Monday, August 31, 2009

White-White Cake Practice

Yesterday my goal was to make white cake that is actually white, not brown. There was both success & disaster. I thought to myself, “this is why we practice”. I started at 9am and wasn’t done until 9pm. I liked the end result, but it seemed like a lot of work for a little cake and some cupcakes.

Box Mix
You can call me a cheater, but I use box mixes for practice cakes. Of course, I have a few special tricks to make my cakes “better than a box mix”.

I started out with white box mix. It browned more than I would have liked. I waited ten minutes and then loosened the edges and flipped onto a board. I grease and flour my pans, line with parchment for anything over 9”. I’ve never had a problem with a cake falling apart besides my very first cakes without eggs (I have vegan substitutes now).

My first 8” cake came out of the pan just fine. Before I could flip the cake onto a rack to cool it broke into pieces. I hadn’t even touched it, it was just too light and couldn’t hold it together. It sure tasted good though! Normally, I would make cake balls out of any extra cake but I also only had barely enough powdered sugar to make the frosting I needed for the cake, so I decided to wait and see.

So, saddened that I wouldn’t have enough mix for another 8” layer, I resigned myself to making more batter to replace it. I baked the other two 6” cakes and the second 8” cake, they all came out beautifully, only very lightly browned. I have no idea why that first one fell apart because all the batter was from the same batch. Maybe it had to do with the wait time between the cakes?

White Cake Batter Disaster
I found a white cake recipe online from what I considered a trusted source. This recipe promised to make white-white cakes so I wanted to try it. What a disaster! I followed the directions exactly, weighing all the ingredients, and the batter was very runny. I figured it might be part of the secret so I would give it a shot.

What a disaster!

The “cake” boiled out of the pan and all over the bottom of my oven. I tossed the “cake” and the rest of the batter. While the oven cooled off I did all the dishes and counters in preparation for the next batch. Mind you, this is all for one 8” layer so I can finish my practice cake.

The oven got cleaned as best I could and I made a batch of my standard white cake batter. Good thing I bought lots of eggs because I had to use double the amount to use all egg whites for a whiter cake. I made the 8” layer I needed and used the rest of the batter for 12 cupcakes. I will admit that the homemade recipe version was a little yellower than the box (I have no idea how, I used all-white ingredients for both).


Because I had over-ripe bananas I needed to use I also whipped up a batch of banana cupcakes. While the cakes were baking I had made the Snow-White Buttercream Icing (recipe from Wilton). I followed the directions and added the recommended amounts of water and corn syrup to get the right consistency. However, I will use less corn syrup next time. Corn syrup is great to make the icing stretchy for drop strings or leaves but that same stretch can cause the icing to droop down the cake if it’s not kept cool enough.

I also tried another tip from a cooking website about crumb coating. I had always crumb-coated my cakes with cake glaze but that is messy and time consuming plus I didn’t have enough powdered sugar. It recommended thinning ½ cup of icing with milk until it is very thin and spreading over cake then cooling it. This did not work well, the icing was too thin and drooped down the cake and then when I went to apply the regular strength icing it just slid around the top. So I scraped off the failed crumb-coat and then regular strength icing as a base for the fondant.

I rolled out the fondant I made the night before, which went much better than I expected considering what kind of day I was having and all the fuss made about how difficult fondant is to work with. I think I made it a little too thick and that could have helped hold it together better.

I piped a bead border, a little more difficult because of the stretchy icing. Attached the heart candies with icing and frosted the cupcakes, also adding a heart candy. Amazingly I had enough icing for the banana cupcakes and I flavored it with lemon and some lemon yellow icing color.

Throughout the day I had been melting candy and making red and pink vanilla candy hearts. I wanted to color frosting for the border in pink to match the pink candies. Using just pink Wilton icing color it was too day-glow pink. I took half out and added more white icing. I was stuck for a while trying to figure out what to do when I thought of adding some red too darken it up a bit. That didn’t do much more than take the edge off. Then I decided to try to tone it down with some copper (light skin-tone) color. Voila! Matching pink icing that doesn’t glow in the dark.

It was a productive and tiring day. I learned a lot from this practice cake and am glad I allowed myself plenty of extra time. Lessons learned: have lots of extra ingredients in case disaster strikes, don’t use so much corn syrup in icing, don’t crumb-coat with thinned icing, roll fondant a bit thinner and I want to test the theory that letting the batter sit helps keep it from browning.

