Posts filed under: ‘Cake‘

Here comes the Bride

This past weekend I was in my friends wedding.  In fact I was the M.O.H.  Maid of Honor.  Sarah and I have been friends for along time  and I had joked for years about how I’d tell the story of how we met at her wedding, so its surreal that the day has actual come and past.

sarah's wedding 4

This dubious job of being MOH comes with many responsibilities including planning the bridal shower, bachelorette party, and holding the train of the gigantic dress up while the lady of the hour has to pee.  I’ll breifly paraphrase the toast i gave at the reception…aka the story of how we met. Ahem.

The first mutual memory Sarah and I have of each other is one fateful day during snack time in kindergarten.  Sarah wasn’t feeling good and puked purple grape juice all over my desk.  We’ve been friends ever since…

I’ll save all the tear jerky lines about how much I love both her and her new husband Sean and how the first impressions people make on us aren’t always important, and what makes someone special is that you can’t picture your life without them…sigh

There are more important things at weddings beside bathroom breaks and embarrassing stories…THE CAKE.

Sarah went with a popular trend in terms of wedding cakes.  A giant cup cake tower. With a miniature cake for the cutting ceremony.DSCN0574

Cupcake towers are great.  Your guests are far more inclined to partake, in a cupcake or two.  Sarah had a variety of flavors, from carrot cake to chocolate, with different custards and filling.  And her cake designer was even able to oblige in some non-dairy options, as the groom is lactose intolerant.  One more plug for vegan baking.  Its not just for strict vegetarian folks.  Sarah actually had some trouble finding someone who could pull off non-dairy.  To all those soon-to-be-Brides out there:  Do not be discouraged its pretty easy to make great cake non-dairy. And your groom will never know the difference as you are shoving it into his face…In this case the bride got a surprise handful to the mouth as seen in the scathing look below.DSCN0578I’ve come across a few horror stories from some other brides that the cake of their wedding day dreams wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  Someone once told me during a class that she was promised beautiful gumpaste Hydreangias only to find out a day before her wedding that the decorator didn’t actually know how to make them!!!

Gumpaste is a lot like fondant.  It is edible but dries quicker and more solid than fondant.  Colored gumpaste tends to fade some what quickly so you should be aware and dye it a shade or two darker when using it.  Its most ideal for very thin petals and delicate flower designs.  In the case of Sarah’s cake she had Gerber daisies atop many of her cupcakes which match the decore as well as the bridal bouquets.  I wasn’t super impressed with the decorator’s flowers…but I suppose I’d built it up in my head– just what these daisies would look like.

Making flowers out of gumpaste is pretty simple.  If you totally suck at piping flowers you might find that making roses, daisies etc are quite easy when it come to gumpaste– its done mostly with cookie cutters. Hey as I say in class some of us are sculptors not painters.  Sugarcraft. com as well as offer a variety of cutters.  Here’s my take on Gerber Daisies using the Wilton daisy cutters.


Below is one of the Wilton Daisy cutters available at Michael’s or just about any craft store with a cake decorating aisle.  For each daisy you’ll need to roll out gumpaste to 1/16 of an inch (really thin–not total see-thru but close to translucent).  And cut 2 large daisies and 2 medium daisies.


Once you’ve cut the daisy blossoms use a balling/veining tool to thin the petals more. Place a blossom on thin shaping foam and run the balling tool from the edge of the petal to the center on the daisy.  The petals will curl in as you do this. Do this to all four blossoms cut.


Now chop ’em up.  Run a pastry wheel, a small pizza cuter, along each petal making 3 small cuts in each petal.  The cuts don’t have to be clean, just impressions.


Now glue all your blossoms together.  How you ask?  With gum glue–1/4 c warm water with 1/2 tsp of gumpaste dissolved in it. If you find you have hardened pieces of gumpaste along the edge of what you’re working with–this is ideal to dissolve for gum glue.  Typically one should let it stand for an hour.  Make some in advance and store it in the fridge for future projects.  Drop a little gum glue between each blossom with a paint brush and your set.  Let these flowers dry on flower formers–this is another Wilton Product.  Cutting paper cups in half and letting the blossoms dry in the concave shape produces the same effect if you don’t have Wilton flower formers on hand.


I used piping gel mixed with a little chocolate syrup to pipe a donut shape in the center.  I sprinkled with pink and yellow colored sugar and then filled in the center with chocolate syrup.  If you what a realistic comparison to real Gerber Daisies just scroll up my page–they are the header on the back drop of this here blog.


