Monday, September 13, 2010

a sweet weekend

over the past weekend i was busy baking for my very first customers! i was so excited to receive their orders & especially to bake some cute sweets! 

one of the orders was for a friend who was having a small get together with her co-workers & asked if i could make some cake pops with a school theme. i immediately thought of an apple cake pop that i remembered seeing on bakerella's site & decided to try them out. the instructions are basically the same as making a regular cake pop, but after shaping them into a round ball i pinched the sides a little & flattened the top to look like an apple. for the decorations, i used a pretzel for the stem as well, but for the leaf, instead of a sprinkle, i cut green jelly beans in half. right after dipping the cake balls in the chocolate you want to poke the pretzel in the cake pop & lay the jelly bean on top so the decorations will dry with the chocolate.

(while i was making these i couldn't help, but sing the song "apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur...")

the second order was for a baby shower. for this one i made cake pops & mini cupcakes again, but the mini cupcakes were topped with candy pacifiers. they are basically made with two mint life savers & a jelly bean. you can find the instructions at martha stewart. 

it was my first time making the apple cake pops & candy pacifiers so it was definitely a fun weekend!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

making a layer cake

yesterday i had the opportunity to make a layer cake, which i haven't done in a while so it was good practice for me. the cake was for my friend's younger sister's birthday. my friend told me that her sister liked a cake she had before that had white chocolate & strawberries. yumm! so i was thinking how i could incorporate the two ingredients together so i decided to make a vanilla cake with white chocolate ganache filling, layered with fresh strawberries. this was my first time working with white chocolate ganache so i wasn't really sure how it would turn out, but anyhow, let's get started!

i used the vanilla buttermilk cake recipe from Sky High, Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes, which you can find here. i only used half the recipe because i was only making 2 6" round cakes & it came out perfect. i think i could've done a third layer, but using two cake pans was fine too. so after the cake is done cooling you want to level the two cake by cutting the top dome off the cakes with a serrated knife. 

since the cake is going to have a filling you want to make sure the filling doesn't ooze out of the middle. so to prevent this, you want to build a dam around the edges by piping buttercream along the sides of the cake. 

then you want to fill it with whatever you want. first i put a layer of white chocolate ganache. i don't remember where i got the recipe because i had to do some research. some people say to add butter, but for this one i just used equal parts white chocolate & heavy cream & melted them in a double broiler.

then a layer of fresh strawberries.

if you're going to make a triple layer cake, you would just repeat the same steps again. after you're done with the fillings, it's time to top the cake with the final layer. when you put on the top layer, you want to place it upside down so the top would have a smooth top & egdes. 

then you want to frost your cake with a thin layer of frosting first because there will be some loose crumbs floating around the frosting while you do this. you don't have to make this smooth & perfect because you're going to add another layer of frosting. after you're done with this process, you want to put it in the fridge for a few minutes until the frosting hardens a bit. if you keep adding layers of frosting while it's still soft, you'll probably end up with some cake crumbs on the outer layer.

(2nd coat of frosting)

& here's the final product

i didn't know how i wanted to decorate the cake because my friend didn't have a preference, but i wanted to keep it simple. i was nervous about putting the strawberries on top because i could never make it look pretty, which is why i don't make fruit tarts as often. i was lucky this time & the strawberries actually looked okay (from far away). i didn't get to taste the cake, but hopefully my friend & her family enjoyed it!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

a mustache party

lately i've been seeing a lot of couples using mustache props at their weddings so i was thinking, why not make mustache cake pops! the idea couldn't have come at a better time because my friend's birthday was coming up & it was something she would definitely like. i was super excited to try this out, but nervous at the same time because i never attempted to make shaped cake pops before. while i was making them, i could understand why people don't make them as often. they're very time consuming & they just aren't as easy to work with as regular round balls. here's a few things i found tricky about them: 1) putting the stick on one instead of the middle meant that the weight was sifted to the right so the cake pop was imbalanced 2) the cake pop came out huge because i couldn't shake off the excess chocolate. if i shook it too much the cake pop easily broke in half 3) i couldn't think of a way to dry them. if i dried them like regular cake pops they wouldn't stand straight because their weight wasn't balanced on the stick. i ended up placing them upside down, but they left the top of the mustache looking flat.

it was a big challenge, but i'm glad it was accomplished! they were great props to take pictures with, but even better because we were able to eat them after! the birthday girl totally loved it! 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

sweets for a baby shower

i've been asked many times how to make those cake pops, so here's a little post about them that i made for a baby shower. i'm sorry i don't have more pictures to share, but i'm not a pro that can do one thing with one hand & take a picture in another. i'm so bad at taking pictures already so i don't even want to try, but next time i'm making them i'll try really hard!

the 2 main ingredients that you'll need is a baked cake (whichever cake flavor you desire) & cream cheese frosting. after baking the cake you want to cool it & then crumble it in a big bowl.

then you add the cream cheese frosting. i don't have an exact amount i use every time, but try and do a test run of rolling a small amount into a ball. if that ball seems crumbly then you probably need to add more frosting. if it holds its shape pretty well you're good to go. 

how big you want the cake pop to be depends on you. i usually use a kitchen scale just to know that they're all the same size, but i know some people just eyeball it. it's totally up to you. after rolling them all into balls i put them in the refrigerator for a few minutes just so that it can harden a little into its shape. while you have them in the refrigerator you can then melt your chocolate. for this batch i used white chocolate because i was going to add food color later. after you have the chocolate melted, dip the sticks maybe about 1cm deep into the chocolate & then poke it through the cake balls. i usually go down until the sticks hit the bottom. 