I have to get ready for the day and then drop these goodies off for others to enjoy. Thank you for visiting.

Make it a sweet day!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Marshmallow Fondant

Tonight I made marshmallow fondant for the first time. It went pretty well, the second batch going better than the first because I was more liberal with the water so it didn't take so much time to finally get the right consistency. I did manage to scrape half my finger across the microwave door latch so I had to wear gloves for the second batch. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it was much easier to knead with the gloves on. My finger still stings though.

Marshmallow Fondant Recipe

16 oz bag mini marshmallows (buy the good brand)
2 lbs (approx. 8 cups) powdered sugar
cup of water
small bowl vegetable shortening

Yields: 3 pounds (48 oz), enough to cover a 4" high 12" round cake

Melt marshmallows and 1/4 cup water in microwave in 30 second intervals until completely smooth. It's best to use a Pyrex glass bowl since the sugar mixture gets very hot. Add most of the powdered sugar, I like to sift mine to avoid clumps, and mix first with a wooden spoon then with hands. Using gloves may help keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Use the shortening to grease your hands and the counter while kneading the dough. Add more powdered sugar if dough gets too soft. Keep adding small amounts of water until the dough is smooth and stretches without tearing. Mold into a large square, coat with shortening and then double wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to "ripen" overnight at room temperature. You can then knead it until soft to use right away or store in fridge for several weeks.

If you want to add color or flavoring I recommend adding it to the melted marshmallows before adding powdered sugar. You can keep adding coloring while you are kneading to reach the perfect shade so don't go overboard. If you're adding coloring I recommend wearing gloves to protect your hands, especially for dark shades. If you want brown or black fondant start with chocolate fondant.

Chocolate Marshmallow Fondant:  either substitute the regular marshmallows for chocolate flavored marshmallows or add 1 oz melted unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tbsp baking cocoa into melted marshmallows. Or maybe both would taste extra good?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Catalog Finished!

I've finally finished my first catalog and I'm very excited!

I have a Word version available if you would like a formatted version to print. I am located in Federal Way, WA. Please call or email for consultation.

I look forward to making your next occasion extra sweet!

Tawny’s Treats
Cupcakes ~ Candy ~ Cakes ~ Cookies
206 . 228 . 4111

Cherry Chip
Chocolate Mint
Chocolate Orange
Chocolate Pound
Chocolate Sponge
Coconut Pineapple
Cream Cheese Pound
Dark Chocolate
Devil's Food
German Chocolate
Milk Chocolate
Peanut Butter
Pumpkin Apple Spice
Red Velvet
Sour Cream Pound

Apricot Glaze
Cake Glaze
Caramel Buttercream
Chocolate Buttercream
Chocolate Fudge
Chocolate Poured Fondant
Cocoa Whipped Cream
Cream Cheese
Dark Chocolate
Fluffy Boiled
Ganache Glaze
High Humidity Buttercream
Key Lime Buttercream
Key Lime Cream Cheese
Lemon Buttercream
Maple Buttercream
Marshmallow Fondant
Mocha Buttercream
Orange Buttercream
Peanut Butter Buttercream
Poured Hard Cookie Icing
Quick Pour Fondant
Snow White Buttercream
Stabilized Whipped Cream
Sugar Glaze
Whipped Topping
White Chocolate Buttercream

Chocolate Mousse
Cinnamon Cream Cheese
Cream Cheese
Pastry Cream
Strawberry Cream
  • Pricing is $2.00 - $4.00 per serving, depending on type of cake, icing & decorations
  • Vegan cakes available in most flavors for 8” cakes. Additional charge of $6.00
  • Special orders are available upon request

Cake Serving Chart
6" Round - 12 servings
8" Round - 20 servings
9" Round - 24 servings
10" Round - 28 servings
12" Round - 40 servings
8" Square - 20 servings
12 Cupcakes - 12 servings
24 Mini Cupcakes - 12 servings

Baked Goods 
Chocolate Chunk Cookies (24) - $8.99
Chocolate Sugar Cookies (24) - $14.99
Coffee Cake (18) - $14.99
Fat-Free Brownies (24) - $11.99
Fat-Free Chocolate Cookies (30) - $8.99
Fudgy Brownies (24) - $11.99
Magic Cookie Bars (18) - $11.99
No Bake Cheesecake (8) - $14.99
No Bake Oatmeal Cookies (30) - $8.99
Oatmeal Cookies (60) - $8.99
Peanut Butter Brownies (24) - $11.99
Peanut Butter Choc. Bars (108 1" sq.) - $11.99
Peanut Butter Cookies (24) - $8.99
Peanut Butter Cup Tarts (38) - $14.99
Spice Cookie Ornaments (10) - $14.99
Sugar Cookies (48) - $14.99
*Add Walnuts $1.49

