Friday, December 24, 2010

More Christmas Cakes!

These are just a few more of the Christmas cakes I did this week:

Christmas Candle Cake - White Velvet cake frosted in White Chocolate Buttercream.  White Chocolate 'wax' and silk Poinsettias.  This is one of my favorite cakes so far! 

Christmas Angel Cake.  Chocolate Cake frosted and decorated in White Chocolate Buttercream.  Angel is gumpaste.

Close up of the gumpaste angel - this is my first gumpaste figure ever, and I must same that I am pretty proud of him! 
I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas and Happy Baking!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Tree Ruffle Cake

The other day, I was looking around for inspiration for all these Christmas cakes I am baking over the next week or so, and I ran across this post by I Am Baker.  I fell in LOVE with her blog (I will be following it, for sure), and I really wanted to try that ruffle cake - its so darn cute!

Now, my cake doesn't look like the one by I Am Baker, but it is still super cute! I wanted to put my own touch on it (not to say that I didn't try those trees on the side, waaaay hard to do, btw ... maybe my cake wasn't tall enough for them), so I mixed some white and green together for the sides and did the tree on top.  For the ruffles, I used tip #125 for the sides and #104 for the tree.  

I wanted to try something 'out of the box', and I think I achieved it!  The poinsettias are just silk; I added them for a pop of color and the decorations on the tree are edible pearls.  The cake is The Best Chocolate Cake Ever - seriously, it really is the best ever - and I realize I have never shared that recipe with you, so here it is (be very excited!):

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever: 
1½ Cups Sugar
½ Cup Brown sugar
2 Eggs
¾ Cup Cocoa
1 Tsp. Salt
1¾ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1-1.4oz Chocolate Pudding, fat free sugar free
1½ Tsp. Baking Soda
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Instant Coffee
2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Buttermilk
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Boiling Water

Sift all dry ingredient together into a large bowl - make sure to really get after that brown sugar or it will make lumps.  Add in the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, and oil.  Mix together on low speed for about 2 minutes, or until it all comes together.  Add in the boiling water and stir with a large spatula until it all is combined.  Pour batter into two prepared (greased and floured) 8" or 9" pans and bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs - about 28 minutes in my oven.  Prepare to be overcome with joy at the smell this leaves floating around your kitchen! Chocolate cake lovers unite! 

I used vanilla buttercream on this cake; I don't have a recipe to share yet, because I haven't really nailed down the 'perfect' ratios.  My buttercream is something that is always changing just a little.  I think I may have shared a recipe in an earlier post, but I'm pretty sure it isn't the one I used here - I'm trying to incorporate some different, more luxurious, ingredients like cream, real butter, pure vanilla ... anyway, I could go on forever, but I won't ;-) When it is perfected, I will share with you guys ... promise! 

I will have many more cakes to share over the holidays - Christmas time is a bakers heaven! 

Happy Baking! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mr. Tuxedo Cake is All Dressed Up!

Yesterday, I made my Dad's favorite cake - Tuxedo Cake! You can see the recipe from the first time I made Mr. Tuxedo Cake in this previous post.  My Dad requested this cake from me to give to his coworker for Christmas, so instead of buttercream decoration on top of the ganache, I put some silk poinsettias =)

I apologize for the 'in the box and ready to go' picture - I do usually try to make the pictures prettier, this was just the best one I got! 
I think this cake turned out better than my previous attempt - the sides are straighter, I better controlled my ganache glaze and my whipped cream didn't crack while it stabilized in the fridge!  I can really see that all the classes, online tutorials, and cake research are paying off!

Many more Christmas cakes to come this week - Happy Baking, ya'll!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Tree Cake

This weekend, I made a Christmas tree cake for my sister and her friends - they are having an end of semester Christmas party at FSU.  We did a Christmas tree with personalized gumpaste ornaments for each girl and 'garnet and gold' non-edible decorations in honor of FSU!
White Velvet Cake filled and iced in White Chocolate Buttercream (recipes found in earlier posts).  The cakes were one 9", one 8", one 6", one bowl cake, and a cupcake all stacked and carved into a tree shape. 

