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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ruffles and Red Velvet

Eating is painful at this point. Almost like working out.
I'm pretty sure I could've fed a foreign country with all of the food that I saw, made, and ate this weekend. What i'm trying to say is that I had a really great Thanksgiving. I hope you did too. Thanksgiving is my favorite. I get to see my family and all of the friends I grew up with.

Last night (Saturday) was the 5th annual Friendsgiving. Probably my favorite day of the year....definitely my favorite day of the year. It is a pot luck with all of my good friends from highschool that is followed by Thanksdancing. Hudson always gives a toast and wears the reindeer sweater, luv is a verb is always on the playlist...and people actually dance to it. Even if this is the one day of the year that I see these people, it feels like home when I'm around them. I am thankful to know such awesome people. And I apologize if you don't know them, because they're fantastic. 

Annnnnyways - I always make a cake for Friendsgiving. This year was Red Velvet with cream cheese filling and decorated with swiss meringue buttercream.....a lot of swiss meringue buttercream. Just try not to think about all of the butter. It's just part of Thanksgiving - you don't dwell on what you're eating, you just enjoy it. You'll lose weight after new years, you always do.

My sister in law, Morgan Rae, took some pictures for me while she was over Saturday afternoon.

If I had her around all of the time I would update this blog more often. But as it is, I do not have a camera....wanna give me yours?
I thought you would.

Let me say that I'm also thankful for youtube. I've learned that youtube makes all things possible. That is how I learned to decorate this cake. Check it out.

Okay now for the recipe.
I got the cake recipe from here. It's the best red velvet cake recipe I've found.
There are only a few things I did differently

1) I made my own frosting and filling

for the filling:
3 - 8oz pkgs of cream cheese (softened)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 stick of butter

beat that on high until creamy and smooth - then put in the fridge until you're reading to fill the layers.

for the swiss meringue buttercream:

this stuff is time consuming and I used 2 batches to decorate the whole cake (including a crumb coat)

5 large egg whites (30g each–total 150g)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and vinegar, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar,  and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continously, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).  Add vanilla and salt, mix well. You can also add a wide variety of flavourings, extracts, and more.
Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes.

2) I used 4 - 8 inch layers instead of 3 - 9 inch layers.....oh yeah, and good luck finding a cake carrier that is tall enough to carry a 4 layer cake.

3) To keep the cake moist - after I take it out of the oven:
  • I give it about 10 minutes to cool
  • dump it out of the pan
  • poke holes in each layer with a fork  
  • then brush it with some of the cream cheese filling and let it cool completely.
  • not too much now, nobody likes a soggy cake....well maybe some people. But i doubt they have many friends, or they eat their cake in secret because it's socially unacceptable. 
So that is that. It's been a long time since I've updated. I hope you enjoyed it. I'll be catering a couple of events over December and will try to get those up on here.

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.
Hope you are wonderful.
Hope you're Christmas is equally wonderful.

Much Love.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fondant is my new favorite thing - Jax's birthday partay

Meet Jaxson - he is my nephew who just turned the big 3

he likes cake and REALLY likes candy
sometimes he might ask you if you want some candy
you may think he is being really thoughtful of you and your sweet tooth
and then you will find out that he expects you to share with him

yeah and not only is he a baseball star, he is also spiderman

so I asked my sister-in-law if I could make his birthday cake and she told me the party was baseball themed and that chocolate was the flavor so this is what you get. Chocolate cake, chocolate frosting and covered in fondant. I loved making it, it was my second thing to make with fondant so far and I think I found my new favorite medium.
I made the home plate out of peanut butter cookie and frosted it w/ the chocolate icing that was also on the cake and then covered it with fondant.
Then I baked the cake in a glass bowl so it was shaped like a baseball, kinda cut a hole in the middle, filled it with frosting and then covered the outside with frosting, then fondant, then piped his name and laces on with some homemade frosting.
It was fun, but it didn't quite look complete. Fortunately Crystal Shea and Andy stayed the night with me and Crystal is good at anything art related and suggested I do the baseball field on the home plate. Good advice.

This is Crystal and Andy and their baby hank - loves them.
Crystal makes cool things like this

And her script skills are mad like this -

anyways lots of pictures this time, hope you like. want me to bake you a cake? okay.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fondant Covered Cupcakes

So the last post I did were the macarons, which were much more difficult than they looked. This post is actually much easier than it looks. If you can microwave and use a stamp then you have pretty much got this covered. I made some chocolate chip cupcakes, iced them with espresso frosting (yes again, it's my favorite okay) and then covered them with fondant.
I was always really intimidated by fondant until I found a post on (awesome site) that had a recipe for marshmallow fondant.

It's this easy -

Marshmallow Fondant:
2 cups of mini marshmallows
2 tsp vanilla
2Tbsp water
1lb of powdered sugar

1st - Grease down your mixing bowl and put the powdered sugar in your mixing bowl. Then put everything else in a microwave safe bowl.
2nd - Melt the marshmallow mixture for 30 seconds, stir it around and maybe put it back in for 20 more seconds. Just melt it until it is smooth and liquidy.
3rd - Pour the marshmallow mixture into your powdered sugar and beat it until a dough forms (I used a paddle attachment on my mixer which i also coated in crisco).
4th - Knead the dough on a smooth surface covered in parchment paper until it is nice and smooth.

