Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mini-Swirls Cake

Our neighbors just moved. They were so sweet and kind, now retired and moving west. We will miss you Leo and Patty! This weekend, our new neighbor, Lynette, moved in and I think we are all going to get along great. She is so nice, welcoming, and gracious with the children and their many stories. I like her already! Today, I whipped up a little "welcome to the neighborhood" cake for her. Do you like it?
It is a tall 4-inch chocolate cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and a fondant fabric-type flower on top. The flower I had made awhile ago just for practice and fun. Fondant dries and will keep just fine in a sealed container. It was just waiting for this occasion. I love how the color looks on the buttercream. It seems to compliment the swirls perfectly. The swirls are my version of a newly-popular technique that I've been seeing all over the place lately. If you look on CakeCentral or the cake blogs (there are a lot of them!) for any length of time, you will see the larger version of these swirls. I'm not sure what the style is called exactly. I think some are calling them roses. I like how they look really small on this little cake. Creamy goodness just waiting to be eaten! Another day, another cake.... That's how it has been for me lately and I am so happy with that! Not to get all emotional or anything, but I just feel so blessed to have something that brings this kind of joy to my life. Baking and decorating cakes is the first thing I've done that I can be super-exhausted with and get up the next morning wanting to jump right into the next one. Does that make sense? Anyway, this is fun! I hope you are having some fun too!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ruffle Cake

Hello all! I hope you all had a good weekend! I was busy baking and decorating yesterday. Big surprise, huh?

I tried something new - caramel swiss meringue buttercream. So tasty! The recipe is at the end of this post if you guys want to try it out yourselves. But for those, like me, who lack will power when it comes to sweets, be warned! This stuff is addicting!

I also used a couple of new decorating techniques for this one. The sides of the cake, or "pulled dots" as I am calling them, is something I've been seeing on cakes on CakeCentral. (If you're not familiar with that website, check it out for great advice and inspiration! You can find my profile here.)

Here is another look at it.

To create this look yourself, simply pipe large dots in a row on your cake. If you want the "lines" to go up, or diagonally up like mine, pipe around the bottom first. Most of the cakes that have this type of piping have the lines going horizontally around the cake, and that is beautiful. To do it that way, pipe your dots in a vertical line first. Use a tip #12 or just the opening of a piping bag. I just used a disposable piping bag and cut it so that the opening was approximately 1/2 inch wide. After you have one row piped, take a small off-set spatula and gently swipe the dot, pulling the icing to one side. Your spatula should hit the dot about in the middle. After you swipe your first row, add the second row, a little bit into the "tail" of the first row. Continue until the whole cake is filled! Super easy and fast!

The ruffles on my cake are made from fondant with tylose mixed in. The tylose is a powder that makes the fondant more like gumpaste, so you can roll it a little thinner and so that it will dry a little faster. To make my ruffles, I cut circles from my thinly-rolled fondant. I used a scalloped-edge cutter in three different sizes, the largest of which was about 2 inches. Keep the circles under plastic wrap so they don't dry out. Taking one at a time, thin the edges by rolling the end of a toothpick over them. This will ruffle the edges slightly. Fold and gather the circle together until you get the ruffled look you want. It's not an exact science, which is part of what makes it pretty. Each circle will look a bit different once you are finished with it. Place the bottom into the cake, starting at the lowest point, then stack up your ruffles from there.

You could use these techniques in so many ways! Show me what you come up with!

Oh, and this is a side-note, but don't you just love my new little silver cake stand? I found this at HomeGoods and it makes me smile every time I look at it!

Now, as promised, the recipe for Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream. This recipe is from Martha Stewart and is so yummy!

Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (8.5 ounces)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (12 ounces)
4 large egg whites (4 ounces)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) sugar and the water in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Stop stirring and cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Continue to boil, gently swirling the pan occasionally to color evenly, until the mixture is very dark amber. Remove from the heat; add the cream in a steady stream (mixture will spatter and it helps if the cream is warmed first), stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth and combined. Let cool.

