Baby Turtles

July 31, 2010

July 2010

Yesterday morning I delivered cupcakes to my first repeat customer! I asked my husband if that was a good sign and he assured me that it is!

I made the IU engagement cake for Tyler back in February and a few weeks ago she asked if I’d be willing to whip up some cupcakes for her pregnant sister-in-law. Now since I have a baby shower cake for this weekend also (stay tuned for that post!), normally I wouldn’t take another order in the same week just to save my sanity. But I thought that they wouldn’t be too difficult and the cupcake idea was so cute that I couldn’t resist taking the job 🙂

Tyler showed me these inspiration pictures from Georgetown Cupcake.

She asked if I could top the cupcakes with little turtles and though I don’t own (and couldn’t find online) a small turtle cookie cutter, I was sure I could use what I did have to come up with something cute!

I tinted some plain white fondant light brown and green. I used various icing tips (and upside-down icing tips) to cut out the shapes I would need to create the turtle. I used the lid on my container of toothpicks to cut out the perfect size brown circle for the background. I am nothing if not resourceful!

For the actual cupcakes, Tyler asked for chocolate chip cupcakes with chocolate ganache, and chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream…oh my! Someone is a chocolate lover! I was excited to make the chocolate chip cupcakes because that was a new one for me. I used a recipe from Annie’s Eats. This recipe is for chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes, but I just used the cake recipe. Honestly, I thought they were good, but VERY buttery – probably too much so. For the chocolate cupcakes, the chocolate ganache icing, and the chocolate buttercream I used recipes that I have used before.

I purchased an extra large round icing tip (2A) intending to pipe giant blobs of frosting on each cupcake. But, can you believe it, the tip wasn’t big enough! I must need a really HUGE one for those blobs. Side note on the blobs: I see this on a lot of bakery cupcakes and I honestly thought, how boring. I mean it’s just a big blob of icing (have I used the word “blob” enough?). But I must admit that when tasked with actually piping a giant blob (one more time, sorry) it was harder than I thought! I ended up using my 2A tip to pipe rings of icing on the cupcakes that were then covered with the little turtles. The effect was pretty similar so I was pleased with it.

Sean’s Jungle Cake

July 26, 2010

July 2010

This past week I worked on a cake for Carrie, a fellow Nestie. Her little boy’s first birthday party was this weekend and they needed a cake for the occasion. Carrie chose yellow cake with strawberry filling and vanilla buttercream icing. She also asked for a jungle theme.

As I usually do, I made the fondant decorations several days ahead. I had never made fondant animals before, but I gave it a go. I am NO artist (that’s for sure!) but I found a couple of examples on the Interwebs and I tried to mimic what I saw. Below on the left is my inspiration photo (source) for the lion, and on the right is the lion I created.

For the monkey, I only looked at a few different inspiration pictures, but the one below on the left (source) was the main one. My monkey creation is on the right.

I also made a palm tree. I’ve made a palm tree before, but that time I used royal icing for the leaves instead of fondant. I thought the fondant leaves turned out well, but I wasn’t too happy with the shape of the tree. I think I should have used royal icing for glue/stability instead of just fondant and water.

Also a few days ahead, I made up the strawberry filling using the same recipe I used to make raspberry filling a couple weeks ago. I just replaced the raspberries with strawberries and it came out very well.

For the cake, I made 1 1/2 batches of Wilton’s yellow cake (my go-to) and filled 2 10″ round cake pans. I made 2 batches of Wilton’s buttercream and tinted it green using Leaf Green gel.

I filled and frosted the cake and then added some more color to the remaining icing to make a darker green. I used a multi-opening tip to pipe “grass” around the edges for a border. I added the fondant decorations (including fondant letters for the inscription) and Sean’s cake was complete!

World of Goo

July 21, 2010

Both Bill and I like video games. We aren’t “gamers” but we have a Wii and PS3 and we go in and out of phases with playing games. We can thank my brother-in-law and his wife for this latest obsession. We were over at their house a couple weeks ago and they showed us this game they downloaded for the Wii.

It’s a completely dorky game involving connecting various varieties of goo balls and “outrunning physics” (as my brother-in-law says) to reach a goal. It’s oddly addicting! You can check out the website here.

At the risk of shining even more light on my dorkiness, I love that this game has what it calls the “OCD” mode. In OCD mode, you play all of the same levels but now you have a time limit and harder to achieve goals. I appreciate this because I normally have to invent my own ways to make games more challenging after I’ve beat them, and this game does it for me!

The Basement Project: An Overview

July 20, 2010

We have a major home renovation going on (finishing our basement) so I may post updates about that as the project progresses. We began (and by “we” I really mean my husband) this project on March 11, 2010 and our target completion date is June 11, 2011. Bill and I have a bet going about this. We agreed on 15 months and I am actually betting that it will take longer than that, but I’m hoping that I’m wrong!! We haven’t agreed on what either of us will get if we win the bet, but the joke is that if I win, Bill will build me a *cupcake shed* in which to keep all of my cake equipment 🙂

Bill is quite handy and is doing the majority of the work himself. We did hire a plumber and an electrician for the big stuff, but Bill (with some help from his dad, and possibly his brother and friend) will be doing most of the work. We are putting in a full bath, a laundry room, a storage room, and a family room with a gas fireplace. We are both SO excited to have this extra living space!

At this point, Bill has the framing about 98% done and we are ready to call in the pros to get the plumbing and electrical put in. Next up will be the dry walling. We are undecided at this point whether or not we will hire pros for that also.

