Tuesday, April 9, 2013

2012's Birthday Round Up!

It seems as if the roar of major holidays and birthday season took over at our house and I left the blog high and dry.  So today I'm backing up and filling in the gaps.

Birthday season in this house begins in September when I start planning the birthdays or rather finalizing the plans since I am ALWAYS searching out and saving ideas.

The little girl goes first in October and was turning 3, and at this age she actually got a say in the final outcome of the cake design, and she chose - Hello Kitty.  Now, I knew this was coming, but I also knew that I have an intense fear of designing cakes that include the faces of well-known and loved characters; for I don't feel that they would be known or loved once I got done with them.  Thankfully however, we were able to find a Hello Kitty cake pan and I knew I would have indents as my guide!

Unfortunately though, my husband had to be out of town on work on the actually birthday day, so we had TWO parties, which means two "cakes".

We began birthday day with pink, pumpkin donuts...
 ...and finished the day with Hello Kitty cupcakes and "fake" presents.  (aka old toys of mine that she LOVED!)

 These were actually made from a Hello Kitty cupcake maker.  Painstaking to only make two cupcakes at a time, but I got a baked on pattern out of the deal!  :)
 Finally, daddy arrived home and we could have the REAL birthday party!  Hello Kitty with a pink bow, per the birthday girl's request.

Happy 3rd Birthday Lorelei!!  From all of us and Hello Kitty!
 
November arrived and we moved on to all things BOY!  I have to say this was one of the most indecisive years for Everett, but he FINALLY decided (after a little prodding, to "make a decision!" that he would like a blue light saber cake.)  Simple enough, right?  Hmmmmm.
 
Here's what I came up with.

 A hilt made from cupcakes and LOTS of frosting...
 ..and a rice krispie light saber covered in a jar of sprinkles to cover the fact that buttercream and rice krispie treats are hard to smooth out!  :)

I didn't love how it came together, but Everett sure did, and that's all that matters!

Finally December arrived and the yearly, secret, husband cake began it's commence.  It actually worked out that once again Garrett was away from home, not for work, he took a weekend to hunt which gave me two full days and nights to work without having to stash everything and pretend like I was doing nothing.  I'd had a previous idea (which I might still use one day) and then I had THIS one and I am so glad I went with this, because I had SO much fun with fondant and gum paste and construction - this cake was just fun to make and create on.

The Hobbit came out 5 days before his birthday, so being the wonderful wife that I am, I arranged for us to go to the movie on his birthday (secretly) and that also inspired me to search out cake ideas.

Here it is!
 Ok, you got me, that's not it, that's just what the board looked like before I spread everything out and made "the lawn".
The back of the cake...

 ...the front of the cake!
Little details.

More details...I think one of my favorite parts was the walkway.  I used uncolored gumpaste, rolled, cut, texturized and then handpainted everything else in.
 Top down.
SO. MUCH. FUN.

There it is, the 2012 birthday round-up.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thinking of Grandma Mary

It's fall!  Well, to be honest, fall here in Northern Minnesota has come and gone and today we are actually getting snow that looks to be sticking around.  Regardless though of what the weather thinks, I will embrace all things pumpkiny and spicy for as long as I have the motivation and supplies!

One of my first (of many) pumpkin creations so far were these Pumpkin Snickerdoodles.  I of course changed up the spices a tad, substituted flax seed meal for eggs, (used squash...shhh!) and maintained a completely nut-free ingredient list and they turned out SCRUMPTIOUS!
 
My main point for this post though was in the actual "smashing" of the cookies.  Since like most snickerdoodles or sugar cookies, you roll, dredge and then flatten these.  I grew up making cookies like this with my mom and her mom.  At grandma's house though, the cookies always had a signature design which was  a result of her always using the same small juice glass with that imprint on the bottom. 
You never realize how much little things like this give you peace or comfort until you go without seeing them for a while.  Now, my grandmother is still with us, though she is suffering from dementia and has to be in a nursing home.  But when things were being gone through her home after she moved, my mom saw the value in this simple tradition and was able to snag maybe one of grandmas's glasses and then scoured a local thrift store and found several more so that she could pass along the a little memento to all who remembered and now I am so blessed to be able to continue this tradtion with my kids.  And even though sometimes I get so lost in a recipe that I forget, my son already knows that this:


is the sugar cookie "mashing" cup.

Thank you Grandma Mary and Thank You mom!

Here's to age-old traditions and family memories!

Happy Holiday Season!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Birthday

As I sit and enjoy my "black cat" americano (Thanks big brother and family!), sweetened with leftover chocolate and caramel from my birthday cake, I thought I'd share all about this delicious experiment.

Let me just begin by saying I had no original inentions of making my own cake.  I gave my husband ample notice that I wanted a cake, but I would not be making it; and to be nice I directed him to extra cake batter in the freezer. 

But then, I saw this post on www.artofdessert.blogspot.com and the wheels started turning.  So I pulled out the frozen cake batter and baked a little 5 inch cake and enhanced it with Kahlua (greatest idea ever!)


