Memorial Day Stars

May 31, 2010

May 2010

Faced with a lovely 3 day weekend, I decided to tackle a cake experiment. Covering a cake with rolled fondant. Yikes. I had numerous issues with this cake, but overall I’m happy with my first attempt. My husband says it looks like a 4th of July cake. Yes, I suppose it does, but Memorial Day is a patriotic holiday too!

I used my standard yellow cake recipe (Wilton’s) and substituted lemon extract for the vanilla extract for a lemon flavored cake. Note: overfilling cake pans is a very, very bad thing. I used two 6″ round pans and filled them to about 3/4 full and they rose and spilled on the bottom of my oven. Hot mess. But, the cakes came out in one piece (sort of) and they were delicious, so no serious harm done.

Next I made up a batch of buttercream icing (Domino’s recipe) and again replaced the vanilla extract with lemon extract. I also added the zest of one lemon.

I was planning a raspberry filling – just seedless raspberry jam. When it came to filling and icing this cake, I had the same problem I had the last time I made lemon raspberry cake: raspberry jam is very slippery.  I did pipe a ring of buttercream around the filling to keep it in the middle, but it did leak out the sides a little. Had I not been planning to  cover the whole thing in fondant, I would have been angry – it was looking messy! But, because I planned to cover it all up, I didn’t have to worry about crumbs in the frosting, etc. After frosting it, I popped it in the freezer for a few minutes. When I took it out it was much easier to smooth the sides and get a flat (ish) finish.

I used Wilton’s ready-made fondant for this. I used about 1 package (24 oz). I tinted most of it blue, and then a smaller part red, and left a tiny part white. With the red and white, I cut out some stars with cookie/fondant cutters and skewered some of them on lollipop sticks.

Next came rolling out the fondant. This took 3 attempts. I dusted my counter top with powdered sugar and rolled out the fondant to about a 16″ circle. I lifted it over my cake and it cracked around the edges. So I took it off, put the cake back in the freezer, and headed to the interwebs to find out what to do. I read tips about using shortening to fix cracks and using cornstarch to dust the work surface (especially in a humid climate – and today its VERY humid!). I rolled it out again and it was better – much less dry. But I tore it. So onto attempt 3. One more time and it seemed to be working. I lifted it over the cake and it didn’t crack (as much). I smoothed the top and sides with a fondant smoother and my hands and it was working pretty well. Except  for the folds on the sides. I wasn’t sure how to get rid of them. Should I cut them? (No.) I think my fondant was still a little dry so it wasn’t standing up to the stretching that it should have. I assume that a little stretching would have smoothed out the folds. Luckily I was planning to cover the cake with fondant decorations, so the imperfections were covered!! I attached the stars to the cake with water. I brushed a little onto the back of the stars with a tiny paintbrush and that seemed to work.

Margarita Cupcakes

May 16, 2010

May 2010

I found myself with a weekend completely free of any plans or commitments – bliss! I hadn’t planned on baking, but I couldn’t resist 🙂

I was reading Annie’s Eats and found a recipe for margarita cupcakes. I love margaritas and of course I love cupcakes so this was a no brainer. I actually used my standard yellow cake recipe (Wilton’s) instead of the recipe on the blog because I knew I had all the ingredients on hand. I just left out the vanilla extract and added about a teaspoon of lime juice and a teaspoon of lime zest (this was for a 1/4 recipe).

The frosting is basically Martha Stewart’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream – but with lime juice and tequila added. The first time I made this icing, it was honestly too buttery for my taste. This time, with the added lime juice, and the slightly different ratio of butter to sugar, I thought it was an improvement! Of course, it’s all a matter of your preference.

As Annie notes in her blog, the tequila flavor really doesn’t come through. She recommended brushing the cupcakes with tequila, but I opted not to do that. I’m not a huge fan of alcohol in desserts so I was worried it may be too much. I did like her idea to make a simple syrup with the tequila, but for this time, I just added it to the icing.

PW's Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares

May 11, 2010

May 2010

I know this isn’t cake, but it’s still dessert so I wanted to include it here. As I was perusing Pioneer Woman’s blog the other day, these yummy little lemon bars caught my eye. Since we were headed to my parents’ house for Mother’s Day, I thought I’d give this recipe a try. It was pretty simple, and they turned out great! They were a little tricky to get out of the pan in neat little pieces, but that was the only trouble. They have earned the nickname “yummy evil” 🙂

Annie's Baptism

May 2, 2010

May 2010

A friend of mine, Krissy, had a beautiful baby girl in January, Annie. (I made the jungle shower cake for one of Krissy’s showers.) Annie’s baptism was this weekend and Krissy asked me to make a pretty pink and white cake for her girl!

We decided to go with my standard yellow cake recipe and vanilla buttercream icing. I did an 11×15 sheet cake (I have now added this size pan to my arsenal!) and it was 2 (skinny) layers. I wasn’t sure how much cake batter I would need for this size pan and I thought I had determined that one batch which would normally fill 2 8″ or 9″ pans would be sufficient, but it made for a very skinny cake. If I had wanted to do just a single layer cake, I would have had to have made a double batch for the pan. Noted for next time!

I made the decorations out of fondant. I bought Wilton’s ready made white fondant and tinted it with Wilton’s Pink gel color. I cut out the cross with a knife and a ruler and I used a cookie cutter for the flowers. I made a triple batch of vanilla buttercream icing and had a little left over.

The only issue I had with this cake was the lettering. I tried to use my letter fondant cutters, but they are tricky. The fondant is so hard to get out of the cutters and I ended up giving up and deciding to write on the cake with the icing. I need some practice with my writing! It always looks too child-like to me. Maybe because I’m not used to writing in cursive? Anyway, more practice is needed 🙂