Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Birthday Cakes

Well, I'm finally getting to post some of the birthday cakes from this week.  Yay! 

First, here is the cake for my great aunt's 75th birthday.  It was fun, but next time I will use one large flower cutter, as opposed to cutting each petal individually.  It took a really.  long.  time.

And here is where we get into the "D'oh!" part of the name.  I have already admitted that I'm a lousy photographer.  However, on this one I actually forgot to take any pictures.  This picture was taken with my phone in my grandma's basement.  (Hi Grandma!)  I have one better quality picture, but I can't bring myself to post it because the phone was crooked or something, and the cake looks like it's listing pretty severely to one side.  And it wasn't. I promise.  (However, you'll notice that right corner of the white tier is lower than the other corners.  Not really sure what happened there, and I'm not sure why I didn't notice until I was DONE, but it wasn't too noticeable at the party.)  Inspiration on the design found here:  Lime Flower Fun.  This was my first time icing a square cake, so I was pretty happy that it turned out as well as it did.

Anyhoo, the two yellow tiers are chocolate with cookies and cream filling.  The white tier is vanilla with cookies and cream filling.  Buttercream frosting with fondant decorations.  It was pretty good.

And then, for the Boy's birthday, I made a little cake to celebrate with just the family, since his party isn't until next week. 

But before the picture, an explanation:  He and his best friend have been drawing superheroes.  The superheroes are named Nick Man and Gav Boy.  They are stick figures.  However, my boy draws absolutely fantastic stick figures.  (And because they are oh-so-mature 8 year olds, their arch nemeses are Dora and Boots.  Because only babies watch Dora the Explorer.  And 8 year olds are not babies.)  So, in honor of his new favorite hobby, I found a drawing of Gav Boy in his room and copied it onto his cake.  And his favorite color is orange, so I made the cake orange.

Note the stern visage.  Gav Boy is not to be trifled with.

So for the rest of this week I will be working on his REAL birthday cake, which he is going to decorate himself.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Homemade Cake Release

This is going to be a really exciting post!  Well, maybe not.  But it's all I've got right now.  I've been baking and baking, but then I've been wrapping my cakes in plastic and foil and tossing them into the freezer.  Why? Because I have a job and kids and in order to make cakes, I have to do them in stages.  So, for my great-aunt's birthday party on Sunday, I have been baking and freezing.  On Friday I'll take the cakes out of the freezer, fill them and let them settle.  On Saturday I will ice and decorate.  On Sunday the finished cake will be ready to go!  At least that's the plan.

Anyhoo, I was getting ready to bake this morning and realized I was out of cake release.  I used to use grease and flour, which works just fine, but once I tried this stuff I was won over.  And since it's really easy to make, I whipped up a batch and took some pictures.  If you have never used homemade cake realease, you are missing out.  It's fabulous.  And cheap.  Two of my favorite things.

Here's what you'll need:

One cup of flour, one cup of vegetable oil, one cup of vegetable shortening and a blender.  I apologize to those who are grossed out by shortening, but the recipe won't work without it.

Throw everything in the blender:

And put the spurs to it.

And in just a minute or so you'll have cake release!  Yum!

I keep mine in a plastic container in the pantry.  And when you need it, just brush it onto your pan:

Like so. 

It keeps forever, but it may separate a little between uses, so just give it a stir if it needs it.  It can also be kept in the fridge, if you're funny about that sort of thing.  Also, I've heard of many people who make this in their stand mixer.  I used to, but I found the blender mixed it better, and there seemed to be less mess to clean up afterward. 

And this is what the cake looks like out of the pan:

No sticking at all!  Yay!

If you haven't yet made your own cake release, I hope you try it soon.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Owl Cookies

I started thinking about what kind of cookies I was going to make for Valentine's Day a few weeks ago.  I didn't want anything too super-girly because I was going to send them to school with the boy for their Valentine's Day party.  Well, his teacher decided not to do a whole party this year.  They're going to make ice cream sundaes and exchange Valentines instead.  That took some pressure off of me, but I still wanted to make the cookies I had planned.  So I did. Just not as many as orignally anticipated. 

And there is the finished product.  Owls!  I have seen owls all over the web lately.  I guess they're a big trend right now.  Most of the owl cookies I see are made using a tulip cutter.  Well, that's all well and good, but then the owls don't have tails.  And every owl I've ever seen has a tail.  So I flipped the tulip cutter upside down and cut a scoop out of the top.  Like so:

That allowed me to make the "horns" and still have a tail.  Once the cookies were baked and ready to decorate, I played around with body styles.

In then end, I decided I liked the one in the top right corner best.  So I made some more of those, and played with the belly decorations.

In the end I wasn't happy with how the eyes and beaks were flush with the rest of the owl, and I didn't like how the outline of the belly showed up.  So I made one last batch, and I was pretty happy with them overall.

They're so shiny because they were still wet when I took the picture.

Anyway, that's all for the owls.  Hope you all have a happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Icing Color Storage

So today I get to share how disorganized I am!  Yay! 

On LilaLoa's blog today, she is asking readers to share how they store their icing colors.  If I had anywhere else to post my photos to link to her blog, I certainly would not be posting about it here.  But all I have is a blog.  No Facebook, no Flickr.  I do have a Twitter account, but I set that up under protest because I needed it to join Pinterest.  I have absolutely no interest in Tweeting.  In fact, when I found out that they FORCE you to follow, like, 20 people just to set up a Twitter account, I nearly called the whole thing off.  But I really, really wanted to join Pinterest, so I followed a bunch of people, then unfollowed then immediately afterward.  Except for CakeWrecks.  I still follow them.  But I don't ever check Twitter, so it's just for show, really.

Anyway, all that to say that THIS is how I store my icing colors.  They are not all the same size and they don't play nicely together, and I'm almost out of room, but this works for now.

Hopefully, LilaLoa does not ask how we store our cookie cutters.  Because that would be embarrassing.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes

It seems like I've been baking quite a bit the last couple weeks, and it's only going to get more busy as the month wears on!  There are some important birthdays coming up, Valentine's Day, etc.  I'm not a business, but I bake things for friends when they ask nicely, so that keeps me pretty busy.

So today I took cupcakes to work for a co-worker's birthday.  I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe and topped them with cream cheese icing and a little fondant decoration. 

I love fondant cut-outs.  They're sooooo easy, and they just add a little something special to a cupcake.  And I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking...

"Wow, CookieD-oh, I wish I had a classy cupcake carrier like that." 

Or maybe not.  I was too lazy busy to go to the store and get boxes.   

Anywho, I made 48 cupcakes, two dozen for today, and two dozen for my friend's other daughter (look at me doing math and stuff).  I doubled the recipe above and had enough batter for the 48 cupcakes, plus six extra for the family, and one 6" square cake, which I wrapped securely in plastic wrap and foil and put in the deep freezer for later.  I have so much cake to bake this month that I really don't want to think about it.

Well, that's all for now.