Friday, December 6, 2013

Salted Caramel ?!?

I have to admit I had never heard of Salted Caramel until a year ago.
Something in my brain would not let me try it. Salt and cake is how the message came through. Yuck!
Now, almost a year later, I am giving in. It has become SO popular I have to see what the hype is about.
Remember I did that with cake pops too and the outcome wasn't too pleasant?!
I'm going to be optimistic though.
I am going to pair it with a vanilla bean cake.
The cakes theme is Harley Davidson and it's for a very close family friend, so close we consider him family.
Mike battled and beat cancer, not 1 cancer, 4 cancers...and won!
Turning 60 is a big deal and something the doctors didn't think he would do at one point. That was 25 years ago.

Back to my Salted Caramel experiment.
It all starts with Caramel Sauce. I made mine from scratch.
It really isn't as hard as you might think. My trick is adding water to the sugar so it doesn't burn. Yes, it does take longer to turn amber, but at least I don't have to worry about ruining my sugar.
I made 2 cups of sauce. I figure what I don't use in my icing I can use over ice cream.
Caramel Sauce will not go to waste in this house.

Have everything measured out and ready to go, you will have to work quick.

I started with 2 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup water in a 2 qt sauce pan.
Cook over med-high heat stir until it boils.
Once it boils stop stirring and let it cook. Keep a close eye on it though, it can go from dark amber to burnt in a second.
It should look like this when it's done, med-dark amber. Mine took about 5-8 minutes to get to this color.

Once it is med-dark amber add the butter cubes and whisk until they are melted.
Remove from heat.
Add heavy cream. Be careful , this will bubble up.
Whisk until smooth.
Add salt, whisk, let cool to room temperature.
This can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately 2 weeks.
It wouldn't last that long here anyways.

Once the caramel sauce is cooled I make the buttercream icing.

This was fabulous!!!
My new favorite. Only thing I may do next time is increase the salt slightly to cut down on some of the sweetness and because I love salt . Also, I would pair it with chocolate cake .

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Easy Bow Tutorial

Finally, as promised, my bow tutorial.
Just in time for all those holiday package cakes.

Since my last post I finally went out and bought a pasta roller.
Why didn't I do that sooner ?
Now all of my fondant is a perfect thickness and oh so easy to roll out.
This only works for rolling fondant for accents , not to cover cakes but it's amazing how much time and fondant it saves me.
Buy one...seriously.

So, to make the bow I start with a mix of fondant and gumpaste. You will want almost an even mix so this bow will dry fast and firm.

Roll out the fondant.

I use my ribbon cutter to cut the strips but for years I didn't have one of those either and I just used a knife.
Cut the fondant into a long strip.
The wider the strip the taller the bow and the longer the strip the wider the bow.

To form the bow you can use rolled up paper towels or the tubes from inside the paper towel roll.

Bring each end of the fondant strip to meet in the middle.

Pinch in the center.

Roll out a small piece of fondant and cut into a strip. ( This does not have to be perfect, mine is pretty pathetic and it still worked. )

Pleat it .

Wrap around the middle of the bow. You can push around the pleats and position them where you would like.

Let this dry at least 24 hours and remove your loop formers.

Let dry a few hours more and place on your cake.
I attach with a dab of melted white chocolate.

If you would like to add ribbon tails you will need 2 more strips.
Angle the bottom and pinch to pleat the top.

 I set mine to dry a few minutes with some waves in them.

You can either attach them to the back of the bow or to the cake and then set the bow in place over top of them. ( that is how I  prefer to do it )

They are my favorite accent. I use large bows as cake toppers, medium bows on the sides of cakes, and small ones as trim accents.

You can alter the size, shape, add zebra stripes or polka dots, these are very versatile and easy.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fast and Easy Football Cake

It's that time of year again!
Not only is it football season, but October is birthday season in my family.( we have 5 )
Today is my father's, and he is a diehard New York Giants fan.
We live 5 hours from Giant's stadium and he still has season tickets and drives to every single home game , no matter what the weather is.
I don't love any sport or hobby THAT much.
So, for his birthday I figured I should do something football/ Giants.
In an earlier post I made a NY Giants helmet for a co-worker so I had to come up with something different.
A football, basic and fun.
For cake flavor I decided on pumpkin cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting seeing as he loves those pumpkin rolls. I figured this would be the same flavor in a different form.

