pettiskirt, which when finished and piled up I thought looked just like frosting. I also made her this matching birthday cupcake shirt. I used the same chiffon ruffle for the cupcake as I used on the shirt. I love I just need to find more occasions for her to wear it.

I had to put so many pictures because I love this outfit!

The Cupcakes
I had so many lofty plans of making so many different cupcake bottom flavors...until my husband reminded me of exactly how many cupcakes I was planning on making. I wanted everyone who attended the party to be able to make and take home their own 6-pack of cupcakes, plus the cupcakes for eating at the party, times the 35-ish people get the picture. Ultimately, I ended up making a couple hindered vanilla and chocolate cupcakes.

The best thing that happened while making the cupcakes turned out to be a really cool addition to the party. Every time I would make some batter and put cupcakes in the oven I always had some batter left in the bottom of the bowl. I used the left over batter to make mini cupcakes. I pout all of the minis in a big bowl on the decorating table at the party and people used them to taste test their flavor combinations before committing to them. It was perfect!

Cupcake Decorating Supplies
Candy and sauces and bacon...oh my!

We started out with our three favorite buttercream flavors of vanilla, chocolate and peanut butter and then went a little over the top with the toppings. We had pie filings, fruit, candies, cookies, nuts, sprinkles, coconut, and, yes, even bacon. We also had a myriad of sauces such as chocolate, homemade caramel, marshmallow, strawberry, white chocolate and more. It was quite an overwhelming sight, but what other opportunity would our guests ever get to experiment with this many topping and flavors in one place; and of course we aim to please!

Cupcake Decorating Recipe Cards
I was worried that I was going to buy tons and tons of decorating supplies and topping and that people were not going to know what to do with themselves. there were just so many choices. So, we came up with a Cupcake Decoration Recipe Card. It was a great way fro people to 'get started'. You could actually pick the flavor cupcake you would like and then follow the 'recipe' to make it. After a while, people really started getting creative. I think the best creative cupcake would have to go to Munch for her Hawaiian Cupcake, white cake, vanilla buttercream, pineapple chunks, bacon and coconut!

Cupcake Recipe Cards

Taking the Cupcakes Home
I found out that I can buy the plastic cupcake holders the grocery stores use from my local Fred Meyer for SUPER cheap. So, I bought as many as they would give me and made up some cute 'Thanks for making my party sweet!' stickers to put on top and personalize the boxes for our party.

Grandmommie and cupcakes

Stephanie making cupcakes

J-Gym and his cupcakes

It was quite the event and so much fun. Thanks to everyone who came and helped make a very special day for my little cupcake!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Amie's Birthday Cake

Made this cake for my friend Amie who had a birthday last week. I love this color scheme and was excited to come up with an idea that I thought was very 'Amie'. It is a classic white cake with vailla buttercream and raspberry filling. I wish I had remembered to take a better picture because I really liked this cake!

Piping Royal Icing

Some things turn out great ....and some things don't.

One thing I have never really attempted to do is any decorative piping on my cakes. So, in an effort to learn something new I thought I would make up some royal icing, which I have never done, and try out some piping. I've seen a lot of cool stuff done with piping like dots, beads, swirls, damask, florals, etc. I thought I would start with straight lines since that was what I figured was most basic. What I found was that it may be basic, but it is really hard! After trying to pipe straight lines on this small cake, I have the utmost respect for people with extraordinary piping skills. This is definitely something that I will have to keep working on!

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

I made these more than a few weeks ago and just forgot to post about them. I got the recipe from this month's edition of Cook's Country magazine. The cupcakes turned out great but I'm not sure they are worth all of the effort when it is just so easy to buy them at the store. The recipe was quite elaborate but worth it since bow I can say that I've made them.

Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spider Shack Cake

Happy Halloween!

I made this cake this week just for a little Halloween fun. The inside is a devil's food cake to keep in the Halloween spirit. The cake is also covered in a edible glitter, which you can't really see in the picture, but it made it all the more festive!

This was the first time I have piped using royal icing (the spider webs) and I think I need to do a lot more practice. Now, I just need to make more cakes to practice one.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Smart Owl Cake

I made this cake to thank all of my teacher 'friends' over at Talbot Hill Elementary. These teachers are my best cupcake eaters and testers (although sometimes I think they might like anything I bake!) ;). Thanks for all the good work you do!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I decided on red velvet cupcakes because honestly, I can't figure out what the big deal is all about. I understand that it is a southern tradition. I understand that it does look pretty and can be kind of a specialty or something you can't get all of the time. I understand that it is supposed to be a feathery and delicate cake topped with a sweet-but-not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting. I understand that it is supposed to be out of this world. But really, it is still just a cupcake. And that's coming from me, someone who often dreams cake and cupcakes.