That is all you have to do.
if you want to add color - pinch of some dough and knead in the dye of your choice
if it is cracking and dry - add water or maybe a pinch of crisco
if you want to save it for later - wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it and just take it out and let it set 30 minutes before the next time you use it

To decorate with it I rolled it out with a rolling pin and stamped it with a big stamp.Then I used the lid to a jar to cut it into circles and placed it over the icing on the cupcakes.
You can do just about anything with this stuff - it is edible playdough, except sweet instead of salty, and your friends won't look at you weird if you eat it.

There are a few things I have obsessions with, one of them being ribbon. A few others being, scarves, the Avett Brothers, Amy Atlas and her mad skills,baking and bejewled. So as you can see, I tied little ribbons around the cupcakes. I don't have an occasion for these at all really, but tonight is girl night and what girl doesn't like cupcakes???? Weirdos, that's who. So I will probably take them with me so I can weed out the weirdos...heh kidding.

Anyways I have two friends who are in need of some funds - Stephanie Jones and James Venable - they are both doing bike tours to raise awareness for great causes
Stephanie - for the need of clean water in Africa
James - to end human sex trafficking
If you want to know more and donate here are the links
for Steph -
for James -
Just select their names out the list provided and donate $5, $10, whatever you can. They will love you for it and so will those they are helping
Also, mark your calenders, Saturday April 17th there will be a give back night at Chilis and the proceeds will go to them. If you just mention you are there for Ridewell 10% of what you pay will go towards the charity. Tell everyone and come eat Chilis, it will be all day Saturday.
One last thing (sorry I know this is kind of long winded) but if anyone might be interested I will sell baked goods to help raise funds too. If you want cookies, cupcakes, cakes, whatever really just say the word.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

You better recognize

So life is busy and this is probably going to be like sweetly monthly rather than sweetly weekly due to college/work/social life.
Anyways this week is about macarons. Forewarning - these are not for the easily discouraged you can almost guarantee a few failures when learning to master these jerks.
I am catering a wedding rehearsal dinner with my roommate Marissa in May and committed to making these for dessert. Let's just say, it's a good thing I started practicing in March. They are serious business.
I did some research and found a pretty solid recipe and am still working on perfection, but today is the closest I've come so far so I took some pictures for you to see due to my excitement of mild success.
This is the recipe I used and let me just say you have to do everrrrrrrything right. EVERYTHING or bad things will happen. These guys are as temperamental as they come. I promise. Don't let the sugar syrup go past 230 - you will have a sticky mess
Don't forget to use two pans and don't overheat your oven or you will have as explosions.
Don't overmix or you will have midget macarons w/ no feet.
Make sure your pans are level or you will have deformed macarons.
If you are up to the challenge, give it a try but pay attention to detail. This is my advice to you.

Okay now that I'm done rambling it's picture timeeeeee.

 <--- this is a link to the recipe I used.
Don't compare us hers are much prettier and better than mine. But she gives lots of tips about them.
Also don't judge my photographs I know nothing about photography but my lovely roommate let me borrow her camera to take some shots.

And the filling is an espresso frosting that I made up and don't remember the exact measurements to be honest but something like -
1 stick softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp of instant espresso powder
3 Tbsp of half & half
1 tsp vanilla

-microwave the half&half and espresso powder together for about 10 seconds, set aside
-cream butter and powdered sugar
add vanilla and espresso mixture and beat on high until creamy

that should be about right.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Banana Nut What?

So last semester I decided to focus on cookies, my goal was to become a cookie master. Since I don't know all that much about baking I decided focusing on one thing imparticular would be the best idea so I didn't get too overwhelmed with learning it all.
I found that after getting down the actual make-up of the ingredients of a cookie and how to make the basic dough taste pretty darn good it became more about putting a new twist on things.
The thing about baking is, you wanna be creative, but not SO creative that people are like ehhh gross I'm not brave enough to try that.
That being said, my favorite thing became taking something really well loved and trying to make it into a cookie.
So how about banana nut bread?
I'm not a huge banana fan but I do lovvvve some banana nut bread. So I thought, there are two ways to add some banana to my cookies

1 - actual bananas
2 - banana flavored extract

I'm not that into cakey cookies and it seemed like any kind of cookie with actual bananas in them were going to be cakey - (same goes with pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, etc. not that they can't be good but I was being picky and wanted them a certain way)

so extract was my flavor and I was ready to experiment. My worry was a fake banana taste - you know like the banana flavored runts, or laffy taffy. Bleh. So I went to experimentation station to see what would happen.

Don't you worry, it tasted exactly how I wanted, like banana nut bread but as a chewy cookie.

My friend Zachary Beau Chick held a cookie photo shoot in his garage and I paid him in cookies, so I got some pretty sweet shots of these lovelies.

So here is the Cooks Illustrated Thick and Chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe mixed up and rearranged to be banana nut cookies -
(I have my own cookie dough recipe but it is kinda top secret - though, you pretty much can take any basic cookie recipe and add the flavor, walnuts, and marshmallows and you got it)

Chewy Banana Nut Cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon banana flavored extract

2 cups toasted, chopped walnuts (to toast preheat oven to 350 spread them out on a baking sheet and leave in the oven about 15 minutes)

1 1/2 cups of mini marshmallows ( or more, or less, it's really up to you)

  1. Adjust oven racks to upper-and lower-middle positions. Heat oven to 325*F (160*C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in egg, yolk, banana flavor and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in walnuts
  4. Roll scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves. Rotate halves ninety degrees and with jagged surfaces facing up, join halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth dough's uneven surface. Place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving 2 1/2-inches between each ball. Press mini marshmallows into the tops of the cookies. (don't mix into the batter or your cookies will stick to the pan like super glue)
  5. Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets. When cooled, peel cookies from parchment.