Monday, September 28, 2009

Apple Pie winner..

Well, it was a toss up. I loved the new crust recipe. It 's a recipe I found on Simply Recipes. It's an all butter crust with some almond meal instead of flour. It is fabulous....I will be making this crust for years to come. (My daughter just informed me that she likes my old crust better...I still like this new one.)

As far as the apples go, I still like my New Zealand Fuji's. Firm, but not too firm. Sweet, but not sickingly. The Honeycrisp are nice, but just don't have as much flavor as the Fuji's and they are too firm for me.

Here's the pie crust recipe:

2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds, or almond flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
4 - 6 Tbsp ice water, very cold.

Cut butter into cubes and place in the freezer for 15 minutes to one hour.
Combine flours, salt and sugar in food processor - pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 - 8 times until mixture looks like coarse meal with pea sized butter. Add water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the mixture and it sticks together, it's ready. Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Gently shape into 2 discs, wrap and let chill one hour.
Remove 5 - 10 minutes before your ready to roll it.


I'm not a big pie maker, but this time of the year I make the exception. The weather here is screaming apple pie...I had to break out my favorite pie crust recipe and get going. This year I tried a new crust recipe and tried out Honeycrisp apples also. We'll cut into these babies after dinner and I'll let you know how they turned out.
The pie on the left is my trustworthy crust recipe with my favorite pie apple, New Zealand Fuji's. I tried Washington Fuji's a couple of times, and it isn't the it has to be New Zealand for me. Also, I'm a little wierd in that I like my crust thick and doughy...almost like a cobbler. No thin and flaky for me, ma'am...bring on the cholesterol....Here is my favorite crust recipe with my apple pie recipe....
(Marcia Adams "New Recipes from Quilt Country" -BTW, "Cooking From Quilt Country" is a fab cookbook!)
Makes enogh for 2 pies with top crusts (unless you are like me and use alot of dough)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tsp salt
1 3/4 cup butter flavored shortening (yeah, yeah, yeah shortening is bad.....whatever....)
1 egg
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
Combine flour, sugar, salt and shortening in a large mixer bowl and blend (food processor, Kitchen Aid, Bosch, whatever you have) until it has the texture of coarse crumbs. In small bowl, whisk or beat together the egg, vinegar and water. Drizzle over the flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Shape the dough into a patty, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for 45 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.
When chilled, form the dough into a long roll, then divide into fourths. Roll and use immediately, or wrap each portion separately and fridge or freeze.
Apple Pie
revised from "The Good Housekeeping Cookbook" my grandma gave me 22 years ago.
6 - 7 cups peeled, cored and sliced thin apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice (I just used half a lemon and squeezed)
1 - 2 tbsp butter
Preheat oven to 425. mix dry ingredients together and mix into apples, squeeze lemon juice and zest into apples and stir. pour into prepared pie crust. top with pieces of the butter and cover with top crust.
I like to wrap the edge of the pie with foil to keep them from browning too much. I bake for 40 minutes, then take off the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Another thing I like to do is put a cookie sheet or piece of foil on the rack below the pies so that the juices that spill don't get all over the oven.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Oreo Filling...

Today is a total relax day for me....nothing cakes to order, no exercising, no dieting, no nothing I don't want to I was kinda bored.

Anyways, I had a bunch of leftover pink frosting from yesterday's castle cake so I thought I should use it up and make a cake for the kids. (Believe it or not, I don't usually keep alot of my baked goods in the house...I am usually baking for someone else, or I bring it to work). they wanted chocolate and oreo's (with pink frosting).

Well, I didnt feel like making another batch of buttercream for the oreo filling, and I was out of "whip it" stabilizer so I improvised, and what resulted was masterful....this is honestly the best oreo filling I have made...alot of it didn't make it on the cake (yes I am wiping away some from my face right now!)

Here it is....

4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups whipping/heavy cream
20 oreos, crushed

In small bowl cream the cream cheese, add sugar to blend.
In larger bowl beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold in the cream cheese mixture. I actually beat it some more until I had stiff peaks. Fold in oreos and presto -- yummo. try not eating it all by the spoonful!

BTW, not gonna post a pic of this cake, cuz it's ugly. I didn't even bother trying to make it pretty.
but I should add that I tried a new chocolate cake recipe...if it's any good, I'll post it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Castle Cake, Happy Birthday Haley!

Wow, this was a big project - and a big cake. It's a 12 inch 3 layer vanilla with strawberry filling, a 9 inch 3 layer chocolate with oreo filling and a 6 inch 3 layer vanilla with lemon curd and lemon buttercream filling.

I initially was going to cover the cake in the Michele Foster fondant, but after having made her delicious fondant NINE times, and not once having it roll out decent, I went with buttercream. From now on I'm buying fondant to use on any cake to cover (BTW, fondarific buttercream fondant tastes better than the MFF). I will make marshmallow fondant and candy clay for decorations from now on......I have spoken.

