Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Introducing...My First Tiered Cake....

First of all let me say that this was ALOT of work....they sure make it look easy on Cake Boss, don't they???? I'm not even going to comment on all the things that are technically wrong with this cake, because this was a PRACTICE cake for my daughters upcoming birthday.

I will say, I learned alot from this cake. I'm glad I did it. I think despite it's flaws that it's beautiful and it turned out like the image in my mind...which is important. It is inspired by the beautiful Flickr pictures of Icing Dreams, whose works are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen...check her out.

The top tier is styrofoam covered in fondant...I did that because I'm alittle paranoid of lead in the wire (I work in an ER remember...I've seen a kid get sick from swallowing a lead trinket...he ended up dying shortly after), so in no way did I want the wire touching my cake. I thought the styrofoam thing was a good idea.
The last picture is of Heather, the birthday girl I used to practice making a cake for (thank you Heather) and her very large mango margarita....

This is also the first time I've worked with Royal Icing...which was a joy to work with, it won't be the last.
I'll have more pictures of the cake on Flickr, just look under Sandi Oh.

A Tale of Two Cakes...part two

The second tier was a Pina Colada cake. I used my vanilla bean - reduced coconut cupcake recipe for the cake, with pineapple buttercream filling and crumb coated with a coconut buttercream. I was worried the cupcake recipe wouldn't translate well into the cake, but it worked out very well.

Verdict...super yummy cupcakes make even yummier cake, cuz I could use more of that wonderful pineapple buttercream. I've already posted all the recipes on my blog before, but this cake is worth a double recipe posting, so here thery are...

First we'll start with the coconut cake, which I found on Epicurious - Before you start with the cake, you'll need to reduce coconut milk:
2 cans unsweetened coconut milk.
I added some old vanilla bean husks to the milk that I had in my sugar bag, plus the vanilla bean from the pineapple makes the milk all vanilla bean speckly....

Bring to boil in a large deep saucepan over med-hi heat (milk will boil up in pan). reduce heat to med-lo and simmer until reduced to approx 1 1/2 cups (I actually got 1 2/3 cups exactly both times I did this - which is perfect because it gave me exactly enough to make 1 batch of cuppies and a double batch of frosting). Stirring occasionally, it takes 25 - 30 minutes. Remove from heat, cool completely and refridgerate up to 2 days ahead.

Coconut Cupcakes: (or cake, I made 3 - 6 inch rounds from this recipe, which made 2-3 layer cakes)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp b powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted room temp butter (I accidently added 2 sticks the second time I made these, and they were just a little richer - so you decide)
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
seeds from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla (I used 1/2 vanilla bean and 1/2 tsp good vanilla)
1 cup reduced coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, line 18 cupcake tins. (grease, flour, place parchment paper in pans of choice)
Sift together the dry ingredients into seperate bowl.
Cream the butter until fluffy then slowly add the sugar and beat again 2 - 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between each addition (and as always, scrape your bowl when you need to). Add the last egg with the seeds from the vanilla bean (or extract) and beat well.
Add the cup of coconut milk, mix well. Add 1/2 the flour mixture and mix until blended, then add the remaining flour and mix until blended. (okay, so that's the original directions. I just did the dry, wet, dry method which worked just fine too - just don't overmix your flour). Bake 18 - 20 minutes. (rotate your cakes 15 minutes into cakes baked about 27 minutes)

Next comes the Pineapple Buttercream (a new favorite), which is a recipe that I adapted from Fields of Cake, one of my favorite blogsites.

