Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nope. No pictures of turkey over here. What I've got is better! RED VELVET CAKE!!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Things are a little slow...

It's been awhile since I posted anything, which means it's been awhile since I've made anything worthy of a blog post. I'll be back soon! I promise!

Unless you want blogs on cooking. I HAVE been cooking, just not baking. How about lasagna? It's baked...

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Not much to say about this cake...other than I LOVE the way it turned out.

For the finale cake of the Wilton Fondant and Gumpaste Course, I decided to break away from the book and do something different. Whenever I saw the fantasy flowers, I thought they were very tropical feeling, and used that as inspiration for the final cake. Let me know what you think.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby!

The Artist's birthday was this week, so of course, I baked him a cake. I came across a recipe a few weeks ago for a Cookies and Creme cake. I described it to him as a chocolate overload, and of course, the chocoholic that he is, he requested it. He even went so far as to ask for cream cheese frosting instead of chocolate on the outside. A bit extreme, but your birthday only comes once a year, right?

I was agreeable to making it because it's based on my usual chocolate cake recipe -- Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake. It really is perfect, and the recipe is so simple! For a twist, Oreo cookies are baked into each layer of cake. Then, the cake is filled with an absolutely delicious cookies and cream filling -- homemade whipped cream folded with Oreo crumbs. And, at the Artist's request, the whole thing was frosted in cream cheese frosting, topped with a hearty dollop of the cookies and cream filling, then garnished with more cookies and cookie crumbs.

Delish! The filling tasted just like cookies n' creme ice cream but without the brain freeze. My dear hubby LOVED it. I knew he would, because, it's CHOCOLATE!!!

(For future reference, I would leave out the cookies baked into the layers. They tasted a bit scorched.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

My first tiered cake

Yay! I've finished my first tiered cake and the third course in the Wilton series. The bottom tier was the salvaged brown sugar caramel cake, and the top tier was chocolate cake with Nutella buttercream frosting. YUM!

I was really pleased with the way the cake turned out. I especially like the blend of colors I chose for the fondant flowers. I didn't particularly care for the ruffle, but I knew that before I put it on there. I just didn't have time to think up anything better prior to class, so went with the book's project idea.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Boy, do I have a story to tell...

You may have already guessed that I like to tinker in the kitchen. I'm always on the hunt for new recipes, and on occasion, I make them up. What you may or may not know is that I am, have always been, and will always be a Southern Girl. There's nothing like sweet tea, southern hospitality, and the word "ya'll". That being said, there is a great food magazine called Taste of the South that publishes nothing but good, old-fashioned fattening recipes that remind me of my childhood. Each month, in one section, they publish several variations of the same recipe, the most recently intriguing issue being on caramel cake. Despite being southern, I've never had caramel cake, but the cover photo looked great, and cooked frostings are always interesting.
So, let me tell you about my attempt to make the Brown Sugar Cake with Cooked Caramel Frosting:

First of all, I was going to use this cake as the bottom tier of my cake for class. I also planned to pawn it off on my classmates so we didn't have to eat it all.
After a trip to the store to get brown sugar for the cake, and another to get butter for the frosting, I was all set. I baked the cake the night before and planned to frost the cake and cover it in fondant.

I should have known something was up when I had to keep running out to the store. I also should have known this frosting was problematic when I saw the magazine had added a step by step video tutorial for the frosting recipe -- that usually indicates it's kinda hard to do.

The recipe instructs you to caramelize sugar in a saucepan while bringing butter, sugar and evaporated milk to a boil in another pot. Both pans are to be whisked continuously, and should reach their magical moments of completion at the same time. This was the biggest indicator of potential problems, especially since we only have one whisk. I started whisking on my right and stirring/melting sugar on my left. Everything seemed to be going well. So, working quickly, as the directions said to do, I began putting the frosting on the cake, expecting it to turn into a solid mass at any minute. (I have another very easy cooked chocolate frosting that does just that.) It was really runny, but, I thought it was still pretty hot. I let it sit for a bit and stalactites of caramel are hanging from cake. At this point, the frosting does start to cool and thicken, but by no means is it "set". Not what I had in mind. Luckily, I had the forethought to place waxed paper under the cake. I finished glazing the cake and was not impressed. Lucky for me, I'd purchased a can of cream cheese frosting for back-up. After putting the cake in the fridge, the caramel had turned into a chewy, gooey, tasty consistency. Not "frosting", exactly, but it was on the cake. I thought the layer was pretty thin, so I did put the cream cheese frosting on top. Oh well, it was being covered in fondant anyway.

In case you were wondering, boiling baking soda and water completely and easily removes caramel and melted sugar from pots, pans, whisks, spoons, and anyting else you may be tempted to throw away.

