Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tie-Dyed Cake:)

I just love it when someone asks me to do something I've never done before.  My client's daughter is having a rainbow/tie-dyed theme party.  She asked if I could make a "tie-dyed" cake...    Here's the teaser.... batter in the pan!

I'll be sure and post more pictures once the cake is complete... I have to admit... I'm a bit giddy:)

Some tricks for this effect?  Knowing the approximate weight of your batter helps... I knew I needed to divide my batter into roughly 6 - 8 ounce portions.  I chose the colors purple, orange, yellow, blue, pink and green.  I used the Ameri-Colors "electric" colors whenever it was an option.  Nothing but vibrant colors here:)

I dolloped the batter by spoonfuls throughout the pans trying to somewhat evenly distribute the colors.  When I was finished, I tapped the pan on the counter to make it "settle" into an even layer... then I took a small knife and zig-zagged it through the batter.... first up and down.... then left and right.  Not too much!  I think it would have made the colors muddled.

Can't wait to get a picture of it being sliced into!

Monday, November 26, 2012

First Birthday Girlie Mouse Fun:)

Oh my... twice in one week I got to make cakes for teachers' and their kiddos.  This was actually for two teachers at my kids' school - both mom and dad are teachers... kindergarten and fourth grade.  I was also blessed to have had the opportunity to make their wedding cake three years ago as well.... still trying to locate the photo of that cake!  I do remember that it was a disney themed cake complete with mickey and minnie cake topper.... I thought it would be fun to incorporate a similar theme in their first daughter's first birthday cake....

And of course, no first birthday is complete without a "smash" cake.... I wanted to keep the smash cake simple and with no fondant.... here's the adorable result:)

Happy Baking!

It's a Prairie Dog!

I feel so blessed every time I'm asked to make a cake for one of the teachers at my kids' school... especially when it's one of my kids' teachers.  This was for my daughter's third grade teacher - her daughter wanted a prairie dog cake.  Nothing else mattered so long as there was a prairie dog peaking out of a hole:)

I tried something I've never done before and I was pleased with the results.  When making something three dimensional that is relatively small, either fondant or cereal treats is the way I would normally go.  In this instance, however (since I was already carving away some of the cake for the hole) I decided to use the carved out cake and make a "cake ball" filling using the cake and icing.  It makes kind of a dough-like substance and it's fairly easy to manipulate into a specific shape.  After shaping the cake ball filling into a prairie dog... I simply used the grass tip for the fur and fondant for the ears, eyes, and mouth.  I think he's pretty cute:)

Happy Baking!  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What's on Your Thanksgiving Menu?

I find it so interesting to learn what is "traditional" Thanksgiving dinner at different people's houses.  I'm not sure at what point in time in my life I learned that not everyone considers the same dishes "traditional" in their house.

We grew up with basically the same meal.... Turkey, cornbread dressing (no stuffing at our house!), mashed potatoes, english peas, and rolls (specifically, the brown and serve rolls you buy in the grocery store).  And who can forget the jellied cranberry sauce?  While we have refined our menu over the years.... The jellied cranberry sauce has been replaced with homemade cranberry relish (courtesy of my brother and his new-found "chef" abilities), and  fresh baked rolls (from yours truly).... the menu has remained basically the same throughout the years.

I'm certain I owe an apology to whoever hosted the first Thanksgiving dinner I attended where the dinner was not what I was accustom to.  I can't remember where it was, but  I know there was some kind of dressing that seemed somewhat gummy and obviously had no cornbread in it whatsoever....  no cranberry sauce of any kind... and I could not imagine who could have a Thanksgiving dinner without proper rolls! 

Desserts at our house have remained a constant as well.  While we don't always have the same dessert, it is always some combination of pecan pie, German chocolate cake, and sometimes pumpkin pie.

So what is traditional at your house?  Is it something with chestnuts, stuffing, sweet potatoes?  Whatever the menu is at your house, I wish you a very Blessed and thankful time with your family and friends.  Enjoy the feast and community and appreciate all that is beautiful and good in your world!  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How to Make a Flaky Pie Crust

So the holiday season is upon us and the baking frenzy begins.  Here's a tutorial that shows you step by step how to make a flaky pie crust:)  

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Journey - Through Cake (and cookies, and pies, etc.)


I started this blog mainly as an "easy" solution to having a website.  Reserved the domain name and set up something really (really) simple so that I could put a website on my business cards.  Somewhere people could go and see some images of cakes I've done and email me if they wished.

Since that time, my life has taken some dramatic turns.  The end of a 14 year marriage, for one.... and all that goes along with that when you have two kids under the age of 11.  I don't care who you are or what the circumstances, divorce is harder than you ever think it's going to be.

So basically, it comes down to this for me.  My kids are the most important things in my life.  They are 11 and 7 years old.  I have precious little time with them before they are grown up and living their own separate and wonderful lives.   Decisions I make with regard to my life directly affect my kids' lives.  I want to be an example to them that I can be proud of.  I want them to have a mom who enjoys life, takes risks, succeeds, fails, and picks herself up after each disappointment.  I want them to see me doing what I love so that they, in turn, will do the same with their lives.

It's been great fun creating cakes and cookies and other confections for people.  I love it... I absolutely love it.... I did not find this passion until my youngest was about a year old, but nevertheless I found it.  But now I have to approach the "fun" more strategically.  If I am to be the example to my kids that I want to be... if I am to live my life doing what I love... I need a plan. 


So there are a few sayings... "words of wisdom" if you will, about being successful and finding fulfillment and joy in your life.  The first is "do what you love and the success will follow"... something like that anyway.  Well, I think I've covered that.  I found my passion, the thing I love, and it's baking/creating memorable treats.  The second "saying" that continues to come  back to the front of my mind is something to the effect of "if the idea or dream continually comes up.... doesn't die... you should pursue it".  This is the crucial second part of my plan...  And it really is quite simple (sort of).... the idea is... cookies:)

Not just any cookie... a very specific cookie.  One that, when I make it (which has typically been at family gatherings... often out of town).... several guests at the party always want to know how they can order some.  Until recently, this wasn't even anything I ever sold.... it was just a yummy recipe I came across and tweaked a bit to make it more to my liking.


So now my journey begins... perfecting the execution of this cookie... coming up with the perfect packaging.... developing a marketing strategy....  traverse the laws and regulations with regard to food preparation, packaging, and online sales....

It's just one cookie... it seems so simple and so trite... yet it doesn't.  I hope you'll take this journey with me as I take the steps to turn my part time passion into a full time business... colored along the way with festive cakes and cookies... trials, successes, failures and adventure.  Disrupted at times, by life... and kids... and unexpected surprises.


So here it is... at least one of the first drafts.... It is a super rich, crazy decadent chocolate cookie.  It is made with three different kinds of high quality chocolate.  Its flavor is enhanced with espresso coffee and toasted walnuts.  The "surprise" finishing touch is a single chocolate covered espresso bean on top.  At first I was unsure of the espresso bean, but now I can't imagine the cookie without it.  The surprising crunch and burst of texture and flavor really knock it out of the park.

This cookie is definitely a "grown up" cookie... Even if your kids like them (my daughter loves them!)... you won't want to share... It also pairs perfectly with a really nice Cabernet.  Caymus has  proved to be a particularly excellent pairing.  And if you're not a wine drinker, a cup of coffee is a fabulous partner to this cookie as well.

I'm excited about my journey.... They say that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  I believe my journey begins with a single post.  Thank you for taking this journey with me...