Cream butter until pale and fluffy. Heat 1/2 cup sugar and the egg whites over a double boiler until they are 160 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, you can tell when the whites are to the proper temperature because the sugar will have dissolved completely and the eggs will be foamy. Keep the eggs moving to avoid cooking them. Place the eggs immediately into the bowl of a clean and grease-free stand mixer with a whisk attachment (you could also use a hand-held mixer). Whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment, add the butter, and mix on low until smooth and creamy. Your buttercream may look curdled at first and the eggs will deflate. This is okay! Just keep mixing on low and it will come together! Once it has come together and is smooth and creamy, add the vanilla.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour in the caramel; beat on low for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and continue to beat until the caramel is fully incorporated.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Cherry Almond Bagels

Last week, I was craving bagels. Some of you may know that I've made bagels in the past. Lots. I even had a recipe published! Cinnamon Bagels with Crunchy Topping. You can find that recipe here. And, you may be surprised to learn that they aren't too bad for you when you make them yourself. So, you can let yourself have a yummy bagel, right out of the oven. There are very few things I like more than having a warm-from-the-oven bagel with a hot cup of coffee.

And, they are easy to make! So everyone can do it!

So, back to last week. I picked up some dried cherries in the store, thinking they sounded good and I'd think of some way to use them. Then I said to myself, "self, you should make some cherry bagels! with almond! yeah, that would be good!" Am I the only one who has these conversations with myself?

That afternoon, I came up with this recipe. It is really good. Even better with a layer of cream cheese. I like the plain cream cheese, but I'm guessing they make an almond flavored or cherry flavored cream cheese that would be really tasty too.

Do you want the recipe? I'm imagining a chorus of "yes" shouted loudly at computer screens everywhere. Well, here it is! Enjoy!

Cherry Almond Bagels
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, lightly spooned into measuring cup and leveled (18 2/3 ounces)
2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees F.)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast. Mix the water, 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, the extracts, and the salt together in a small bowl. Add to the flour/yeast mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the ground almonds and the cherries. Mix with a wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment of the stand mixer on low speed. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until a moderately stiff dough forms. If using the stand mixer, switch to the dough hook when the dough thickens. Knead in the mixer or on a floured countertop until smooth and elastic, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Here is what it should look like after resting.

Cut the rested dough into 12 portions. Shape each portion into a smooth ball. Poke a hole in the center of each ball with your finger and gently enlarge the hole while working the bagel into a uniform shape. They don't have to be perfect! Cover again with the slightly-damp towel and let rise for 20 minutes.

Aren't they pretty? This is right after they have risen.

While the bagels are rising in a warm, draft-free place, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put 1 gallon of water in a large pot and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Get a baking sheet ready by lining it with parchment paper or lightly greasing it. I use parchment paper because it's super easy, never sticks, and then I won't have to clean a sticky pan!

When the bagels are ready, gently place 4 or 5 at a time (don't overcrowd them) into the water and boil for 30 seconds to one minute on each side. Longer will give you a chewier texture. I usually just do 30 seconds on each side. Make sure you adjust the temperature to keep the water simmering. Lift out with a slotted spatula and place on the baking sheet.

They look a little sad and wrinkly after their little bath, don't they? Happens to the best of us! :)

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the bagels are nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack. Then enjoy the yummy goodness and revel in the fact that you just made your own bagels! Now, go and impress all of your friends and family with your mad skills!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Little Flowers

A sweet little flower cake for a very sweet friend, Jen, whose birthday was Monday. I did this little 6-inch cake yesterday. It is my midnight chocolate cake with peanut butter ganache. I actually had a different plan at first. That plan involved cut-outs and a panel surrounding the cake. It was really cool. In concept anyway. But it didn't work out and I had to take it off. So, the flowers were "born." I actually like how it turned out! And I hope you like it too Jen! Happy Birthday!

This was the first time I made peanut butter ganache and it is fantastic! You should all try it. And, so that you can, here is a recipe! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Ganache
12 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (NOT chocolate chips)
4 ounces (1/2 cup) heavy cream
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Heat the heavy cream in a medium saucepan until is is steamy. Stir often to prevent scorching. When the cream is steaming, turn off the head and add the chocolate. Stir or whisk until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth. Add the peanut butter and stir until smooth. If you like a stronger peanut butter flavor, just add more creamy peanut butter. I won't tell. And your ganache won't mind either. Allow to cool until it is a good spreading consistency. Enjoy!