This time I really did my homework when picking out a recipe. I picked through ingredient lists and read so many reviews that I couldn't remember this way or that. I settled on a recipe that looked promising and went for it.

This cupcake was definately red velvet. It was light and fluffy and had an intense red color. The chocolate flavor was mild but had a nice tone to it that went well with the cream cheese frosting which turned out perfect, not too sweet and not too tangy.

However, I have to admit, I still don't think I'm sold on the trend. it is a good cupcake, but most are. It is a perfect choice for a holiday treat like Valentine's day, no contest. But the best cupcake ever...I challenge someone to convince me. :)

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Darn good cupcake!

New Owl Cupcake Toppers

Owls are a serious trend...and one I am buying into. I made these new owl cupcake toppers, and think there even cuter than the previous set!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

My most favorite thing about the fall season are pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. I posted my favorite recipe for them last fall, so I decided to try a different recipe for this year. This year's recipe was a Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcake with Spiced Buttercream frosting.

The chocolate pumpkin cupcake bottom recipe was pretty close to my original pumpkin cupcake but with cocoa powder added to the mix and then chocolate chips folded into the batter right before baking. This cupcake had a great chocolate flavor and you could still really taste the pumpkin as well, which was nice. The chocolate chips were a nice surprise and made them just a little more special.

For the spiced buttercream, I used my stand-by Favorite Vanilla Buttercream recipe but added a heavy handed amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. It turned just as good as thought it would be.

I have to admit that, although many people gave this cupcake a great review, I was not particularly a fan. I wanted the cupcake bottom, which was good by itself, to be paired with just a simple vanilla or cream cheese buttercream. The spiced buttercream was good on it's own as well, but I would have rather had it piped on top of brown sugar cupcake bottom.

I have to add that I think the best part of these cupcake are the wrappers and toppers I found at Michael's craft store. These are so cute!

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5
all components were good but needed to worked into different recipes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stephanie's 30th Birthday Cake

I love all excuses to make cake, so a friend with a super special 30th birthday party seemed the perfect reason to make more cake.

I love the look of the dots on the top layer. So pretty and, surprisingly, very time consuming! The bottom tier was supposed to have these really pretty super straight lines going down the sides. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out the right technique to use before I had to get this cake to the party. The lines of small connecting dots turned out pretty good, but now I have to figure out the super straight line technique as well. Looks like another project to add to the list...and another reason to make more cake!

Pink Dragonfly Cupcake Toppers

The other day I was contacted by a lady who was throwing a baby shower and needed a large number of dragonfly themed cupcake toppers. I was so excited about this order since it meant my fondant work was going to be shipped all the way to Florida.

Best part of the story: The dragonfly cupcake toppers turned out super cute!

Worst part opf the story: These toppers DO NOT ship well. I was so embarrassed that they din't all make them there in one peice.

Thanks so much, Kate, for being super understanding and awesome! I hope you had a wonderful and memorable baby shower!

Transformer Birthday Cake

I had a request for a Transformer Birthday Cake made with Red Velvet Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting, and at first I was a little apprehensive.

First, I really don't know anything about Transformers and had to do a little research. I tried my best to take the idea and design of Optimus Prime and translate him into cake. I think it turned out pretty good. It is simple but I think you get the Transformers feel.

Second, I don't really know a lot about Red Velvet Cake. I made a few recipes to try it out and although it is good I still question the overall popularity of the cake. I think it will have to be next week's cupcake experiment.

Here is the final product. Happy Birthday Anthony!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anna's 2nd Birthday Cake

I don't know why, but over the past two years our little girl has acquired a plethora of nicknames...most of them ending in 'bees'. These include Annabees, Wigglebees, Stinkerbees...sometimes she even calls me mommerbees. So, I thought it only fitting to make her a bumble bee cake. She absolutely loved it!

My First Wedding Cake

After, many hours of practice, the messiest kitchen I have ever seen and just a few tears, I completed my first wedding cake. It was scary and so much fun at the same time. I have to thank Heather and Ethan, the bride and groom, for taking a chance and letting me make the cake in the first place. I don't know if I ever would have done it if not for Heather telling me that she was sure that the cake would be perfect and she trusted me. Crongrats Heather & Ethan and much thanks to you both!

