Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pokemon cupcakes

I am probably jinxing myself , but I can't help but think how easy my next cake is going to be.
I received an e-mail from a friend needing a Pokemon cake for her son's 8th birthday. She attached a picture. All he wants is the "ball" . Simple, round, 1/2 red, 1/2 white with a black band.
Other than the fact that I know absolutely nothing about Pokemon, I'm looking forward to making this cake. The birthday boy has just started chemo again and is battling a brain tumor, you would never know it though. He is as active, vibrant, and as happy as any 8 year old boy I've ever met, if not even more so.
This cake HAS to be special!
It did seem very boring to just deliver a red, white and black ball, so I decided I'd throw in a few Pokemon character cupcakes.
Now I'm in over my head. Who are Pokemon's friends? I had to google it but I found a few pictures of some Pokemon cupcakes. I sorted through all the characters and these what  I came up with.
When I do cupcakes I like to make the design on a fondant disc that I set on top of a fluffy swirl of buttercream.

( I've at least heard of him/her/it)

I cut some disc's out of yellow fondant with one of my biscuit cutters ( 2 inch )

For the ears I used my Wilton leaf cutter. ( only because I couldn't find anything else. You will have to rub down the ridges on the edge.) Ideally I would have liked a straight edged leaf cutter.

I pinch one end and smooth the edges of the other. Apply it by rubbing and smoothing to the yellow disc.

For the face I used red, black and white fondant.
To cut the circles I used Wilton tips 5 & 12 and a 1/2 inch round cutter.

For the mouth I cut a bunch of red circles with my 1/2 inch round cutter ( you won't use this many, I just allow myself room for error ) .

I cut out a bit of the top with the cutter.

I cut a "V" in the top with my Exacto knife and pinched the corners a bit.

Next I did the cheeks. I cut another bunch of circles with my Wilton #12 tip.

Stick them on the face.

I rolled out a little black fondant , and again with my # 12 tip I cut circles for the eyes.
 Stick those on the face.

With my #5 tip, I cut a bunch of white dots.

Stick them on the black fondant eyes.
For the nose I just bent little scraps of the black.

Next I did Piplup. ( showing off my newfound Pokemon vocabulary )
I picked this one because I like him and blue birds are supposed to be good luck. ( I'm assuming he is supposed to be a bird...)


I started with white fondant discs. Cut with my 2 inch biscuit cutter.

Next I rolled out some blue fondant and cut discs out of that with the same 2 inch biscuit cutter.
I used a 1 inch round cutter to take 2 semi-circle chunks out of the bottom.

Next use an Exacto knife and cut out a V shaped wedge between the 2 semi-circles.

I mixed some white fondant in with some of the blue for a lighter shade of blue and rolled them into strips.
I cut the long strips into 1 1/2 inch strips and used the 1/2 inch round cutter to cut out a semi circle.

I place the darker blue piece on top of the white disc, then I lift and place the lighter blue strip under that. My fondant was drying so I smoothed out the wrinkles with a little vegetable shortening at the end.

 To make his beak I rolled out some yellow fondant and cut out a bunch of circles with my 1/2 inch circle cutter .

I stretch this into an elongated tear drop.
Fold the top over.

Attach the beak with some gum glue to cover the semi-circle cut out and press and smooth a bit.

Cut some black circles with the #12 tip , place on face and smooth into ovals .

Last step.
Cut out some more white dots with your #5 tip and place them on the black fondant eyes.

Done , a bunch of blue birds to hopefully bring this little boy some luck !

I made 2 other characters as you see in the photo. Anyone wanting a tutorial on those please message me and I'll be glad to make one.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Glazed Doughnut Craving

Friday night we were snowed in for the first time all year. At 9:00pm ( prime snacking hour at our house) Brandon announces " I could really go for a glazed doughnut". Great,probably not a fresh glazed doughnut in a 5 mile radius. Not to mention it's a blizzard outside. Unfortunately it didn't hit me until about an hour later that I used to make glazed doughnuts years ago. So at 10:00pm my mission began...
Here is the recipe I use. If I remember correctly ( and I usually don't) I found it in the Detroit Free Press. It makes about 2 dozen doughnuts.

