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Princess Cake for Mia’s 5th!

29 Dec

For Mia’s 5th Birthday, I made a princess cake!

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1. Bake!  I always use the Wilton’s butter cake recipe (I cut the sugar down a cup and added a tad more vanilla extract and deleted the almond extract – I don’t like the way it tastes…)  It’s a dense cake, and I love it’s flavor.  Here’s the recipe:  http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Butter-Cake

I didn’t have a heart cake mold, so I baked the cake in a circle mold, then cut it into a heart.

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2. Ice the cake!  Mia spotted this Hersey’s white chocolate icing in the supermarket, and she begged me to use this one, so I tried it out.  (It is yummy!)

3. Roll out the fondant.  I got the Wilton wedding cake fondant pack.  Add the Wilton icing color (Rose Pink) and knead until the whole batch is even color.  Then roll it out nice and big.  I rolled it out as big as the edge of the mat I am using.

4. Cover the cake.  Carefully, using the rolling pin, lift and drape onto the cake.  Be careful not to use your fingers when doing this, because the fondant will deform or be punctured very easily.  Make sure the fondant covers all the top and sides.

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5. Smooth out the fondant. Using a rolling pin or a smoother, or even your palms, smooth out the surface of the cake.  To avoid the fondant to stick to the equipment, or your hand, sprinkle some confectioners sugar.  Cut off the excess fondant that is around the cake.  Tuck in the edges a little using a butter knife.

6. Decorate!

I first pre-designed the pieces so I know exactly how much fondant I need (for the princess.)  Then, knead in colors.  I used a swab of pink and yellow to make a peach color for the head and arms.  Brown for the hair, pink for the dress, and yellow for the crown.

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I used the same method I used for the “Flower Field Cupcakes” (please check out the post for info) to make a few flowers as well.

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I also made small yellow and green balls to surround the cake.  To put the last touch, I made a big bow to drape on the cake.

I cut cardboard, and covered it with foil to make a cake base.

I cut cardboard, and covered it with foil to make a cake base.

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The kids gave me a thumbs up for the cake!

The kids gave me a thumbs up for the cake!

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Minecraft Cake!

8 Dec

Minecraft Cake!

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On my son’s 8th Birthday, I made a Minecraft theme cake.

1. Bake!  I always use the Wilton’s butter cake recipe (I cut the sugar down a cup and added a tad more vanilla extract and deleted the almond extract – I don’t like the way it tastes…)  It’s a dense cake, and I love it’s flavor.  Here’s the recipe:  http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Butter-Cake

I used two square baking pans.  Make one recipe amount and divide into the two pans.

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2. Make Icing!  I made Wilton’s chocolate Buttercream icing.  here’s the recipe:  http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Chocolate-Buttercream-Icing

Put icing in the middle of the two square cakes and also cover the whole cake.  Before covering the cake with icing, cut the sides so the two cakes make a nice square piece, with no rough edges.

Add chocolate icing and cut off the sides

Add chocolate icing and cut off the sides

3. Decorate!  This is the fun part!  I used the Wilton’s white rolled fondant.

I first colored a good grapefruit size amount with a kelly green icing color, because that is the color I would need the most.  I would use this to cover the cake, and also to make the “creeper.”

Roll out the green fondant.  I use the Wilton’s mat as a guideline.  For this cake, I rolled out almost as big as the mat, just to make sure it’s large enough to cover the whole cake.

*using a rolling pin (very important not to use your hands/fingers) lift the fondant and drape it over the cake.

Use a fondant smoother, or your palms to smooth out the surface of the cake.  To avoid sticking, use powder sugar on your palms when smoothing out.  Cut out the excess around the cake.  The corners are a little tricky, but the trick to covering a square cake is that the fondant need to be in a shape of a flattened (square) box, with 4 square flaps on all four sides of the center square.

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4. Make the cake toppers.

First make the Creeper.  allocate the green fondant so that there are enough for the head, body, and 4 legs (I think they are legs)  Then, knead and refine each piece so each pieces become a smooth square/rectangle.

Color some fondant with black icing color, and knead until the color is even.  Roll out and cut small squares and rectangle for the eyes and mouth.  Dab a little water on the back of the pieces and attach them onto the face.

Using toothpicks, attach the legs and the head to the torso.

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Make Steve and Enderman.  Color fondant so you have peach, blue, brown, black and a teeny bit of pink for these guys.  Sculpt them using a guideline, like a picture or a toy.  Put them together using a toothpick.

Make different hues of brown.  My kids called these kaka.  I made kaka shapes just to play around with them…  Roll them out and cut it into small squares.  I used the square grid on my mat as a guideline.  Dab a small amount of water to the back of these squares, and attach them to the sides of the cake.  (By this time, I am thinking “what have I got myself into?!” ) (This is a very tedious process…)

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Place  Creeper, Steve, and Enderman on top of the cake.  I used bamboo skewers to support their backs, so it looks like they are sitting.