This cake has so much story, mostly because I had it on my plate for such a long time, that I'll make it short.

The hard parts of this cake for me were:
1. Finding a cake recipe that tasted good but was still dense enough to hold the weight of fondant, decorations and smaller stacked cakes.
2. Getting the largest of the square cake pans to fit in our oven.
3. The cakes were square. Who knew that a square cake would be so much harder to fondant than a round cake?
4. Driving the cakes to the event space where the wedding was held.

The best part of making this cake:
The bride a happy kind of way.

Here are some pictures of the cake, although these pictures aren't very good. I am hoping to get some better ones from the wedding photographer that I can post at a later date.

My Favorite Birthday Cake

It was my birthday a couple of week's ago, and many of you asked who makes my birthday cake. Well, I do. My husband is the best cook ever, but he does not bake and that's just fine with me since I love to do it.

This year I was thinking back and remembering the birthday cake my mom used to make for me. Oh, how I loved that cake. It is a chocolate cake piled with the best chocolate frosting you have ever tasted. So, I called my mom to see if she could dig up the old recipe and she found it!

The cake and frosting were simple enough to make and it tasted just as I remember it. I loved it. Now, if I take a step back and really try to critique it, it is not the best cake ever. It is interesting because for the large amount of liquid the cake recipe called for the cake is actually really dry and crumbly. The cake also lacks an intense chocolate flavor. But I must say, the chocolate frosting is still the best chocolate frosting that I've ever had. It is a milk chocolate frosting and although I usually prefer the cake over the frosting in most cases, this frosting you might just be able to eat all by itself (although probably only in small quantities :)).

This year, although I made the cake, my 4 year old son, Austin, was in charge of the decorating. The thick sugar "crust" lent and interesting and unique spin to my favorite chocolate birthday cake.

And that's just what it is. My favorite chocolate birthday cake. It may not be perfect or to anyone else's liking, but it is the birthday cake I love and will always love because it is the cake I have always had on my birthday.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5
All for sentimental reasons

Monday, September 6, 2010

High Hat Cupcakes

These are awesome cupcakes! I finally did it, even Morgan loved them...and how did I know this? Well, at first I wasn't so sure. He ate his first cupcake and seemed like he really enjoyed it. He even said it was one of the best ones yet. However, I know he really liked them because the following morning our little lady woke up at 4am and Morgan went and laid in her bed with her to get her to go back to sleep. At around 6:30am I went in to wake him up so that he could get ready to go to work and he jolted awake and looked like he didn't know where he was. then he asked me if he had been downstairs already. I explained that as far as I knew he had fallen asleep in Anna's bed with her and that was all. He told me that he must have dreamt getting up from Anna's bed and going downstairs to have one of the cupcakes...that's how delicious they delicious he dreams about them. Yeah!

This cupcake has a delicious dark chocolate cupcake bottom which I topped with a wonderful marshmallow meringue type frosting. The frosting was not as light as I thought it would be, which I found was because it had to withhold the weight of the topping. The marshmallow creme was perfect, not too sweet and not too sticky.

The best part was the chocolate coating. Completing this part of the cupcakes reminded me of my first job working the Dairy Queen drive thru..and who doesn't love a chocolate dipped cone? I made the chocolate coating in a double boiler on the stove and once it had cooled, I carefully dipped the top half of the cupcake in the chocolate and set them out to dry.

I wish I had taken a better picture of this cupcake,but they were so delicious that most of them were gone before I even got the chance to take photos of them!

Overall rating: 4.9 out of 5

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Mom's Birthday Cake

A lot of things were going on this weekend.

1.My sister has been is town and we have been spending as much time as we can with her since we have not seen her since this time last year.
2. I am making a tasting cake for the bride and groom of the wedding I am doing in 3 weeks.
3.My whole family is coming over for a BBQ to see my sister and her boyfriend before they have to leave to go back to AZ.
4. It's my mom's birthday.

So, what do I do?...I make a lot of cake!

I decided that the best way to go would be to make a double recipe of the tasting cake I was making for the bride and groom and use that as the batter for my mom's cake as well. This way, not only am I pretty positive it tastes good (I've tried a lot of recipes to get to this one), but I will also have a captive cake eating audience to be additional taste testers for my wedding cake.

It turned out great. Everyone loved the cake...even if they did think that my end product with decorations and all did resemble a ladies hat. I love you guys anyway.