Sunday, July 31, 2011

Whale Cake

I just finished this cake yesterday. I have been planning and working on it for awhile now and was very excited to finally see it come together! This was for a good friend of mine, Katie, whose little boy turned 1 on Friday. They had a party for him today and I volunteered to make him this cake. I also made this little smash cake for him to tear apart.

Here are the two cakes together.

Now for those who want the details, here they are! Both the tiered cake and the smash cake are yellow cake with strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream and sliced strawberries for the filling. They are also both covered with milk chocolate ganache. The smash cake was then covered in blue modeling chocolate and topped with more of the strawberry buttercream and fondant decorations. The tiered cake was covered in fondant and all of the decorations, except for the whale, are fondant.

I made the whale by molding rice krispie treats into the shape I wanted then covered the whole thing with modeling chocolate. Modeling chocolate is so nice to work with and so tasty! You just melt chocolate (or in this case I used candy melts) and add a little corn syrup. The chocolate technically seizes up, but it then comes together to make a clay that can be rolled or molded. I did learn, though, that it can be a little difficult on a hot day. While I was trying to cover the whale and smooth him out, the chocolate kept melting a little against my warm hands. That made it really hard to get him perfectly smooth! I would have liked to have done a little better on that, but overall, I was happy with him. The little water spurts are fondant with a toothpick holding it in.

I think my favorite part of this cake is the bottom tier and the fish. The background color ending up being the perfect blue, I thought, and I love the way the bright colors of the fish stand out against the background. I wish you could see it better in the picture.

The horizontal lines were a first for me and are really difficult to get straight. I measured, marked, and measured again before putting the strips onto the cake. Although they aren't quite perfect, I was happy with them. Not bad for a first attempt!

I also learned a little more about getting my ganache smooth. I had a really hard time with that on this cake. I tried a new technique - putting a board on top of the cake and smoothing the sides with a scraper against both the top and bottom cardboard rounds. The top was supposed to just pop off after the whole cake was refrigerated for awhile, leaving a perfectly smooth top with sharp corners. Well, the top came off, but it took the ganache and part of the cake with it! This was about midnight Friday night and I nearly threw the cake against the wall! I was able to add more ganache and fix it, thankfully. And it helps that the top tier covers the rough part! Though it was frustrating, one of the things that I like about doing cakes is that I am always learning and improving. Sometimes when things go wrong, I learn the most because I have to really think about it in order to fix things.

I hope that Joey enjoys his birthday party today and that everyone enjoys the cake! I tasted some of the scraps with the leftover buttercream and a slice and I have to say that it is now one of my absolute favorite combinations! It was sooooo good!! I'm sure the milk chocolate ganache made it even more fantastic!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cinnamon Cake Recipe

I thought I would share with you the final version of my cinnamon cake. This is the recipe that I've been testing lately. I made my last two cakes using this recipe. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Cake

10.5 ounces cake flour (3 cups lightly sifted into the measuring cup, but I weigh mine)
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cup super-fine granulated sugar (just pulse regular granulated sugar in a food processor)
3 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature (8 tablespoons or 1 stick)
1-1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 drops cinnamon oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 2 eight-inch cake pans by greasing with shortening, lining with greased parchment rounds, and coating with flour. Combine cake flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low for at least 10 seconds. Add butter and 3/4 cup of the cream and mix on low until moistened. Turn to medium speed and mix for an additional one and a half minutes. If using a hand mixer, switch it to high speed for this step.

Whisk together in a medium bowl 1/4 cup cream, the eggs, the egg yolks, vanilla, and the cinnamon oil. Add to the flour mixture in three portions, mixing first on low then on medium (or high if using a hand mixer) for 20 seconds after each addition.

In a separate glass or metal bowl, mix the remaining 1/2 cup cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the batter until fully incorporated.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the batter. Mix well and fold into the remaining batter until it is streaked throughout the batter. Pour gently into prepared pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top springs back when touched gently with a finger and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it. The cake should NOT pull away from the sides of the pan before you take it out of the oven. If it does, you have baked it too long.