Stay tuned for updates and pictures!! I have added a Basement Photos page where I plan to post before, during, and after photos if anyone cares to take a peek 🙂 At the time of writing this, I haven’t posted any pics yet, but I will!

My New Blog

July 18, 2010

Welcome to my new blog! I’ve moved all of the posts from my old blog (Cake by Sarah Kate) over here into my new “all-purpose” blog. I think it’ll still be mainly about cake, but it’ll also be a personal blog so I’ll post about whatever’s going on. Which is probably not much!

We do have a major renovation going on in our home at the moment – we are finishing our basement – so I’m sure I’ll post updates as that project progresses.

We also have 2 huge (17 and 20 lb) furry beasts (cats) that are always doing something cute, so I’m sure to include pictures of them.

Thanks for reading!

PS: It’s only fit that I plug my husband’s blog here while I’m talking. He’s started a blog called bitParan0ia where he talks about computer security threats including scams, spam, and phishing threats that you should be aware of. He’s even included some warnings about how to keep your Facebook account safe. So check it out if you’re into that kind of thing 🙂

Super Mario Mushrooms

July 18, 2010

July 2010

For my birthday this year, my sister gave me a Big Top Cupcake set for making giant cupcakes!

I had planned on making her a giant cupcake for her birthday in March, but I wasn’t able to attend her birthday celebration. I had already come up with a plan for it, so now, 4 months later, I finally was able to make it.

I am a huge fan of the old Super Mario Bros. games for NES. I’ve played them hundreds of times and have a definite soft spot for them. When I saw the giant cupcake mold, I immediately thought “Mario mushroom”!

I used 2 boxes of Funfetti cake mix and had plenty of batter for the molds plus 24 mini cupcakes (and even more batter leftover). I baked the giant cupcake with the insert to make a well in the cake for a filling. I filled it with vanilla pudding.

I mixed up two batches of Wilton’s buttercream icing. I divided it into several bowls and made 6 different colors of icing: tan, black, white, green, red, and blue. I iced the cupcakes with red, blue, and green and added little dots with white. I iced the bottom of the mushroom with tan and the top with green. I added the white spots and the eyes and voila – a Mario mushroom, and baby mushrooms!

The cake was actually very good because I think some of the vanilla pudding seeped into the cake. Yum!

My First Wedding

July 17, 2010

July 2010

No, not my OWN wedding – my first wedding where I was playing the role of cake baker! I think this was the perfect first wedding cake for me. First, it was only partially a cake – the rest of it was cupcakes. And second, it was for a very small crowd of only 30 people and that suited me very well. Andrea is a friend from The Nest, and coincidentally also someone who I have known since elementary school. She asked me to do this cupcake tower for her cousin’s wedding.

Based on all of the info I got from Andrea about flavors and colors and quantities, I came up with a plan:

  • 10 cupcakes with yellow cake, light blue vanilla BC, red liners, and a blue fondant heart on top
  • 20 cupcakes with yellow cake, light blue lemon BC, red liners, and a red fondant heart on top
  • 6″ round yellow cake, light blue vanilla BC, red fondant hearts on the sides
  • red fondant roses and heart for the topper

I started making some of the components for this cake a week in advance since I knew I had to deliver it mid-week. I mixed up 1.5 batches of Wilton’s lemon buttercream icing and dyed it light blue (I left out the lemon zest because I wasn’t sure how that would turn out after being dyed). Then I did 2 batches of Wilton’s vanilla buttercream and dyed that light blue also. I put the icing in plastic containers and put them in the fridge until I would need them several days later. Refrigerating the icing had no adverse affects. When I was ready to use it, I took it out of the fridge and gave it a quick mix with a hand mixer.

For the fondant decorations, I tinted some fondant red and some blue. I used cookie cutters to cut out the hearts I needed to top the cupcakes and a few larger hearts that I was thinking of using for the topper. I would wait to cut out the hearts for the side of the cake until the last minute because I wanted them to be very flexible (ie, not dried at all). For the rest of the decorations though, it was actually preferable to let them dry for a bit, so they were fine to make up early.

I also made 5 red roses out of fondant. You can read about how I did that here.

Two days before the wedding, I made up 2 batches of Wilton’s golden yellow cake (my favorite yellow cake). This was enough cake batter to make 2 6″ round cake layers and 36 cupcakes. I used red liners that I found at Michaels.

The day before the wedding, I got out everything I had made so far and started decorating. The cupcakes got a simple swirl of icing with a 1M tip, and topped with a fondant heart. For the cake, I did a filling, then a crumb coat, and then a final coat of icing with vanilla buttercream. After I waited for the icing on the cake to crust a bit, I rolled out my red fondant very thin and cut out hearts in two sizes. I attached them to the sides of the cake with a tiny smear of buttercream. For the topper, I used my five fondant roses arranged in a circle on top (secured with tooth picks) and I added a larger red fondant heart in the middle. The heart was held up by a lollipop stick. I wasn’t 100% happy with this topper – especially since it only just barely fit underneath the cake dome I was using! But I didn’t have any other ideas, so I just went with it.

For the cupcake tower, I used 3 different diameter plates and two 4″ pieces of tubing to create a stand that was the perfect size. I actually had to cut one of the existing pieces of tubing in half to accomplish this, but it turned out so well. This stand is actually from my own wedding, just a little rearranged.

Overall, I’m very pleased with this cake! It was amazingly stress-free (sometimes I stress over the cakes, I can be a bit of a perfectionist). And best of all, I’m told that the bride and groom LOVED it and that it was delicious. That’s really what I’m aiming for 🙂