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Monday, January 20, 2014

Leopard Print Birthday Cake - the 'Trial Run'

 
My Best Friend & I are turning 40 this year and celebrating with a joint birthday bash.  We're determined to make it awesome ... right down to the cake!  I love leopard/cheetah print and my BFF loves pink so we've decided on a combination of those two things for our party theme. 
 
I've found a bunch of really cute leopard print cake ideas on the Internet, but the thought of attempting to make a leopard print design is a little intimidating!  I found a channel on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/user/laurapoopie (Laura Varela of Krazy Kool Cakes) and she shows some GREAT tutorials on cake decorating, including a great one on painting
the leopard print design onto fondant.
 
 
For this design you cover your cake with fondant tinted in a light color (I used tan/beige). Once you have your cake covered, mix a little bit of black gel tint with vodka.  Using a fine bristled paint brush,  paint little C's, U's and parentheses all over the cake (no pattern, just randomly).  You don't want them perfectly shaped either... kind of ragged on the edges & slightly different sizes is better.
 
 
Then you mix your highlight color (in this case I used brown to go with the beige, but you could use light pink & dark pink, lavender & purple, you get the idea....) - mix this gel tint with a little vodka as well and fill in the middle of the C's, U's & parentheses.  You can also use lemon juice
to thin the gel tint, but the vodka evaporates and works nicely with no added flavor.
 
 
To finish off the 'trial run' cake I added a ribbon around the bottom and a bow.  When I do the cake for our 40th Birthday bash I will do a couple of tiers in the leopard and I'll use a darker
pink for the ribbon.  I'm SOOOO glad that I did a practice cake... now I have a good idea of
the areas I want to practice more before attempting our cake (ribbons & bows for sure)!!   
But all in all, the leopard was much easier to do than I expected it to be. 
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Football Celebration Cake

Great Season Woodinville Falcons!!
 

 
 
 My son plays in the local Junior Football league and we here in Woodinville take our Football very seriously!  We've got a great feeder program in place for the high school with some wonderful coaches & volunteers that help the boys learn about teamwork.  This year my son's team made it to the Semi-Finals and we couldn't have been more proud of them! 
 
 
 
To celebrate we had an 'end of season' party which included some Dodgeball, snacks, awards & cake (of course).  I did a two tiered cake with a football on top.  For the tiers I used my 10 inch & 8 inch round pans and for the football I used the Wilton "Mini Wonder Mold" pan and sliced the bottom at an angle so it would look like a football landing in the grass.
 
 
I chose to do Marshmallow Fondant on the tiers because I feel it looks nicer,
but I did buttercream on the football to give it a textured look.... and buttercream for the
grass of course (I love that 233 tip... so cool!!)
 
 
I hope the boys enjoyed their cake, but most of all I hope my boy realizes that I'm his #1 fan...
...always will be.
 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Retirement Cake

Congrats on your Retirement Dave & Joanne!
 


Dave & Joanne are two of the nicest, most positive coworkers that I've ever had the pleasure of working with.  We were all happy for them when they decided to retire (but selfishly sad as well) and I jumped at the chance to make a cake to help celebrate.
 
I decided to go with a cute clock/retirement theme and work in the company logo & color scheme. This was my first time doing a cake for a larger group of people (most of the time it's smaller birthday party cakes for me) so I did a half sheet cake for the bottom (two layers) and then topped it with an 8 inch round for the clock portion.



 
Wow is a half sheet hard to cover.  Trying to estimate the amount of fondant to use, rolling it out the correct size (without being too thin) and then trying to actually get it over the cake without messing it up... very challenging.  I was not successful in getting the cake covered without messing up the fondant a bit, but the good news is that I was able to smooth out the messed up parts fairly easily.

 
As you can see by my messy table... my cutting board was not large enough to roll out the fondant for the half sheet cake.  So... I cleaned my table very well, scattered some powdered sugar and voila... a work surface big enough for gigantor cakes!


 

 
So, things I learned during this cake:


  • Most imperfections can be covered... does your fondant not go all the way to the bottom of the cake in one spot? Add a ribbon or ball border... now you have a cute/fancy edging and no messy mistake.  Have a wrinkle or imperfection in the fondant? Using powdered sugar or cornstarch, gently rub the wrinkle and it will appear much less noticeable.
  • Bows can be a pain in the butt and should not be rushed.
  • One of those plastic roll-up mats that measure your fondant as you roll it out may be a helpful tool... I'm going to have to check in to one of those.
 
This was a fun cake to do... can't wait for the next project!
 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

World's Best Peanut Butter Cookies

 
 


My husband is a cookie fiend and his very favorite are peanut butter.  I think we've all made the packet mixes and they're not bad if you want some cookies quickly, but I've been searching for a while now for a really good, 'from scratch', peanut butter cookie recipe. 
 
I finally found my starting point:  http://www.cooks.com/recipe/587yl4e0/the-worlds-best-peanut-butter-cookies.html   Thank you "William III"!
 
 
I took this recipe and played with it & played with it and came up with my own rendition:
 
Ingredients:
1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup Jiff Creamy Peanut Butter
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 - 10oz bag Reese's Peanut Butter chips
Additional 1/3-1/2 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)
 
Method:
Cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter together. Add the eggs (one at a time) and the vanilla and mix well.  Sift the flour and baking soda together and slowly add to the creamy mixture.  Once the dry ingredients are incorporated add in half the bag of peanut butter chips.
 