Glazed Doughnuts

1  .25 oz packet active dry yeast
2   Tbsp warm water
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
2 Tbsp & 2 tsp shortening
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Glaze :
1/3 cup butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp hot water

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let sit until it bubbles and becomes frothy. Takes about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and flour. Mix a few minutes at low speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead dough for about 5 minutes or until smooth. I flour my hands and counter pretty heavily for this step. You can add more flour if necessary to get the elastic consistancy ( but not too much flour). 
Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and set in a warm place.

I heat my oven to 200 degrees F. , turn off the heat, and put the bowl in the oven with the door closed to speed up this process.
When dough has doubled turn it out on a floured surface , roll to a bout 1/2 inch thick, and cut with a biscuit cutter or in strips if you prefer to make twists. I then use a smaller cutter to cut out the "hole" . Save these and fry them also.

Let doughnuts sit , covered, on a piece of greased wax paper until they double in size ( I do this in my preheated 200 degree oven also to speed things up.)

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, stir in confectioners sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp of water at a time until it reached a rather thin ( but not watery )  consistancy.

Heat oil in either a deep fryer or a skillet to 350 degrees, I heat it on medium-high and then reduce to medium to fry the doughnuts.
Slide doughnuts into the oil and once they float ( this takes less than a minute ) flip them. Both sides should be a light golden brown.
Remove from oil, place on a wire drying rack. I place my rack over one of the sink basins. Then dip the warm doughnuts into the glaze and set back on the wire cooling rack to let the excess glaze drip off. 


By the time I had these finished it was almost midnight, but that didn't stop Brandon from eating a few.
These are best fresh out of the fryer. They tend to get heavier as time goes on but I have been told that they are still excellent warmed up with some ice cream on top the next day.

With this recipe I have also not cut out the doughnut hole and after frying filled with jelly or custard. I have made chocolate icing, starwberry icing, and lemon icing. There are a lot of vartiations you can experiment with.
After trying these for the 1st time Brandon has vowed to never eat a store bought doughnut again.
They seem labor intensive, but they aren't bad at all...give ' em a shot ( but hopefully before 10pm ) .

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Football Cake

Touch down, goal, home run, it's all the same to me.
But for the football fans at my father's office it's SERIOUS business.  One of his employees is turning 50 and I was asked to make a cake for him. Taking into account I don't know much about his interests, one thing I  do know is everyone at the office loves the New York Giants. Everyone but me that is, I am a Detroit Lions fan, for what it's worth. I have a jersey, I know it's Detroit's  football team, I don't think they have been to a Superbowl in my lifetime, and ~yeah, that's about it.  Go Lions!
I did google A LOT of tutorials on how to make a helmet cake and found a lot of great information. I took it all in and pulled out the pieces I felt would work the best and this is what I came up with.

For Christmas I bought myself a clay extruder ( and an Agbay, a blade to cut fondant in my Silhouette, numerous cutters, molds, and gadgets ) but, only the clay extruder has been brought out of my secret shopping closet so far. ~If I bring things out one at a time I avoid a lot of  'senseless' questions =)

So I decide to give my extruder a try on the face mask.  I piped out , or 'extruded' 7 ropes of 100% gumpaste. Make sure to keep these sealed up in a Ziploc while you work , they dry VERY fast.

Then I created my layout on a piece of waxed paper.

 Once I had that I set the paper on a Crisco Can to form it into the correct shape ( or so I hope ). I did this 4 days in advance so it would be completely dry in time.

Time for the cake board, I decided to make it look like a football field. If I needed more servings I would have made the field out of a sheet cake.
I covered the board in green fondant and cut strips of white fondant for the lines on the field.  Make sure these are thin, too thick and they will create ridges in the jersey ( how do I know this?? My finished product, complete with ridges ..uuuggh! )

For the jersey I decided on the away jersey seeing at it is basic white with red.
I rolled out a T-shirt 'ish shaped piece of white fondant, placed it at an angle over the cake board, and added the lettering. This time I used red sugar sheets in the Silhouette cutter ( Thanks for the idea Jenniffer! ) .

