Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ho-Holy Delicious Cupcakes!

In celebration of a "Belated Boss's Day", my husband requested that I make cupcakes for his supervisor and team. Which ones, you ask? The Ho-Ho ones. Yes...they are totally awesome. And totally EASY to do.

I started out with chocolate cupcakes. I use Ina Garten's "Beatty's Chocolate Cake" recipe and it yields about 26 cupcakes. They only take about 15-20 minutes to bake, too, so they come together quite quickly!

I got my buttercream ready because filling the cupcakes is the first thing to do after they've cooled.

I filled my pastry bag with some buttercream and attach the tip pictured below. Each cupcake gets a squeeze of the filling right through the top of the cupcake.

So they all look like this when they're done.

Then, I melt down some store-bought chocolate frosting. This is honestly the only thing I buy from the store and don't make from scratch. It tastes great and I can work with it really easily.

After 60 seconds in the microwave, it looks nice and thinned out like this.

Just the top of each cupcake is dipped into the thinned icing and is given some time to dry a bit.

Then, I put on a different tip (#3) on my same pastry bag filled with buttercream...

...and I make little circles on top. Look familiar?

What's great about this recipe is that it makes 26 so my family gets a taste! Here's what they look like in the middle.

And this is what my husband will bring in to work tomorrow.

He knows he's lucky to have me. :) Happy Boss's Day!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Princess Judy

I ran into my old debate partner, Melina, from high school last month at a local park. It was so great to see her and to catch up on life. Turns out, her daughter was turning 6 and was in desperate need of a "princess cake". I was honored to take on that task for her royal highness.

There were a lot of great princess cakes out there on the Internet so getting inspired took no time at all. Melina gave me free reign on EVERYthing, including the cake flavor and colors. She just told me that her daughter, Judy, loved the color pink and her favorite princess was Cinderella.

I knew I wanted a tiara to top the cake so I first tried to make one. I melted some white chocolate in the shape of a tiara, placed some fun candy jewels in it before it hardened and molded it around a circular can. Well, unfortunately, it crumbled. So, no go on the edible tiara.

I then went to Target and found a "Birthday Girl" tiara right around the princess section of the toy department. I was THRILLED to find that. What 6 year-old doesn't need a tiara? Come ON!! So I picked that up and made the tiara the inspiration for the color scheme of the cake.

I chose a marble cake because that flavor usually pleases everyone. I filled one with pink buttercream, the other with purple buttercream and covered each cake with fondant. The bottom tier, I covered with a pink overlay to look like cloth. The top tier had a quilted effect.

I used some white buttercream to add on "pearl" necklace borders. I also made sure that the words "Princess Judy" were on there! All of the flowers were made of fondant in complimentary colors and added at the very end.

I was able to show Judy her cake when I dropped it off. Her face lit up and she was SO excited about seeing her name on the cake. I hope she has a royally delightful party!

Classy Classes

Yesterday, I had the privilege of teaching Tanner and Jamie some very basic cake decorating skills. We worked together for the afternoon and had a blast! Here's how our day went:

We first got together to go over the game plan for the day. We had A LOT to do. The goal was to make a cake for Tanner's mom, Kim, who celebrated her birthday this week. You have to know that Kim absolutely LOVES mooses. LOVES them. So we made that the basis for the cake. It had to have a moose on it in some way. Kim also enjoys banana cake. So Tanner worked on baking a two-layer banana & chocolate chip cake. He took a basic vanilla cake recipe and added banana pudding mix to it. Mmmm!

While the cakes were baking and cooling, we worked on the moose. We found a picture of a cartoony-cute moose online and printed it out to the size that we needed. Then, I taught them how to color-flow and Tanner really did a great job (which you'll see later in this post).

After the cakes were baked and cooled, I showed Tanner and Jamie how to torte and frost a cake to prepare it for fondant. We used a cream cheese icing which tastes great with banana cake.

After the cake was prepped, we worked on the fondant. We all agreed that green would be a great color choice. Working in the food coloring can be pretty exhausting!