I used the recipe from Epicurious for a Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake.
I left out some of the ginger just because we aren't huge fans of it but made it as the recipe is written.

I baked 2 cakes in my Wilton football pan.

If you want to make a tall / whole football I recommend filling the pans 3/4 full with this recipe. It doesn't rise like other cakes.
I  also only had to bake for 40 minutes in this pan at 350F

Once cooled I leveled my football and filled it with icing.
I had to carve my cake a bit due to the short layers. If they had baked hight enough I would not have had to do this. ( better luck next time ;)

Once filled and carved I iced the cake with more cream cheese icing and let it crust up a bit.

I rolled out some brown fondant and using a small impression mat , imprinted the football texture. You can use anything bumpy for this, before I had a texture mat I used a meat tenderizer mallet to make similar impressions.

Once the cake was covered I added my detail lines.
Draw 1 down the center of the top

Then one on each side of the football.

Last step of the football is the lacing.
I poked holes in approximately one inch increments down the top on each side of the line.

and piped the laces with white buttercream in the order shown in the photo's below.

In hindsight , I would have used a larger round tip for this step to make a thicker lacing.

For the cake board I lined it like a football field with white fondant.
Then I piped in grass with a wilton tip.

I saw this technique on Youtube and thought it would be nice.
Time consuming, but I do like the finished product on the cake board.
You can skip the middle where the football will sit. ( and you will probably want to after piping all that grass)

Set the football on the cake board, in the grass.

( see how lame my lacing is ?)

To bring in the Giants element ( or any team ) I decided to make a disc.
Basic , blue fondant/gumpaste mix, cut with a 3 inch round cutter with the logo.

Once that was dry I leaned it against the cake and that was it.

This cake only took 1 hour to decorate which in cake decorating time is quite fast.
If you are looking for a quick impressive cake for the football fan in your life, this is it!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mickey Mouse Pumpkin Cake

If you have been to Disney at Halloween time you have most likely seen these adorable pumpkins.

My challenge is to recreate this pumpkin in cake!
I only need to make a small one so I ordered the Wilton Pumpkin Pan and the Wilton Multi-cavity pumpkin pan.
These make small pumpkins, the large pan only makes approx a 6 inch cake and the small make a cupcake size pumpkin.
I am making the ears out of rice krispie treat so they are light and won't be too heavy on the pumpkin cake.
First I molded the Rice Krispie treat in the multi cavity pan.
Once they firmed up I used a small grater to smooth the surface and covered them with orange fondant.

Insert a dowel in the bottom of each and set aside.

For the pumpkin part of the cake I made a dense chocolate cake so it would hold it's shape under the fondant.
Fill and let settle overnight. You want to eliminate the possibility of a horizontal crease running across the middle of your cake so make sure it has a stiff dam.

After it has settled I iced it by piping vertical strips and smoothing them in that direction as well.

Use your favorite method to smooth the cake. I use the Viva method and used my hands instead of a spatula.

As I smoothed the cake I could feel where the ridges should be and used my finger to press the paper towel into them.

Cover in orange fondant.

I made a template for the face and cut the features out of yellow fondant and applied with a brush of water. This is the template I used. You may have to re size it for your cake.

Add some leaves to the top and the cake board for decoration.
I made mine using a maple leaf cutter but you can use any leaf cutter you have or free hand them.

Finish the cake by inserting the pumpkin ears at an angle to the top of the cake.

Fast , fun and easy!

At the last minute I decided to make the ears out of fondant covered Styrofoam balls.
I was concerned about the weight of the rice krispie treat ears and the road vibration transporting it to the party. I didn't want them to pull the dowels they were attached to down through the sides of the cake.
I purchased 3 inch Styrofoam craft balls in the floral department.

