Friday, June 24, 2011

Blueberry Buckle

We have been in the same playgroup for a few years now. I have never been able to host because our old house was just way too small. We recently moved and hosted our very first playgroup. I made blueberry buckle, and it was super delicious!

I had fresh blueberries and lots of them, so I wanted to use them in a breakfast coffeecake kind of thing. A buckle was the perfect thing! I made a simple batter almost similar to a butter cake batter and stirred in some blueberries. I topped it with a delicious crumble of butter, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. It was so yummy when it was still warm that I had to have two pieces. My husband had a piece and said it was one of the most delicious things that I had ever made. For him to say this about a dessert that did not contain chocolate is pretty amazing. I have been wanting to make another buckle ever since this one was gone because it was so good. Maybe later this evening...

Lowbush blueberries, also known as "wild" are the smaller variety of blueberries. Highbush blueberries are the larger species. Maine produces 25% of all "lowbush" blueberries in this country making them the largest producer in the world. The Maine crop requires about 50,000 beehives for pollination. Michigan is the leading producer of the "highbush" variety in the US.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How to Train Your Dragon Cake

This was a difficult cake for me. I have never seen the movie and had no idea what to do. I made a white cake with sweet buttercream, but was stumped at that point. I ended up sculpting a dragon out of rice cereal treats and covering it with fondant. I think it was cute, and my client was happy with it :)

I ran into so many road blocks trying to conceptualize this cake. My client, at first, did not want a fondant character. So my next idea was to come up with something cool with edible paper. However, I do not have a printer with edible ink. The local grocery store will print things on edible paper for you, but not of a licensed character. Then, I was going to go to the toy store and pick up a toy to use on the cake. I was at three different toy stores, and no one had any How to Train Your Dragon toys. I was getting a little nervous at this point. I had no idea what I was going to do. I contacted my client and explained the predicament that I was in. We then decided to do a fondant character, so I started my search for what character to do. I thought the dragon was adorable and would not take me a year to do. It was the night before the cake was needed, so I didn't have all the time in the world. Luckily, I had everything for rice cereal treats and fondant. I was happy quite with the end result and so was my client, which is really all that matters to me.

If you are interested in making sculpted figures, I would suggest that you start with rice cereal treats. It is much more difficult to do a sculpture completely out of fondant, especially a large one. I just melt marshmallows in the microwave and stir in crushed rice cereal until it is a good consistency for sculpting. I like to crush it so that it makes a smoother surface to cover with fondant. You will need dowels or something to hold the pieces together. I like to use plastic coffee stirrers in my smaller pieces because I know that no one will get hurt on them. Even if someone accidentally bit into it, they would not break their teeth :) It just takes some practice and patience, but these sculptures make really cute additions to cakes .

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Scooby Doo Cake

A friend of mine requested a Scooby Doo cake for her son's third birthday. I thought about what I should do with this for weeks. I always agonize over cake designs for weeks, then come up with something the night before. She and her son were very happy with the cake, and I think it was super cute! And, on a side note, she made me some awesome Empanadas. Check out her facebook page if you are in need of delicious food :)

I debated for weeks about what to do with this cake. I decided the night before that I was going to sculpt a Scooby and a box of Scooby Snacks out of fondant for on top of the cake. I worked on Scooby for maybe an hour or two and let him sit over night. This was my first time sculpting a character completely out of fondant. He was not perfect, but he was pretty cute. I iced the cake with sweet buttercream in a chartreuse color and decorated the cake with a dark purple color. I added Scooby at the party and added some cereal to act as the Scooby Snacks. I was happy with the results. The birthday boy enjoyed Scooby's ears and the box of Scooby Snacks :)

If you are interested in cake decorating, you need to have the right kind of food coloring. DO NOT buy the liquid kind at the grocery store. It takes a ton of it to turn the icing any rich color, and it waters down the icing. You can buy the Wilton gel paste anywhere that they sell Wilton products, like Michael's. I prefer the liqui-gel kind in squeeze bottles, like Chefmaster. I would recommend going to a cake decorating store or shopping online and just buying a bunch of colors so that you can just mix colors to achieve the color that you desire.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Baptism Cake

I did not make the cake when my older daughter was baptized. She was only 3 weeks old, and I had a pretty rough pregnancy toward the end. Things were totally different my second time around. I had a great pregnancy, worked out all the time, and only gained 7 pounds! I felt great after my second daughter was born and was completely up to the challenge of making her cake for her baptism.

I went to my favorite cake combination when I was making this cake. I really watched what I ate when I was pregnant, so I wanted something super yummy for her baptism that I could really enjoy! I made my famous chocolate cake with French buttercream icing. I decided to do a pretty standard design for christening cakes with a cross made of roses. With a 6 week old, I wanted to do something fairly easy and fast, and for me, roses are easy and fast. With sleep deprivation playing a role, I was pretty happy with the results of my cake. Everyone loved it, and more importantly, everyone loved eating it :)

If you have a desire to learn to decorate, there are many things that you can do to help you along your way. Firstly, you can buy Styrofoam cakes that can be decorated over and over again. And, this will prevent you from eating lots and lots of cake ;) Secondly, you want to use a very stiff buttercream. I always used this recipe when I was learning in school. It tastes awful, but it's a good consistency for learning. There are many places that offer classes as well. Joann Fabrics and Michael's have Wilton decorating classes. I know many local community colleges offer decorating classes as well. But most of all, don't be afraid to fail. It is not super easy, but definitely gets a lot easier each time you try. You just need the right tools, some instruction, and lots of patience.