Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Hat Without A Cat

My first request for a Dr. Seuss 'Cat In the Hat' , hat.
No cat.
These are the cakes that make me nervous. They look almost too easy, this usually means I will be tearing it apart and re-doing it at 1:00 am.
I solicited a lot of advice from some other decorators, they made it sound and look easy.
The cake is going to be only a small part of a Dr. Seuss display for a little boy's 1st birthday.
I love creative parents, and I am thrilled to be a part of this project.
This hat has to be perfect so that I don't ruin their pressure, no pressure at all. HA!
To make the hat I baked 6 - 8 inch funfetti cakes from scratch.
Funfetti cakes are really tricky, watch closely.
I use my White Cake Recipe...and throw in 1/2 a cup of rainbow Jimmies.
Yup, that's the secret, pretty amazing!  Haha!

For this cake I used Vanilla Bean Buttercream.

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I leveled all but the cake that would be on top of the hat.
I wanted it to be a little floppy and crooked.
Funny when you want a cake to be floppy and crooked it takes some creativity, but when you don't want a floppy , crooked cake it seems to just happen.

I stacked them on top of each other as 2 separate cakes.
So I filled 2 layers.
Doweled them.
Filled the last 2 layers , placed them on a 4 inch cake board and stacked them.

I let these settle overnight.
Then chilled them in the refrigerator to firm them up for carving.

I slightly carved 1 side to give the hat a little bend. <- This is why using only a  4 inch cake board is important,  a 6 inch would make it difficult to carve.
Then slowly, carve the top at an angle, sliver by sliver.
Remember you can always take some off, you cannot put it back on so carve little by little.

This is what I ended up with. ( resist eating the scraps Melanie, resist the scraps...)

I re-chilled the cake to firm it up again and then I iced the entire cake with buttercream.

First I covered the cake in white fondant. Important because you will be rolling the stripes so thin red would show through white stripes.

Next I made the top of the hat in red. Roll this VERY thin and apply with a little water.

Then I rolled out the red stripes, very thin, very, very thin. Thinner than I've ever rolled anything ever!

I applied the stripes to the hat with a little water for glue.

Last step, the black pin striping and accents. I wanted this hat to have an illustrated look.

I used Wilton Black Color Gel mixed with a little vanilla extract and painted it on very carefully with a thin paint brush.

" And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!"

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday ~ Week 8

We have a wonderful, older Italian couple who live down the street from us.
They have really taken to Little Brandon. So much that he even calls the wife Nona.
Saturday they stopped by with an Easter basket for us. ( Yeah, they are that sweet .)
I wanted to make them something as a thank you but couldn't think of anything.
Then out of no where I started craving the Easter Bread from the Raritan Bakery in New Jersey.
Easter Bread, festive, Italian and YUM!
I found a recipe on Pinterest and gave it a shot, hoping for the Easter Bread I remember having as a child. This recipe comes from The Brown Eyed Baker . I have made a few recipes from her blog that have turned out great so I'm very optimistic about this bread.

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Survey says:

This mixed up easily and  it makes the whole house smell wonderful while it's baking!
It is as close as I have come to the Easter Bread I remember having as a child.

I will post a photo shortly, we are coloring eggs to decorate it with. But until then here is a photo of what it should look like.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Easter Bunny Cupcake Toppers

I'm pretty festive and couldn't just stop with some chick cupcake toppers so...
Here comes Peter Cottontail to join the chicks.
I've made him coming and going in this tutorial.

You will need:
gumpaste, pink, white, black and yellow fondant.
A 2 inch biscuit cutter, small oval cutter, a small round cutter, a small square cutter,  the Wilton small flower cutter, 2 sizes of paisley cutters, a drinking straw,  a cocktail straw, and an Exacto knife.
If you don't have the paisley cutters you can just draw on a piece of paper and use that as a template.

Working backwards we will do the cute little cotton tail first.

Mix the white fondant with some gumpaste.

Roll the fondant / gumpaste mixture to 1/4 inch thick.

Cut out the 2 inch rounds and a small flower for each topper.

I used my exacto knife to score up the circle which will be the tail.

Attach to the 2 inch topper with some water or gum glue.

Roll out some white and some pink fondant to 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut 2 small ovals per topper.

With the cocktail straw cut out 4 circles per bunny foot. ( the small oval )

Attach those to the ovals for toes.

Attach the bunny feet to the topper.


Next is the Easter Bunny's face. A few more steps but still very easy.

Roll out the white gumpaste / fondant mix to 1/4 inch thick.

Cut out the 2 inch round topper.
Cut out a paisley piece per topper.
Flip over the cutter or template and cut out another paisley piece per topper.
With the drinking straw cut out 2 circles per topper.
With the small square cutter cut 1 square per topper.
With the smallest round cutter ( I use a 1/2 inch cutter ) cut 2 circles per topper.

Place all of these in a ziploc or keep them covered with Saran wrap while you work so they don't dry out.

Roll out some pink fondant and with the smaller of the paisley cutters do the same as you did with the larger. ~ 1 per topper, flip it over, 1 more per topper.
Cut out 1 circle of pink per topper with the drinking straw for a nose.

Attach the pink to the white paisley piece using some water.

Attach those to the 2 inch topper.

Cut the tops of the small squares to a point, and a vertical slit in the bottom for teeth.