(no sugar for meeko!)

after poking all of them with the sticks i let them sit for a few minutes so that the chocolate hardens & so the sticks won't fall out. then you're ready to dip! i usually dip them once & tap the stick on the edge of the cup so the excess chocolate comes off. 

& here's the finished product!

& some mini cupcakes i made too! 

here's a picture of the whole dessert table! with the combined effort of the lovely ladies at church! they're so talented! 

again, i'm really sorry for the lack of description & horrible explanation, but i promise to have more detailed pictures next time!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

hostess cupcakes...kinda

honestly, i'm not a huge fan of hostess because i find their stuff too sweet, but the thought of a hostess cupcake sounded appealing. these cupcakes are basically like hostess cupcakes with a chocolate cake, marshmallow filling & the hostess logo on top. however, i thought the cupcakes would come out too sweet with all the chocolate so i decided to make the base a strawberry cupcake. i decided to try sprinkle's strawberry cupcake recipe.

right out the oven! look at how uniform they look! i love it! it's all thanks to the magical ice cream scooper! i wish i had invested in it them earlier because it would've saved me time & the mess. so like all other bakers, i highly recommend you to use an ice cream scooper to pour batter for regular sized cupcakes!

i have to confess that when it comes to cooling the cupcakes i rarely "cool them completely" like all recipes say. i get super excited to frost them & i don't have that much patience to hold off on them, especially with these because i was dipping them in chocolate ganache! here's a video  on how the girls at dc cupcakes make their ganache. it's super simple, fast, & tasty too! it was definitely fun dipping the cupcakes in the ganache, but it was a challenge because i didn't want to squeeze the cupcakes when i held them upside down. i would say to take your time them doing this. you don't want to be in a rush. 

here's some minis i made with extra batter. 
yep, i couldn't resist. i just had to try them!

the final product with the hostess logo!

and some personalized...

i think next time i'll try to make the actual hostess cupcakes & use a chocolate base because i thought the strawberry cupcakes were not sweet at all. i was kinda disappointed since i had high expectations for them especially because they were from sprinkle's. i actually haven't tried their strawberry cupcakes they sell at the store so i guess i can't really compare them to anything, but i know all their other cupcakes are sweet so that's what i expected from these. so overall they tasted alright, but only if you eat it from the middle up so you don't get to much cake! haha. working with chocolate ganache was definitely fun & would try again.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

variety of sweets

baby's 1st birthday cake:  
i was asked by my pastor's wife if i wanted to make the cake & sweets for her 2nd daugther's 1st birthday & of course i jumped at the chance to do it! this was the first time i attempted to work with fondant so i was definitely nervous about how the end product will come out. i wasn't completely satisfied about how it turned out, but i should be thankful that it didn't come out disastrous right? it was a 3 layer red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, but covered in vanilla buttercream. i definitely have to work on smoothing out the cake. as for the fondant i should've thinned it out more so the flowers look more realistic, but not having the right tools, i just worked with what i had. 

the sweets table:
i made 2 different flavored cake pops: red velvet & chocolate that were both dipped in white chocolate. i also made the rice crispy pops, which again was my first time making. the only trouble i had making these were where to place them to dry! they were all over the dining table in like every plate i could find in my kitchen! i even tried sticking them in colanders that were suggested by other bakers. so i went out & bought a colander, but found out those sticks don't fit in all the holes! i think i only got one of of pops on that colander. so before you buy a new colander, make sure the holes are big enough! if you're like me & always end up getting the wrong size or your instincts are wrong, i would suggest taking a pop stick & trying them out in the store! overall, it was a great learning experience & i'm thankful that i had an opportunity to do this.

practicing with sugar cookies: 
decorating sugar cookies are a lot of fun, but it definitely requires a lot of time & the more details equals more time! these are some basic things i was trying to practice on like outlining & flooding the cookie with royal icing. if you google sugar cookies, you'll find that there are some really talented people with steady hands! if you have a big order of sugar cookies, get ready for some body ache! your hands start to cramp, back starts to hurt, & your neck too! but when you look at the end product, you'll feel accomplished & it's all worth it. well, for me at least. 

3 layer birthday cake:
this may have been the first time i attempted to make a 3 layer cake. it was vanilla cake with lemon curd filling, fresh raspberries, lemon cream cheese frosting, coated with vanilla buttercream. how yummy is that? i was definitely happy with how it turned out. i didn't want to decorate the cake too crazy because i knew the birthday girl wasn't into that stuff & i think going simple was the best choice. i remember when i went out to buy candles i couldn't find the standard kinds so i was pretty bummed & opted for these tall ones, but who knew they would make the cake look even better? i really love this picture because i feel like i'm there at that moment again in the darkness of the room & glowing candles. we actually celebrated her birthday at a restaurant & they turned off the lights for us when we sang happy birthday! how awesome is that?