Posts tagged ‘custom cakes ‘




Cupcake Mountain, Wilmington, North Carolina

Read all about my trip to North Carolina for my firned Chrissy’s wedding, and the wedding cake I made for them, which will be hence for known as Cupcake Mountain.

http://christinehennessey.blogspot.com/2012/11/wedding-cupcake-mountain.html

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Add a comment November 28, 2012

No Sleep till Brooklyn

As always i found myself awake into the wee hours of the night to finish a cake, even though I had divided my time all week in preparation for this cake. I just like to take my time with my work and I also decided at the last minute to do all the birds out of fondant and not make them as cake pops.  After an all nighter…or two—I did watch the royal wedding the night before while i worked…I drove down to Brooklyn. I think Joe’s reaction was worth the lack of sleep.

More pics in the gallery.

1 comment April 30, 2011

Royal Wedding Cakes

I should be rolling Fondant for the 3 cakes sitting in my fridge..but I’ve found myself glued to the tv, because the big day is here!  Prince William and Kate Middleton will wed in just an hour. How exciting! A big fairytale wedding , a dashing prince and a commoner.

I love the fact the call Kate a “commoner.”  Meaning not of royal blood. I think thats what I like about this whole story.  Yes its got an incredible cinderella factor, but Kate Middleton wasn’t exactly sulking by the cinders when Wills came along.  Shes confident, smart, and chic. Captivating and charming– and they both look so happy.

And how dashing this young prince is! I’m loving the red Irish uniform not to mention Harry and his messy ginger hair!  How could you not be excited? Its gooey-heart warming to see all the world watching and celebrating in a lovely little love story and a happy moment in history.

And the anticipation over the dress, I’m curious!! But lets talk cake.  From what I know Fiona Cairns has designed a multi-tiered fruit cake decorated with flowers in keeping with the theme of their nuptials.  But now as I watch Diane Sawyer, and all the other anchors are talking about how Kate Middleton’s brother James, is in charge of the cake. In fact Mum Middleton began an event planning business in which she has been very successful. James Middleton as well as some of the other Middleton clan all work in the family business and that also includes cakes. Kate Middleton, princess and cake decorator?! All roads lead to cake!!

If you’d like to try to make a fruit cake heres my recipe, though I bet the royal wedding cake will have royal icing and marzipan as is traditional style for a fruit cake.

How about a fun wedding cake? Well I’ve been experimenting with Cake Pops, after purchasing Bakerella’s Cake Pops.  BakerELLA…hmm guess she beat me to that name, but all the same a good little book on how to make a fun little snack.  I decided to try mini wedding cakes for my cake pops.  Heres how I did it.

I baked a store bought box cake in a 13″x9″ pan. Once cooled I sliced it into quarters and began to crumple with my fingers until everything was tiny crumbs. As Bakerella suggests mix in 3/4 of a standard store bought frosting.

I then chilled the mixture in the fridge for easier handling.  If you are making good ole cake pops you would roll into balls and chill, but this time I decided to roll it out to about an inch thickness.

I used a variety of Wilton circular cutters to make 3 different size mini tiers. The “dough” is a little sticky so stacking the tier was relatively easy.  I chilled the assembled cakes in the fridge on a wax paper lined cookie sheet.

I melted wilton candy melts in the microwave.

With lolli pop sticks I dipped the sticks in the melted chocolate and then carefully inserted the chocolate end in the base of the mini cakes. I then used a block of foam to balance the cakes as the chocolate set.


Place the cakes in the freezer to settle up. Then dip one by one.  Getting the chocoalte smooth is difficult but I recommend shortening, Bakerella suggests vegetable oil too.


Tips: Make sure your cake pops are totally covered.

I used the left overs of the 3/4 of a can of icing to touch up the rather imperfect chocolate. I had fun piping rather sloppily little tiny decorations. These would be great at a bridal shower or even at a wedding reception.

Its now 6am and finally the dress has been revealed, tiara, train and all….GOREGEOUS!!!