Find these instructions a little confusing or feeling like too much of a novice to do this on your own? Take a Wilton Fondant and Gum Paste Course (CHECK OUT THE NOVEMBER SCHEDULE PAGE) you’ll learn traditional Daisies, as well as Calalilies, and Carnations!


1 comment October 20, 2009

Back in Black or I’ve Been Living Under a Rock Part Three

I suppose starting a blogging and posting every other day and then just slacking off and ignoring it for weeks is kind lame huh??  

Yeah I think so too.  In a nutshell without getting too personal are the reasons:

My real job is crazy busy and my boyfriend and I might have broken up.  Its hard to conjure up art without a muse…I mean taste-tester and the bills gotta get paid.  I also  purchased one of those Jet Blue Unlimited All-You-Can-Jet-Passes, (hey some girls cut their hair short in a break-up, I on the other hand go find a beach and some long lost friends) so I’ve been setting off to Florida, California, and Texas lately, and have ignored this page all together.

Back to reality.

I did this cake like a month ago, in response to that cake contest I found out about all too late.  My most impressive work? No. But totally me…YES! Lets put it out there.  I’m a Taurus, a stubborn, opinionated, loyal, horned …sweetheart.  And when I saw the different designs you could pick from to participate in this contest, a soft part of my heart went for this design. Had I found out sooner about this contest I would have totally chosen something far more complex, and actually entered but as they say, “it just wasn’t meant to bee…”


So in addition to some photos, why not a recipe?  Below is a recipe for Marshmellow Fondant.  Now I’ve got a few things to say about Fondant:

First off, Fondant pronounced Fahn. Dahnt, or as many of us say “Fawndint” is in fact a French word.  Its not another term for fondue, its not called “fondantine”, or any other hybrid of something that sounds fancy.

I’ve been watching The Cake Boss a bit lately.  Buddy pronounces Fondant correctly.  So if you want to pronounce it right say it like him…Fahn Dahnt…with or without that New York/ Jersey accent … I suppose that would be me cawlling the kettle black, now wouldn’t it?


“Fondant” actually stems from the word “Fondre” which in French means “to fold.”  Actual real bakery-made Fondant is made by boiling sugar to just under a temperature that would render it hard candy.  The oozing hot lava liquid is poured out onto a marble or metal slab and allowed to cool slightly.  Then begins the process of scooping the gel substance and folding it on to itself.  As the mixture cools as its folded it becomes white and eventually resembles the white sugar paste we all know and …have become quite frustrated with from time to time.

I don’t recommend any novice try making fondant at home as you could seriously burn yourself.  BUT you can try this easy recipe to attain a good stand in.

Marshmellow Fondant for some people has a more desirable taste.  Is easy to make, not to mention way cheaper than store bought fondant.  In the end, its not as strong as authentic fondant, but you might scarcely be able to differentiate.  Worse case scenario mix this with the real stuff and your cake will turn out as good as ever. Heres how it goes:

1 bag (16oz) mini marshmallows

4 TBSP of water.

2lbs. confectioner’s sugar

1/2 c shortening

Melt marshellows with water in a double boiler till fluffy and liquidy.  Stir regularly until you can not longer see lumps– but be careful not to let cook too long.  If mixture has a translucent quality you’ve over cooked. PICT0577

Pour in to a bowl and let cool slightly.  Add 1 cup confectioners sugar (4 cups total by the end) and begin to stir. After 1-1/2c cups have been added, coat your dominant hand in shortening and begin needing mixture by hand adding more sugar continuously.

PICT0578After lots of sugar you will (I promise) get a dough substance.  And you’ll have Pop-Eye forearms to prove it.


Once you’ve achieved the dough consistency, you can refridgerate and save for a couple of weeks.  If you are preparing for a big project make your fondant in advance coat with a layer of crisco and then wrap air tight in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.  Remember both bakery fondant and Marshmallow Fondant dry out in the air, so make sure you keep what you are not using covered at all times.

PICT0587When rolling out fondant make sure your surface is well coated with shortening.  Roll out as evenly as possible, starting from the center working outward evenly.  Roll out no thinner than an eighth of an inch.  If you roll your fondant too thin it will tear once on the cake and be wrinkly.

PICT0588Smoothing Fondant onto a cake takes practice.  Make sure you’ve rolled enough to fully cover all sides.  (By the way you still have to frost the cake with icing before you put fondant on it!) Starting at 12 o’clock pull the edge of the fondant up at you smooth the fondant against the cake.  Then go to 6 o’clock and do the same.  Go to 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock until the fondant is smooth and adhered to the cake and all the wrinkles have been pushed to the edges. Cut off the excess and you’re done!