And a great work-out too!

After the cake was wrapped safely in fondant, we worked on some techniques. I taught them a bunch of borders and even the basketweave technique!

They each got an opportunity to practice.

And then we got to present the cake to Kim - who was very happy indeed.

Here's the finished cake. Color flow usually takes anywhere from 3-5 days to dry. Here, we improvised and I really think it turned out great! What moose lover wouldn't love this cake?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We All Live in One of These (According to the Beatles)

A few months ago, my mom's boss contacted me because he wanted to host a surprise birthday party for my mom's 60th birthday. He asked me to help orchestrate her arrival...and...do the cake. Of course I'd do the cake. Of course!

Now, my mom didn't want ANY mention of the age 60 so that was going to be a little hard for me. When I googled 60th birthday cakes, they all came up with the number 60 on them. Okay...my mom is the BIGGEST Beatles fan on the planet (don't even try to compete with her, you'll lose) so I thought about doing a Beatles-themed cake. A brilliant, vibrant, Yellow Submarine cake came up in my search and I knew instantly that this would be my mom's cake.

This one was so fun - unbelievably fun! I learned the color flow technique for the blue meanie hand and the Yellow Submarine on top. (My Christmas cut-outs are gonna ROCK this year!) And the rest is just fondant work. All homemade fondant.

The bottom tier of the cake was marble with chocolate chip buttercream and chocolate ganache filling. The middle tier was lemon cake with lemon buttercream and lemon curd. Those two tiers we shared at her party.

I packed up the top tier of the cake for her private party with just our family. That one was her favorite: Poppy seed cake with lemon curd and cream cheese filling.

Lots of work, but TOTALLY worth it! Happy Birthday, Mom!

Andrew's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Cake

I was asked to make Andrew's 2nd birthday cake. What an honor! He was having a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse-themed party. At first, I thought about doing a Mickey head like the Elmo or Buzz Lightyear. But the more I did my research and looked at photos online, the more scary those photos became. Not many really looked like Mickey and I wanted this cake to shine!

The flavor of the cake didn't matter so whenever I'm told that, I go with marble. It seems to please EVERYone. Andrew's cake also had chocolate chip buttercream - just for fun. I made a 6-inch and an 8-inch cake. The topper was a toy I found at Toys 'R Us and I think it fit perfectly!

It blended in nicely at its final destination. :)

And most importantly, Andrew seemed pleased.


The Athletic Girly-Girl Cake

Danny and I were at a wedding and one of the couples at the table began talking about cakes. I was completely interested as I am the Cake Mama. They were looking for someone to do a cake for their daughter's 11th birthday. The only direction I was given was that she loved the color pink and chocolate and she played soccer, basketball and tennis.


So her chocolate cake has raspberry buttercream filling (pink) and it's covered in pink fondant with chocolate accents and it's made to look like a soccer ball with little basketballs and tennis balls for a border.

I hope I NAILED it! :)

Baby Shower Cake

Jen requested a baby shower cake for her sister's shower. I knew that she was having a boy and wanted to do something with blue. Jen found the "Naturally Curly" cake at Wilton.com and what a perfect cake it was!

The head was a chocolate cake with peanut butter filling and the body was a yellow cake with buttercream. Everything else you see is fondant. Lots of fondant.

I love his belly button!

Clare's My Little Pony Cake

I'm totally loving the kid's themed parties these days. What's old is new again. Clare, who was turning two, was having My Little Pony themed birthday party. Clare's favorite cake flavor is chocolate and that's exactly what she got. I filled it with raspberry preserves and raspberry buttercream because the pretty pink filling is just too pretty. And, I was able to find a Little Pony with cupcakes on it. How great is that?!

I had a lot of fun doing this one. My favorite part is the border.

And here's the beautiful Clare with her birthday cake. Happy Birthday, sweet one!