This cake is excellent with vanilla buttercream. I was also thinking that it would be very good with caramel buttercream, too. If you don't have cinnamon oil, it will still be excellent. The cinnamon flavor won't be quite as pronounced and you could add another teaspoon or two of ground cinnamon instead. It still won't be quite the same, but it will still be delicious! Keep in mind also that if you scoop out the flour or even spoon and level, you will likely get more than 10.5 ounces, so if you try this recipe and the cake is dry, try using a little less flour next time. I know not everyone has a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients!

If you substitute all-purpose flour, know that your cake will not be as tender and may be more dry. All-purpose flour weighs more than cake flour, so 3 cups may be a bit too much. I encourage you to try cake flour, though, as it does make a difference in cakes. You will be amazed at how tender your cake can be!

I hope you all enjoy this cake as much as I have!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Yellow and Grey

I've been wanting to do this design for awhile. I saw a picture on The TomKat Studio's site.
I really love the paper fan pinwheels and the color combination! I thought I needed to figure out a way to do it on a cake. So, I took some fondant mixed with gumpaste and gave it a try. I must say, it was harder than I thought to get the right effect! I like how they turned out, but they aren't quite what I had pictured in my head. I may give it another try at some point.

The cake itself is my cinnamon cake. I'm still testing that recipe. I think I've got it now. This version was moist, tender, and full of cinnamon flavor. Yum! I paired it (again) with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, this time colored yellow. The coloring of the Swiss meringue was another stumbling block that I hit with this cake! The SMBC is a little harder to work with when it is so hot and humid out. I made it and it came together beautifully. But when I tried to color it, the color just wouldn't take! After adding quite a bit of the Wilton lemon yellow color, it still looked just off-white, with bright yellow around the edges. I let it sit overnight in the frig. to firm up and in the morning it was still off-white. I stirred the extra, which was by now pretty yellow, but streaky, and added another thin coat to the cakes. This is why now they are yellow but a little bit splotchy and not quite as smooth as I had it at first. I guess I need more practice! And, this was a learning process. Next time, I will try using oil-based candy colors with my SMBC instead to see if that helps. I will also let the buttercream sit at room temperature for awhile to take on the color before frosting the cake. Hopefully those tricks will help!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this cake! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cinnamon Cake

I've been developing a new recipe this week: cinnamon cake. So far, I've made two batches and I think that I am very close. The flavor is there and really good, but it's still a little dry. So, I'll be baking another batch very soon!

Above is a picture of the finished cake, made with two 6-inch cakes (one from each batch), filled and iced in vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream. Yum! Here is the slice. See the cinnamon swirled in there? Kind of makes you want a piece, right? :)

It was sooo good with a cup of black coffee!

If you look closely at the slice, you can see the difference in the two batches. The first batch is the bottom two layers of cake. See how the crumb is smaller and the cake more crumbly? The top two layers are the second batch. The crumb is a little bigger and it held together a little better.

Here is the inspiration for the design. It's a pillow from the West Elm catalog. My first attempt at piping it on made it look more like a Christmas tree than anything else, so I turned the cake around and did it again on the other side. That's the good thing about having a cake just for my family! It turned out a little better the second time, but I clearly still need practice with buttercream! I would love to perfect that skill and be able to pipe all the intricate designs on perfectly-smoothed buttercream cakes! Someday...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I don't have a decorated cake to show you, but I thought that instead I would share my favorite baking tips. This is not at all an exhaustive list, but just some things I thought of while baking my chocolate chip cookies and my last cake that I thought might be of use to you all!

You may know that for baking, the temperature of the ingredients is really important. All of the ingredients should be at room temperature before mixing. This is so that all the ingredients mix together really well. If the butter is too cold, it won't incorporate into the batter as well and the butter will stay in little lumps. If the liquid is too cold, it will harden the butter. While little lumps of butter are good for pie crust, it is not good for cake or cookies! Well, I don't always think ahead enough to get out my refrigerated ingredients (eggs, butter and cream) and let them come to room temperature. So, here are the tricks I use for that!

First, the eggs. To warm them quickly, put some hot tap water into a bowl and place your cold eggs into it. They should be completely submerged. Let them sit for a few minutes and they will be warmed to the perfect temperature! I usually get the eggs in their water bath then get out my other ingredients. By the time I'm done, the eggs are warmed! Remember, though, that eggs are much harder to separate after they are warm. If you need to separate the eggs, do it first, then use the microwave in short bursts (10 seconds) on medium to warm them. Here are my eggs sitting in their little bath.