Ta Da!  My first plan was to just do a Creeper, but it looked too lonely, so I proceeded to make Steve and Enderman.  I’m happy I did, and my son is thrilled!

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Pumpkin seeds

29 Oct

Here’s what I did with the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkins we carved!

First, I separated the seeds from the stringy pulp from the pumpkin, and washed the seeds thoroughly.  Drain.

Wash and drain seeds

Wash and drain seeds

Then I spread the seeds on a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Coat the seeds with olive oil and salt. let stand for 24 – 48 hrs.

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Preheat oven to 325’F.  Remove parchment paper, and toast seeds in the oven for about 40 min. stirring occasionally.

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They are simple and delicious!

Flower Field Cupcakes – Fondant Toppers

18 Jun

My Easter treat this year…  Pretty Flower Field cupcakes!

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First, I made “strawberry cupcakes” (please refer to the “strawberry cupcakes” post)  It’s delicious, as is, but I wanted to make something special for Easter.  I had some fondant leftovers, so I decided to go that route.  However, I didn’t want to use icing this time, so I came up with an idea!

Here’s how I made the fondant flower toppers:

I used what I had in hand.  Some leftover pre-colored fondant and white rolled fondant, both from Wilton.

I knead the fondant so it’s nice and soft.

I then rolled out the fondant, and stamped out shapes using a fondant cutter.  I used flower cutters and also a fondant mold for little birds and hearts for the “Spring” theme.

Stamping out flower shapes

Stamping out flower shapes

 

 

 

 

My little helper

My little helper

 

Used food coloring to make other colors

Used food coloring to make other colors

For the daisy flowers, I attached two, back to back, sandwiching a toothpick.  I used a little brush to wet the surface with water for attachment.

Brush on a little water for attaching

Brush on a little water for attaching

sandwich a toothpick

sandwich a toothpick

 

Pearls added to center of flowers

Pearls added to center of flowers

I also made leaves with my fingers and pierced through with the daisy flower toothpick.

leaves

leaves

 

Leaves attached

Leaves attached

I molded the little birds and hearts thick enough so that I don’t have to go through the process of attaching two pieces.

Add them onto the cupcakes, and voila!  Spring flower field!

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I love love love the way it came out!

Honestly, I don’t eat fondant.  I really don’t want my kids to eat it either.  That is why I made the toppers this way, so that I can remove it easily.  (although that doesn’t keep my daughter from eating it.  she ate hers and mine…and all the others!)  This is such an awesome way to decorate.  I love the way it looks, and I love fondant because it is so easy to create anything you want.  I know I will be making this again!

Strawberry Cupcakes

4 Apr

I’m in the mood for some yummy cupcakes!

My daughter loves “Pinkalicious” book, and I wanted to make her pink cupcakes.  But I really want to avoid artificial coloring, and I had a great idea!  I’m going to incorporate freeze dried strawberries to see if it will work in place of the food coloring.  I like the “butter cupcakes” recipe on Wilton.com, but I always alter it a little, and that is just what I did.

Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups room temperature butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (or little more) freeze dried strawberry (ground)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 350 (F)

2. Line the cupcake pans with baking cups.

3. Mix the room temperature butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Room temp. butter and sugar

Room temp. butter and sugar

 

My little helper on mixer duty

My little helper on mixer duty

4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

5. Mix in pure vanilla extract.

Pure vanilla extract - in!

Pure vanilla extract – in!

6. Mix the remaining dry ingredients in a different bowl (flour, baking powder, and salt.)

7. Mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture little at a time.  Also add milk alternately with the dry mix.

Dry ingredient mix - in!

Dry ingredient mix – in!

8. Mix ground freeze dried strawberry into the mix.

Freeze dried strawberry from Archer Farms (Target)

Freeze dried strawberry from Archer Farms (Target)

 

I used a plastic bag and my hands to grind the strawberries.

I used a plastic bag and my hands to grind the strawberries.

 

Ground strawberries - in!

Ground strawberries – in!

9. Pour the batter into baking cups.  I usually make mini cupcakes, because I think they are just the perfect bite size.

Batter in cupcake liners.

Batter in cupcake liners.

10. Bake 20 – 25 min.  Make sure the toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cupcake.

Anxiously waiting...

Anxiously waiting…

11. Cool and enjoy!  I like to have this cupcake when it is still warm.  The strawberry aroma is so yummy when warm!

Baked!

Baked!

 

Warm and Yummy!

Warm and Yummy!

They didn’t look “pink” as I had hoped, but it was delicious, and my kids loved them.  (My neighbors did too!)  I love the idea of incorporating fruits, and I’m definitely going to try out other fruits next time.

