Posts Tagged ‘buttercream’

Farm Animal Baby Shower Cake

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
Farm Animal Baby Shower Cake

Farm Animal Baby Shower Cake for Miss Dawn

Let me start off by saying I love this goofy little cake!   It has been a while since I was truly excited about a cake.   Many of the cakes I have done recently have been repeats of ones prior…not much of a challenge.  This time I was given free rein in design and decorating…I love when that happens.  

Two things were for sure…the cake needed to be two tiers and needed to incorporate farm animals.  I got to work the same way I always do by heading to the internet!   Yes I have ideas of my own, but the internet is an invaluable tool when putting together my vision.   I can find new techniques and borrow bits and pieces from others to come up with my master plan. 

This time around I planned to stay away from decorating with fondant; instead I would try my hand at decorating with buttercream.  Don’t get me wrong, I love how smooth and flawless fondant makes a cake appear, but there is something whimsical and scrumptious about buttercream.   Buttercream makes you want to dive in and devour that cake. 

I needed some technique other than decorating with buttercream, something to make it a bit more fun.   Sweetopia not only is one of the cutest websites online, they make the most beautiful cookies.   Aside from showcasing their work, they offer informative tutorials on decorating with Royal Icing.   Did you know…aside from piping royal icing on cakes and cookies you can pipe designs onto parchment paper, let dry and then apply directly to a cake?  Here is the article on how to do it… Royal Icing Flood Work or Runouts.

Royal Icing Sheep for Baby Shower Cake

My Royal Icing Sheep

I decided to break-up the tiers of this cake.  The bottom tier would be the ground…pastures with fence and cute farm animals.  The top tier would be sky with a few clouds and a couple of birds. 

Top Tier of Farm Animal Baby Shower Cake

Top Tier of Cake

I tried the royal icing technique on the farm animals.  Pigs and Sheep seemed an easy way to start. I drew out a few designs and placed parchment paper over the top of the design. I then piped royal icing over the lines.  Seems easy enough, doesn’t it?   After all the animals were complete, I placed them on cookie sheets to dry overnight.  I removed them by simply sliding an offset spatula underneath to release them.   They were attached directly to the cake with a couple dabs of royal icing…voila!  Those little sheep and piggies just made me smile…perfect!

Milk and Cookies Cupcakes

Saturday, October 10th, 2009
Milk and Cookies Cupcakes

Milk and Cookies Cupcakes

Classic food combos are the topic for today.  So many foods which are great on their own become something spectacular when paired with their perfect partner.   What’s a burger without fries?  If you are going to eat a burger you simple need a mound of fries.  Eggs seem lost without their salty, savory friend baconBuffalo wings and blue cheese…yes, I’ll take some!   PB & J, strawberries and cream – the list goes on and on.

Milk and Cookies is the combo that inspired this cupcake.  It never fails that if you’re eating cookies, especially chocolate chip cookies, you are gonna need a cold glass of milk…right?  

I’m sure you’ve seen this cupcake before as there are a few versions of it on the internet, but I just had to give it a try.  I started by using a new cake recipe courtesy of Martha Stewarts’ Cupcakes (thanks Megan).  This cake recipe is a great basic for any baker, and can be altered with different frostings and fillings to fit any palate.   This particular cupcake, the Milk and Cookies Cupcake, is filled with ooey, gooey cookie dough

Nestle Toll House Refrigerated Cookie Dough was my cheat in this recipe, but feel free to whip up a batch of your favorite cookie dough instead.   I simply rolled small balls of the cookie dough and placed them directly on top of the cake batter.  Refrain from pushing the cookie dough down into the batter, it will drop down on its own. 

Cookie dough is placed in the center of the batter...

Cookie dough is placed in the center of the batter...

After the cupcakes where baked and cooled, I gave them a generous dose of my old friend, Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  I decided on Swiss Meringue Buttercream because of its lightly sweet velvety texture. 

Finally, I baked off a couple mini chocolate chip cookies for the top of each cupcake.  The flavor was exactly what I expected, and very reminiscent of the classic pairing – Milk and Cookies.  My boys, who have become some of my official taste testers, gave these a big thumbs up.  So I guess I’ll have to add them to the keepers list!  Enjoy.

Ingredients:

Makes 36

  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

milk-cookie-cupcake

From Martha Stewart Cupcakes, June 2009

Deep Dish Pizza Cake

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
It's delivery...no, it's a Pizza Cake!

It's delivery...no, it's a Pizza Cake!

A hot trend in cake decorating right now is creating a cake that mimics something from everyday life.  Food shaped cakes are some of the most popular. 