While my frosting did not turn out, it did make a nice topping for microwave popcorn!

I'll post the results of the completed cake tomorrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


For the month of August, I've been taking Wilton Course 3: Fondant and Tiered Cakes. I was excited to work with fondant, thinking about all of the amazing creations seen on shows like Ace of Cakes or Food Network Challenge.

Just in case you don't know, fondant is a sugar based clay (for lack of a better descriptor) used to cover cakes and give a nice clean finish. It can be rolled out flat, or molded into figures and flowers.

In the second week of cake class, we covered out first cake in fondant. The lesson was a square cake decorated to look like a present. Overall, for a first attempt, I think it turned out pretty good. There are a few details that I didn't have time to finish because the people in my class are amazingly slow! For tonight's class, the final lesson, I'm winging it and not going step by step with the class. I know already that they're going to come with cakes un-iced, or not covered in fondant and hold up the show. I did not prepare 50 fondant flowers ahead of time to not put them on the cake!

After all of the fuss the cake artists on TV make about non-cooperative fondant, I expected the worst. It wasn't that bad at all, except for smoothing the corners. And with patience, that too didn't turn out bad at all. If you've ever rolled out pie crust or played with Play-Do, you can do fondant.

Teaser: the finale cake is a "wedding" cake with fondant flowers cascading down the side.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dummy Cakes

So obviously, I can't bake a cake every time I want to practice decorating. I decided I would purchase a couple of cake dummies to use whenever the mood strikes.

Cake dummies are basically styrofoam pieces cut to standard cake sizes. I have an 8" square, 8" round, and a 6" round.

Here are a few of my latest creations. I was particularly happy with the floral brush embroidery, and the feet on the baby shower cake (too cute!).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Baking/Cooking To-Do List

I haven't baked anything except some pumpkin muffins since I finished the second Wilton course. I'm currently taking the third course, which has two cakes. Until then, I have been mentally compiling a list of treats to make when I have an occasion to make them....The Artist and I would be round balls of chocolate, otherwise.

Things I'd like to make:
Cake Pops (ala Bakerella)
Mini Oreo Cheesecakes (ala Martha Stewart Cupcakes Book)
Chocolate Oreo Cake
Chocolate Quinoa Waffles
Super Hero/Comic book themed birthday cake for The Artist (may be replaced by the Chocolate Oreo Cake)

As the summer winds down this month, so too, do my cake classes. However, I'm always cooking up something or another, so I may highlight some favorite dinners as well.

Spicy Shrimp and Chorizo Skewers
Just about anything from (This site is eyecandy for the stomach!)
Indian food
Huli Huli Chicken

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Basket Case...I mean Cake

On Tuesday, I finished Wilton Course II. The finale cake features a basket weave design and is overflowing with a lush bouquet of royal icing flowers.

The cake is 1-2-3-4 cake (with lemon extract instead of almond) featured on the back of the Swan's Down Cake Flour box, with Wilton's lemon filling, and lemon cream cheese frosting. I was getting tired of the sticky sweet Class Buttercream, so decided to try this recipe for Crusting Cream Cheese Frosting. Perfect!

The course II student kit comes with two oval pans for baking the final cake. The pans are quite small, which meant.....cupcakes!

The Artist couldn't wait to be my guinea pig and cupcake hand model. He definitely enjoyed the cake...I think he's been eating it for breakfast.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I love to tinker in the kitchen, but not with lots of tiny, individual cupcakes, or even cookies. However, I was meeting up with an old friend for lunch, and thought it would be nice to bring her some cupcakes. And the day before we went out, my husband, The Artist, wanted a cupcake from Whole Foods. He said I made him want one with all my recent cake/cupcake blog reading. (Imagine, he blames his loving wife for his uncontrollable sweet tooth!) So, it was the perfect situation to kill two birds with one stone.

And, what made it even better was that I found a chocolate cake recipe (Midnight Chocolate Cake ala that only made one layer -- perfect for a dozen or so cupcakes. The recipe actually made a dozen plus a ramekins worth.

For The Artist, the ultimate chocoholic, I made half a dozen chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream. As you can see, it didn't take long for him to jump into the cupcakes.

For my friend, she got a half dozen variety pack. She was a guinea pig of sorts because I had a couple of frosting ideas I wanted to try out. She got 2 Blooming Bouquet cupcakes, 2 Cabbage Patch Kid cupcakes (because she's preggo), and 2 chocolate/chocolate cupcakes. The Cabbage Patch Kids need some work, but I have an idea to fix their faces for the next go round!!!

