Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Got a quick one for you. I had two parties to go to this Saturday. Yes TWO! Considering I've been to four whole parties in the last 6 months (two first birthdays, one second, and one seventh[picture is behing held hostage by old cell phone, gotta find i]), I was pretty excited to go to "grown up" parties. And of course, it has been a while since I've baked so I had to bring a gift, and this is what they got:

Tiny little cupcakes! Yup, those are minis.

My go-to chocolate cake recipe makes the cupcake. Frosted with plain ol' American buttercream that I hit with some generous peppermint oil, topped with crushed peppermint candy (thanks to my hubbin for all the crushin), with a white chocolate snowflake on top. I totally made those snowflakes. I figured it had been quite a while since I last tried the chocolate decorations. But seriously, tiny cupcakes need tiny snowflakes and chocolate is pretty peculiar. But I have a whole bunch of the chocolate left. I'm either making more for my work Christmas lunch or I'm making cakepops.

And just cause it's awesome, I need to introduce you to my new favorite Christmas decoration: Kevin Bacon the Santa Pig. I found him at Big Lots and fell in love. And he totally lights up! He may stay out all year long.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Better Late than Never

I totally made cupcakes for Halloween and promptly forgot about them. I didn't put a whole lot of work into them, but they went over well.

I went with the white velvet cake recipe from the Cake Bible, but I subbed orange flavor in for the vanilla. Then I dyed the batter yellow and orange and layered them. The swiss meringue frosting on top stayed white but got the orange too. Then I put them all together and stuck a candy corn on top so that people would "get" the theme.

I should have actually looked at the color combination of a real candy corn before I got to working cause I totally should have put the yellow on bottom. Oh well, the two dozen I brought in only lasted until lunch, so my coworkers weren't too put off.

Of course the best part of the day was by dear doggie all dressed up to hand out candy to the neighborhood kids. You can tell she's excited since the tail wagging just blurs. And for the record, totally buy KitKats, the kiddos went NUTS for them!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wayback Wednesday

Here's to You, New York, New York

I totally just found this post that I never actually published. Weird, right? Good excuse for a Wayback Wednesday since I'm out of ones I actually knew about.

This cake was made during my Wilton's classes, so it's been a while. It looks like we were learning about marbling (which was pretty cool, but I haven't used it since, and draping, which I have avoided like the plague. I did really like the boarder around the base of the cake. Gonna have to use that sometime.

This cake ended up going to TCTMNBN since one of the hubbin's coworkers was moving back to New York City. Totally jealous, though I know I'm a small town girl at heart. Apparently it was strawberry and I didn't have the right size cake circle to put it on. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Y? Because we like you!

I had the opportunity to make a semi-wedding cake. I say semi because the wedding was held a while back at Disneyworld, but the happy couple wanted to share an evening with their friends here in the desert. The groom works at TCTMNBN with the hubbin. I might refer to him as the hubbin's boyfriend.

I was given pretty much free reign with the design. For some decorators this is freeing, but I will admit that it mortified me. What to do?! Good thing I have been jonesing to try quilting on a cake. Add in a Mickey and Minnie topper to use, and I ended up with a cake that was elegant and understated.

I like to post a sneak peek on Facebook while I'm working on the cake. Here's the one I posted the other night:

Of course here are the pictures you are here for:

The cake topper was from the wedding in Disneyworld, it was part of the package and the couple wanted to use it at this party. Minnie's dress actually served as my inspiration. I took the pearls and the roses and used them in the cake.

The quilting was actually a lot easier than I expected, but I'm looking for a tool that is supposed to make it even easier.

The roses gave the cake a bit of color that is was lacking.

Did you notice the awesome cake stand? I talked my parents into buying it for me while we were in an antique shop. I doubt it's an "antique," but I thought it was pretty.

Congratulations to Matt and Daina!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wayback Wednesday

This one isn't even cake! I bake other stuff too. And even better, this one isn't a giant wreck like the last two throwback posts have been.

My friend Kristen was having a birthday and we all met at Chili's and then went to see a performance of Stomp. I was at a loss for an appropriate gift. I'd given her herpes for Christmas already. So I baked. This is what happens when you have a friend who 1) is cheap 2)can't think of anything better and 3)likes an excuse to bake. I've done it with family at Christmas too.