3 comments October 14, 2009

Puppy Cupcakes


I thought I’d close out this week with a fun little project out of the book Hello Cupcake! I also happen to be leading this project for kids tomorrow morning, so yes, it’s a little shameless self promotion.  Its also a great little finale to birthday week for my friend Chrissy, because if you know Chrissy you know her dog Seamus, a gigantic Weimaraner/ Lab/ Great Dane.


The fun thing about these cupcakes is that you not only use frosting, but you have a great excuse to get some cookies and candy–as if you needed an excuse.  Mini M&M’s, Tootsie Rolls, Jelly Beans (though I really hate that licorice flavor YUCK!), Famous  Chocolate Waffers, Airheads, Marshmellows…really you can use anything.  This project is actually a great way to get rid of all the Halloween Candy nobody really eats–Tootsie Rolls anybody?  If you don’t have all these on hand you can certainly improvise.  Frosting can step in, and should you have Fondant and not candy you can use that too.

Each cupcake (there are 10 different dogs in the book) starts out with a nice layer of frosting (you should have light and dark shades of grey, black, and brown–chocolate).  Add a few mini marshmellows to make a snout, and decorate with icing piped through pastry bags or –as the Hello Cupcake! suggests just use a ziplock bag.   Candy is in place for all the facial features.  Mini M&M’s for eyes, Big M&M’s for noses– if you are not into black jelly beans either, Fruit roll-ups or Airhead or pink Starbursts for Tongues—totally necessary for puppies, and flattened Tootsie Rolls for ears on some pups, Cookies for ears on others.


This is my puppy cupcake version of Seamus.   If you are looking for a litle inspiration Hello Cupcake! is great! It approaches decorating from a simplistic level.  You don’t need to get couplers and piping tips at specialty stores—though obvious I love all these things.  Super creative projects, made with everyday foods and tools all found in a grocery store.

Here’s to the weekend!

1 comment August 15, 2009

Staging a Coup (Deux)

Just a quick little FYI, should you be inspired to bake a vegan cupcake, or fully indulge and purchase Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World or far better you already have the cookbook and its binding its beat because you bake your face off!! …

Beware these gals haven’t quite had their say with dessert.

Its coming….


Order your copy in advance (and save $5.) here.


Add a comment August 14, 2009

Staging a Coup


By Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

This. Is. My. Favorite. Cookbook. EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I kind of thought it was a joke 2 years ago when I got it for my birthday.  My vegan friend Chrissy with her insatiable sweet tooth and not-so-hidden agenda: to make me a cruelty free baker.  She also sent me a super awesome retro apron– Chrissy makes great birthday packages…

Now, years later, there is a large rubber band that holds the book together and you can see the various stickies.  Its become such a staple,  its a rare day that I bake cake that isn’t vegan. Thats right this book kicks the poor unknowing bum of every Joy-of-Cooking-Martha-Stewart-Paula-Dean-Betty-Crocker dessert cook book you can find me.  So if in fact Vegan cupcakes were to stage a coup…I’m on their side.

Picture fall 08 083

TOP 5 Reasons this Book is Righteous:

1. AWESOME!! Every recipe I’ve tried has come out AWESOME.  There are 75 recipes–including ganache, different glazes, frostings, let alone tons of cake.  And you’d never know it was vegan if the cat wasn’t let out of the bag.

2. FO’ REAL! These recipes aren’t  just a bunch of “replace the egg with applesauce” kinds of lists.  Each cupcake was built from the ground up with super culinary prowess.  Yes its possible to reinvent the cake, and no it doesn’t need eggs or butter.  (psst!!  Soymilk is cheaper than eggs and butter–so its economical too!!)

3. CAKE IS NOT PREDJUDICE. Vegan isn’t just for the strict vegetarians. Vegan baking is ideal for those who are lactose intolerant, have egg allergies-(its more common that you think) and this book offers some low-fat, low-sugar, and gluten-free varieties as well.  In short this book proves EVERYONE can have cake and eat it too.

4. COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES. This book will expand you’re culinary palate.  Green tea matcha powder, non- hydrogenated shortening, rosewater, chocolate extract…Most of these were not on my radar till this book came along.  Who knows what kind of great inspriration you’ll find using these flavorings!

5. PI? Every recipe works out  to exactly 12 cupcakes–How did they do it??

Recipes to try in no particular order:

  • Hazelnut Creme Cupcakes.  Sooo good its unholy.
  • Mucho Margarita Si! Its made with Tequila!
  • Chocolate Stout. Tell any beer-enjoying gent you make cupcakes with Guiness in them, and he’ll be your main squeeze in no time…Just ask my boyfriend.
  • Pumpkin Chocolate Chip is so good I want to dress up like one for Halloween.
  • Apple Cider makes you wish Summer were over.