Cupcakes.....I think I like making them, after all. And I have to make more because I only got one!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect...If You Have a Plan

Practice makes perfect. Or so I've been told. At any rate, I was itching to make a pretty cake with my new frosting skills. But, we really didn't need the cake around the house. I toyed with buying a cake dummy, but thought that would be a waste of frosting. I toyed with making cupcakes, but that would leave 18 indidual little cakes to be devoured.

.....So, I compromised by baking the cake in a loaf pan, and cutting it in half to make two separate mini cakes. Two canvases for the effort of one! Beyond that, I didn't have a decorating plan...and, it showed in my finished pieces.

The first cake, with the polka dot ribbon was supposed to be decorated with pink dots. However, I will definitely need some sort of stencil or marking guide to do this in the future. Since the dots weren't working, I switched to a pink ribbon type swirl, accented with dots.

Then, I wanted to practice my roses, but the rest of my tiny cake was a blank canvas. It would have made a cute individual birthday cake. But, alas, no birthdays, though "LOVE" is always in the air.

Lessons learned from this experiment:

1) Have a plan. Wandering all willy-nilly with the frosting is not going to work.

2) Frosting square cakes neatly is hard. (Will be looking for a YouTube video on the topic)

3) Make sure you have an abundance of frosting (see lesson 1).

4) Certain frosting consistencies are recommended for certain applications for a reason.

5) Using milk instead of water in a cake mix improves the cake mix taste and texture. Not as good as homemade, but better than straight box mix.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wilton Course I Finale Cake

Tonight was the final session of the Wilton Course I. From my practice roses, I thought the cake was going to look homemade. But, that's what I get for trying to read ahead and make them without the teacher demonstrating. (That IS what I paid for, right?) So, after watching the demonstration, I saw exactly what I'd been doing wrong, and voila! Wonderful buttercream roses!

Here is the final cake:
Not that we were eating grocery store cakes before, but definitely not from this point on! I'm not ready to make wedding cakes or anything, but I think I can outdo the folks at the local grocery store.
Course 2 starts next week, and I'm definitely excited. I'm not sold on that finale cake design with the basket and the birds and what not, but excited none the less. See ya next week.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Those Darn Wilton Buttercream Roses

The Wilton Course I finale is a cake decorated with a spray of buttercream roses. I'll be making this cake on Tuesday, and am not sure how it will turn out. I've been practicing for about two weeks, and think I may be getting the hang of it.

My early attempts weren't too bad, though they definitely were not great (see picture below):

I did realize that my frosting was too stiff. Thinning the frosting a bit helped. I also tried to thicken canned frosting and that worked great, except that the roses were very sticky. But, it was a good cheap and fast alternative to whipping up a batch up decorator frosting.

So, the problems I am encountering:
My base cone is to narrow, so that when any pressure is applied when forming the petals, the whole thing leans and the flower is lopsided.
When I get to the bottom row of petals, there isn't any room for me to get in there with the piping tip.
Do any of you Wilton alums and cake decorators have any advice? All tips are appreciated.
In any case, I think I like mine better than the "textbook" Wilton rose. I feel that they look more natural/organic. So, I'm not sure if I want to change them up too too much.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Chocolate Cake Copy Cats

So, last week, I made a chocolate cake to take to a get together with some school friends. It was chocolate cake (Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake) with chocolate buttercream frosting. I used the Wilton recipe for chocolate buttercream; one, because I had not yet tried that recipe, and two, I wanted a consistency that would let me practice my new cake decorating skills. All was well until I tasted a dab of the frosting....

Not what I was expecting. For whatever reason, it didn't taste right. It didn't taste bad, but something was off. It tasted and even smelled...sweeter? The only thing I could think of was that I had run out of regular vanilla in the cake batter and had had to use the Wilton clear vanilla in the frosting. Well, since it was still pretty good, I went ahead and frosted the cake with it using a star tip.

At the party, a couple of people commented on the "something extra" in the frosting, and one asked me if I had used almond extract. And then it hit me! When I grabbed the bottle of clear vanilla, I didn't read the label to make sure that it was vanilla. It actually was almond extract. The two bottles are identical except for a colored stripe. Mea culpa.

So, the cake was an interesting flavor, but no one seemed to mind. Another interesting tidbit is that another friend at the party who is from Canada, wondered where I'd gotten the cake, as it looked exactly like a cake sold only in her country. She said the cakes were nearly identical, right down to the disposable tin foil pan. My mistake cake even tastes identical to the Canadian cake! How funny is that?

My cake:

The Canadian cake, "McCain's Deep and Delicious":

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My First Cake

Well,...not first cake, exactly. But it is the first cake I made with skills from my Wilton Cake Decorating Course I. I think it turned out pretty good! I'm already planning cakes for my birthday in a few weeks, and my husband's birthday in September. Stay tuned...

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