For cream or butter, I use the microwave. Make sure you use the reheat or medium level on your microwave (or lower if you have a really powerful microwave) because you don't want to heat them too much. If your butter melts, you cannot use it in a cake. Once butter has melted, it has chemically changed and won't work the way it needs to in your cake. I usually microwave my cream for 10 seconds on medium and that is usually enough. It doesn't need to be really warm, but just room temperature. Room temperature is typically a little cooler (20 degrees) than body temperature, so everything should still feel a little bit cool to the touch. You should be able to slightly dent the butter with your finger. All of these little tricks are really quick and easy, so you're ready to bake without preparing ahead of time!

Another thing I nearly always use in my cakes is cake flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose and so it will make a much more tender cake. And it really does make a more tender cake! I have also learned that lightly chlorinated, or bleached, cake flour will make a more tender cake than unbleached cake flour. I have never really liked the idea of using bleached flour, so I usually buy King Arthur Company's unbleached cake flour. But I've got to tell you that for the last couple of cakes I've used a bleached cake flour and I'll admit it does make a difference. If you don't like the idea of using bleached flour, though, the King Arthur unbleached also makes a might fine cake.

One of my can't-live-without baking products is parchment paper. I grease all of my pans with shortening, then cut a parchment round for the bottom, then grease that too. I then sprinkle flour in the pans. I have never had a problem with sticking. I also use parchment paper for cookies and haven't had to wash a cookie sheet since! Here is a picture of my cookie sheet with parchment on it.

A great trick I learned from the book Bakewise by Shirley O'Corriher is to line your cookie sheet with parchment, then when the cookies come out of the oven, simply slide the parchment with the cookies still on it off of the cookie sheet onto the counter. Rinse the cookie sheet with cold water to cool, then dry it off and load it up with another parchment. I usually have three sheets of parchment going for two cookie sheets. I load up one parchment with cookie dough so that it's ready to slide right onto the rinsed sheet. Some people are nervous that rinsing a hot cookie sheet with cold water will ruin the cookie sheet. I haven't had any problems with mine but I suppose it depends on what type of sheet you use. I use the gold cookie sheets from Williams-Sonoma (best cookie sheets I have ever had and totally worth the money for them!) and I haven't had any problems.

I hope you all like and use my tips! I've got several cake sketches in my book that I'd like to do, so look for more cake entries to come soon!

Friday, July 15, 2011

S'mores Mini-Cupcakes

Tonight I made s'mores cupcakes. They are tiny but packed with big chocolate and marshmallow flavor! I can't take credit for this idea. I actually saw a version of these online, though I tweaked them a bit and used my own recipe. These were easy and fun!

They are my own Midnight Mini-Cupcakes (a really dark cake - so good!), filled with marshmallow fluff and topped with dark chocolate ganache, crumbled graham crackers, and a toasted mini-marshmallow. The toasted marshmallow is my favorite part! Check out the inside.

The only thing I would do differently next time is that I would put in more graham cracker. Rebecca (for those of you who don't know, that's my Dad's wife) suggested putting some cupcake batter in the liner, then a little square of graham cracker, then the rest of the batter. Excellent idea! I wish I had thought of that! I will be sure to try that next time, because it does need a little more of the graham flavor in there.

I can't share the actual cupcake recipe with you now because I've submitted it to a contest. (Wish me luck!) But later on, I will be able to share it with you all. For now, pick your favorite chocolate cake/cupcake recipe and make yourself some mini-cupcakes! I used a basic ganache (2 parts dark chocolate to 2 parts cream, by weight - let me know if you'd like a more detailed recipe) and store-bought graham crackers. I toasted the mini-marshmallows by putting them on the end of a toothpick and holding them over the flame of one of my gas burners.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Peach Pie

Is there anything better than fruit pies in the summer? Well, cookies and cake are certainly way up there, too! But I haven't made a pie in awhile and my hubby requested peach pie. I was happy to oblige, especially since peaches are soooo good right now! I used a recipe from my sister Amy's first cookbook and it looks divine, don't you think? If you'd like the recipe but don't have the book, just let me know and I'll send it to you! Everything, including the crust, is from scratch. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Here it is just before going into the oven. I gave the top crust a light wash with cream (makes it brown nicely and get a nice crispiness) and then sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar, a little addition my mother-in-law uses with her apple pie. (That apple pie, by the way, is the best and I know I'll be making that come fall and apple season!) I know you are all impressed with my crimping on this one! I think it's honestly the best I've ever done, so that must mean I'm learning something, right? You can see it a lot better on the pre-baked pie. I'll have to make the crimps a little deeper next time so they don't expand into themselves and each other when baked.

