Monday, December 28, 2009

Gingerbread House! ~ December’s Daring Bakers Challenge

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

How fitting for the Holidays. How sad that I am typing this 25 minutes past the deadline. My excuse is that my mom surprised me from Bermuda!! What a great Christmas present to me! I love having her here. We have been hustling and bustling. However, I did manage to make and bake the gingerbread pieces 2 days before Christmas and on Christmas Eve two of my children decorated one while the youngest kept sneaking up to the table swiping candy!!

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What stress having a 10 year old and 3 year old fight over what candy should go where!! But it was fun at the same time so I am seriously thinking of making it a Christmas tradition. My kids loved their house and so did I.

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As you can see the kids really did a number on this one. I used royal icing for the adhesive and the bright colored candies are sour gummies. Along with the addition of some chocolate no name brand candy that was covered in colored shells and some traditional peppermint candy, sprinkles and coconut. The roof was also some type of thin coconut cookie I bought at the dollar store. (ayyy now…I am on a budget here:))

Truthfully, I did not use the recipes that were chosen by the Anna. Some where having issues with the dough being too dry. Since I was on time constraints I chose a recipe from Alison of Someone's in The Kitchen. She posted a recipe in the forum and it seemed like a win win. Please check out her houses of gingerbread. They really look awesome.

Okay, back to me. I finally squeezed in my house. I didn’t feel like making anymore Royal Icing so I worked with the little leftovers. My dream was to make some kind of winter wonderland. Running out of Royal made it into a Winter Wonder NOT.

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Kinda blah. But I used some yogurt covered pretzels to make a fence and threw on some coconut and painted it with pearl luster dust.

My favorite part was molding the fondant for the snow lady and the trees. I did those a week in advance. Despite it not turning out how I envisioned…nor it looking as bright as the kids, I was happy.

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Um…another confession. The arms on this snow lady (lets call her Frostina) are not quite edible. They are stems from a grape vine. That was the only thing I could find. I guess this disqualifies me eh?

Anyway, my challenge is complete. My kids were involved with this one and it was fun and festive. Thanks Anna and Y for a great challenge!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Basketwhoas...

I attempted my very first basketweave. I am more into contemporary designs on cakes. I like the look of fondant. But I figure there will be times that I NEED to do the buttercream roses, piped stars and the oh so dreaded basketweave. I have NO skills in piping. But, gotta do it. So I am self teaching myself a few piping thingys. Started off with this number:~

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Could have been better, a little tighter perhaps. If I had more patience then I think it would have been perfect...along with the fact that I had the wrong piping tip. Whatever. So I piped on despite the slackness :~

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Despite issues (like the piping bag bursting on my cake during the writing of the Happy Birthday message...oh and a rose flipping upside down while applying...and running out of green buttercream which also happened to be melting and slooshing all over the place), I think I did a great job. Yes, I love piping my hand on my back..I mean patting. Someone has to do it.

I used my favorite Buttercream Recipe on Allrecipes.com. You can find it here. It is truly a great crusting recipe. Also read the suggestions...I sometimes substitute half the shortening for unsalted butter. Tip...always double recipes for frosting..you can never have enough!!

The cake is a Classic Butter Cake with a berry filling. I would cut it...but it is not mine to cut. Hopefully when the birthday girl cuts it I will be there to get a slice..I mean a picture. :) I will post the recipe on this cake soon. I promise :)

Anyway, I had fun doing this whether it resembles basketweave or not. I know my skills need improving so that is why I intend on studying a whole lot by making and decorating many many cakes!! It helped to know that someone I hold in high regards is not a piping queen herself. I actually got the tips from her website. Bakerella did an awesome Hello Kitty cake and demonstrated how to basketweave. It is a very good tutorial so take a look. But still, practice makes perfect..I even notice my roses are getting better!!