I had planned on folding the sleeves back and making it pretty fancy but that just didn't work out so I just trimmed the edges and rolled out a small strip of white fondant for a collar and placed it on top.

Back to the helmet. When I decided to make this cake I thought " a football helmet, simple, fast , impressive " . I now think " football helmet, never again, ever!"

I stacked my 2 -9 inch rounds filled with butter cream and then another layer of buttercream and a Wilton soccer ball 1/2 cake on the top for the dome. 

With a very sharp knife I ran it around the sides to cut off any crisp , uneven edges and make it smooth.
I slapped on a layer of buttercream to crumb coat and froze it. 

I read somewhere that it's easier to carve frozen cake. I am now pretty sure that nothing makes carving cake easy.

I make my 1st cut with a sharp serrated knife at the angle shown.

Next I shape the bottom. The helmet needs to tip back a bit so it required more "rounding" than I imagined it would. Once my carving was done, I crumb coated all the newly exposed cake and chilled again while I rolled out the fondant.

Before covering in fondant I use the Viva paper towel method and smooth the buttercream. remember, lumps will show through the fondant, it's important to smooth it out 1st .

Thank you NY Giants for having a ridiculously difficult color blue for your helmet. I could not find fondant in that deep of a blue and I could not find gel color in that shade of blue. What I ended up doing was buying some Wilton ( easy to work with, tastes horrible ) light blue in the 1lb size and mixing in almost 1/2 of a jar of Wilton Royal Blue paste. 

Nice, it came out the perfect shade of Buffalo Bills blue. THAT would not do for a Giants fan, so I ended up painting the fondant once applied with a vodka/ royal blue mixture to get the proper color.

I had rolled out some black fondant , trimmed it up and attached it with a little water to the front of the helmet to give it the look of depth.

Transfer the cake onto the board, position it so that it is not on the jersey too much ( unless you want it that way ) and drive a sharpened dowel through the top and into the cake board to hold it in place. 
I cut a stripe of red fondant and placed that on top of the helmet , making sure to cover the dowel hole.

I cut the NY out of white fondant with my Exacto knife using a template printed off the Internet.
The food color was sticky enough still that the NY adhered to the helmet without any help.

I knew these guys would be looking at details, and ready to critique my work, so I added the 'Riddell' Logo to the front of the helmet.
Almost done...
The next detail was the chin strap. I made this out of 2 long strips of white fondant/gumpaste, and a thicker rectangle with rounded edges as the 'pad' ( I have no idea what the proper terminology is for the anatomy of a helmet .)

I made 4 of these things out of small rectangles folded up at the ends and put these on the straps to look like the things the attach the straps to the helmet ( great description~ haha!)

Attach to the helmet with a little gum glue.

I then added the Riddell to the strap, I advise doing this before placing it on the helmet. Sometimes I get ahead of myself and trying to stick 1/2 inch little letters on an angle is not advised.

Time for the face mask, the 1 detail that has me saying NEVER again.
Those simple steps I outlined in the beginning on how to make the mask, worked great ! I had a perfectly molded, even, strong mask
...that was about 2 inched too narrow to fit on the cake. 
Fortunately my son was not home when I discovered this so I didn't add any flowery words to his budding vocabulary. 
Looking back, I should have measured the cake first and then made the face mask.
I found forming it over one of Brandon's big protein powder cans worked perfectly ( now that I had not nearly enough time for the gumpaste to dry ).  I ended up having to run some wire through the gumpaste ropes to make sure it would hold it's shape.
For the Giants I needed a grey mask so I quickly applied some silver petal dust mixed with vodka. You can use vanilla extract, but it was a vodka kinda night for me.
This was NOT a pleasant experience, but had I measured better it would not have been an issue.  I can only blame myself for the added aggravation.

...and done!
( see the ridges ? uuuggh! ) 

The recipient liked this cake so much he didn't want to cut it. He finally did , down the middle, and they would only ate the back side of the helmet.