Saturday, June 29, 2013

I found it!

The PERFECT white cake recipe...and I mean perfect!
That says a lot because I have been hunting down and trying white cake recipes for 13 + years.
I have some complete failures, some that were tolerable and some that were good, but none that were PERFECT.

This recipe is a white cake from scratch that has a fluffy yet durable texture , not too dry, not too moist with a wonderful light crumb.

I found the original recipe on the blog 'I Am Baker' and it's called ' The Perfect White Cake' .
Never has there been a more appropriate title.
I did adapt it to slightly to my taste by replacing the almond extract she calls for with additional vanilla extract.

It was my Grandmother's 85th birthday so I had an opportunity to give it a shot.
I found some Key Lime filling at the grocery store to pair with it.

I baked 4 - 8 inch rounds ( 2 inches high ) in which I multiplied this recipe by 3.

The Perfect White Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup milk at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans.
  2. Make sure milk and eggs are room temperature.
  3. Pour milk , egg whites, and vanilla extract into medium bowl and mix with fork until blended.
  4. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter, cut into cubes and continue beating on low for about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat for about 1 minute.
  6. Pour batter evenly between two prepared cake pans.
  7. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 27 to 30 minutes.
  8. Allow cake to cool to room temperature.
  9. Frost cakes with favorite frosting.
( I have a printable recipe card for this in the cake recipe file ) 

I used the key lime filling and my White Summer Buttercream recipe alternating between layers and iced it with buttercream tinted blue.

I received rave reviews and as burned out as I am on cake, I even ate an entire piece and would have had 2 if I wasn't counting calories.

This recipe will give even a beginner ,professional results.

The decor of this cake was nothing compared to the flavor.
The birds were made of fondant. I printed off a few bird silhouettes I found online for templates and cut them out of fondant. I  also made some colorful accents for them out of fondant . 
These are not designed to be real birds, I am a little scared of birds and have never really studied their markings, so these are 'fantasy birds'. 
The branches and leaves were made of fondant pressed into the Wilton mold I found at Michaels 

The birds nest is a 4 inch round single layer covered in brown fondant. 
Then I used my clay extruder with the largest round disc and piped out strings to wrap around the mini cake. 
The numbers were also made of gumpaste from a template I printed out using fonts I have installed on my computer.

A fun and easy cake!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

...and she lived happily ever after.

Even though I have taken a short  hiatus from caking I still have a few projects on the calendar that were booked before my decision to slow down.
I'm not going to have much of a break from cakes, I just won't be operating at such a hectic pace for the next year.

This cake is for a woman who works in publishing and was to be the surprise for her 30th birthday. 
Her mother is the one who came up with the idea and the design. I just had to figure out how to make it happen.
She wanted an open book with the words "...and she lived happily ever after." to be the message. 
Perfect timing , Jessica of Jessicakes recently made an open book cake and posted a tutorial on her blog.
I used her tutorial to make this cake.

I started by covering the cake board to look like a wooden plank table.
I cut strips of white fondant, laid them on the cake board and rolled them with a wood grain impression roller.
After I had the strips imprinted I diluted some brown food coloring gel with Vodka and painted the cake board. ( The board can be seen in my final photo. )

This was my first time using foam core. I found some at Michael's Crafts and used an Exacto knife to cut it.
My Roget's Thesaurus was my model. I cut 2 pieces of foam core to be the covers and then 3  strips the width of the binding for the binding of my cake base. I also made 4 support strips.
With a hot glue gun I secured the 3 pieces of binding together and then I attached the supports to the binding with some more glue.
Once that was done, I glued the covers to the spine exactly as Jessica instructed.

Please check out her tutorial for more details, she gives very detailed instructions on how to construct this platform.

Using my opened Thesaurus I traced the stacked pages onto more of the foam core to make templates for each of the book halves.
I placed these on top of the cake first to line them up and make sure I didn't cut an uneven page.

Then I slid them down the sides and carved and contoured my cake.

Once I was satisfied with my carving I placed each " stack of pages" on the foam core structure.

This cake was requested in buttercream, that was my challenge as the design really does look best with fondant. Not only does mine have to be has to be chocolate buttercream.

I did get the OK to make the page overlay in fondant. I printed edible images for the pages using this page template.

I saved it in my photos and then used Picmonkey ( a great free photo editor ) to lighten it up a bit and add my text.

I printed these on edible icing sheets and attached them to a sheet of fondant .
Lay the pages on top of the cake.

I added a yellow fondant bookmark to cover the seams where the pages meet and a flower to make it more feminine.

...and she lived happily ever after!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dad's Day on a Dime!

Father's Day is always fun here in our house.
We get to do "projects". These "projects" consist of Little B making Father's Day gifts.

He is so excited to get started...can you sense his excitement?
Every year we do some sort of hand/ foot print art.
Last year we did his hand on a mug, this year we are making a t-shirt.

We went to Michaels Crafts first thing this morning and spent $8.23 on 2 blank T-shirts ( we were either going to make 2 shirts or have a practice shirt ) and a bottle of fabric paint.

I used the lid to one of the restaurant take out containers to pour the paint into and a square of cardboard to put inside the shirt so the paint wouldn't bleed through to the other side.

First I put the cardboard divider inside the shirt and smoothed it out.
I wanted the little hands to look like they had been pulling on the bottom of his shirt. ( this is the side of the shirt so we will have 1 hand in front and 1 in back.)