I took pictures of the cake prior to delivery. It's a good thing I did because almost all of the turrets fell off on my 1 1/2 hour drive to deliver this cake. Oh time I quess I'll have to put them on at the event, or find a better way to anchor them in the cake (chocolate and popsicles sticks, if you ever have made the Wilton castle kit is laughable.)

I dont have any cakes planned for the next week which is nice...need a break to get at my garden which needs to be cleaned out before winter (yeah, I said the's coming....)

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Stuff I'm working on for my upcoming castle cake. It's the first time I've prepared a cake board with fondant. Of course I'm not done, they'll be a moat in the white area and grass and flowers.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Baby Shower Cake

I made 2 cakes for this event. The first is a 10 inch, 3 layer vanilla with strawberry filling. the second is a 8 inch, 3 layer chocolate with oreo filling. I also made a dozen cupcakes with the extra batter.

They are decorated with vanilla buttercream, chocolate clay and marshmallow fondant.

I tried the Viva paper towel method to smooth the buttercream, as you can see, I need more practice....but definitely think I'm improving.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Camera

I got a new camera for my birthday...totally not expecting that. I haven't really played with it yet, but here's one picture my husband took today as I was working on an upcoming baby shower cake.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Pina Colada cake with a dummy top. It was supposed to have a third layer, but my fondant didn't cooperate. My cake muse was not with me today. I was inspired to make a ocean like cake, and this one is incomplete....I will try it again one day....but for today I'm fondanted out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Neapolitan Cake, part two

After the ganache (16 oz dark chocolate with 8 oz heavy cream, and oh yeah...a Tbsp of amaretto...'cuz it's my bday!). I only put on one layer, because I am exhausted.

I'll try and take a pic of this tomorrow at work when we cut into it. (These are the pics from the was a very delicious cake, but I had mixed reviews on the chocolate...semi sweet would've been better. The other cake is a lemon cake with strawberry filling that I had made from the leftover batter from the anniversary cake...this was also well recieved at work.)

50th anniversary cake

whew, this one just about gave me an infarct. "No big deal" I said, "I can replicate the top of the wedding cake". Whatever. I did the best I could. It's a lemon cake with strawberry filling and a lemon buttercream. The topper and swans are gumpaste. The hearts on the side are fondant, that I quick made to cover up the huge mess I made with trying to draw out buttercream hearts. My piping skills are mediocore at best....something to practice.

I also made cupcakes to match, they all have little fondant hearts with 50 on them, but I haven't gotten a picture.

Neapolitan Cake, part one

My birthday is in a couple of days, so I'm making a couple of cakes for myself (why just one?). This is a recipe I found on that I had printed off a while ago and have been wanting to try. I'm printing her version of the recipe, with the changes that I made to it in red.
I did 1 1/2 of the recipe to make a 9 layer cake, which I'm glad I did because I ended up overcooking 2 of the cookies.

Makes one 8-inch, six-layer cake; serves (at least) 6 to 8
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups jam, raspberry, apricot, strawberry or peach are suggested (I used no sugar added strawberry)
Half of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted (I could only find slivered, so that's what I used.)
3 cups flour, sifted
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (I did not increase this amount when I enlarged recipe, as I am using chocolate to cover cake)
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
I also added the other half of the vanilla bean seeds
1 teaspoon orange-flower water (I skipped this)
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (me too)

Make the filling: Place 1/4 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over high heat, without stirring, until all the sugar turns caramel. Tilt pan to distribute caramel. Lower the heat and carefully whisk in the jam, the scraped vanilla bean and seeds, 1 tablespoon of water, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. (The caramel will bubble violently.) Simmer, stirring, until the caramel dissolves into the jam. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. (This can be done a day in advance.)
Make the cookie layers: In a food processor, pulverize the whole almonds with 2 tablespoons of the flour.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, remaining sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the zests (and vanilla bean seeds) until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the pulverized almonds until combined. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, and then add the almond extract and orange-flower water. Mix in the remaining flour.
Divide the dough into six equal balls. (Yes, I weighed mine.) Place each ball between two sheets of plastic wrap and press into an 8-inch circle, using the inside of a pie pan as a guide. I used an 8-inch cake pan for this. Try to keep the edges as neat and clean as possible. It may be easiest to do this by trimming any jagged edges once the discs have chilled, before you bake them.
Chill the dough rounds in the refrigerator for 2 hours or freeze for 30 minutes. Take some time when you are pressing the dough out to make sure your edges are not too thin, or else they'll get really brown while cooking!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (after 2 burnt cookies, I turned my heat down to 350). Remove plastic wrap, place a dough round on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden, about 15 (12-15) minutes. Please, watch this baking time carefully, as your oven will vary and the cookies are so thin, even an extra minute or two can overly darken the edges. Nobody likes a burnt cookie cake!
Cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining rounds.