Attach to topper.

With my Exacto knife I scored up the small circles to give some texture to the bunny cheeks.

Attach those to the topper above the teeth.

Attach the nose.

Attach 2 of the white rounds that were made with the drinking straw for eyes.

Roll out a small amount of black fondant.
Cut circles with the cocktail straw

Attach as pupils.

Finally , roll out some yellow and cut 1 flower per topper with the small flower cutter.
I placed a candy sprinkle in the center of each one.

Attach to the topper to cover where the bunny ears meet.

Now you have some fun Easter Bunny toppers to go with the chicks!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday ~ Week 7

Last night was one of numerous kitchen blunders.
Even though it was snowing outside I was ready for some summer food. 
Strawberry shortcake on biscuits with real homemade whipped cream to be exact.
Which part of that spells trouble?!? Whipped Cream.
I pour the cream in the bowl, get out the hand mixer, and whip, and whip, and whip.
3 minutes goes by and barely even a soft peak. I keep whipping, 2 more minutes, no change.
What the heck is wrong with this cream? I grab the carton, half and half. I had grabbed the wrong carton from the fridge and spent 5 minutes beating half and half expecting to have whipped cream.
So, now what am I going to do with a cup and a half of half and half that has been beaten and thickened, slightly?
I have heard of a heavy cream cake, and heavy cream pound cakes so I decided to search for a recipe to modify with my half and half. 
I found a simple recipe on Kirbie's Cravings Blog for Whipped Cream Cake.
Please keep in mind, I did have to modify this recipe to use up my half and half so you may end up with different results with Kirbie's recipe. I also used almond extract instead of a full 1 tsp of vanilla.

Here is my recipe.

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Survey Says:

When life gives you half and half, make cake!
This had great flavor. It is not an overly sweet cake.
Brandon compared it to a cornbread and I have to agree. It has a cornbread feel without the corn flavor.
We are going to use it for a mixed berry shortcake.
I also had a slice with my coffee this morning and it's light ( not dense like a pound cake ) and flavorful.
It's not a cake I would just eat a slice of plain, but a great accompaniment for coffee or fruit .
I like the fact it doesn't have all the butter and oils in it most cakes do.
It didn't rise too much , it looks more like a coffee cake, but that may be because I used a large pan.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Easter Chick Cupcake Toppers

Easter is just around the corner and this year and it seems like it came out of nowhere.
I always just assume it's in April , so when it comes in March I am usually caught off guard.

I made some fun , easy, cupcake toppers last night that I think will look cute on some Easter Cupcakes.

You will need some white, yellow, orange and black fondant.
Mix each color of the fondant with some gum paste to stiffen it.

Roll out some yellow fondant / gumpaste mixture and cut circles with a 2 inch biscuit cutter, or any 2 inch round cutter.
Then cut a small daisy, or any other flower that looks similar.
I used Sunflower Sugar Art's smallest daisy cutter that came in the set .

Roll out some white and cut circles with the 2 inch biscuit cutter.
Use a drinking straw and cut out circles for eyes.

Roll out some orange and cut small squares. If you have a square cutter you can use that, I didn't have one handy so I cut some squares free hand.

Roll out the black and with a small cocktail straw cut out circles for the pupils.

Now to make our hatching chicks.

Cut a 1/4 inch strip out of the middle of the white circles with an Exacto knife.

Then cut a zig zag pattern on each piece.

Lay each 1/2 on a yellow circle.

Add the orange square, I used my knife to make a line going horizontally across the square for the beak.

Add the white dots.

Add black dots .

Now for the chicks who have already hatched.
Add the daisy to the top center of a yellow circle.

Next add an orange square to a yellow circle and score horizontally with an Exacto knife.

Add the white dots.

Add the black dots and the chicks are done.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Test Kitchen Tuesday ~ Week 6

St. Patrick's Day is coming and although I am not Irish, you can't help but celebrate in Syracuse, New York.
There is more hype for St. Patricks Day here than there is for New Years Eve.
We even have a traffic light on Tipperary Hill with the Green light on the top.

It's pretty serious.

Something else that's pretty serious here...

                                                                                                                       an empty cookie jar.

Today, I will be testing out a recipe for Bailey's White Chocolate Chip Cookies that I found on The Nerds Wife blog.
Those sound Irish enough to me !

One of my pet peeves is when people write a review for a recipe they tried and they start off with, I didn't have xxxx so I used yyyy, and instead of xxxxx I used yyyy and instead of doing xxxxx I did yyyyy , you get the jist.
Then they go on to give the recipe a review. Really?!? You didn't actually make THE recipe, you made your own recipe so giving the one that is written a good or bad review really isn't right. ~ At least in my opinion.

Just had to vent that, it came to mind as I discovered all I had was Mint Bailey's on hand and I ended up making this recipe with Carolan's Irish Cream instead.
So I will be changing the name of my cookie to Carolan's White Chocolate Chip Cookies to be fair.
 Everything else was done exactly as written in the original recipe.

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Survey says:

We like them.
Next time I will chill the dough before baking.
I may have let the butter get a bit too soft and it caused our cookies to be thin and not thick  like we like them.
But the flavor is great and even though mine came out thin, they are still soft and chewy.
These won't be in regular rotation, but they will find their way back to our cookie jar next St. Patrick's Day.