My brother-in-law, Joe, just celebrated a birthday… and what better excuse to bake a cake than for a birthday!  Joe, like everyone else in my family, has a love for great food.  He and my sister have traveled and ate their way around the globe.  However when it comes down to the basics, pizza is his go to food.  With that information in hand, I decided a pizza cake was the best bet for him.  This was a fun cake to make simply because…who doesn’t like pizza? 

I started with size and shape.  I knew the cake would be round, but how just how big of a round?  I opted for a 12” round not because there were going to be a ton of guests, but because I thought it would be the most realistic size for a pizza shaped cake. 

Cake baked, cooled, and sliced; I needed to get busy with my plan for decorating the cake to look like a pizza. It had to look realistic. So I started with the obvious…crust first.  In order to give the cake a great crust, I piped a very thick wavy line of buttercream all around the edge of the cake.  After the buttercream was piped, I placed it into the fridge to set up while I worked on the fondant.

A thick, wavy piping of buttercream helped form the "crust"

A thick, wavy piping of buttercream helped form the "crust"

I have been making my own marshmallow fondant for some time now and find that it works well for me. Plus, the cost of making your own fondant compared to purchasing fondant is like night and day.  Not to mention, marshmallow fondant tastes much better than “regular” fondant – which is normally inedible. 

Once the fondant was rolled, I brought the cake out and went to work covering it.  The crust of a pizza is a multitude of colors and shades. To give my pizza cake this illusion, I watered down some brown gel food coloring and started sponging it on with a crumpled paper towel.  The crust ended up turning out great; it looked just like a Papa John’s pizza crust.

Sauce was my next task.  I chose strawberry preserves to which I added a dash of red food coloring.  I spread the “pizza sauce” edge to edge. 

The pizza "sauce" is strawberry preserves.

The pizza "sauce" is strawberry preserves.

On to the cheese – most people’s favorite part!  I have seen cheese done several different ways, my way was to melt white chocolate and drizzle it in a caddywampous pattern over the top. Then, it was back to the fridge to set up.

Now on to the toppings!  So many to choose from, where do I start?  Of course I chose pepperoni, the classic pizza accompaniment.  Since Joe is a meat lover, chunks of sausage made sense.  I added black olives for their round shape and unique color.  And finally, green pepper, to add a hint of green which rounded out the overall look. 

Anyone order a pepperoni, sausage, black olive and green pepper?

Anyone order a pepperoni, sausage, black olive and green pepper?

All toppings where made out of marshmallow fondant and then hand painted with gel food coloring. A more random arrangement worked best when it came to the toppings.  The end result was a super realistic pizza cake which everyone adored.

pizza-cake-top

Have Your Cake and Donut Too

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
donut-cupcake

Now you can have your cake and donut too...

With so many tempting treats out there, it’s hard for me to pick just one favorite.  However, there are few foods that can make me weak in the knees like a warm, hot off the press, Krispy Kreme original glazed donut.  Maybe it’s the way they melt in your mouth; maybe it’s how light and airy they are; or maybe it’s their magical aroma.  Whatever it may be, they give me a warm fuzzy feeling every time I eat one. 

Today while enjoying a warm Krispy Kreme I came across a new donut they are offering…the MiniKrispy Kreme Minis come in original glazed, chocolate glazed, and chocolate glazed dipped in sprinkles.  These little guys gave me the inspiration to try out a new cupcake today – The Coffee and Donut Cupcake! 

I have seen a few versions of this cupcake on the Internet already and decided I needed to put my own twist on it.  I wanted the base of the cupcake to be dense, yet moist, able to withstand a dunk in coffee.  The cake also couldn’t be overly sweet, lord knows the donut and frosting would handle that aspect.  So a sour cream coffee cake cupcake became the base of this masterpiece.  Coffee Swiss meringue buttercream would make the perfect creamy pillow for the mini donut to rest upon. Viola…a divine breakfast treat!   

Coffee Cake Cupcakes
Makes 16 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1.) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2.) Line muffin pans with paper liners.
3.) Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy, use paddle attachment. With your mixer set on a low speed, add the eggs one at a time…blending well after each egg. Add vanilla, buttermilk and sour cream, blend until smooth.
4.) In a separate bowl sift all dry ingredients together.
5.) With mixer on low speed add dry ingredients and beat just until combined.
6.) Fill cupcake liners and bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and your cake tester (or toothpick) comes out clean.

Note:  A hint of cinnamon would also be nice with these, or even a streusel topping. I chose to go simply this first time around.

How cute are these?

How cute are these?

Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

Directions:

1.) In a small bowl, dissolve espresso powder in 2 tablespoons hot water; set aside. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar has dissolved and whites are hot to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes.

2.) Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.

3.) With machine running on low speed, add butter to the egg whites, beating until smooth. Add the espresso mixture, and continue beating until incorporated.