If you stop before adding the peanut butter, you will have a nice milk chocolate ganache to frost a cake with or use as a filling. If you prefer to use dark chocolate, increase the amount of cream to 8 ounces (1 cup). This is because dark chocolate is not as soft as milk chocolate, so to get the proper consistency, you need a 2:1 ratio (by weight) of chocolate to cream. For milk chocolate, use a 3:1 ratio. Same for white chocolate.

For another twist, try using less chocolate or more cream in the above recipe for a pourable version that can be drizzled over a cake. Or cookies. Or ice cream. Or straight into your mouth. I vote for that last option!

You can store your ganache in the refrigerator for a week or so. If you need to store leftovers longer than that, stick it in an airtight freezer container and keep it there for up to three months.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Will's Rainbow Cake

Ta da! This is the second cake Will decorated. He came up with the idea and drew it out last week. Here he is, hard at work. Isn't he adorable?

His idea was a rainbow cake for his grandparents, Mitzi and Jeff. His original design included little rainbows all around the sides, too, but we ran out of time and fondant for that. In the end, he settled on a rainbow just on the top, with names on the sides (front and back). The letters were made with cutters and fondant. The cake itself is chocolate and it is yummy! I actually really like the simplicity of it and how the colors really pop against the white vanilla bean icing. Here are a couple more shots of the cake.

I hope you enjoyed Will's cake! Again, I think he is enormously talented and it was fun decorating with him! Come back again soon!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reptile Cake

It's finished! I've been working on this cake pretty much all week and spent all day yesterday decorating it. And now it is complete and I am very pleased with how it all turned out. Yeah!! What do you all think?

Here are some close-ups for you.

The top of the cake from the front. Notice the little fish partly under the water, the snake hanging from the tree (next time I think I'll add more details to him, like bands, eyes, and maybe a little forked tongue sticking out), and the birthday girl's initials carved into the tree.

Here is the top view from the back. See the little butterfly on the tree?

And a closer look at the chameleon.

One of my favorite details is the stripes with the flower border on the bottom tier. I used four different greens and my pasta machine to make the stripes. Thanks to Jessica over at Jessicakes for the great trick on applying the stripes! I took this idea straight from her, so I can take no credit at all, and it worked great. Just take a strip of waxed paper the same length as the circumference of your cake and grease it very lightly with shortening. Use a pasta machine (or your knife and a ruler if you don't have a pasta roller with a linguini attachment) to cut strips in the colors that you want. Remember to keep everything covered with plastic wrap when you aren't working with it so that it doesn't dry out before you are ready to put it on the cake. After you have your strips cut, lay them out on the waxed paper in the pattern you like, pressing them very lightly to get them to stick to the waxed paper. Use a template or just a ruler to cut them to the proper height/shape then lift the waxed paper with strips attached and apply it to the cake. After pressing lightly to the cake, which has been brushed lightly with vodka or water, simply peel off the waxed paper and, voila! Stripes! I had made my flowers ahead of time so they could dry with some shape, so after my stripes were on the cake, I simply attached the flowers to the edges with a little vodka. I was a little nervous that this wouldn't be enough to make them stick, but it worked really well and I only broke a couple of them! :)

On the top tier, I cut out leaves then cut the bottoms off to make a flat edge. I then placed them one by one onto the cake but did not press down the tops, so that they would curl a little bit away from the cake. I love how that turned out too! It gives some nice texture and color to that tier without taking away from the design on the top of the cake.

This is the most detail I've done for the top of the cake to-date. It was really time-consuming but also a lot of fun to put it all together. I think maybe the chameleon is a little big/not to scale, but I still like him. He was a little tricky to do and I really like how he turned out. I made him ahead of time, too, so that he could dry and harden. Everything is made of fondant except for the rocks, which are made of modeling chocolate. This is really only because I already had some grey modeling chocolate. A little toothpick is holding the chameleon onto the rocks and a dowel is holding the tree in place. I also really like how the details of the butterflies, the little fish, and all the colors came together.