Then, with the scraps, I made some pie crust cookies for the kiddos. Just roll and cut the leftover pie dough, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and pop in the oven with the pie. I think they baked for about 10 minutes (until lightly browned). My Mom used to make these for us with her pie dough scraps, so I have fond memories of them. Now my kids can have those memories too!

I also made some homemade vanilla ice cream, which is hardening up in the freezer right now. I can't wait to dive into that pie with a huge scoop of ice cream! No, literally, I want to dive right in and swim around for awhile. That's how good it looks and smells! I wonder if it's acceptable to skip dinner and go right to pie and ice cream. If not, it should be!

Here is my super easy, no-cook ice cream recipe. It is really good - trust me! This recipe is courtesy of my fabulous mother-in-law and has been tweaked a little bit by yours truly.

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups milk (I use 1% organic milk, skim will freeze a little harder)
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup agave (or 1 cup granulated sugar)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I use vanilla paste to get the little flecks of bean)
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract (for a flavor boost, you don't really taste it that much)

Stir all the ingredients together, then pour into the frozen bowl of your ice cream maker and mix according to your maker's directions. When finished, transfer to a freezer-safe air-tight container and freeze for a few hours or until firm.

You can substitute other flavorings, too, or probably even mix in a puree of some sort. I will have to try that next time! Also, I've read a tip that adding a little bit of vodka (1 Tablespoon) to the mixture will help homemade ice cream stay scoopable right out of the freezer. You know how homemade ice cream sometimes is such a pain to scoop out? Well, supposedly the tiny bit of alcohol keeps it from freezing all the way, so it firms up but isn't rock hard. I think the added fat from the 1% milk and the heavy cream (as opposed to light cream) helps too. I did try the vodka tip this time because I now have vodka in the house for my cake decorating. I'll let you know if it works!

Enjoy your summer evening and happy baking!!

Monday, July 11, 2011


Cookies are my weakness. I seriously love cookies. Chocolate chip are my favorite. Earlier this year, I was on a cookie kick and developed some new recipes. Sometime I will share them all with you. But today, I want to share my special chocolate chip cookie recipe. I call them Kristen's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies because they are the best chocolate chip cookies I have had or made. And it's my recipe! I'm very pleased with it - can you tell? :)

I decided to make cookies this morning as a thank-you gift to my good friend Jen, who was kind enough to watch my children for me while I went to the dentist. Thank you Jen!! (In case you were wondering, the cookie-making was much more fun that the dentist!)

Initial mixing. I always add the flavorings (in this case, vanilla and a little almond extract) to the fat (butter) because fat is an excellent flavor distributor and adding it now ensures that every bite is filled with vanilla/almond goodness! You already kind of want to swipe some batter, don't you?

Here it is all mixed up. Yum! Oh, and I did swipe some batter at this point! I had to make sure I didn't leave anything out!

I use a tablespoon-sized scoop to portion out the batter so that all the cookies end up relatively the same size. And I always use parchment paper - the cookies brown so well, never burn or stick, and it is easy clean-up! Ready for the oven...

And the first batch is done! Mmmmmm.... Of course, I had to try one (or two) to make sure they were okay to give away. It's common courtesy, after all.

All packed up.

And ready to go!

And, yes, I did promise you all the recipe, didn't I? Well, here it is. Try them and let me know what you think!

Kristen's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter (better quality really does make a better-tasting cookie!)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 eggs
2 cups (9 ounces) self-rising flour*
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together the butter and the sugars. Add extracts. Add eggs one at a time, mixing just until blended. Add the flour alternately with the cream, beginning and ending with the flour and mixing after each addition just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lines baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are just turning a light golden brown. Be careful not to overbake! Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for one or two minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.

*You may substitute 2 cups (7 ounces) cake flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt for the self-rising flour. Whisk together well before adding to the batter.

