Monday, August 30, 2010

Coconut Deliciousness

Yummy!! Cupcake Break.

There have been a lot of cakes recently. Of course it is Birthday Season here. Still it is nice to take a break and try something different.

Since Chocolate, Yellow, White and Banana are consistently baked in our house I thought we should try a new flavor. Coconut. Someone that is considering asking me to make them a cake has requested a Coconut cake. I can honestly say that I have never made one. So I began the search for a cake that I could be willing to happily hand over to them.

The recipe that I settled on was one I found on the Food Network presented by The Barefoot Contessa -

Coconut Cake
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

I baked these into cupcakes - they took 14 minutes each. However if you were baking into cakes the batter could be divided into 2 pans and then baked for 40-45 minutes. This recipe and directions came directly from the site - no tweaking involved.

The icing was not the one listed on the site. I used a simple Cream Cheese icing. After placing a bit of icing on the cupcakes I topped them with a tiny bit of shredded coconut.

The result was delicious!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kid's in the Act

In the previous post I talked about how excited Andersen was to play with the fondant for her birthday cupcakes. Ben and Dawson wanted in on the act too. Originally Ben was going to help make some bugs for the cupcakes, but siblings will be siblings - or perhaps Andersen was channeling my "I was asked to make this" speach and saw her cupcakes as a reflection of her own artwork. Whatever it was.......Ben was left without a cake to decorate.

This wasn't a problem that took long to solve. We had fondant, we had willing hands and I had a friend who is always doing sweet things for me and LOVE LOVE LOVES cakes wrapped in fondant. Add that all together and you have a cake for Julie in the making.

Since this little cake was certain to be eaten quickly and it was single layers stacked - I skipped the need for a cake board in between or any dowel rods. We simply iced the cakes - wrapped them with fondant - and then stacked them.

Ben created some Bumble Bees and Flowers. This was his first time - I can tell he made a Bumble Bee - and honestly.......there are many cake decorators that I have noticed can't replicate a figure to save their lives and STILL sell the cake. To me that means that Ben is on his way to being an A #1 decorator.

The cake was simple and not incredibly perfect. Still it ended up being cute. Julie loved it - it was a surprise. Ben and I both got some fondant practice in. Win Win all around.

The cake was Julie's favorite - Chocolate - with a butter cream icing to attach the fondant - and a Vanilla Fondant.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Calling All Preteen's

This is a birthday cake that I did for Andersen. She DID receive a cell phone this year for her gift. We thought it would be fun to make a cell phone cake. My original thought was to duplicate the look of the phone she would receive - however - the purchase of the phone was brought so down to the wire that I didn't even see it until the morning she received it.

With that thought I searched the internet for ideas of cell phone cakes. I wish I knew the website this photo came from. It was listed in a photo gallery - Flickr or something similar. So I can't give proper credit to the person who originated the phone design idea.

The idea is simple - the outcome is obvious. The cake was a hit. In fact, Andersen loved the cake so much that we didn't cut into it for a few days. This gave me the experience of what happens to a fondant cake when it sits in the refrigerator for a few days. Are you wondering? Not much. It did get a bit drier looking, but it did not crack or decompose at all. Tasted the same when we cut into it. The cake however seemed more moist then it originally was.

This cake was a Banana Spice cake with a Cinnamon Buttercream icing and a Vanilla Fondant. This is one of my personal favorites!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bugs All Over

Not that my kids have ever had realistic ideas about what theme of cake they could have for their birthday...........I mean you did see the one where Ben said "I want a pop tart cake"......and there is that whole pesky parental fall back saying Dave and I use with the kids that goes "you can do anything you set your mind to". We use it we have to live up to it. At some point it began to be applied to cakes. Which can be a challenge, but always fun. This year for Andersen's birthday she asked for cupcakes. And she wanted to put cute little bugs on them. And she wanted to do them herself.

I spend so much time saying, "I wish you could help, but this is for someones special day and they asked me to do it so I need to be the one doing it." that it is fun to say, "It is your cake jump in and help."

And that is just exactly what Andersen did. I made some quick fondant - here is the recipe we used for this:

1/2 cp Glucose
1 Tbs Glycerine
1 pkg Gelatin
1/4 cp cold Water
2 Tbs Shortening
1 tsp Vanilla
8 cps Sifted Powdered Sugar

Step 1 - Combine gelatin with water - let sit until thick. Place in top of a double boiler & heat until dissolved. Add Glucose, Glycerin and mix well. Stir in Shortening and just before completely melted remove from heat and add Vanilla. Set aside to cool until lukewarm.

Step 2 - Place 4 cps of Sugar in large bowl - measure out remaining 4 cps. Make a well in sugar in bowl and pour gelatin mixture in. Stir - continue to add more sugar a little at a time. Knead in remaining sugar. Knead until fondant is smooth, pliable and does not stick to your hands any longer. If too soft add in more sugar. If too stiff add water (a drop at a time).

Use immediately or store in airtight container. I prefer to wrap mine in plastic wrap and then place in airtight container.

The bugs were pretty simple to make. But for new hands I think it got somewhat frustrating. Rolling out tiny balls and tiny strips of black for Bumble Bee stripes can be hard when you haven't practiced it a ton. We did not yet have all the wonderful tools like a lovely fondant roll mat. Still - Andersen did a great job. Her friends were all excited about what she made and the cupcakes were a hit at her party.

These cupcakes were a Chocolate Cake and a Vanilla Butter cream icing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Goal!! I beat the Soccer Ball

A new icing is in town and it scored a GOAL for me in decorating!! Finally a variation in icings. Vanilla Cream Cheese icing!!

This was a fun cake done for a friends son. He was turning 13 and she asked if I would do a cake for him. Easy enough. I was thinking "how do you decorate a cake for a teenage boy?" Catherine said just to ice it - I wanted to decorate it. Knowing a bit about her son I looked for soccer stuff. Then came up with this cake. She said to go for it. In a cream cheese icing please.

Cream Cheese? Hmmm.....easy enough - it is whitish - I can color that. I didn't think about how it is stickier though. Do you know how many times I bump a cake as I decorate it? Enough to know that there might be a whispered curse word as I decorated this.

And there was, but only maybe 1 or 2. Overall the cream cheese icing was a splendid experience. So I had to wash my hands a few extra times - licking the icing off before I did was a nice treat!! Is my bottom bigger?

But the BIGGEST TREAT?? Catherine said that when her son took a look at it he got all smiley. Teenage boys getting excited about their birthday cake - now that is a World Cup kinda score.