The cake itself is white cake with chocolate ganache under the chocolate fondant and fondant decorations. Yum! The party is going on as I write this, so I hope they are all enjoying my creation. I admit, it is a little hard to see the cakes go sometimes, though I feel truly blessed to be able to make people smile through the cakes that I make.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my cake and reading about it! As always, any comments you have are truly valued and appreciated! Come back again soon for some more recipes, some non-cake items (including cherry almond bagels and a super simple pasta sauce), and, of course, more cake!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Midnight Dark Chocolate Cake

I've been tinkering with my recipe and have had some success! So, I'm sharing my recipe with you. I really think it is one of the best chocolate cakes I have had. I made the recipe initially by combining three of my favorite chocolate cake recipes. Then I tweaked and tweaked some more. I hope you like it!

One note before I give you the recipe. You will notice that I use weights for the measurements for a lot of the ingredients. If you have a kitchen scale, I encourage you to use the weights for the most accurate, consistent results. If you don't have a kitchen scale, get one! Or just use the cup measurements listed. For the flour, lightly spoon it or, even better, sift it into the measuring cup then level.

Midnight Dark Chocolate Cake
14 ounces cake flour (4 cups)
10 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (1 1/2 cups)
7 3/4 ounces light brown sugar (1 cup, packed)
4 1/3 ounces Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa (or other blend of natural and dutched cocoa)(1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3/4 cup canola oil
2 whole large eggs
4 yolks from large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and line with parchment two 8-inch round pans. Lightly dust with flour or cocoa powder and set aside

Place flour, sugars, cocoa, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Here mine are, all in their little piles.

Mix for 30 seconds. After mixing, the dry ingredients should look like this.

In a small microwavable bowl, combine the water and espresso powder. Heat for one minute on high, or until hot but not boiling. Here is mine right out of the microwave.

Add the coffee and the oil to the flour mixture and mix on low until the dry ingredients are moistened, then mix on medium (high if using a hand-held mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. I set my kitchen timer for this. You want to make sure you let it go the full time in order to set the structure of the cake. Here is what it will look like when it is done mixing.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, extracts and buttermilk.

Whisk it all together.

After your eggs are whisked, add them to the chocolate mixture in the mixer in three parts. After each addition, mix briefly on low and then on medium (high if using a hand-held mixer) for 20 seconds. Scrape the bowl with a spatula and make sure it is all incorporated together and smooth. It should look like this:

Pour it into your prepared pans.

Bake in your preheated 325 degree oven for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when pressed lightly with a finger. The sides of the cake should not pull away from the pan before it is taken out of the oven. When the cake is done, cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Here is a picture of my little cake (I baked one 8X3 and one 6X3) after it has cooled and I have cut the dome off. I've been practicing leveling and torting my cakes using a long bread knife instead of any sort of leveler and I think I'm getting pretty good at it! You will see I've left a tiny lip on one side. Nobody's perfect, I guess!

I'm saving this little 6-inch cake to use in the August Miso Bakes challenge, which I will do next week.

The top, well, I ate it. And it was delicious! I pretty much had to eat it, right? I mean, I couldn't give you an untested recipe. That would just be wrong. I actually could have eaten that whole cake. It was really good. Dark, chocolatey, moist. Yum! Here is the top before I ate it. See the goodness inside that little piece?

I hope you enjoy my chocolate cake! Let me know if you try it and if you like it!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

There's Nothing Like the Smell of Freshly Baked Bread

Hello Everyone! Or should I say, "is anybody out there??" :) It has been a little while since my last post because I was on vacation! The kids and I had a great time visiting with family and friends last week. I was also able to stop by Country Kitchen SweetArt with my sister and pick up some new cake toys!

I've actually got a couple of posts ready for you. Aren't you excited! But, first things first. I know it's not cake and technically not a sweet baked item, but today I made bread. I used a no-knead recipe from the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Great book if you have any interest in bread-making but don't have a lot of time. I adapted the basic recipe from that book and turned it into my own Whole Wheat Honey Bread.

I meant to take a picture of it before I cut into it, but I couldn't help myself! It smelled sooooo good! This is a little loaf, just for our dinner. That is the nice thing about the five-minutes-a-day technique. You store the dough in the refrigerator and just pull out what you need, let it rise briefly, and then bake it up for dinner. Yum!