A couple of tips: Make sure all of your ingredients are room temperature before mixing. It really does make a difference in the final product! Also, I use self-rising flour because it is a lower-protein flour, like cake flour, and produces a softer cookie with a nicer texture. Because the leavening is already mixed in, you don't have to worry about it being uneven at all in the batter. Of course, you can substitute all-purpose flour, but the cookie won't be as nice in my humble opinion.

Finally, while making these, I realized that I didn't have enough chocolate chips! Gasp! So, I found some milk chocolate in bar form and decided to chop some up and add it to the batter along with the semi-sweet chips that I had. I ended up with a little more than half a cup of the chips and about the same of the chopped milk chocolate. It was soooo good! Necessity being the mother of invention and all, I will definitely keep that change and add chopped milk chocolate (or maybe even try some dark chocolate) in the future as well!

Again, thank you Jen for watching the kids!!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


The Ice Cream Cone Cake is finished! It took me a little longer to decorate the bottom tier than I thought it would, but the cone went pretty well and now it is all done! I like the way it turned out! Happy birthday Jonathan!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ice Cream Cone Cake

I'm baking again! I've got four chocolate chip cakes in the oven right now baking away. Two six-inch and two four-inch. Mmmm! It smells so good! Three of these will be filled with milk chocolate ganache and stacked together for my next creation. I've been wanting to try to do what I'm calling an "ice cream cone cake" and my friend's son is having a birthday next week, so it is the perfect opportunity! I know that this little guy will love it!

I've been following a cake blog lately and this blogger often puts her sketches up for people to see. I liked that idea and I thought you might too. So, here is the sketch of my "ice cream cone cake." The sketch will help give you an idea of what I mean by the title. Oh, and I need to apologize for the quality of this picture. My scanner isn't working and this was the best I could get. Clearly I need more work on my photography! :)

The ice cream cone on the top is an actual ice cream cone. I'm planning on cutting off the tip and inserting a dowel in the bottom, then securing the dowel with melted chocolate or thickened ganache. For those who might not know, ganache is simply warmed heavy whipping cream with good-quality melted chocolate. It all gets whisked together into smooth chocolatey goodness. It is a dream to work with and a dream to eat. And it is the perfect smooth cake covering to put under fondant! It firms up when it dries, but doesn't get really hard, so I'm thinking it will be a good thing to use to keep the cone on the cake and upright. The rest of the cone will be filled with crumbled cake mixed with buttercream icing. I will take this mix and form it into a big ball for the ice cream on top of the cone, then frost it with more buttercream and top it with rainbow sprinkles. I'm hoping it will look like real ice cream! We'll see...

Well, three of the cakes are done and they look wonderful. I can't wait to get to the decorating tomorrow! And I'm really looking forward to some of the scraps! I will be sure to post the finished cake later this weekend.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Purse Cake

I made my first sculpted cake this week - a clutch purse cake. I am really pleased with how it turned out! The sculpting was both harder and easier than I expected. I had a hard time getting the sides even with each other, so if you look closely, you can see that. I learned a lot about how to sculpt, plan it out, etc! It was a lot of fun and I know I'll be trying more sculpted cakes in the future!

I also really love the flower on this cake. I've seen (and made) folded fabric flowers and wanted to replicate it on a cake. So, I tried it and it worked! I was so excited to see the finished flower and how it came together!
For those of you interested in the process, I cut a long rectangular strip of rolled out gumpaste. I then folded it in half lengthwise, wetting one of the long sides with some vodka so the sides would stick together. I was careful to only press the edges together so that I would get a puffier, more fabric-like look. I then took the pressed-together long edge and began folding just at that edge accordian-style until it formed a circle. In effect, I was "gathering" that edge together and letting the outer edge circle around. I then used vodka to attach the two shorter ends together to complete the circle. I did that whole process a second time with a slightly smaller piece of gumpaste to make the smaller circle in the flower. A little ball pressed down made the center and hid the gathered edge. I put those three pieces together and let it dry overnight in a round-bottomed dish that I have. (I actually used a Tupperware lemon-keeper and it was the perfect size and shape for my flower! Tupperware does it again! I love Tupperware!) I used the handle end of a small paintbrush to lift portions of the center of the flower to give it some more shape and texture and to ensure that it didn't settle flat against the outer circle. I stuck tiny pieces of tissue underneath so it would dry with the shape I gave it. Worked like a charm! Finally, after attaching the flower to the cake, I made three tiny fondant balls and attached them to the center of the flower. I then painted them with silver luster dust to make them silver.

