Monday, March 28, 2011

Thank Heaven for Pretty Cakes

Building on a beautiful technique, this birthday cake takes the rosette swirl to a place of birthday perfection. This is an 8", two layer base cake with a 5" top tier. At the birthday girl's request the cake was a vanilla princess sour cream cake with American buttercream. 

Large piped rosettes enrobe the lower tier, while the top is smooth buttercream done in a quilted pattern and finished with a ruffle border and edible pearls. Birthday wishes and space for 5 candles made this a lovely centerpiece for an afternoon birthday party.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Swirls and Twirls: a Red Velvet with Rosettes

I love this cake. I mean really love--in a sit back and just let me look at you, kind of way. I had seen several incarnation of this design on the internet (that originated on the 'i am mommy' blog), and I was immediately smitten. I had to try it, only instead of pure ivory I added a stripe of pink tinted buttercream to the cream cheese buttercream for the rosettes. The cake is an 8", two layer red velvet cake with cream cheese buttercream. Such a simple idea that has a big and beautiful impact.

Pink Lady

Yes, it really was that pink. This is a mixed berry buttercream crowning a vanilla butter cupcake. To get this level of bright berry goodness see the recipe below.

1/2 cup frozen mixed berry wild cherry blend (Trader Joe's brand, but I'm sure other unsweetened frozen berry blends would work just fine), thawed with juices.
1 cup cool room temp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond flavoring
3-4 cups of powder sugar
1-3 TBS cream or milk as needed

Add frozen berries with juices to mixer and beat until broken down. Purists may want to push the berry mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds; I happen to like the contrast of texture and evidence of real fruit. Add butter and salt then mix until fruit is incorporated into the butter, about 3 minutes. Turn off mixer and add 2 cups of sugar. Mix on low until incorporated, then add extracts and another cup of sugar, then another. Beat on medium speed about 2 minutes until frosting lightens up.

This is when you have to step away from the recipe and go on instinct. Is it too thin? then add another cup of sugar. Is it too thick, add a TBS of milk. Cream in mixer for another 3-5 minutes  until light and fluffy. Spoon into decorating bag and decorate cupcakes, or fingers as desired. I think a fresh berry on top would be a perfect decoration to complete the cake.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Show Me Your Cuppies!

I had the pleasure of providing the dessert for my son's annual preschool fundraising auction. This year's theme was Mardi Gras, but instead of Bourbon Street debauchery we got our kicks at the silent auction tables.

Approximately 180 cupcakes were made for the evening along with a centerpiece cake, which was a last minute entry into the live auction.  The cupcakes were decorated with gold and silver sanding sugar and fondant curly ribbons. Flavors were:

White Almond Sour Cream with Raspberry filling and All-American Buttercream
Classic Red Velvet filled and frosted with Cream Cheese Buttercream
Devil's Food with Dark Chocolate Ganache filling and Whipped Chocolate Ganache Buttercream
Vegan Dark Chocolate Cake with Vegan All-American Buttercream
Gluten Free Chocolate finished with a dollop of Dark Chocolate Ganache

I had forgotten my original flavor flags at home and had to improvise in the banquet hall. Guests really appreciated having a key to find the flavor they most wanted, though many weren't shy about coming back for a second taste. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberries

A big Costco box of strawberries and a new cookbook were the inspiration behind these sassy strawberry treats.

Whenever I get a new cookbook for cakes I like to start with the first recipe that the author kicks off with. I think of it as a first date: I'm getting a feel for her recipes and seeing if we have a future together. My newest cookbook is Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World in an ongoing search to bake sans eggs and nuts so that my youngest can enjoy my work free of allergens. I'm not sure how the rest of my relationship will go, but I am definitely looking forward to our second date, er, recipe.

These are the Golden Vanilla Cupcakes, listed as a basic, go-to cake. Unlike me, I played by the book and didn't include dairy in the recipe (like I am ought to do because milk and butter aren't a problem for us and it just seems wrong not to). Soy milk, vinegar, oil, sugar, flour...pretty much everything but the eggs. The cakes were fragrant and had a moist although a bit corse crumb. I decided to take them a step beyond basic and fill them with fresh chopped strawberries macerated in maple syrup and honey. 

To do this, I cored out a cone with a small knife and pressed in about a tablespoon of the syrupy strawberries, then pressed the lid back on.  I finished the cakes off with a modest swirl of cream cheese buttercream frosting. This was not a vegan version, rather a batch I had in the deep freeze that seemed perfect for this 'on a whim' project. I don't know if it would be as delicious, but with vegan cream cheese and shortening I think a similar frosting could be made. A sliced strawberry and a sprinkle of gold sanding sugar finished the decor and hinted at the golden fruit hidden inside.