So, here is the recipe and the details. It really is super easy.

Whole Wheat Honey Bread
3 cups lukewarm water (around 105-110 degrees F.)
1 1/2 tablespoons dry active yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
4 cups all-purpose flour, lightly spooned and leveled
3 cups whole wheat flour, lightly spooned and leveled

Find a large container that you can cover, but that is not airtight. I use this container from King Arthur Flour Company. Pour the warm water into the container and whisk in the yeast and the honey. I add the honey now so that the yeast has something to "feed" it while it starts to become active. Allow to "bloom" for 5 minutes. This is just to make sure your yeast is active. It can go bad for a number of reasons, the most common being expiration. Another common reason your yeast won't work is that your water is too hot. Remember that 105 degrees F. is not that much warmer than body temperature. If you suspect that you are killing your yeast with your water temperature, use a candy or similar thermometer until you get the feel of the right temperature.

Once the mixture gets foamy, you know your yeast is active and you can add your other ingredients. Whisk in the salt, then add your flours and stir with a wooden spoon until it is uniformly moistened. Scrape the bottom of the container and any corners to make sure there isn't dry flour hiding down there. It should all be incorporated. Don't worry about kneading it. That's the beauty of this method! Put on your lid (remember, NOT airtight - the yeast needs to "breathe") and let it sit at room temperature for two hours. It should rise to about double. After this rise, you can use the dough right away if you like, but it will be harder to work with. It is better if you prepare the dough early enough to put it in the refrigerator after this first rise. Refrigerate for at least three hours before using to make it easier to work with.

After the dough, still in it's non-airtight container, has had a chance to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours, pull it out and grab with floured hands a grapefruit-sized chunk of dough. Put the rest back in the refrigerator. Take your grapefruit-sized chunk and dust it lightly with flour. Form it into a ball and place it seam side down on a cornmeal-dusted pizza/dough peel. Don't worry if it's not perfectly shaped. I actually like them better if they look more homemade and rustic, instead of perfect. If you don't have a peel, you can use the back of a pizza pan or a rimless cookie sheet. Allow to rise for 40 minutes at room temperature. At this point, the dough may not rise very much and this is okay. It will still taste wonderful, I promise!

About 20 minutes into the rising time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Place a baking stone on your rack, which should be in the middle of your oven. Make sure you leave enough room above the rack and stone for your bread to rise a little. You actually want the top of the loaf to end up right in the middle of your oven. There also needs to be enough space below the rack to place a small pan (I use a 2-inch high 9-inch round cake pan). Go ahead and put the shallow pan on the rack (or oven floor) below the stone, so that they can all preheat with the oven. Just before putting your loaf in the oven, take a really sharp, preferably serrated knife, and run it lengthwise along your loaf, making a shallow cut. Pour about a cup of hot tap water into the shallow pan in the oven, then slide your loaf off of the peel and onto the baking stone. Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Though it is VERY tempting to cut right into that baby the second it is out of the oven, resist! It will get gummy and won't be nearly as nice. Let your nice little loaf rest for 15 or 20 minutes before slicing into it. You will be rewarded for your patience by steamy, lovely bread goodness! I like mine with the lightest spread of butter or a little honey. So good.

Here are some pics of mine in progress. Measuring the dry ingredients. Doesn't that wheat flour look nice?

The flour dumped into the yeast/water mixture. See the foam rising around the edges?

This is what the dough should look like after the flour is all mixed in. No dry spots!

I hope you enjoyed this! Too bad I can't transfer smells through this blog. There's nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Half Baked

I have started following a new-to-me cake blog and it is really great. For those of you interested in this type of stuff, it is a great blog to check out. It is Half-Baked, the Cake Blog. Click on the name to go right to the site. Right now, they are doing a great giveaway sponsored by SugerEd Productions. Click here to check it out!

Monday, August 8, 2011


I am just bursting with pride right now! Will decorated his very first cake. Here it is:

Isn't it great?? I baked the cake and covered it (the background color) for him, but that is it. Other than showing him how to do things, I had no part in this cake. He designed it all himself and even did a little sketch with colored pencils. The final version turned out pretty much like he had sketched it! He cut out everything and put it all together. We were both VERY pleased with how it turned out. And I'm very excited to have a cake-decorating buddy! I'm afraid that he may surpass me pretty soon! :) Here are a couple more pics of his cake.