Close up of "Tuna" the beta fish as an ornament.  He is all gumpaste.
Close up of the "Lady Gaga Lightning Bolt".  It is all gumpaste. 
In addition to Tuna and the Lightning Bolt, there were black boots, a 'No Meat' sign, and a box of mac-n-cheese.  I didn't get these ornaments in the pictures.  This cake was super fun to make and I hope they all enjoy it!

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Holiday Cakes!

I made a couple more Thanksgiving cakes for a friend last night - here they are!

Rustic Fall Trees
Chocolate Cake with Cookies-N-Cream filling.  Frosting and 'rustic' decorations are buttercream.
* This cake was inspired by Bakingdom's blog *

Fancy Thanksgiving Cake
Vanilla butter cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and scroll work.  Topper is silk. 
Last night was my very first "off" night when it comes to caking ... many lessons were learned and mistakes corrected! I guess it happens to everyone ;-)  I'm very happy with how these turned out and I hope my friend and her family enjoy them!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Cakes

This week, I made a couple small cakes for a good friend of mine for her holiday get-together.  She was nice enough to let me design them to help build my portfolio.  Here they are!
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Cream Cheese scrollwork.  Topper is silk.

Chocolate Cake with Cookies-n-Cream filling and Buttercream Frosting and decorations.
In other news, Sweet For Sirten now has a Facebook!  You can find the link on the left side of this blog - I would love for you to 'Like' it =)

Happy Baking!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My First Wedding Cake

Today, I finished and delivered my very first wedding cake order! The day was just perfect - I was thrilled with how everything turned out.  The cake was three tiers - the bottom, 12", tier was white velvet cake; the middle, 9", tier was white almond sour cream cake with berries; the top, 6", tier was white velvet.  The whole cake was filled and iced in white chocolate buttercream. All of these recipes can be found in earlier posts. Each tier was three layers of cake and stood about 6" tall.  The scroll work was designed to match the 'double heart' theme of the wedding with lavender accents.  The scrolls and borders were accented with small sugar pearls. 

The cake chilling in the fridge.  This was before the ribbon was finished  ... at about 2am! 

I moved the cake from the fridge to this spot on the counter until my very strong Daddy moved it to the back of the SUV. Thats my Mom (and driver) in the background - sorry about all the stuff around, I wasn't thinking about taking 'pretty' pictures, just documenting ;-)

All ready to go in the SUV! It didn't budge an inch for the whole hour drive - that non slip rug really works! 

Paul went along for the ride - he was such a trooper!

Detail shot I took while riding in the car - I love how pretty the natural light is. 

The cake all set up on the table and ready to be cut! 

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Microwave Mug Cake

Today, I was in desperate need of something chocolate and cakey, but also feeling really lazy - I did not want to pull everything out and bake a whole cake; I just wanted a bite to satisfy me.  Being as I gave away all the cake I had in the house (I'm trying to lose 5 pounds for a holiday party, HA!), so I started thinking about this episode of Rachel Ray I saw one time where this lady made cake in a coffee cup in the microwave.  I looked around online and found a few sites that had pretty basic sounding recipes, so I combined a few of them for what sounded like a good first try!
I baked in my ACS mug because it is the biggest one I own.  
Mug Cake Recipe:
4 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
4 tbsp. Sugar
2 tbsp. Cocoa
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1 Egg
3 tbsp. Milk
3 tbsp. Oil
Splash of Vanilla
*Next time I am adding chocolate chips.

Mix everything together in the mug and pop it in the microwave for 2.5 minutes.  EASY! However, next time I will mix mine up in a small bowl and then pour it in the mug - its hard to get everything incorporated within the mug, and that can make flower spots and hard spots.

