Saturday, March 29, 2014

Marvin the Martian

Chocolate Cake 
3 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
8 eggs
5 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups milk
15 ounces chocolate

In stand mixer, cream together sugar, butter and vanilla. Add eggs and beat for 1 minute. Add melted chocolate. Add flour, baking soda and salt mixture. Gradually add milk. In 11x15" sheet pan spray with oil, coat sides with cocoa powder and line with parchment paper. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 325 degrees. I rotate my pan after 20 minutes to ensure even baking. Cool to room temp on wire rack then move to fridge to chill before frosting.

Having a cake frosted and ready to decorate is like a blank canvas for an artist; it gets me pretty excited!

Sweet Buttercream
2 cups shortening
1 tsp clear vanilla extract
1/2 tsp butter flavor
1/2 tsp sweet almond flavor
24-26 tsp water
2 lb. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp meringue powder
pinch of salt

Cream shortening flavors and water. Add powdered sugar, meringue powder and salt. Beat on low until ingredients are combined then beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.

For the buttercream transfer, I used a reverse image taped to a clipboard and taped waxed paper over that. The I piped in the main colors: white, black, red, green blue, light and dark yellow. Then outlined the whole image in white and filled in the back so it was level. I put the clipboard in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Once the buttercream was somewhat hardened, I untaped the waxed paper, positioned it where I wanted it on the cake and flipped the buttercream over. Pressing down firmly to get the transfer to stick to the cake, I peeled back the waxed paper. Then I took black icing and a tip 1 and did the fine details and outlines. The hand, glove, brush, helmet, etc. were all outlined in black.

I love being able to do buttercream transfers so that the cake can match party decorations exactly. Any image can be replicated.

Hello Kitty Birthday

How fun! This cake by itself has no artificial color or flavor (especially if you use real vanilla in the buttercream as opposed to clear vanilla extract). The piping on top of course has artificial colors, but it's a healthy cake, if one can call cake healthy.

Fresh Strawberry Cake
24 oz strawberries, stems removed. = 3/4 cup strawberry puree
1-2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp bourbon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.

Combine strawberries and 2 tsp sugar in blender to make puree. Reserve 3/4 cup. Refrigerate remaining puree.

In small bowl, combine puree, milk, egg, vanilla and mix with fork until well blended. In bowl of stand mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Continue beating at slow speed and add butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs. (Very important to use the butter softened, it affects the texture).

Add liquids and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until full and evenly combined. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl and hand beat for 30 more seconds.

Divide into 2, 8" rounds, greased and floured and with cut parchment. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, rotating after 20 minutes. Cool in pans on wire rack 20 minutes then invert and continue to cool to room temp before moving racks into fridge to chill.

Strawberry Buttercream
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp clear vanilla
1/4 cup mashed/pureed strawberries

Add all ingredients to bowl of stand mixer. Beat on medium until fluffy.

For Hello Kitty's face, I used a reverse image and piped clear piping gel onto waxed paper, then transferred the outline to the cake and pressed over the lines. Peel off the waxed paper then pipe in the colors.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sesame Street/Elmo

I took a project class Saturday for tiered cakes and I was required to make a 10" and a 6" round cake both 4 inches high  to stack in the class. I don't like having that much cake around the house so when my fiance's cousin asked if we could make a cake for her daughter's birthday on Sunday I knew exactly where I was going to send that cake!

My fiance was also taking the tiered cakes class with me and we were going to work together on our cake for class, so I only thought it was fair he helped me with the decorating too. He helped and he was a good sport. He was actually very excited to work with fondant when he realized it was like play-doh and you could make whatever you want out of it.

All decorations for the top tier of the cake and to rest on top of the bottom tier.
Dots for the back of the bottom tier.
Thank goodness I just got a new cookie cutter set to make the letters! I let this harden around the outside of my 6" cake pan for a couple nights so it would be a plaque I could just slide into place.
Balloons! Made from fondant/gumpaste, threaded onto lollipop sticks and held in place with gum glue. I added a glaze that was a mix of equal parts clear vanilla extract and corn syrup to give them that latex shine.

Have to start with smooth, straight sides.
In the class itself, I doweled and stacked the cakes, piped on happy birthday, and piped on E's face with grass tip 233. I put the fondant half-moon shaped mouth down first, piped around it to create a fur texture, then added the fondant eyes and nose.

I also added the dots in class. Just piped a little dot of buttercream on the back and stuck them on. Later after I was home I placed the crayons and  goldfish. On the top tier, I did a sun and clouds with a white bead border tip 10 and stuck in the balloons.

 The plaque fit perfectly. See the little "2" peeking out?

I love the look of the glaze on the balloons!

I cut the goldfish using a cookie cutter out of yellow-orange fondant. Painted a bit of orange food coloring with clear vanilla and used a black food writer.

My fiance did most of the work on the street scene. The lampposts are threaded onto lollipops sticks and We even brushed the globes with the glaze that we used on the balloons to make them glossy.

Final Sketch

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Double Baby Shower Cake and Party!

We had a double baby shower for my co-workers who are expecting just a few short weeks apart from each other. Not only did I make the cake but I co-hosted the shower so I had the rare opportunity to actually eat some of the cake that I made. Usually I just drop the cake off for delivery.

The cake is an 11x15" sheet vanilla cake with sweet buttercream. I piped pink and blue star borders and writing. The onesies are cut from fondant rolled out 1/16" thick, using the Wilton baby cutter set.

Styling for the baby shower. I used leftovers and extras that I've saved from previous baby showers for my sister. Added in some extra balloons. I found adorable "it's a boy" and "it's a girl" Hershey's kisses at Michael's.

We played games including guessing the date and time of both baby's' arrival and their weight and length. Cut ribbon to guess the size of the belly's. The clothespin game where you try not to say "baby" and if you do you get your clothespin stolen. I also brought a jar of gumballs. We were going to have a contest to see who could blow the biggest bubble before it popped. Prizes were Jelly Belly's, how appropriate. ;)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rainbows and Unicorns

Vanilla cake with rainbow layers inside and pink buttercream! I followed this tutorial from Betty Crocker. I added the 2 tsp of cocoa powder to the no-taste red to make it deeper and I used my Wilton gel colors because they are less watery than the regular store food colors.  The stand up cake behind the rainbow is a 6" strawberry cake cut in half.


Hand-painted unicorn on fondant. I used a combination of food writer markers and gel food coloring mixed with a bit of clear vanilla  to draw and paint the unicorn. I added shading with pink and purple color dust then went over the whole thing with silver pearl dust.

Fondant rainbow ball border. Roll fondant out 1/4 inch thick, use a medium sized circle cutter, cut each circle in half, then roll each half into a ball.

Fondant: Hearts, Stars, Rainbows, Flowers, Butterflies, Clouds, Name. The stars are threaded on unwrapped floral wire which I went back and hand wrapped with floral wire. The number 4 I cut out and sprayed with silver edible food mist.

I shaped the flowers in small flower formers and put the butterflies in my wavy flower former to give them shape.

Lisa Frank inspired

Final Sketch