I could go on but I’d just continue to steal the thunder of this book.  Get at any major bookseller or click here

3 comments August 12, 2009

Purse Cakes

The almighty purse cake!!! Super popular.  As seen on Amazing Wedding Cakes via the Cake Girls of Chicago.  I can’t knock a girl who decides to have cake center pieces at her bridal shower.  As the former  MoH (Maid of Honor)  in my best friend’s wedding… I choose a far more complicated cake project for the shower…mini wedding cakes anyone?? a blog will follow.


Here’s my ode to the almighty arm bag.  These are Betsey Johnson replicas (hey be sure to include that second ‘e’ or you might find a scarier picture ahhhhhhhh!!!!! Those are some glasses!!!!!).

PICT0318These cakes were inspired by my friend Rachel, who was the recieptient of this birthday cake.    Since becoming a total cake dork, I am now somewhat expected to show up to most engagements with a cake in hand.  When it comes to birthdays, I like my cake to be inspired by the personality of the friend I’m baking for.  Rachel is the proud owner of this one Betsey Johnson creation and a fashionista in her own right, and fabulous all around.


Check out the Student Work Page.  You’re bound to find some other niffty hand bag instpirations, if not some great up and coming Cake decorators.

1 comment August 8, 2009

Haiwaiin Wedding Cake


I’ve been looking for a reason to post this reciepe, other then its just good summer cake.  And what better reason to post this cake than my friend Scott got married this past week!!!!!!!!   Their recent nuptials at City Hall will be followed by a big ceremony to come within the year.  In honor of my good friend Scott and his lovely bride Melanie, here is a personal favorite, Haiwaiin Wedding Cake.

This is one of the first cakes I ever learned how to make.  Its SUPER EASY.  And is perfect for a summer bbq.  And the assembly is quick so you’ll be out of the 350 degree kitchen in no time.   The no-nonsense version is as follows or you can scroll further and find a slightly more detailed recipe.


Make a yellow cake batter from any of your favorite store bought box brands. The cake should be baked in a long sheet pan(9×13) and allowed to cool.  Once cool, slather it with instant vanilla pudding, cool whip (ahhh the wonders of coolwhip), sprinkle with shredded coconut, 1 can of drained pineapple, and drained Marchino cherries, and chopped walnuts.  Cover with foil and your off to the BBQ where you can slice wide pieces grill-side.

Actually need to make it for a wedding?? PICT0548

Yellow Cake

I got this recipe from none other than Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes. I thought this was the most appropriate source.  This reciepe accomodated two 9″ round pans, it was a little over filled.  3 1/2 cups of batter would be enough to properly fill a 9″ pan.  Filling pans to 3/4 full the trick.   This reciepe yields almost 11 cups, so cake your face off!!

3 sticks of unsalted butter at room temp, plus more for greasing pans

4 c flour, plus more for pans

1 tb baking powder

3 c sugar

6 eggs at room temp, separated

1 1/2 c milk (I used 2%)

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter pans.  Place Parchment paper in pans, butter and flour paper in pans and set aside.

Sift flour and powder (Martha Says 3 times!!!! I think thats excessive– once should be fine). Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar till fluffy (with a paddle attachment if you have a KitchenAid mixer–which is a necessary investment if you are making wedding cakes). Add egg yolks one at a time.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture then milk, alternating.  Start and end with flour.

In a clean (grease free) bowl mix egg whites with salt.  (chill the bowl and whisk attachment for 15 minutes first)  Once egg whites are stiff, but not dry, mix 1/4 of the egg whites into batter.  Once incorporated fold the remaining whites in.

Pour batter into pans and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean.  (it only took me 35-40)

Cool in pans for 20 minutes before romving.  Place on wracks to continue cooling.  Martha suggests refridgerating for a day before using.  In the fridge the cakes are good for 2 days.

Cherry Filling:

2 cups fresh or frozen cherries

3tb- 4tb sugar

1 1/2 tb cornstarch or arrowroot

2tb- 3tb water (ifyou are using fresh– frozen cherries should be thawed, and moist enough)

In a sauce pan combine cherries and sugar and simmer with low heat.  Mix cornstarch and water (or you could use fruit juice like pineapple) and combine in pan.  Simmer, mixing continually till thickened.


Coconut Butter Cream:

3/4 c shortening

3/4 heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp clear vanilla extract

1-2 tsp coconut extract

Combine till creamy creamy creamy.