Add a comment April 29, 2011

Hermits

I kind of SUCK!! Haven’t posted in more than a week!  Well no excuses.  Today I’m finally feeling ahead of the eight ball.  I spent a day off yesterday cleaning and organizing, spring cleaning is always so cathartic.  As I walked into apartment after work tonight I saw this lying in the hallway. I walked past it at first but quickly felt that nag to turn around as I always find needed inspiration in those cute fortune cookie slips. Inspiration in a cookie? Yesss!  This is why I bake.

Be on the alert for new opportunities. Well okay.  But wait its gets better.

Cake. CAKE!  Dan Gao. DAN GAO! There’s an important message here.

This last week in recap?  Well I watched my beloved Ranger’s lose their chance at a 2011 Stanley Cup, and lost a bake-off at work, but I also got some quality time with family for the holidays, and celebrated my little brother’s birthday.

In my family April is the month for celebrating birthdays, especially on my mom’s side.  My bother and cousin were born in the same year 16 days apart, April 6th and 22nd.  You couldn’t have found two happier grandparents than mine, whose birthdays are also both in April.  My aunt and uncle (my grandparent’s son and daughter) were also April babies along with a couple more relatives I’m probably forgetting.  Around Easter we usually got a cake to have for dessert, to share with all the family members that was celebrating birthdays within days of each other. I have a very distinct memory when I was young of piping cool whip with a plastic sandwich bag on one such cake, and this could have easily been the start of where I am today.

My grandmother would have been 86 this past April  2, and I can’t help but think of all the time I got to spend with her.  Being the oldest grandchild I have the most distinct memories of time spent with her in her kitchen.  Whether it was eating oatmeal (slow cooked over the stove) for breakfast, or canning homemade strawberry jam every summer, I’m almost selfish about how lucky I was to have the vivid memories of learning to cook with her. This past Christmas I spent time duelving into the pages of Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, remembering all the recipes I made from this book in my grandmother’s cozy upstate kitchen.  The Hermit was one of them and I always remember my grandmother when I think of this cooky.  It’s perhaps a little out of season– you can see my pictures are from Christmas, but its a great cooky for an afternoon snack, or tea.

According to Betty Crocker the Hermit was the Best Cooky from 1880-1890.  Its sweet and spicy and perfect with coffee or for dessert.

Hermits

Ingredients:

1 c shortening (I used 1/2 c butter, 1/2 c shortening)

2 c brown sugar (packed)

2 eggs

1/2 c coffee

3 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

2 1/2 c raisins

1 1/4 c broken nuts ( I used pecans, walnuts are good too)

Sift flour and combine dry ingredients. Set aside. Mix shortening, (butter), sugar, and eggs thoroughly.

Mix in coffee. Add flour/ spice mixture.

Fold in raisins, and nuts.

Wrap with plastic wrap, or in wax paper. Chill for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough 2″ apart on the sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.  I usually press the dough out  a bit with my finger before baking.

Betty Crocker doesn’t call for it, but my grandmother always added a sweet glaze to her Hermits.  Mix 1-2 tbsp of milk to a cup of confectioners sugar, or enough to make a thick but runny mixture. Drizzle over your cookies and let dry.  Hermits are mildly sweet so the glaze isn’t a sugar overload.

Add a comment April 28, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I have a number of colleagues who are foodies and I spent a fair amount of my “water cooler” chat discussing sweets and baking endeavours.  Today I gave some tips about icing a cake, later on the security personelle and I discussed pies and puddings.  Lemon Meringue came up and I realized I’ve never made one!! Dare I admit?! A study of lemon merignue is soon to come.

In this conversation I found myself thinking of my grandmother who was a decorated pie maker, in fact when she passed away her banana cream pie was mentioned in her eulogy.  Her birthday is this month so a banana cream recipe is in our sweet future.

Around midnight as I left work and I popped into a grocery store that was open late I found myself shocked and elated to find rhubarb on display in the produce aisle.  I searched high and low for this red-celery-looking-tart veggie all summer with few results.  Some grocers even looked at me funny when I asked for it.  Its typically in season when strawberries are, in May and June (in New York).  The few times I found it in the blistering summer months my motivation to bake Strawberry Rhubarb Pie did not last far past my trip home, and sadly the rhubarb usually spoiled before I got up the energy to heat up my kitchen in 90 degree weather.

This rare find of Rhubarb sealed the day for me. Lets talk pie!