But you see, I wasn't exactly thinking well when I started and just used whatever cookie cutters I had.

Rockets, stars, and round planet-ish objects because she likes space:

dinosaurs because they're awesome:

Cats because her roommate had four:

Texas because it's awesome

And somewhere along the way I came up with this whole scenario and a story about the whole thing where evil Barney was trying to take over the world and Sara's four cats, led by Onyx (RIP little guy, you were awesome) had to save the day with karate training by Chuck Norris.


(Onyx cookie not to scale, he was the fattest cat I'd ever seen!)

This story had to be told!!! It couldn't stack locked in my brain! So there was a PowerPoint. I don't know how to do Flash animation, but I'm pretty good with making things move in PowerPoint, so there was a whole movie involved. With sound effects like meows, ringing phones, and karate chops. I've since lost the file, maybe Kristen or Sara still has it. But I came marching into Chilli's with a box FULL of cookies and my laptop and I made everyone watch it. I was laughing the whole time, can't say much for anyone else.

 See Onyx driving the blue car?

[This is the rambling of a sick, sad mind but I blame it on the fact that I was a grad student at the time and this was better than research. THIS IS WHAT GRAD SCHOOL WILL DO TO YOU! BEWARE CHILDREN! PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONES! A B.S. REALLY IS ENOUGH! FIGHT THE PEER PRESSURE TO GET AN ADVANCED DEGREE!]

UPDATE!: Sara totally still had the PowerPoint file! So you can totally see it if you just ask. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wayback Wednesday

I shared my first fondant cake last week. Let's see another pathetic cake! It isn't as bad as the last one, but it ain't much better.  You've met my friend Melinda a few times, like here, here, and guest appearance here, plus some others. Years ago, Melinda had a birthday. And it's pretty close to Cameron's birthday. You met him and his son a long time ago.

To celebrate their birthdays, we went out tubing on the river, a summer ritual around here full of all sorts of adult fun!  And I decided to use this as a cake theme. And this was my first try at fondant figures! I bit the bullet and bought the Wilton's precolored stuff. This was the result:

I apparently hadn't quite got the leveling thing figured out yet. It looks decidedly lopsided. And the writing? Text looks okay if you're drunk or have Taco Neck Syndrome.

 This tuber really shouldn't be out here. Gingers burn awful fast.

 This little guy was an homage to Erik, Melinda's hubby. See the six pack?

There isn't enough sunscreen in the world. What's up with the Wilton's skin tone choices?

The beer cooler, an integral part of the tubing experience. Beer and sunscreen.

The scenery along the river. Notice the beans? They're supposed to be rocks. They just don't look like it much, do they?

Headless Erik.

We've come a long way, haven't we? Next week is cookies!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Avast, ye matey!

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of milk. It's a one-year-old, as much as I try to get him to say naughty words I can't condone underage drinking. Following a recent theme in my cake world, I had one more first birthday cake this weekend. It was a pirate party! Which seems fitting since International Talk Like a Pirate Day was earlier in the week.

I was just happy because a pirate ship was on my wish list. I'm going to do a post sometime about my list, that way when you're planning your next party you can consult the list to see which themes you should choose from.  (Sparkly pink princess castle, you know you want it)

Of course you've met the birthday boy a while back. It feels like that was forever ago, but he shouldn't be walking and talking like a real, live little person yet. Since it was a joint Camden/Daddy birthday, Dad got to pick the flavor of the cake. Of course carrot. And it went way better for me than the last time I tried to make carrot cake for Erik's birthday.

But you're just here for pictures, right? I stole all of these pictures from Melinda, just a like a real pirate would. She takes prettier pictures than me.

Camden's cake! Every kid needs their own cake for their first birthday, mainly so momma can get adorable pictures of her kid covered in frosting but everyone else gets to eat cootie-free cake. The idea came from Wilton's cake catalog. The treasure map was all mine though.

Side view of the smash cake. You won't see the other side because someone might have forgotten the nonskid liner under the cake before driving away from the house with the cakes and may have put his/her finger through the other side the first tight corner when the cake went sliding across the box.

The birthday boy seemed to enjoy it, at least the chocolately frosting.


 And the aftermath:

And the big cake:


Every pirate ship needs a cannon.

