Monday, May 17, 2010

Long Time No Cake

Well, this year has been crazy so far. Now that I am laid off I actually have the time and energy to download all my saved pics on my camera and write about my experiences. I can't even remember what I've done.

Cake Dummy

I wanted to find a way to practice decorating without having to hassle with actually baking a cake. I also didn't want to buy a dummy, they are too expensive. So I ventured to make my own. I had the blisters to remember it by.

1. Cut 36 layers of cardboard (Mine is 9" round 4" tall, use any pan you like as a template)
2. Stack all layers and tape together on four sides from top to bottom to hold them together
3. Wrap around with cardstock and tape (smooth uneven edges of layers)
4. Wrap with several layers of plastic wrap to hold together and protect.
5. Wrap with foil to smooth and for crisp edges and tape if needed.
6. Wrap again with a few layers of plastic wrap

This took about 3 hours total. To use, secure the dummy to your cake plate with tape or frosting. Decorate as you wish. When you're ready to clean the dummy scrape off all the frosting and then remove and toss the top layers of plastic wrap. Re-wrap with a few layers of plastic wrap and you're ready to go again.

I haven't used my dummy yet, lack of time and energy, but hope to soon.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The only other thing I have pictures of is some of the dozens of chocolate chip cookies I made as a thank you for a referral and for my coworkers on my last day of work.

Make it a sweet day!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Catching Up: Holiday Cupcakes, Lightning McQueen and 1 Huge Cupcake

After the holiday rush I have finally recovered enough to want to write about them.

First, I made four trays of mini cupcakes for a meet-and-greet at work. The reaction was better than I expected and several people placed orders, which was so wonderful and exciting!

Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Icing
Orange with Orange Buttercream
Pumpkin with Cream Cheese Icing
Devil's Food with Chocolate Fudge Icing

For my nephew Evan's first birthday I made him a Cars cake featuring Lightning McQueen. I made the car out of pound cake and the base cake is french vanilla with buttercream and marshmallow fondant. I bought red fondant since it's hard to get red-red from home dye. I made the car details out of fondant using food color markers and allowed them to dry. You can't see it in this picture but his number 95 is also on the top of the car. The "mud" is chocolate buttercream icing and the tires are chocolate cake. I had a cold and it wasn't exactly smooth sailing but everyone loved it. Oh, and the cake tasted good too ;)


Then the holiday rush was upon me and it was cupcake boxes with those same four varieties. I lost count of how many boxes I made but it was A LOT, I felt like a bakery. They got positive reviews from everyone, even people who don't like cake - those are my favorite.

Oh, and I couldn't forget the giant cupcake for my friend Phuong. She's another of the "I don't like cake" converts. The orange cake with orange buttercream suited her tastes since it was fruit based and not too sweet.

The giant cupcake pan wasn't easy to work with, mine was all silicone resting on a cookie sheet. The first time it didn't cook all the way through. I went and bought two heating cores and used them the second time to get the centers to cook more evenly. The cores made it tip a bit and spilled all over my oven. Icing it wasn't a piece of cake either. I know, stupid pun, I couldn't help myself. I tried to make the bottom look like a cupcake wrapper, but it was hard to make the cream cheese frosting stand upright because it is very soft. Some lessons learned so hopefully next time it will go smoother, but it turned out well.

Thank you for all my friends, family and coworkers for your support!
Have a sweet day!

Julie & Julia

I am a bit behind on my postings but am skipping ahead anyhow. I am watching the movie Julie and Julia on one monitor while I type and work on my second monitor. Oh what bliss is two monitors!!! What a wonderful movie and I'm only halfway through. I'll probably watch it a few times before I return it - gotta love Redbox.

I was asked to teach a friend's husband how to make mini cupcakes and fondant. They are moving to Japan and opening a bakery and are interested in making small, cute desserts. To say the least I am flattered and hope I can deliver on every expectation. So for the next two Saturday's that is where I'll be. I made a list of all the supplies we'll need and which recipes we'll use. I am very excited.

For the preparations I thought it wise to take my battered packet of recipes and clean them up a bit. To make them shorter I removed all the steps that I knew by heart and were just taking up space. Sift together dry ingredients, fill cupcake liners 1/2-1/3 full, bake until toothpick in center comes out clean, etc. Turns out that wasn't a great idea since I'm always asked for my recipes and I don't mind sharing. They're not much good to others without all the steps so now I have to add them back in. Also the clean-up is a bit literal since most of the pages have some sort of food splattered on them.

I firmly believe in using a food scale to get consistent results every time, which is important when I'm making something someone purchased. They are paying for that consistency. You can buy a pretty good digital scale for about $15, I found mine online. It should at least show ounces by tenths (ex: 9.8) and grams, which are more accurate since they are smaller increments than ounces. It's also helpful if you're using recipes from other countries.

I had a few conversion tables, but none of them seemed to match exactly. So I found a conversion calculator online that I trust and re-did all my measurements ( & This is also handy to figure out how many cups are in a pound so you know how much to purchase, especially for buying in bulk. There are 16 ounces in a pound, so if a cup of honey is 12 ounces then 16/12 = 1.3 cups per pound.

1 Cup = Ounces/Grams
Brown Sugar = 7/200
Butter = 8/225
Cake Flour = 4/100
Cream Cheese = 8/225
Chocolate Chips = 6/175
Cocoa = 4/100
Coconut =3/75
Cornstarch (Cornflour) = -5/125
Corn Syrup = 11/300

Evaporated Milk = 7.8
Flour = +4/+100
Honey = 12/340
Oatmeal, Dry = 3/75
Oil, Vegetable = 8/225
Peanut Butter = 9/250
Powdered Sugar = -5/125
Pumpkin = 8/225
Shortening = 8/225
Sour Cream = 8/225
Sugar =8/225

More to come, have a sweet day!