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I must mention one more mishap. During the making of my favorite buttercream I was creaming the shortening and butter and proceeded to add the confectioner's sugar. I was yapping my mouth to hubby who was engrossed in Madden 09 on my son's PSP when I noticed that there was a extreme amount of cloudiness in my kitchen. This cloud was sugar coming from my Sunbeam Mixer!!! My lower arms were covered in the white snow! My kitchen was covered in it. My glasses, well everything!! I cursed my mixer. Although I love her I do need a new one. One that can handle the levels of baking that I do and that I intend to do. One like Susan is giving away on her blog. This Kitchenaid 90 Anniversary Edition would look so lovely on my countertop. I have been begging for one for the last 2 years. So my friends, enter now and follow the rules!! But I must tell you that my hand in is this pretty bowl too. So good luck to us and congrats to the lucky winner!! Awesome. Thanks Susan, honestly...that is a great gift!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cookies and Cream Cake

Recipe Source from Annie's Eats whose cake and frosting source was adapted from Hershey’s and filling adapted from Thyme for Food.

 

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My cousin wanted a cake for his birthday and didn't care what type of cake. I had an order in from a friend for a Cookies and Cream Cake. I never made one before so I decided I might as well make one for my cousin too.

The best decision I could have made. This is a quote of the text he sent me ~ "Cuz, the cake is DAMN delicious. You put your foot in it. Thanks!!"   I was so elated!! I did this cake with a lot of love. My cousin is the best...so he deserved my foot.

Now on to make 2 more. Oh, did I say 2? Well, I need one for this house too you know.

Recipe :~

INGREDIENTS

cake:

2 cups sugar

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

½ cup vegetable oil

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

 

filling:

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

1/8 cup confectioners’ sugar

¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract

10 chocolate sandwich cookies, chopped

frosting:

½ cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup cocoa powder

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

 

DIRECTIONS

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

To make the filling, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat on low speed until all sugar is incorporated; increase speed to high and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in chopped cookie pieces with a rubber spatula.

To make the frosting, melt the butter in a medium bowl. Stir in the cocoa. Alternately add confectioners’ sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

ASSEMBLE

Place one cake layer on a cardboard cake circle. Pipe a ring of the chocolate frosting around the outside edge of the cake. Fill the area inside the ring of frosting with a thick layer of the cookies and cream mixture. Place the second cake layer on top. Frost the sides of the cake layers with chocolate frosting. Pipe a decorative border of the chocolate frosting on top of the cake. Fill the area inside this border with a thick layer of the cookies and cream mixture. Garnish with extra chocolate sandwich cookies and whipped cream if desired.

 

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe Annie. It will be a favorite and much repeated recipe in this house!!

Update December 5th!!! : Okay, I didn't waste anytime...

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Black and White Fondant Cake

Since I somewhat successfully stacked a 2 tier cake. I wanted to venture out and try a three tier cake. Daaa daa daa daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!  (That was supposed to appear as some sort of dramatic special effect people.)

My best friend asked me to do a cake for her birthday. She was having a party in "Opium", the private party room at a great restaurant in Atlanta called Straits. (Side note:~They have the best lollipop chicken known to man.) It is owned by the entertainer, Ludacris. You know him right? Ya....you do.

I had no clue what I wanted to do. I was going to try a topsy turvy cake but said nah...wait. Then I wanted to do something funky like marble fondant.  Eh.  So I drew tons of pictures and decided on one out of my drawings. Well, this cake came out nothing like the one I drew. As I was decorating I didn't stop. I kept getting inspired. Thus, coming up with this...

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This simple little cake( and it is little...bottom 8 inch layer, middle is 6 inch layer and top is 4 inch single cake) took me 5 hours to decorate!! My black fondant was starting to crack.  I guess from not kneading it enough or perhaps kneading it too much! Whatever the case, I redid it and applied. What the picture does not show is the pearl luster on the cake. The cake itself is a plain white cake with buttercream filling. Yep, I count buttercream as a filling too. This was my third fondant covered cake and my first 3 tier stack cake!! It really was a great little cake. It fit right in with the setting. See...I added the boa at the bottom surrounding the cake for dramatic effects. I love me some dramatic effects.

 

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By the way. Mr Ludacris did stop by. :)