1/4 cup dark rum
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted room temp butter
1 stick salted room temp butter
1/2 box (or 1/7 oz) instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup pineapple filling
1/2 - 1 cup powdered sugar

In small sauce pan stir together rum and b. sugar and cook over med heat until sugar is dissolved (I just brought it to a boil). remove from heat and let cool.
In stand mixer with whip attachment, cream both butters until light and fluffy. Add pudding and rum mixture (make sure you dip your fingers into the rum mixture and savor a piece of heaven while your at it) and mix on low to blend, then turn mixer up and beat 5 - 8 minutes. Bring mixer back to low and add cream and 1/4 cup pineapple, mix to incorporate. Turn mixer back up and beat again for a few minutes. Turn down again and add sugar (I like 1 cup, but you decide how sweet you want does have the brown sugar from the rum and the filling itself). Once again bring mixer back up and beat for another few minutes. When done fold in the other half of the pineapple. (this time I used all of my pineapple...just incorporated it in is a filling afterall....)
I found at times the frosting looked a little coagulated, but keep beating. It ends up great.
Next is the Coconut Buttercream ('s sooooo good)
(also from Epicurious)
2 sticks unsalted room temp butter (I actually use 1 stick salted and 1 stick unsalted)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup reduced coconut milk (from above)
seeds from vanilla bean or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla (good quality)
1/8 tsp salt

beat butter until fluffy, add sugar, milk, vanilla and salt and mix on med low until well blended and scraping bowl as needed. Increase mixer to med high and beat until light and fluffy.
I have to double this recipe when I make it because it's sooooo fantastic.

Pineapple Filling
(Adapted from "Sky High")

1 can crushed pineapple in natural juice (approx 560 g)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp brown sugar (use dark or light)
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp Spiced rum
1/2 vanilla bean - scrape seeds out and add, then throw in the pod while cooking.

Put all ingredients into large pan. On low heat cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium and simmer until juice is evaporated and pineapple is jam like and thickened (approx 20 -25 minutes). Cool, take out vanilla pod. I stored mine in a glass jar and used after a couple of days.

A Tale of Two Cakes....part one, continued

okay, to finish the carrot cake, I layered it with cream cheese frosting and more nuts on top of that. Bad pic up top...sorry...was taken with margaritas on board....

Verdict...the cake is moist and flavorful, but all those candy nuts put the sweetness factor off the charts, so next time I think I will sans the nuts on top of the layers, but keep everything else the same.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Cakes....part one

Today I'm making two cakes for my "first tiered cake" that I'm decorating tomorrow. The first tier is a carrot cake and the top tier will be a pina colada cake.

Carrot Cake - I could not for the life of me find me go-to recipe for carrot cake. It's been ages since I made one - so I couldn't even fake the recipe. So I scoured the internet and found one I thought would work...I found this one from good ol' Martha Stewart. I liked that it had butter instead of oil (although I know that oil in carrot cake is just fine). I decided to add pineapple to the recipe so it would tie in with the top tier, and also instead of adding "just" chopped pecans, I added "brown sugared pecans" that I had made the night before....Here's the recipe....

Carrot Cake
(by Martha Stewart)
Serves 10

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (heaping tsp)
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (only used 1/4 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I omitted, only cuz I didn't have any)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I increased this to 3/4 cup)
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup water (wierd, huh?)
1 pound carrots (8 to 10 medium carrots), peeled and shredded on a box grater or in a food processor (about 2 3/4 cups) (so I only used 2 packed cups)
2 cups pecans (1 cup finely chopped for batter, 1 cup coarsely chopped for decorating sides of cake) (1 cup brown sugared pecans, chopped)

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.
Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat 3 minutes. Add vanilla, water, and carrots. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture, then finely chopped pecans.
Scrape batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn right side up, and let cool completely.

This made pretty flat cakes that didn't rise very much...which is fine because I'm gonna layer them anyway. Unfortunately, I could not taste these, to make sure they are okay....cuz I'm on a diet....but it smells and looks divine. I'll let you know tomorrow what people think of the cake.

Brown Sugar Pecans
(from recipezaar)

16 ounces pecan halves (this time, I actually used 8 ozs. chopped pecans)
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

1. arrange pecan halves in a foil lined 13 x 9 pan.
2. melt butter in saucepan over medium heat and add brown sugar,vanilla and salt.
3. stir one minute and remove from heat.
4. continue stirring, until brown sugar dissolves.
5. pour over pecans, stirring to coat.6. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes; stirring every 10 minutes.
7. remove from oven and spread on wax paper to cool.
8. store in an airtight container

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bounty from the garden and more cake pics...