To assemble the cake: Lay a round in the center of a serving plate. Spread with 3 to 4 tablespoons of jam to just before the edge. (If your jam is super-intense, as our currant jam was, err on the 3 tablespoon rather than 4-tablespoon side, so it doesn’t overwhelm the delicate cookies.) Continue to layer the rounds, spreading jam between each. Spread a thin layer of jam over the top and cover with sliced almonds.
Okay, so I used strawberry jam and alternated spreading the cookies with a lightly sweetened, stabilized whipped cream (11/2 cups whip cream, 1 pkg "whip it" and 1/2 cup powdered sugar, whipped to stiff peaks). so I ended up with 3 layers strawberry, 3 layers whipped cream. I left the top cookie bare so that later I can pour a dark chocolate ganache over it)

The cake can be served immediately, but tastes even better, and is easier to cut, if tightly wrapped and served 1 to 2 days later. (Don’t skimp on this.) Thus, you might find it easiest to wrap the cake without the final layer of jam over the top — as I did — spreading it once you’re ready to unwrap and serve it.

It is now sitting in the fridge. I will pour ganache on it tonight and let it sit overnight to take to work tomorrow. I'll show you what it looks like later.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What I've been up to...

Been knee deep in fondant and candy clay for some upcoming projects.
The cake is actually a dummy for the top of my birthday cake, it's going to be an ocean inspired tiered cake.
The babies are, obviously, for a baby cake, and....
The swans are for a 50th anniversary cake which is going to be an attempt at recreating the top tier of the wedding cake....
And boy, do I need a better camera....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bailey's Irish Cream buttercream recipe

Yes, I had a small taste of this frosting when I made the Guinness cupcakes the other day....and it was phenomenal.....yes, I am sugar and fat deprived, but nevertheless, this is a to die for, yummy frosting. I adapted it from The Cupcakery. Give it a try...and don't skip the lemon, it makes it pop.

Bailey's Irish Cream buttercream

1 stick salted butter, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 heaping cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4th of a large lemon's juice
pinch salt
1/4 cup Bailey's....or more...let the frosting's consistency be your guide.

Cream together butters, add half the sugar and cream to combine. add the rest of the sugar, lemon juice and salt and combine, then add bailey's and beat until creamy.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Another batch of Guinness

for my son's friend's birthday. Guinness cupcakes with chocolate ganache and bailey's buttercream. So very good. I mucked up the ganache, I used milk chocolate and accidently got some water in it so it isn't as smooth as it should be...still tastes good tho (not that I would know, because, yes, I am still on this stupid diet.
Chocolate Guinness Stout Cupcakes
this recipe makes about 48 cuppies, I usually make half to two thirds recipe
2 cups Guinness Extra Stout
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
4 cups all purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 pkg. Hershey's mini-morsel semi-sweet chocolate chips (I never add, but you could)
1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Line baking cups with paper liners and set aside.
2. Bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Do not boil.
3. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly
4. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend.
5. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
6. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine.
7. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed.
8. Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Gently fold in mini-morsel semi-sweet chocolate chips.(Mixture will appear robust and lumpy.)
9. Divide batter among paper liners and bake 17 - 22 minutes. Cupcakes are done when tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.
10. VERY IMPORTANT: Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting!
Chocolate Ganache
12 ounce pakage Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate) (I used milk choc this time, but I prefer dark chocolate)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Combine both ingredients in a double boiler.
2. Continue to mix thoroughly over boiling water until ingredients are smooth and chocolate is completely melted.
3. Layer this ganache on completely cooled cupcakes and allow to harden.

Happy Birthday Anders!

For a coworker's son who is turning two! He asked for dogs and balloons and wanted chocolate and this is what I came up with.

My chocolate buttercream recipe (posting it mostly so I don't forget)...

1/2 cup hershey's cocoa
1/2 cup boiling water
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 stick salted butter, room temp
1/2 cup shortening
8 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
pinch flour
up to 1/2 cup cream

mix cocoa and water together and let cool. Cream together butter, then add sugar and cream until combined. add vanilla, cocoa mixture, salt and flour and mix until combined. Add cream gradually until your at the consistency you want.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

puppy dogs

for an upcoming cupcake order, puppies and balloons...I made these out of chocolate and peanut butter clay.

GI Joe

for a friend who's visiting from Florida...she wanted to take back some cupcakes for her son's birthday on Friday. He wanted GI Joe and he wanted mint and chocolate. I really struggled finding something GI Joe-ie, so ended up doing the emblems in chocolate. I think the eagles look good, but the cobra's are a mess...

The cupcakes are chocolate with half having a mint milk chocolate ganache buttercream, and the other half are without the mint extract.