Sorry for that long explanation! It is harder to explain these things without pictures than I thought! Next time, I will try to take progress pics of the flower so you can see it.

Here are a couple of pics of the cake in progress.
This is the cake after stacking, filling, and initial carving into the purse shape.

I wasn't quite happy with the shape after I crumb-coated it with ganache, so I sliced a little bit more off of the ends. I then ganached those edges, smoothed it, and covered it in fondant.
Here is the fondant-covered purse sans decorations.

I hope you enjoyed my purse cake! Thanks for stopping by and taking a look!

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July Cake

I came up with this 4th of July design after looking at a ton online. I wanted my cake to be a little bit different. The "fabric" is made from modeling chocolate. Just a note on that - I just learned about modeling chocolate and made it for the first time for this cake. It is wonderful! Soft, pliable, and much tastier than fondant! It dries firm, but not hard like gumpaste. And it seemed to be a little more forgiving than fondant because it's a little slower to dry. I will definitely be playing with this some more! I can see, though, that it would not be great for some things, so I will still be using gumpaste and fondant too.

The stars are made from red, white and blue fondant marbled together then painted with silver luster dust to make them shine. I didn't like how muddled the colors got and that was my fault for kneading a little too much after twisting the colors together. The silver muddled it a little bit more. Also, I originally intended for the stars to stick straight up out of the cake, but underestimated the weight of the fondant. Oops! Next time I will use a stronger wire for that! This gauge was the only one I could find of the white cloth-wrapped floral wire, though, and that is what I wanted. Even twisting two together didn't make it strong enough. I think it was 32 gauge. Way too thin!

The cake itself is my own Midnight Dark Chocolate Cake. A recipe I developed based on several chocolate cake recipes that I have used in the past. Seriously, this is a GOOD chocolate cake! I just can't stop thinking about it now. Wonderfully moist, extremely dark, good soft crumb (melts in your mouth!), and the best chocolate flavor. Soooo good! This time, I layered a bit of raspberry filling (made from fresh raspberries and a little tart with no added sugar, so a little really goes a long way) and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. I did a thick crumb coat of the buttercream and covered the whole thing with white marshmallow fondant flavored with vanilla and a little almond extract.

The swiss meringue is my absolute favorite buttercream now. It isn't tooth-crackingly sweet like American buttercream, so it doesn't overpower the flavor of the cake and filling. It is perfectly soft and light. Since it's butter based, I can use a heated metal bench scraper to smooth the sides. I did that this time and it worked like a dream, though I could still use some practice. The key for me this time was letting it sit frosted in the frig overnight and then heat-smoothing it the next day. This made the buttercream more firm for me and gave me more time to perfect it as much as I could. Next time I may use a thinner coat, though, because my fondant got a little squishy as the buttercream warmed up. I was still moving my cake around and decorating it or I might not have noticed. I was super happy to not get any air bubbles, which has happened to me in the past covering SMBC with fondant.

I also really liked the flavor of the fondant with that little bit of almond extract added. I am finding that a little almond extract brings out a really good flavor in a lot of things. I have been adding it to a lot of cakes, cookies, and icings lately. It is strong stuff, though, so a little goes a really long way and you don't want to taste only almond, so if you try it go easy on it. I usually only add 1/8 of a teaspoon even in large batches.

One other funny thing about this cake, specifically about the stand. I got this stand yesterday just before I finished decorating the cake. I found it and thought it was perfect with the red and white ribbon. And I have been looking for a stand like this. I can change out the ribbon to coordinate with different cakes. Well, it is a bit big for this cake, I know, but I still like it. After I finished my cake and took the pictures, I noticed that the stand isn't level! I don't know how I didn't notice this before, but it's off by almost half an inch. Doh! I will still use it, but if I do a large cake, I will have to find a way to level it! :)

I hope you enjoyed what turned out to be a very long post! They will get shorter, I promise. I am just very excited to start sharing this and talking about cake!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Welcome to my adventure! Those who know me know I love to bake. I love developing new recipes and learning new decorating techniques. So, join me as I continue my headfirst dive into the wonderful world of cake baking and decorating! It's going to be sweet!