Wet them a bit and covered them in orange fondant.
I used a wood dowel to make the pumpkin impressions. Set it in the middle of the ear and rock it up and down gently evenly around the ball.
I then used the wood dowels to insert these into the cake.
They worked great and were incredibly light.
I would use the krispie treat ears if I didn't have to transport this cake.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

This is my most requested recipe.
I made them for my father's 60th birthday party two years ago and I'm still being asked for the recipe.
I have already posted some fall flavor cupcakes that were fast and easy recipes.
This one has a longer list of ingredients and a bit more prep time but it's a great scratch recipe that is so worth the time.

save & print jpeg
save & print jpeg
First thing I do is process the crystalized ginger in the food processor until it's in very fine pieces.
You don't want large chunks in your cupcakes.
These have a very 'warm' full flavor and make a great dessert cupcake.
I decorate mine with sunflowers for fall and these disappear faster than any other cupcake I make.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Monster Truck Cake Challenge

There is that one cake, the one that you take an order for and have no idea how you are going to pull it off.
This was the one for me.
A monster truck.
There are plenty of monster truck cakes online, some are pretty good.
Due to the design of them it makes construction a challenge.
My first task was to design an elevated cake " stand" to set the truck on.
I went to Michaels and bought a thick piece of wood and a birch dowel.
Skip this step, I didn't use them.
Plan B
Buy a piece of foam core , a cake board and Wilton wood dowels.

For the cake I used the Wilton Cruiser Pan.

I never use character pans anymore , but the car ones are great when you don't have time to carve cake.

While my cake was baking I made the tires.
Fortunately there was a tutorial on Jessicakes website which I followed ( for the most part )  and they came out great.
The tires were made of Rice Krispie Treats that I molded in another one of my Wilton pans. I call it my min-bundt pan but I'm quite sure that isn't what Wilton calls it.
It's this one though.

Once they were formed I covered them in buttercream and let that dry a bit.

While that was drying I discovered Jessicakes tutorial and discovered she had better ideas so I grabbed my 4 inch round cookie cutter.
I shaped my tires with the cookie cutter shaving off the sides and making it all nice and even and round.

Once that was done I used a diamond shaped cutter to make tread.

Attach the " v's" to the tires.

 Cover with black fondant.

Roll out some grey fondant and cut 1 inch circles for wheels. Attach those to the tires with a brush of water.

With a small round icing tip decorate wheels.

Once the cake was cooled I placed it on the cake board and traced it.
Set the cake aside and cut the cake board.
Glue cake to cake board with some buttercream.

I made Grave Digger so I had to build up the back with some cake crumbs mixed with some icing and moulded onto the cake.

Cut out the wheel wells, I used my round cutter at a 45 degree angle to get nice even cut outs.

Ice cake and smooth.

Cover with fondant.

I found an image of the trucks decals and printed that with my edible image printer.
These came out the exact size I needed without any resizing.

I applied these with a brush of corn syrup so they would adhere smooth and firm.
I added some headlights made of fondant and I cut some windows and a windshield freehand out of grey fondant.
Attach to truck with some water.

Ok, so the truck is done, tires are done, that leaves the cake board and the " stand".
I had been dreading this part because I had no idea how I was going to pull it off.
I was planning to use cake scraps to build dirt mounds but of course this was one of those rare occasions that my cakes baked perfectly even. ( I was making another birthday cake and had planned to use those. )
Again, plan B.
I baked one 8 inch layer of chocolate cake to crush to make the dirt mounds.
For the cake board I started by covering it in chocolate buttercream.
To make the supports to elevate the truck I cut the wood dowels 1/4 inch taller than my truck tires and sharpened one end to a point to pierce the cake board.
I used 4, one to hide behind each tire and then I used 1 thin dowel in the middle.
I covered all of these with black fondant to make them blend in.

Mound crushed cake scraps all around the cake board.

To reinforce the cake board the truck is on I cut a rectangle of foam core and covered that in black fondant to make it match as well.
Place cake on that fondant covered foam core and then set on the supports.
Set tires in place and add any details you choose.

I made a flag with a #4 on it because the birthday boy was turning 4.

Challenge complete.

It wasn't quite as difficult as I had imaged it would be and the structure was stable enough to hold it for quite a few hours.