The top

It was surprisingly easy to pop out of the mug with a spoon!  You can see I got a few flour spots. 
I added a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream, and I was all set! Its not the prettiest presentation, but it surely hit the spot and took all of 5 minutes to make =) Somedays, that is just how its got to be.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wilton Fondant and Gumpaste Final Cake

Last night was supposed to be my final Wilton Fondant and Gumpaste class.  However, my son got his 12 months shots earlier in the day, and was running a fever.  He was acting pretty pitiful, and I just couldn't leave him.  So, I did the cake at home!  The cake is a 6 inch, 2 layer White Velvet cake, iced in white chocolate buttercream and covered in homemade buttercream fondant.  The bow on top is gumpaste and the little dots are white chocolate buttercream.

I have finally perfected my White Velvet cake recipe.  It started as a recipe I found on - the first bake sunk in the middle and made a hard crust on the outside, but the flavor was so outstanding that I had to fix it!  So, finally, here is the recipe:

White Velvet Cake:
1 box Classic White Cake mix (I like Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines)
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 1oz. boxes of white chocolate pudding mix
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 cup White Chocolate Mocha coffee creamer (International Delight brand)
3/4 cup water
4 egg whites
1 tsp clear vanilla (you can use pure vanilla, but it won't be a stark white cake)

Sift together dry ingredients.  Mix in wet ingredients until combined, continue to beat on low speed for 2 minutes.  Bake at 325 degrees until toothpick comes out clean - approximately 30 minutes.

White Chocolate Buttercream:
1 cup butter
1 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp meringue powder
1 tsp clear vanilla flavor
1/2 tsp clear almond extract
1/2 tsp clear butter flavor
2-4 tbsp whipping cream
2-4 tbsp White Chocolate Mocha coffee creamer (International Delight brand)

Cream together butter, shortening and all liquids until smooth and fluffy (start with the minimum of creamer and whipping cream, add more along the way to achieve the consistency you desire).  Add in sifted powdered sugar and continue beating until it all comes together.  Do not over beat, or you will incorporate too much air.

There are still a few things I would like to change about the buttercream fondant.  As it is right now, it is delicious and great once rolled out, but requires a little to much microwave action to get it pliable.  I will post the recipe once I feel it is 'perfect'. 

Close up of gumpaste bow
Close up of Buttercream beading
I am really happy with how this cake turned out - definitely one of my favorites.  Happy Baking!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tie Cupcakes inspired by Men's Wearhouse

This evening, I made some cupcakes for my husband to take to his new job.  Since he started his job, I have had lots of quality alone time - he has been working 12 hours days all week!  I miss him and, I guess, baking is what I do to make myself feel better.  I had these cupcakes frozen, so I sat them out to thaw this morning.  They are a mixture of White Velvet cake, White Almond Sour Cream cake, and White Almond Sour Cream cake with berries.  They are each iced in white chocolate buttercream and the decorated with homemade buttercream fondant. Recipes will follow in a later post; here are some pictures:

Happy Baking!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Transformer Cake!

Oh my goodness, what a weekend! I got my first wedding cake order, and I decided I needed to practice.  My sister had asked me to make a cake for her and some of her friends this weekend, so I thought it would be a great practice opportunity.  Wow, was I in for a night of surprises and lessons (learned the hard way). Would you ever guess that these two cakes are, actually, THE SAME CAKE?

Yep! This is the same cake.  The first picture is the final product (obviously), and the second picture is what I attempted to do last night.  I woke up this morning to a crack and droopy fondant circles! It was horrible. After reading around on, I figured out what I had done wrong and decided that I was going to fix it.  SO, I disassembled the whole cake (dowels and all!) and started over.  I removed the broken layer, which is why the final cake is shorter.  I must say, that even though the final cake is not what my sister asked for, I love it.  The maroon fondant on the cake turned all the icing a nice shade of pale pink ... so I just went with it!