The happiest Jolly Roger ever made. And if you look just to the starboard side of the ship (that's the right side of the ship, and yes I had to look it up to check), you will notice a little shark following along. An ode to Camden's early life known only as the nongender specific Sharkie.

The stars of the show! This is non-racially-offensive "Erik." I gave him a six-pack and nipples. But no ears.

And baby pirate Camden! With a peg leg, cause all pirates have a peg leg, right?

The cake turned out really yummy and super moist. The frosting wasn't too sweet either, which I was worried about since I was using a crusting cream cheese recipe under the fondant.

Blimey! This ship was given no quarter in the vicious attack in search of me booty! This pirate speak stuff is hard. But I feel the need to throw in a "brass monkey" and a "landlubber" just cause.The aftermath:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wayback Wednesday

I found some old photos of some very early cakes I made and I thought I'd share them, just to give you an idea of how far I've actually come with the decorating. I'll give them a plug since I learned so much, but if you want to try this, take the Wilton's classes. They're cheap, the instructors are good, at least mine was. She was awesome, had been teaching for like 20 years, had been through the Wilton master course, and had a pin for teaching over 1,000 students. Her name is apparently on the wall at the Wilton offices. Wilton has a tendency to have some pretty tacky decorations. Remember the Scary Ass Clown Heads?  But they revamped all the classes right after I took them so they focus a lot more on fondant and are more modern now.

This cake was my first try at covering a cake in fondant. It was a miserable failure. And my miserable, I mean BBBBBBBBAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDD. It was for my friend Karen's birthday and I wanted to suprise her with a cake. And I got it into my head it was time to try fondant and I was going to make it myself by doing a marshmallow fondant. Now if you've never actually used fondant before, FOR FSM'S SAKE BUY IT!!! Wilton's gets a pretty bad rap, but it's cheap with your 40% off coupon for Michael's or JoAnn's and it's super easy to work with. I use Satin Ice when I need black, but it's soft and harder to use. And I can't seem to avoid the dreaded elephant skin with it to save my life.

Oh wait, you were waiting for the horrible cake photos right? Okay here it is:

I was feeling pretty confident when I made the fondant. See how pretty it looks? You see, Karen has a thing for fluorescent colors. Mainly in her clothes. She's pretty infamous with her particular fashion style. (I say this with love Karen, but you know it too). 

So here is the cake:

 No wait, that was entirely too artistic a photo, let's try again:

Let this be a lesson to all of us about the need to smooth your buttercream, level your cake, and ease it up with the powdered sugar. But the good news is that I apparently was aware of the need for a buttercream dam with the filling!

Totally nonplused about just how ugly this cake truly was. She'll eat anything, she's a grad student.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

A little over a year ago, you met this lovely mom-to-be.  Fast-forward to now and she's got a lovely little boy who is walking all over the place. But he just had a birthday and needed a cake. After much agonizing, mom decided on a transportation theme for the shindig.

The birthday boy needed his own cake and the rest of the guests needed something not covered in ankle biter germs. Although now that he is walking, he can easily bite knees and not just ankles. So here's what they got:

 How sweet is the personalized license plate?

I had the worst time with the frosting on the little car. It refused to smooth, wouldn't crust, and the blue kept changing colors on me. But it was nice and bright when it was all over the birthday boy's face for the pictures.



 And automobiles (a green car like mommy's):

Check out the awesome train tracks on this thing! I seriously even measured all of them out so they'd be about the same size! But I loved the detail it added.

The cake flavors were really fun to make. The top layer is white velvet cake, strawberries and buttercream filling, and white chocolate ganache frosting. But the bottom layer was an homage to mom's favorite drink, the mudslide. She even let me use her booze to make it. The cake was my favorite dark chocolate with Kalhua added to the batter. When it cooled, I soaked the cake with more Kalhua. It is filled with buttercream flavored with Bailey's Irish Cream. And the whole thing is covered with vodka chocolate ganache. And it was yummy, with a nice little kick to it.

And here is the caboose of the train! Do you remember when trains actually had these? The best part of being stuck at a railroad crossing when I was a kid was waving at the guy in the caboose. Then one day they didn't have them anymore and a part of my childhood died. [Tell us another one about the old days grandma!] (A truck like daddy's, even though the color is wrong.)

 And if I do say so myself, this turned out so stinking cute.