Stephanie's 30th Birthday Cake

My friend Lisa asked me to make a cake for her sister's 30th birthday. She was having a surprise party at a piano bar in Milwaukee. Sounds fun, eh? The inspiration behind this cake was the e-Vite that went out to her guests. It had a hot pink background with white swirls and a black border. Lisa liked that idea but Stephanie's favorite color was blue. So here is the cake...

She ordered a yellow cake with chocolate chip buttercream filling. She didn't want anything placed on top of the cake because she wanted to put a martini glass filled with little Stephanie-themed trinkets in it. I think the cake looked TOTALLY festive! (Thanks for the picture, Lisa!)

The Tardis

A friend of mine from high school emailed me requesting a cake in the form of a tardis. I have to admit that I had NO IDEA what she was talking about and had to do a Google search on the word Tardis. Luckily, there were about a billion hits and I was able to wrap my head around how to make a navy blue telephone boxy thingy.

She requested a chocolate cake with buttercream filling and I covered the cake in fondant and gum paste. For those of you who have kids wondering if they'll EVER use math in "real" life, you can show them this cake. It's amazing how many times math came into the equation as I wanted equal spacing between the windows and the indents of the doors. My very supportive husband came to the rescue yet again. (And he TOTALLY knew what a Tardis was.)

This is what my packaging looks like. My brother developed the logo and it was his idea to use the ribbon - which I love.

And here's the birthday boy! I think it was a hit!

60th Anniversary Cake

Boy! I'm on an Anniversary roll! My other sister-in-law requested a Cake Mama cake for her grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary party. I thought this one, Wilton.com's Lily Legends Cake, was a completely elegant cake worthy of such an event.

The top tier was a lemon cake with lemon buttercream and lemon curd filling. The bottom tier was a yellow cake with buttercream filling. The lilies and the rest of the flowers and leaves were made a few days ahead of time out of gum paste.

Here's a close-up of one of the lilies.

Congrats to Lisa's grandparents! What an inspiration!

Erin & Steve's 5th Anniversary

So how wonderful is it that Erin & Steve requested a Cake Mama Cake to celebrate 5 years of marriage?! I was so honored to make the cake. Erin requested a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, but I didn't stop there.

The inside of the cake was filled with a semi-sweet chocolate ganache. I topped the cake with chocolate hearts and the #5 and I finished it off with a basketweave because their wedding cake was a gorgeous basketweave.

I'm going to steal Steve's wishes to his wife. Happy 5th Anniversary, you two! "Here's to 5 more!"

Rachel's 30th

My sister-in-law turned thirty and asked for a Cake Mama Cake for her birthday. She wanted chocolate with buttercream filling and didn't care about the decor. I found the "Beautiful Blossoms Cake" on Wilton.com and based Rachel's off of that one.

My husband, Danny, made candied bacon ice cream (http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/03/candied-bacon-i-1/) which was a surprisingly delicious compliment to the cake.

I topped each piece with a royal icing apple blossom. Mmm!

Wedding Shower

Oooh! Here's my first wedding shower cake. This one is based off of the "Pretty as a Present" cake at Wilton.com.

I think it totally looked the part at the shower, don't you?

Mary Kay's Birthday Cake

This was a butter cake with raspberry preserves and raspberry buttercream filling. It's based on Wilton's "Bright With White" cake which is what the customer wanted.

It was a fun cake to make and was so cute and festive!

Grandma Dorothy's 90th Birthday Cake

My Grandma, who has become one my greatest fans, turned 90 this summer. Our family had a surprise party for her and I was asked to make the cake. I wanted something a little over-the-top for her, but yet something classy and elegant. I came across the "Layered In Luxury" cake on Wilton.com and knew this was the cake for Grandma.

The top tier is chocolate cake with white buttercream filling and the bottom tier is butter cake with raspberry preserves and raspberry buttercream filling.

The flowers were all made from gum paste and took a considerable amount of time. It was fun, but it took WAY longer than I had expected so I'm happy I started on them a few days before the cake was due.

Overall, I liked how the cake turned out and there was plenty of it for the 50-some guests who came to celebrate with my Grandma.