Candy Letters - $0.15
Candy, Molded (1-2 colors) - $0.25
Candy, Molded (3+ colors) - $0.39
Cocoa Fudge (77 1" squares) - $8.59
Cream Cheese Mints (32 1-tsp balls) - $3.39
Eggnog Truffles (60 1" balls) - $12.99
Gingerbread Truffles (60 1" balls) - $12.99
Lollipop Mold, Candy Only - $0.45
Lollipops - $0.50
Modeling Chocolate (1/4 pound) - $4.99
Old Fashioned Fudge (81 1" sq.) - $6.99
Peanut Butter Truffles (30) - $12.99
Peppermint Truffles (60) - $15.99
Toffee Truffles (6) - $12.99
Truffles (25) - $11.99
White Chocolate Cherry Truffles (20) - $15.99
*Upgrade to Premium Candy $1.99

Candy Colors (vanilla flavored): red, yellow, blue, green, white, purple, orange, pink
Flavored Candy: peanut butter, chocolate mint, light cocoa, dark cocoa
Premium Candy: light cocoa, white, dark cocoa

Have a sweet day!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chocolate Chips

I suppose my story is similar to many others, it all started with chocolate chips. We always had the staples in my house: flour, sugar and eggs. The only thing stopping me from a delicious batch of cookies were the absent chocolate chips. I would beg and plead, "Someone! Anyone! Please buy me chocolate chips and I will make you delectable cookies!"

I stuck with cookies mostly, seemed easier than other desserts. I sometimes helped my mother around Christmas make fudge, butterscotch haystacks and lemon meringue pie. I didn't know it at the time but a mini Martha Stuart was in the making, bubbling just under the surface. In school my creatvity was unleashed through the clarinet, then the oboe and I also tried my hand at oil painting.

College started and I had to take more than a full course load and go year round under my scholarship agreement. I also worked full-time at McDonald's to support myself. I don't think I did anything creative those three years. Whenever I wasn't taking class, doing homework or working I was sleeping, watching TV or playing video games. Not much creativity there unless you count building crazy mansions in The Sims.

Like magic, shortly after I was released graduated from college my inner Martha started looking for my next hobby. Chris, a friend from work, agreed to help me sew a skirt so I gave it a shot. While frustrating, I had fun making that skirt, which I still have and I wore it until my dog ripped a big hole. She loved to quilt so I started making a baby quilt for my niece Hannah. I had hoped to finish it by the time she was born in September 2007 but it ended up being a Christmas present instead.

Then I started making a super king size quilt for myself. I'm still working on it. Okay, not working on it per se but I do have all the pieces cut in a box. You'll understand why in a moment.

I wanted to create a scrapbook for my wedding and honeymoon pictures, but it was too expensive and I didn't want to sucked into what seemed to be a cult of mad scrapbookers. So, you know what happened...what would be too expensive to buy all at once could slowly be accumulated, who knew? So I did end up becoming a member of the cult and that is now my main hobby.

Of course, I'm not one to sit and enjoy, I'm a multitasker! In just a few years I also got into cross stitch, crochet, baking, cake decorating and candy making. That's how quilting got pushed to the fringes. The other hobbies have to share with baking because I'm the office baker now, It's expected of me to create goodies for every potluck.

I'll wrap up with some of my baking history in pictures:

No bake chocolate oatmeal cookies

Peanut butter bars for our office Christmas party

Kitty cat cake to welcome our new Admin

Bridal shower cake for my friend Misty

Misty's wedding cake, with two toy Harley's as the topper

Cupcakes for Chris' birthday

My sister Tessa's wedding cake

My dad's 50th birthday cake

I love the brown on white color combo!

My famous red velvet cake for Valentine's Day

Candy writing for a birthday cake

Chocolates and truffles

Sugar cookies with poured frosting

Cream cheese pound cake with
strawberry cream filling and buttercream

This cream cheese pound cake tasted so delicious with the strawberry filling and buttercream. The cake baked completely flat. The loaf browned, but I was going to level it anyway so it didn't matter. The cupcakes baked beautifully with no browning. Yum, I'm going to go have a piece right now!