4+ cups of confectioners sugar.  (please check my royal icing post for some successful mixing directions)

Icing will be a stiff consistency which is ideal for icing.

Icing pulling your cake apart??  Make sure to add a GENEROUS amount of icing to successfully cover you cake without crumbage.  PICT0540Think of it this way:  Plopping, yeah I used that as a verb, big dollops of icing all over the top of your cake is a great way to start.  With a spatula play connect the dots with the icing.  After the cake is covered you can do some cleaning up with your spatula to straighten out the side and remove all that excess frosting.


Garnish:  Cover this cake like a pina coloda at a fancy resort.  Add large piece of fresh pineapple and cherries, as well as large chunks of dried coconut.

This cake smells great, tastes great, is as refreshing as young love.  Congrats Mr. and Mrs. Kipp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DSCN0351


2 comments August 8, 2009

I’ve Been Living Under a Rock!!!!! PART TWO

Dear Leslie Evans,

You are AWESOME!  This cake is AWESOME!!! Can we hang out?


Add a comment August 3, 2009

I’ve Been Living Under A Rock!!!!!!!!! PART ONE.


Image From

 One of my favorite favorite favorite (of all time) blogs is Cake Wrecks.  It doesn’t matter if you hate cake (but who hates cake?), have no interest in decorating, maybe you even think Duff Goldberg is a total dork (dude he puts fireworks in cake–how could anyone dislike?!?!) Cake Wrecks will still make you Pee your pants with laughter. 

At first I thought I might just have softspot for the blog as I’m interested in all things cakes, but then I showed my assistant (at my real job) and she wet herself too.   So should you be having a bad day please partake.

Now the crazy thing is, I haven’t perused Cake Wrecks in over two weeks, and therefore I totally forfeited my opportunity to take part in this:

WHAT THE @!%&^*# !!!  A contest where you choose a hip illustration to be interpreted and executed  in the medium of CAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Then send in pictures and video and be judged in a contest WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!

**To the person who thought of this idea: You are my soulmate. Please Advise.

As I mentioned before the deadline is in 45 minutes.  Had I even saw this a few days ago, I would have called in sick (to my “real” job) and would be Caking my face off as we speak.  Alas it was not meant to be…BUT I’m still going to choose a design and see what I can do just for fun.  Stay tuned.

Add a comment August 3, 2009

Fairy Houses

PICT0077 This is my friend Aela.  I love this picture of her, because she not nearly as bratty as it makes her look, although she regularly makes this face when I start mimicing everything she says and does.  (its the quickest way to annoy 5 year old and its my guilty pleasure)

I’m actually friends with Aela’s mom and was with her when she went into labor with Aela, so I think its safe to say we’ve had a bond since the very beginning.  In fact “Aela” almost was an “Ella.”

Aela is a huge cake fan–cupcakes mostly.  Infact she loves to decorate “cuppycakes” with “crosting” as much as she likes to eat them.  We started talking about what kind of cake I would make her for her birthday faaaaar in advance.  She liked being to imagine the design of the cake she’d get free reign on eating and pulling apart.

We started looking through the many picture and pop books she has.  And finally we came across How to Find Flower Fairies.

From this point on the cake became a good excuse to test out techniques I hadn’t had a reason to use previously.  To date this is the best work I’ve ever done.


In the end I didn’t actually put any fairies on the cake, though I think some Brian Froud-esque paintings on gum Paste would have been cool.  The center tree trunk part is 5 layers of chocolate (vegan at that) cake.  Between each layer I spread the left overs of dark, semisweet, bitter sweet, and white chocolate.  The bark is chocolate curls.  Beneath the tree trunk is 1/2 sheet of red velvet cake covered in tons of green buttercream. ( Yeah Yeah I know it should be cream cheese Frosting..)


I swirled different kinds of chocolate on top of the cake to try to achieve rings of the inside of a tree.  The Butterflies are made out of runny royal icing.  And some of my students might recognize many of the flowers as part of the Course Two and Three Curriculum.

The mushrooms on the cake came from Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes. They are made from meringue and are glued together with chocolate.

The best part of this cake, for me anyways, was watching everyone pick it apart.  I was like that scene in Charlie and the chocolate factory–you know right before Augustus falls in the chocolate river and ruins everything.  All the parts of the cake were edible, but not just frosting.  Even the adults were coming back and picking off pieces of chocolate and candy flowers.


2 comments August 2, 2009

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Sugar, Frosting, and Fondant: an artistic exploration of Cake and other Sweets