I was going to have him dip his hands in the paint but I feared that would be a huge mess.
Instead, I painted his hands with a brush ( which tickled...a lot ) .

Fortunately he is at the age where he can set his hand flat with his fingers spread a bit .
I remember trying to get his foot print impression for Christmas ornaments when he was  4 months old and he would dig his toes in.
Then hand prints for the first Father's Day gifts, he would grab the fabric.
It is MUCH easier to capture his prints now.

I did guide his hands to the shirt and applied a little pressure to the tops once he set them down.

This is our end result.

Note : The fabric paint washed right off of his hands very easily.

Dad will love it!

This is a cake blog right?!
So here's the Father's Day cake recipe.
Brandon Sr. LOVES carrot cake and he claims that I make a " mean carrot cake" , which actually IS  a compliment .
This is my carrot cake recipe, it's a favorite in our house and I have also used it for a wedding cake and it held up great!

save and print jpeg

Use this with my Cream Cheese Icing recipe.

save and print jpeg

I decorate our mean carrot cakes with a " mean carrot" made of orange fondant with white fondant sculpted teeth and eyes and black eyebrows.
I extrude some green fondant through a clay extruder for the stems and leaves.
Trim the ends of the stems and cut those pieces into smaller strips and press them horizontally on the stems for leaves.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dora the Explorer Cupcake Toppers

Cakes are great, but cupcakes are soooo much easier for a children's birthday party.
The grab and go cupcake doesn't break their stride and saves the adults from cutting and serving cake ( and cleaning up the mess).
This weekend the party was for my friends twins.
I get such a kick out of them.
They were very vocal in their concerns that they would each have their own cupcakes.  Her son picked Batman and her daughter picked Dora the Explorer.

Batman is an easy one. I have a set of bat cookie cutters that I use to cut out black bats and I put them on yellow ovals. Couldn't be easier.

Dora, that's a whole different adventure.
I had never made Dora before, but she looked like she was going to be a little easier than others I have done.
When I don't have a cutter I make a template from an image online.
I found a Dora face image and sized it to fit on the cupcake.
I printed it out on computer paper and cut the face out around the outer lines.

Roll out some brown fondant and gumpaste mix to 1/4 inch thickness. Lay a piece of waxed paper over the top, place your cut out image on top of the wax paper and cut around the template with an Exacto knife.
Roll out some beige fondant/ gumpaste mix , cut a circle with a 2 inch round cutter.

Lay the beige circle on the brown cut out piece.

Cut the template along Dora's hairline.

Roll out more of the brown and cover with wax paper, place hair template on the top and cut out with an Exacto knife.

Layer the top hair piece over the beige face circle.

Roll out white fondant and with 1/2 inch round cutter cut 2 circles per topper.

Trim one edge of the circles flat.

Add to Dora's face for her eyes.

Next roll out some more brown. With a round icing tip cut out 2 circles per topper.
center on whites of eyes.

Roll out some black fondant, with a drinking straw cut 2 circles per topper.
apply to the center of the brown circles on the eyes.
Roll out some white fondant, with a cocktail straw cut out to dots per eye.

Layer the white dots on the black circles of the eyes.

With the icing tip you cut the brown circles for her eyes, use the wide end to make an imprint for her mouth, with the smaller tip end make an imprint for her nose.

...and she's done!
I have watched so much Dora in the past 3 years I think I had every Dora song run through my head at least once while I was making these.
This was such a fun project.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Avengers Assemble ...a cake.

Here's my small world story ( the condensed version). The neighbor who lived 100 yards from me when I was growing up lives 100 yards from me now.
Mind you I left NY and moved to Detroit for many years, he went to the military and traveled the world for years.
We both returned to New York, about 30 miles from where we grew up, 25 years later and ended up in the same neighborhood again. 
We both have boys who love The Avengers so this year I am making an Avengers cake for his son's birthday.

I found the graphic for the topper here.  You can resize if necessary.
I made mine out of a mix of gumpaste and fondant. This needs time to dry to make at least a week in advance.

I made some stars on floral wires by cutting out red, white, and blue gumpaste stars with a small cutter and sandwiching the wire in between them. ( you will need 2 stars per decoration).

Let these dry at least 2 days

I only had a weeks notice so instead of making gumpaste figurines I decided to print out edible images of The Avengers.
To make these I printed each of these characters onto Luck's icing sheets.
Resize them when you print to be about the same size.

Once the ink dried I rolled out some white gumpaste about 1/4 inch thick , rubbed lightly with some water, and stuck the images to the gumpaste.
With an Exacto knife I cut out each character and placed in a zip loc bag until I was ready to apply them to the cake.

This cake is made with an 8 and a 6 inch tier.
The bottom tier I focused on Captain America seeing as it is Memorial Day Weekend here in the US and the stars and stripes theme fit .
I covered the cake in white fondant. Then I rolled out some blue fondant and cut a strip to wrap around the top of the cake.

I decorated the blue strip with some white fondant stars.
Next I made the red stripes out of fondant and evenly spaced them around the cake vertically.

His name plaque is made out of the famous super hero comic " burst."
I found the Avengers font here to cut out the birthday boys name.

Once you have your top tier covered in fondant it's time to "assemble " The Avengers. I rubbed the back of each cut out with some water and applied them to the cake.
Add your toppers and POW! BAM! ZAP!