I also baked a 7 inch chocolate cake, enhanced it with kahlua and used a new technique I learned from another talented baker (I can't remember who/where right now).  Do you SEE how flat this cake is?!  My family is pretty bummed that there will never again be cake top in this house!
Cut a strip of old towel long enough to wrap around your cake pan. 
Saturate the towel with water and wrap around the pan just before baking.  Perfectly flat cake everytime!
I whipped up some chocolate buttercream and covered the cakes.
Covered the edges in a triple mix of chocolate chips.
  Then covered the remaining areas with shredded coconut.
Now comes the ooey, gooey, german chocolate cake inspired part.  (The first was mostly inspired by my love of coffee and mounds bars.) 

Step 1:  Make caramel sauce.
Step 2:  Cover cake in caramel sauce.
Step 3:  Drizzle cake with melted tri-chocolate blend.
Bask in the rich, delicious flavors and have a fantastic birthday dessert!




Thursday, February 23, 2012

An early/late Valentine

It's still February, so I feel that I can technically share this as a Valentine post; however, the cake was not made for Valentine's Day but for the birthday of a sweet friend's mother.

This was, as all of my cakes end up being an experiment of sorts.  I am always fairly certain that the things I make will taste good all together, it's just whether or not the actually execution of my ideas will come together and hold.

The only request the birthday girl had for her cake, was for there to be ganache, so I made sure to infuse as much as possible.

I made a rich,  8inch, chocolate cake (egg/peanut/tree nut free, of course); but instead of making your average two cakes, I baked three a little smaller than normal, so that she would have two layers of ganache in between instead of just one.

After that, I whipped up a creamy, marscapone topping and at the last minute threw in the remaining ganache so that it had a light chocolatey flair, as well as a light brown color.  (This was the experimentation - I've never frosted a cake in this manner.)  It turned out well!


To finish things off, I decorated with fresh raspberries and chocolate shavings.

Happy late Valentine's Day!

Monday, January 16, 2012

R2D2 is a tasty little droid

My sweet baby boy turned 5 this year and decided that he wanted to have an R2D2 cake.  I have to admit that I did lose sleep over this cake, trying to determine the best approach; 2D, 3D, buttercream, fondant...etc.   But, once I decided on a 3D model and had my husband on board for quality assurace and authenticity detail, I felt that it could be done.
I used layers of chocolate and pumpkin chocolate chip cake for the body and "head" and rice krispie treats for the "legs".  All egg, peanut and tree-nut free of course!! 

Let the baking begin!

So, this is what the pile-up of frozen cakes looked like when I pulled everything out to begin measurements and assembly.
 Then, after much cake leveling and measuring, this was the final design/size for R2.
Now for the final stacking, filling and crumb coating.
 After this, I apparently stopped photo-documenting and I went ahead and crumb-coated the head, made gray fondant, covered the "head" with the gray fondant and painted it with the silver, metallic powder.  Oh, and I finished crumb-coating R2's body and covered it in white fondant.  Here it sits while we work on the detail pieces.
 Rice Krispie Treat droid legs crumb coated and ready for fondant!  My husband is amazing at detail.  Honestly, without him, R2 would have had 1 leg longer than the other, a ridiculously tall body and I'm sure many other non-Star Wars related attributes.
 The view from the back of the droid leg.  I folded the fondant over at this point and "glued" it with water, smoothing it out the best I could.
Working on the details...

 The legs are finally finished!!
 More details!  There are a lot of buttons and vents and robot-y things on this cute little guy.
 R2 has a head!  This remained as 2 pieces, which worked out GREAT for transport.
And then all of a sudden, he's done!!  The legs/arms also remained unattached pieces, which again worked well for transport.



Finally, you worry and fret about making a cake that your five-year-old will love.  But do you ever think that all you'll get is a goofy smile out of them on the day of their birthday party? 
Boys will be boys and he LOVED his cake.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Time Fondant!

My in-laws celebrated their 40th anniversary this year and it happened to land on the same weekend as my son and daughter's joint birthday bash.

Positive = they would be here and I wouldn't have to transport a cake.
Negative = lots and lots of baking and prep to be done in a short amount of time.

But, you only celebrate these milestones once in a lifetime, so you MUST have cake!  I had only used fondant as accent decor in the past, but since they didn't know about this cake, I felt less pressure for perfection (if that makes sense) and decided to do an entirely fondant covered cake.

After a little research I learned that the 40th anniversary is the ruby anniversary, so I went with a white covered cake with red accents.


I tried to make the cake red inside as well, but without using an entire bottle of red food coloring, it's really hard to make that happen. 

The final product ended up being 2 cakes, 4 layers.  1 chocolate, 1 blueberry/lemon and vanilla, one vanilla and one strawberry.


After a crusted, crumb coat I began to attach the fondant, which was quite fun and relaxing and MUCH easier than I had made it out to be in my head.

Then to cover my amateur edges, I crafted a fondant "rope" to add a little dimension and honestly, to experiment!
Add in some red hearts
and a big 4-0.
There you have it, a 40th anniversary cake.  Whew.  That was fun, let's do it again!!