If you see Will, tell him what a great job he did. He told me when he finished, "I don't think any other 5-year-olds can do a cake like this! I think you have to be at least 7!" I responded that a lot of people Mommy's age (not to be disclosed!) can't do a cake like that! He beamed with pride. I love it!

Well, I also did a knitting bag cake, inspired by this drawstring knitting bag I found on

Here is a closer look at the design.

Overall, I am happy with how it turned out. The fondant gave me a LOT of trouble! It took me 5 tries to cover the cake with the tan fondant. I did it last night and by the time I was finished I was so tired, I didn't even notice the uneven and rough edges. So, they remain unfixed. My quest for perfection is ongoing!

I did the pattern by drawing and cutting out the pieces from regular lined paper. I then placed them on the rolled out white fondant to cut around them for the background. I then took each piece and cut it out of the color I wanted - light blue, dark blue, and teal/green. After that, I placed them individually onto the cake. This was much harder and more time-consuming than I thought it would be! I thought that I could start from the center and work the "petals" out from there to get the right spacing, but it was too difficult to find where the center would go. I realized that I needed to start at one edge instead in order to fit it properly on the background white piece, which was already on the cake. That made it much more difficult to get the pieces on properly, but I think it turned out pretty good overall. I'm not sure how I would make it easier next time, except to maybe to take a toothpick and mark where the pieces will go on the white background before removing the template pieces. Or at least marking the center.

The yarn balls are cake balls covered in ganache and left to harden overnight. The "yarn" is fondant pushed through an extruder, then lined up and placed onto the balls. I use a relatively cheap Sculpey clay extruder from Michaels and it gave my hands a real workout! I think I have a little blister on my finger now! My Mom likes the yarns that go from one color to another, so that I what I tried to do with the yarn on my cake. I took the three colors I used for the pattern on the bag and blended them together a little so the yarn would have all three colors in it. I love how that turned out! You can still see the individual colors, but they are also blended together. The knitting needles are just bamboo skewers painted with brown gel color. I tried to attach little fondant balls at the end, but it just wouldn't stay and the color was off. So, I decided to take them off. I think they look just fine without them.

Oh, I almost forgot! Some of you probably want to know what kind of cake this is! It will make your mouths water! They are both midnight dark chocolate cake (my own super-dark, super-moist chocolate cake recipe) with vanilla bean swiss meringue buttercream filling. Both cakes are covered with dark chocolate ganache and then fondant. I tried some of the cake scraps with some leftover buttercream and leftover ganache and it is amazing! And this cake only gets better as it sits. It doesn't dry out as quickly as some others. My recipe uses a lot of oil and eggs, so before I share it, I'm going to try to pare those ingredients down. The trick will be to keep all that wonderful moisture without it falling in the center (this was the reason for all of the eggs in the first place - the cake is so moist and sweet, the structure suffered a bit). In any case, look for the recipe soon! I plan on sharing more recipes with you all too, so you can look forward to that. I will also do a whole post on swiss meringue buttercream and chocolate ganache - how to make them, tricks and tips, and the actual recipes that work for me.

Thanks for playing along with me! I'm off for a week to visit with my wonderful family (hubby is staying home this time). When I get back, I will go immediately to work on a reptile-themed cake for a little girl. It was quite a challenge coming up with a more girly design for that one, but I think I did it. Stay tuned for that one in a couple of weeks!

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Last week I participated in a challenge organized by another blogger and fantastic cake decorator, Miso, at MisoBakes. The challenge was to decorate a cake using only the piping tip #104 (the rose tip). We had to do a cake with a white background and pipe using tip #104 in pink icing. I submitted my pink and white cake (done with this challenge in mind).

Check out Miso's blog to see all the wonderful submissions from talented cake artists! And look for more challenges coming up. She is doing one each month and let me choose the August challenge! I love seeing how others come up with creative ideas for decorating their cakes. And it's nice to be challenged in a way that keeps me learning!