The recipe I used rendered horrible results, and I believe that it was the reason for the cake's downfall.  The cake took forever to finish in the middle, but the outside formed a hard crust that had to be carved off.  Even after baking over an hour, these cakes were still mushy in the middle.  Three out of four of them sunk. The difference in the soft middle and the hard outer edges made for discourse within the cake, resulting in the crack.  When I took the cake apart and removed the faulty layer, all was well again!  Needless to say, I won't be sharing the recipe I used until I make some adjustments ;-)

This adventure gave me LOTS of practice and I feel a lot better about my buttercream skills on the final cake - all those youtube videos I watched while trying to figure out what I did wrong the first time really  helped! Here are some more close-up pictures:

Pretty monogram and reverse shell border

Royal Icing Roses
 Happy Baking!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wilton Gum Paste and Fondant Class

This month, I have been taking the Wilton Gum Paste and Fondant Class.  We don't bake much, except for the final cake, but we make flowers and bows every week.  Everything is made from a half and half mix of fondant and gum paste, and most is made in stages to allow for proper drying. I just finished my second class in the course, and I wanted to share some of my work!

Two Calla Lilies, Carnation, and medium sized Rose
Close up of Rose with calyx and leaves

Gum Paste Bow

Everything from this course so far!

We are learning more flowers next week, and the following week we will produce our first complete cake decorated with fondant and gum paste - I'm super excited!

Happy Baking!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lemon Walnut Cupcakes!

 I have done it! I have found the one 'sweet treat' my husband adores!  He is not much on sweets, but he has raved about these cupcakes (especially the lemon buttercream), and I must admit, that is a good feeling for his wife, the 'baker' =)  This recipe is adapted from  1001 Cupcakes, Cookies and Tempting Treats - a book my Daddy gave me for my birthday this year (thanks, Dad!). It is a grown-up cupcake, and tastes like an absolute dream.  The lemon mixed with the walnut just does it somehow.  This is the first time I have made buttercream with actual butter instead of Crisco in a long time, and I had forgotten how much of a difference it makes.  I am excited to get to do this more now that it has cooled down and the humidity won't melt the butter! The only complaint I have about this recipe from the book is that it only made enough batter for 6 cupcakes, where the recipe said it would make 12.  Now, I like a "full" cupcake, but even if I had only half filled the papers, I don't think I would have gotten 12 cupcakes.  SO, next time I will for sure double the recipe. 

Lemony Walnut Cupcakes Recipe (adapted from the 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies and Tempting Treats 'Moist Walnut Cupcakes' recipe):
heaping 1/4 cup chopped walnuts*
4 tbsp butter, softened and cut into pieces
1/2 cup sugar*
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup self rising flour (1/2 cup all purpose flour + 1/4 tsp. salt + 3/4 tsp baking powder*)
2 eggs
6 walnuts for decoration*

Lemon Buttercream Recipe:
4 tbsp. butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar + a little to adjust thickness*
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. lemon juice*
1 tsp. milk*

*Changes I made to the recipe - I chopped my walnuts instead of putting them in the food processor, used regular sugar instead of superfine, used a self rising flour substitute because I did not have self-rising on hand, and only had to use 6 walnuts because the recipe only made 6 cupcakes, not 12.  In the frosting, I had to add a little more sugar, extra lemon juice and some milk to get it to the consistency I like.

 Chop your walnuts into small pieces.  Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time until completely combined.  Add in the remaining ingredients and blend until just combined.  Line 6 places in a cupcake pan with papers and fill about 2/3 full with batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.
For frosting, beat butter, juice, and milk together until smooth.  Add sugar and beat until an icing forms. I frosted using a 1M star tip to make a swirl on top.

The recipe in the book said to chop the walnuts in the food processor and then add the rest of the ingredients to the processor and pulse until a batter formed.  While this would be faster, I prefer my method. Plus, my food processor is a big mess to use and clean, and it was late =)

You MUST try these! I promise you won't be disappointed!

Happy Baking!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design Final Cake

Tonight was my last class for the Wilton Flowers and Cake Design course.  We learned the basket weave and got to use our flowers on a cake.  Since my birthday was yesterday, this is my "Day Late Birthday Cake" for myself, so, naturally, it was chocolate!  Due to lack of time, I used a cake mix (gasp!) that I doctored up, and it turned out wonderfully. 