I just had to post a picture of what I chopped up for dinner tonight....all from my garden. You can't really see that I have cauliflower in the bottom of the bowl, but it's there. The only thing missing is zucchini, which isn't prolific for me this year....bummer.

Peace, Love and Barefootin'

This is a birthday cake for a friend and co-worker's husband who is in to barefoot water skiing (ouch). We wanted to exaggerate the feet, and she's pregnant on the beach. Their 4 kids are in the boat. I was on my way to work one night, really stressing about what I wanted to put on the side of the cake, when all of a sudden a car drives past me with the "peace, love & barefootin'" bumper sticker on it....truly divine inspiration and I had to use it.

The cake is vanilla with a whipped Reese's Peanut Butter gananche filling. yummy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Patriotic Cake

This cake is for a co-workers son for his 18th birthday. Once again I had nothing but trouble. this cake makes me question whether or not I truly have any talent. The marshmallow fondant, once again, did not turn out for me - I had to roll it out so many times, and it got buttercream frosting all mixed in with it, and my nice crumb coating got all jacked - not to mention the fact that it came squirting out the bottom of the cake.

When all is said and done, there are quite a few flaws in the fondant, especially on the bottom of the cake and uneveness in the crumb coating (because of ripping off my fondant twice).

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I cut my cake crooked. I just hope the whole thing doesn't fall apart before I get it to her.

On a positive note, the filling is a whipped milk chocolate chip ganache buttercream. It's yummy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fondant Disaster

I wanted to practice some more on covering cakes with fondant...I had made some new MMF last night, but had done the fondant a little differently. Today when I rolled out the was horrible, cracking and tearing and sort of a floppy texture. It tasted the same tho....and I think I did a pretty good job of salvaging it....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Zebra Cake..

This cake I made as a practice cake for my daughters upcoming birthday. She wants a tiered cake with different fondant designs, one being zebra. I've never covered a cake in fondant before, so of course I had to I present to you MY FIRST FONDANT COVERED CAKE...I think I did pretty good. I know my mistakes and will improve on it next time.

The cake is chocolate filled with Reese's peanut butter ganache (this time I added chunks of candy to it) and covered in a chocolate buttercream. The fondant is MM with some peanut butter candy oil kneaded into it (although, I have to admit, that I cannot taste PB in the fondant, I will try and add it while I'm making the fondant next time for a stronger taste) and the zebra stripes are a dark chocolate clay.

My first vegan cupcakes....

I wanted to try this recipe from the Love and Olive Oil blog site, it is a vegan almond cupcake with a blackberry buttercream (which I made with butter, so that's not vegan). The whole thing together is very yummy.

Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream
Makes 12 cupcakes.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal (I made this by grinding 1/2 cup slivered almonds with 1/4 cup confectioners sugar and processing until flour like.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used just under 1 cup)
1/3 cup oil
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 vanilla bean (seeds only)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Blackberry Buttercream:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons fresh blackberry puree, strained
1/2 vanilla bean (seeds only)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add sugar and mix. Whisk together oil, coconut milk, vanilla bean, and almond extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners with a scant 1/4 cup of batter (should be just under 2/3 of the way full). Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

For frosting, cream butter in electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Slowly add 1 cup sugar and beat until smooth. Add blackberry puree and mix until combined. Add remaining confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla bean and extract and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Can I frost a cake?

I never realized how difficult it is to frost a cake perfectly. I spent an hour frosting this thing, and it's still off. Maybe it's my tools, maybe it's my frosting, maybe I just don't have the talent....whatever, I feel a little discouraged. I know the cake tastes amazing...but I want it to look amazing also.