Basic Cupcake Baking Tips

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
Jumbo Chocolate Cupcakes

Jumbo Chocolate Cupcakes

Our Basic Cupcake Making Tips

Downsize your favorite cake…

You can turn almost any cake recipe into cupcakes. I recently decided to turn a chocolate cake recipe that was a success into something even more spectacular – cupcakes.  King size cupcakes that is, which in turn equals about 2 ½ regular cupcakes.  Almost any cake recipe can become a cupcake – jumbo, regular, or mini.  Just be sure to keep watch over your oven; baking times vary.  The safest bet is to a keep your eye on them.

What to do after baking…

After baking I am quick to remove my cupcakes from the pan, maybe a bit too quick.  I fear by letting them sit in a hot pan they will “over-bake”.  Once they are out of the oven, I use my offset spatula to pop them right out.  Then I immediately place them on a cooling rack.

I must admit, I am a “last minute” kinda girl and have often been tempted to frost early…this is a no no!  Unless your recipe calls for it, do not try frosting before the cakes are completely cooled – it never ends well, trust me. 

The subject of frosting…

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, you can frost. A generous amount of frosting is always good, but don’t go overboard.  Frosting tends to be extremely sweet, so a little goes a long way.  Try to create a balance of cake and frosting.

Directly after frosting, I get the cupcakes into the fridge. This helps set the frosting.  Buttercream, in my opinion, tastes best when it’s not too cold.  It can become hard and unappealing if it’s too cold – it is butter, after all.

It is best to keep your cupcakes chilled up until 15-30 minutes before serving.  Letting them come to room temperature will ensure that the frosting tastes its best.

Cupcake liners and wrappers…

Lastly, I need to mention cupcake liners and wrappers.  When baking a chocolate cupcake, plain wrappers work the best. The pretty printing on some wrappers just disappears with chocolate cake – so it can be a waste. It is best to use the fancy printed liners and wrappers with a lighter colored cupcake.

chocolate-cupcakes-chocolate-strawberry

The cupcakes pictured are chocolate cake with a decadent chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with a chocolate covered strawberry, YUMMY!

Master Paul’s 14th Birthday Cake

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

This past week the cake hotline rang with a request for a birthday cake.  This cake was for a young man with simple tastes who was turning 14.  I took a moment to figure out the cake plan. 

Chocolate and Strawberry are two flavors I knew he enjoys; this one was going to be a cinch!  A rich chocolaty layer cake filled with sliced strawberries and Swiss meringue buttercream, frosted with a sinful chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream and some homemade chocolate covered strawberries.  No frills, simple and classic, the kind of cake you might see in a coffee shop bakery cabinet.  It is the perfect cake for any occasion.

Sliced strawberries and whipped cream fill this chocolate cake...

Sliced strawberries and Swiss meringue buttercream fill this chocolate cake...

My sister presented me with a copy of Martha Stewart’s new cupcake cookbook…love it!  I made her classic Swiss meringue buttercream and then jazzed it up by folding in some melted, cooled chocolate.  This frosting is so good you could serve it all by itself!

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6oz. melted and cooled semi sweet chocolate

Directions:

1. Beat butter with electric mixer until fluffy and pale. Transfer to small bowl.

2. In double boiler over simmering water, whisk sugar and egg whites until warm and sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to clean bowl of electric mixer; beat on high with whisk attachment until fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes.

3. Reduce mixer to medium-low; add butter a scant 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate.

4. Switch to paddle attachment; beat on lowest speed 3 to 5 minutes. Leave at room temperature if using same day. Or store airtight in refrigerator up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature; beat until smooth.

master-pauls-14th-birthday-cake

Happy Birthday Paul!

Marshmallow Fondant & a 21st Birthday Cake

Thursday, June 4th, 2009
Autumn's 21st Birthday Cake with Marshmallow Fondant

Autumn's 21st Birthday Cake with Marshmallow Fondant

My friend violet called me with a quick birthday cake request over the Memorial Day weekend.  As I see it, I was already going to spend the weekend baking what was one more cake?  Her niece Autumn, was turning 21 and needed something girly to commemorate this special birthday.  Autumn wanted a marble cake with white buttercream…simple and to the point.

I dressed the ¼ sheet cake with pink, green and gray accents, and of course a cosmopolitan martini.  Up until recently I have been buying Wilton Fondant to decorate cakes with.  This time around I used a homemade marshmallow fondant and love it!  It’s quick and easy, plus has a much more palatable taste…give it a try!

Marshmallow Fondant

What You’ll Need: 

  • 1 bag of white marshmallows (8 oz)
  • Water (2 tbsp)
  • Icing sugar sifted (1 to 2 pounds)
  • Crisco
  • Heatproof bowl
  • Spoon
  • Sifter
  • Food colors or cocoa powder
  • Flavoring optional

Directions:

1.) Heat marshmallows and water in microwave for 2 minutes.