Devils Food doctored cake mix with chocolate buttercream filling and vanilla buttercream frosting

Close up of royal icing roses (made during the Greys Anatomy premiere last week!)

View from the top - I LOVE the reverse shell border!

Our class manual told us to bring 3 cups of frosting, needless to say, it wasn't enough - only half my cake got the basket weave!  My teacher was really surprised that the  manual thought 3 cups would be enough, I guess now we know! You can see where I had the rest of the cake marked for the basket weave.
 Doctored Chocolate Cake Mix Cake:
1 package of Devils Food cake mix
1 package of Dream Whip
1 tablespoon of Meringue Powder
1 small (individual serving size) container of applesauce
1 cup of water
4 eggs
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat on medium low speed for 5 minutes and pour into your prepared pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. This recipe filled my 8x3 round pan very nicely, but would be plenty for two 8x2 pans, as well. 
**After much experimentation, I have learned that greasing and flouring your pan and lining the bottom with parchment paper makes for the PERFECT cake release!

This doctored cake mix saved me SO much time - I baked, cooled (in the freezer), made frosting, and lightly iced this cake in just 2 hours. Next Monday, I start the Fondant and Gumpaste course - I am so excited!

Happy Baking!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Birthday Weekend!

My little boy turned 1 this weekend, so, we had a small family party for him!  I, of course, baked my heart out the day prior, and here are the results:
The Smash Cake - Vanilla butter cake, covered in marshmallow fondant, with strawberry buttercream and fresh strawberry filling.  The 1 is made of a gumpaste/fondant mix and the decorations are marshmallow fondant.

Football Cupcakes! Vanilla butter cake with chocolate buttercream, and fondant footballs with royal icing accents.
The smash cake was so much fun to make! My son's favorite food right now is strawberries, so I made him a strawberry cake. I used my vanilla butter cake recipe, found here, in an earlier post.  The strawberry buttercream was a basic buttercream recipe with about 1/2 cup fresh, pureed strawberries added in.
Smash cake torted and filled with fresh strawberries and strawberry buttercream
Smash cake covered in a crumb coat of strawberry buttercream.
The football cupcakes are the same vanilla butter cake as the smash cake.  The chocolate buttercream is a basic buttercream recipe with approximately 1/4 cocoa powder (to taste) added. 

I think he liked it!
Everything all together for his birthday table!
This weekend was also my friend from work's mom's birthday, so she asked me to make a few things for her.  I was originally going to make red velvet petit fours ... I attempted these and the results were delicious, but hideously ugly =(  SO, her petit fours turned into red velvet cake balls (bon bons) covered in chocolate.  I will never attempt petit fours again, until I am much more experienced! They were a horrible experience; so bad, I am not even going to post the pictures. In addition to the cake balls, I sent my friend with a mini red velvet cake and some strawberry cupcakes:

The cupcakes are the same vanilla butter cake and strawberry buttercream I used for the smash cake.  The flowers are some I made in my decorating class and have been saving to use for something "pretty".

Strawberry cupcake - vanilla buttercake with strawberry buttercream.  The purple and yellow flowers are gumpaste/fondant, the pink flowers are royal icing.

Some of my "left overs".  Chocolate covered red velvet bon bons, strawberry cupcakes, and a mini vanilla buttercake covered in chocolate buttercream.

 For the red velvet bon bons, I used my red velvet cake recipe, found in an earlier post, here.  I mushed up the cake and mixed it with some cream cheese buttercream frosting.  I then formed the mixture into ball shapes. I melted down some dark chocolate and white chocolate, and drizzled over the balls to achieve the look I was after.  I allowed the cake to show on the bottom, because I wanted to show the red velvet.  The ones pictured here are not the best ones, as I did not get a picture of the pretty ones I sent with my friend.  I have got to do better about keeping my camera handy!

I had so much fun this weekend!  I'm exhausted from being so busy, so I probably won't be baking again for a while, well, for at least a couple days.

Happy Baking!