To top it off, I tried to make sculpted horses out of chocolate clay....ha, ha, ha, snort,

Monday, July 6, 2009

First Birthday Cupcakes

Cuppies for a first birthday. There is a mixture of MMF, and white chocolate clay flowers, butterflies and leaves.

Smash Cake

For Kayla, who, obviously is one.
I had so many issues with this cake. I thought small cake along with my cupcake many problems.
First of all, I overfilled my 6 inch pan initially, and ended up with this dark brown rock....., then I didn't think at all about my decorations and the fact that I was using perishable icing (strawberry) frigerate the cake....MMF goes soft. ugh.
Plus that border on the cake....not my best work. Next time...I'll do better.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Iron Cupcake - Herbs

For my first entry, I chose to do chocolate and mint together because, well, you know...It's fabulous. I did a dark devils food cupcake, filled with a dark chocolate buttercream and topped with a mint infused dark chocolate ganache buttercream.

Devils food cupcake
(adapted from Fields of Cake and me)

2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 dark brown sugar
3/4 cup Cocoa (I love using Hershey's special dark)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water (or 1/2 coffee, 1/2 water boiling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line cupcake pan. I got 28.
Sift together dry ingredients into large mixing bowl. Add oil, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and mix with electric mixer on med for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and mix to incorporate.
Make sure you do not overfill cupcake pans, or you will have a mess. fill it a scan 2/3 full. bake 18 minutes.

Mint Ganache
23 oz mixed chopped bittersweet and semisweet chocolate
2 cups plus 1 Tbsp cream
mint leaves
1 Tbsp softened US butter

Tear handful of mint leaves and put into a 2 qt saucepan, take a wooden spoon and squish them hard in the are trying to release the oils of the mint. Add cream and bring just to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let sit to steep for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, get your other ingredients ready. measure out your chocolate and put into a heatproof bowl (I use my mixer bowl).
Reheat cream, bring to just a boil, add to chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes then stir to mix. Add butter after mixed. Put a piece of saran wrap over the top and let cool.

Mint Ganache buttercream
2 sticks US RT butter
1/2 tsp mint extract
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
pinch salt
2 cups mint ganache.

Cream butter, add sugar, extract and salt. Add cooled ganache and beat until light and fluffy.

Dark Chocolate Buttercream
(Martha Stewart)
note: this is the frosting I made for my chocolate salted caramel frosting that I swore I'ld never make again....people at work liked it so much, I'm making it again.

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp boiling water
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 pounds best-quality semi-sweeted chocolate, melted and cooled.

combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. with an electric mixer on med-high speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low, add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in cocoa mixture. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month, in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temp and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Learn more about iron cupcake at

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A sweet cupcake ID bracelet by INSANEJELLYFISH,
A delicious treat from CIRCLEMONKEY
a sweet surprise from Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Cupcakery,
PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY,, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice - sweet!Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS,, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson,, JESSIE STEELE APRONS; TASTE OF HOME books,; a t-shirt from UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers, .

24 cup pan

Was given to me by my daughter. Cool. Want 3 more.

White Chocolate Clay

I was experimenting with white chocolate clay. I used 7 0z of good melted white chocolate and 1/2 of 1/3 cup (whatever the heck that is - 1/6 cup? How many Tbsp is that? 2 Tbsp and 2 tsp?) light corn syrup, stirred together until just mixed, then wrapped in saran wrap and let harden overnight at room temp.

When I was ready to use it, I just kneaded it until pliable, then added food coloring. (both the gel and the candy gel color worked). Oh yeah, I did wear gloves...otherwise the stuff is real sticky, and I used powdered sugar to keep it from sticking.

Verdict: it tastes good (if you like the taste of white chocolate) and rolls out nice. totally will use it again.

In the above pictures, I used marshmallow fondant and the white chocolate clay - you can't even tell the difference. what I'm hoping for is a stiffer product in the clay, so I dont have to use gum tex in fondant (yuck). These flowers and butterflies are for some cupcakes and a smash cake for a first birthday on Monday.