2.) Remove and stir with Crisco greased spoon.

3.) Add desired color and or flavoring.

4.) Stir in sifted powdered sugar until it looks dough-like.

5.) Turn fondant out onto powder sugared work surface and knead until well mixed and not too sticky.

Note: Use this marshmallow fondant right away or rub with a bit of Crisco and store in air tight container.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009
Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Who wants a cookie?  I do, I do!  No one ever turns down cookies at my house.  The boys have been giving me plenty of great ideas when it comes to new and creative cupcake flavors.  Not only that, but they have become my ultimate taste testers.  I am honored when they ask me to bake for class room parties…simply because it gives me a chance to show off! 

Today’s challenge was to incorporate that classic combo, cookies and cream.  I must admit it was easier than I thought.  I took a classic white cake recipe and added a bit more fat (sour cream) and crushed up chocolate sandwich cookies.  Simple white buttercream frosting tops them off and half of a cookie to give them a bit of crunch.

(more…)

French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes

Friday, May 1st, 2009

French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes

French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes

You’ve heard the expression, “everything is better with bacon” – well, who knew that this included cupcakes.  Frankly, I don’t believe I have ever met a person who can resist the magical powers of bacon.  The scent, the flavor, just thinking about bacon makes my mouth water.  It’s funny how bacon plays well with so many other flavors and types of foods. Bacon can instantly take the everyday sandwich or salad to a new level.  Bacon wrapped steak, scallops, chicken livers, or dates…the possibilities seem to be endless.

Anthony Bourdain’s show “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel did a episode on Portland, Oregon.  Voodoo Doughnut was a strange local shop that specialized in unique donuts, one being a maple cream stick with crisp bacon.  This is where the idea of the French Toast and Bacon Cupcake was born.  Savory and sweet work so well together, and since I already drown my bacon in maple syrup, why not?  Cinnamon, nutmeg, and a bit more vanilla are the key extras in this yellow cake recipe that give it a French Toast feel.  I should note, these cupcakes smell amazing while baking!

I whipped up a Maple Buttercream to frost them with and finished them with the crown jewel…crispy bacon.  For aesthetics I left the bacon in one piece, but would prefer it crumbled for easy eating!  Enjoy!

French Toast Cupcakes

What You’ll Need:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 ½  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • Maple Buttercream Frosting, recipe follows
  • Crisp Bacon
  • Equipment: A six cup jumbo muffin pan or 12 cup regular muffin pan
French Toast and Bacon Cupcake Ingredients

French Toast and Bacon Cupcake Ingredients

Directions:

1.) Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line the muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.

2.) In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Raise the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula.)

3.) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla, and also set aside.

4.) Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter one at time, waiting for each one to be fully incorporated before adding the next.

5.) Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Alternately, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, waiting for each to be fully incorporated before adding the next (scrape the bowl down occasionally). Raise the speed to medium and mix briefly until a smooth batter is formed. Transfer the batter to a large bowl.

6.) Thoroughly clean the bowl of the mixer and put the egg whites inside. Whip the egg whites on high speed, using the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks are formed.

7.) Working in 3 batches, using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter, until just incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the cups in the muffin pan. Bake, rotating the pan once, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

8.) Remove the cupcakes  from the oven and cool completely.

Maple Buttercream Frosting
Yield: about 1 2/3 cups, enough for 6 large or 12 regular cupcakes

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 Sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon maple extract

Directions:

1.) In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.)

2.) Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Add the heavy cream and maple extract.. Raise the speed to high and mix briefly until fluffy (scrape down the bowl occasionally). Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff, before using. May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Crisp Bacon

Bacon works well for me baked in an oven at 425 degrees on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake 12-15 minutes, drain grease, and bake another 5-7 minutes or until crisp.  You can do it in a pan as well.

Finally – Frost the cooled French Toast Cupcakes with the Maple Buttercream Frosting and top with a Crisp piece of Bacon!

Inside of a French Toast and Bacon Cupcake

Inside of a French Toast and Bacon Cupcake

Baby Bluebird Cupcakes

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Bluebird Cupcake

Bluebird Cupcake

This year while scrolling through Martha Stewart’s website I came across the cutest baby bird cupcakes.  I immediately knew I was going to make this for Easter Sunday.  What better than baby birds in a toasted coconut nest to represent Sping and the Easter holiday. 

I chose a very basic Yellow Cake for the cupcakes and used my favorite Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  Martha’s served only for inspiration, the recipe and technique were all mine. 

I used disposable piping bags for the frosting and just cut the tips off at different points in order to get different thicknesses.  The nest was a simple circle of frosting with and extra layer to give it height. 

(more…)


google