Roll into 1 inch balls and then slightly flatten the balls into thick disk shapes.  Roll the disks in the additional granulated sugar (top, bottom & sides) and place on cookie sheets about an inch apart.
 
Bake at 350 for 10 1/2 minutes.  This size and cook time will give you 3 Dozen nice, chewy cookies.  If you like your cookies crispier, you'll want to cook them for 11-12 minutes and this recipe can easily be doubled for events or sharing!
 
 
 
 
These are now my husband's favorite cookies and he's quite the Peanut Butter cookie connoisseur!
 
 
Enjoy!!
 
 
 

 


Monday, June 24, 2013

Ginger's "Popstar" cake

My daughter is a "Barbie Princess and the Popstar" nut! 
For her 6th birthday I created this cake to go with her 'Popstar' party.

 
I got some ideas online and altered my version of the cake to go with the "Barbie Princess and the Popstar" colors.  One of the things I found online that I liked was the idea of draping the cake stand with fake jewels.  Easy & super cute! I didn't even have to purchase anything for it.. just used one of my daughter's play necklaces and it really dressed up the cake stand.

 
We went with chocolate on chocolate ... every 5/6 year old's favorite... right?!
 
 
Once the cakes cooled I did a buttercream crumb coat.
 
 
My new favorite recipe is marshmallow fondant!  It's easy to make, easy to work with and it actually tastes good!  I've never tried a fondant I liked before making this one and now I'll never go back! Some marshmallows, a couple of tablespoons of water in the microwave, add some powdered sugar and you've got a yummy fondant!



 
 
Being the amateur baker that I am... I've found the easiest way to cover imperfections in the edge/base of your cake is adding a cute border (small balls, ribbon/bows, etc...).

 
I cut a six out of pink fondant and used a star shaped cookie cutter to make the stars for the bottom tier.  I wanted to incorporate Barbie into the cake but didn't feel confident in creating something out of fondant or buttercream so I printed out a color picture of Barbie and her 'Popstar' friend and used it as the cake topper.
 
 
The finishing touches were some music notes and "Ginger" written using black frosting. 
 
 
And here is my little Popstar about to turn six years old!!
Happy 6th Birthday Gigi!!
 
 
 
 



 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Woodinville Falcons Football Cake



Well, it's that time of year again... time for football season to end.  = (
I volunteered to make the cake for my son's "end of season football party" and ended up with the cake pictured above.  I did a quarter sheet chocolate cake on the bottom with buttercream icing.  Blue on the side, green 'grass' on the top using Wilton tip# 233, and a white shell border (blue, green and white are Woodinville colors). For the football, I used the Wilton football cake pan, did a vanilla cake, and covered it with marshmallow fondant.  White fondant for the laces and a green fondant "W" (for Woodinville) which I outlined with white buttercream icing. 



I was happy with the result, but the best part was watching the team of twenty-one 10-13 year old boys huddle around the cake with their phones taking pictures.  That was a great compliment!  Until next year...
GO FALCONS!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Seattle Seahawks inspired birthday cake

My friend Stacy decided to throw her boyfriend a surprise 40th Birthday party! He's very Seattle oriented and very into the Seahawks so we scoured the Internet for ideas and came up with this:


I started out with three 8-inch chocolate cakes for the base and two 6 inch chocolate cakes for the 2nd tier. Next I did a buttercream crumb coat to get it ready to cover with the fondant.



I ran into a small issue with the fondant on the bottom tier that I didn't notice until after the fact.  It seemed you could see the shape of the layers/filling under the fondant.  After some thought I think I rolled the fondant too thin for that layer.  The last cake I made I barely had enough fondant to cover so I think I was overcompensating a little and in an effort to make sure the fondant would cover the cake I think I got it a little thin.  I noticed that I didn't have this issue with the top tier (it was rolled a little thicker) so I'll need to be more careful next time.



We did dark blue & neon green stripes on the bottom tier (Seahawks colors of course).


Then for the top tier I did "Happy Birthday Donti" out of fondant.  I used an exacto knife to cut out the letters.... much harder to do that than I was expecting.


Then on the sides & back of the top tier I did blue & green footballs.



I also did a blue fondant "4" and a green fondant "0" for the top of the cake, but they weren't hardened enough to put in the cake before Stacy picked it up (plus I wouldn't have wanted her to travel with them in the cake anyway... better to stick those in at the last minute).  So at this point the cake is travel ready... hopefully she's able to use the "40" cake topper pieces.  If so (and there's a picture) I will post that later.



So... lessons for this time around:
  • Fondant pieces:  Yes, they can really take a LONG time to harden.  If you want them hardened in time for your event... make them a few days in advance or use an additive like gum paste in your fondant (I've heard it makes the fondant harden much more quickly
  • Covering your cake:  Although it's important to have enough fondant to cover your cake... it's also important to roll it thick enough to be a really nice/smooth surface.. watch your thickness!!
So, hopefully next time the cake will turn out even better!!

And P.S. ..... Happy 40th Birthday Donti !!