Valentines Cake Pops 2012

2 Apr

My daughter has been obsessed with watching YouTube videos on cake pops (I don’t know how she gets there, she’s only 3…)  So this Valentines, I gave it a try.

I bought a cake pop bake pan, from Nordicware, but that one didn’t turn out well…  I used the recipe on the packaging, but it didn’t taste good, and it didn’t look good…  I will give it a try again soon, but as for now, I’m going to use the traditional method.

1.  Bake the cake.

I used the Duncan Hines cake in a box (Butter cake.)  Just bake it according to the directions on the box.  Set it aside and let it cool.

2.  Make the cake mix.

Crumble the cake into a large bowl.  Add icing.  I used 1 tub of Duncan Hines butter cream icing.  Mix it all up evenly so the mixture is moist enough to hold together.

3.  Make the cake balls.

Take just about 1 ice cream scoop-ful (not too big) of the mix onto your palms and make a ball.  If the mix is too dry to form a ball, add more icing in the mix.  Line them up on a baking pan.  Place the baking pan in the refrigerator.

Cake balls to go into the fridge

Cake balls to go into the fridge

4.  Make the candy coating melts.

I used the Wilton “Candymelts.”  Melt it in the microwave as instructed on the package.  Melt only a bout 1/2 cup for now, because we only need it to hold the sticks in place.

5.  Take the pops out from the fridge.  Dip lollipop sticks in the melted candymelt, and stick it in the balls (center.)  Do not stick all the way through.  Just about 2/3.

Lollipop sticks in place

Lollipop sticks in place

6.  Place the baking pan (with the pops on it) back into the refrigerator so the pops hardens, about 20 min.

7.  Prep the assembly line.

Prepare sprinkles and decorations in bowls.  Prepare a Styrofoam brick for pop station.  I wrapped a floral foam brick with foil, then pre made holes with a toothpick.  I used foil, because I don’t like the foam bits to get all over the kitchen.

8.  Melt more candymelts.

Melt candmelts that would be used to coat the balls.  I melted several different colors in different bowls.  Set it along the assembly line.

9.  Coat the pops.

Get the pops out from the fridge, and dip it in the melted candymelts.  If you want to add sprinkles or decorations, add them to the pops right after you coat them, before the coat dries.  (they dry up within a minute, so have everything lined up, and work fast.)  If the candymelts is too thick, put it back in the microwave.  You can add a little bit of vegetable shortening to the coat mix to make it smoother.  Stick the coated pops into the pop station for drying.  If you don’t have the pop station, you can set them down on a wax sheet, stick up, flat bottom.  The great thing about this is that you can be as creative as you want.  It doesn’t have to be round to be a cake pop!

Coke pops!

Coke pops!

Wrapped up for class Valentines treats!
Wrapped up for class Valentines treats!

Valentines treats
Valentines treats

Yey!  Cake pops done!  They are cute, and so much fun to make.

However, it was WAY too sweet.  With the cake-in-the-box, icing, and candymelt coating, my kids were bouncing off the walls with the sugar rush.  Next time, I would definitely try the other method, which is to bake the cake balls (using the cake pop baking pan), and eliminate the icing to form a ball.  Or bake the cake without any sugar if using the icing method.

Either way, it is definitely a kid pleaser and I can’t wait to make them again.

Kale chips!

30 Mar

I made Kale chips, and it was delicious!  Even the kids loved them!

It tastes like bok choy when it is deep fried.

The process was easy.  I had 2 enthusiastic helpers, so it was a fun activity all around.

1. Pre heat the oven to 300 degrees (F)

2. Wash the kale leaves.  Cut off the inner stem, and rip the leaves in medium sizes.  I had the kids use paper towel to eliminate water from the leaves.  (make sure the leaves are dry.)

Kids drying the leaves

Kids drying the leaves

 

Washed Kale chips

Washed Kale leaves

3. Spread the kale leaves on a baking sheet.  Drizzle olive oil.  Mix them and coat them well and spread them on the baking sheet in an equal layer.

Kale leaves drizzled with olive oil

Kale leaves drizzled with olive oil

 

Kale leaves ready to go in the oven

Kale leaves ready to go in the oven

4. Put in the oven.  Roast about 30 – 40 min until the leaves are crisp.  Check on them so that they crisp evenly (turn the leaves when you see parts crisp more than others.)

Roasted kale chips

Roasted kale chips

5. Sprinkle sea salt and enjoy!

We love kale chips!

We love kale chips!

Since I was in a veggie-chip-making kind of a mood, I also roasted shredded carrots.  They did not crisp like the kale, but it was still yummy.

Yummy! Yummy! Happy! Happy!!!