As I mentioned my rhubarb went bad a time or two before I got around to cooking it.  Then of course it dawned upon me that perhaps a hot summer day isn’t always a pie baking day. But you don’t have to sacrifice your rhubarb.  Chop it up and freeze it! The last strawberry rhubarb I made was at Thanksgiving.

Yeah I know- no one is jonesing for reminders of cold weather or Turkey naps as its finally feeling like spring is here.  There were so many pies at Thanksgiving that my father joked that each of us could have one to ourselves.

Sure fresh fruit is always preferred, but using frozen fruit doesn’t change any of your preparations in making the pie. By the way I really like the freezer bags that ziplock makes– you can suck the air out of the bag and lengthen the life of your goods in the freezer–saving them from freezer burn.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Filling:

Rhurbarb, sliced

Strawberries, hulled and sliced (hulled means de-stemmed)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 c cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients.  If you are working with frozen fruit allow the fruit to thaw or warm over low heat before adding sugar and cornstarch.  Simmer all ingredients over low heat until thickened.  With frozen fruit you will be dealing with higher water content, so thickening might take a little longer. Remove from heat and refridgerate until ready to use.

Crust

This crust recipe came from SmittenKitchen and I absolutely love the recipe. Click that link because the pictures and instructions are GREAT!

2 and 1/2 c flour

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 sticks (8 oz) very cold unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoon sized pieces

1 c ice water

Add cubes to water and set aside.  Combine Flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl– the extra room is important for the mixing process.  Add butter and blend with your pastry blender– you can get these anywhere and if you want a blue ribbon in pie– you need one!  (I got a great one at Target that also included a pie server, and pastry wheel.

A key to a wonderfully flaky pie crust, as suggested at smitten kitchen is visible chunks of butter. By using a pastry blender you are layering the butter between thin sheets of flour– key to allowing the steam production (butter melts and emits steam that puffs the flour) rendering a flaky crust. Once the butter and flour are combined and appear to be almost chunky– the size of peas add water.

Switch the pastry blender out for a spatula and start to pour the ice water over the dough. You may need some additional water, though I found that the 1 cup was adequate. Fold with the spatula, then knead with your hands for a minute, no more. Once combined wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  This recipe makes enough for a double crust pie, or 2 single crust pies.  Its ideal to split the dough in two and wrap separately. Refridgerate for at least an hour prior to rolling out.  You can also freeze it if you are planning to use in the future.

Rolling the dough:  If you’d like to save on the mess factor feel free to lace two large sheets of plastic wrap on the counter and roll. I, however, don’t mind making a huge mess.  Flour your clean countertop.  Knead dough to warm slightly, making the dough easier to work with.

Shape into a circular mound.  Start by placing your rolling pin in the center of the dough.  Work evenly out to the top and bottom of the dough, then side to side.

I typically just pick the dough up and rotate it 90 degrees.  (roll top to bottom, then rotate 90 degrees, and  repeat.) This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking– re flour if you need to, and its not as awkward with your arms.  The dough will receed slightly as you roll it but be patient.

To determine if the dough is big enough to cover your pie plate. Set the plate (face down) lightly in the center of the dough to measure– there should be 2-3 inches around the perimeter of your pie plate.  Some folks fold the rolled dough in quaters then unfold in the plate, or you can lightly flour the top surface of the dough, then roll the dough around your rolling pin, unroll across the plate.

Work dough into corners of plate. Cut excess crust at pie plates edge (save and reuse in the future).  Patch any holes that might have torn.

Fold and pinch edges around pie plate. Use your index finger to push dough in between the knuckles of your index and middle finger on your opposite hand.  Fill with filling.


Roll second part of dough.  Thickness for both dough layers should be about a 1/6- 1/8 of an inch. I have misplaced my pastry wheel so instead I used a Wilton Ribbon Cutter and Embosser. It can be a little cumbersome to put together, but it allows you to cut 2 ribbons at once that are even and uniformly measured.  In this case I used the 3/4 inch embossers, with the crimped edge cutter. Make sure you stack enough spacers so that the spacers stop just past the inside piece.  Tighten washer and end cap.  The cutter should roll easily though its tight enough that the cutters and spacers don’t waiver. Use your index finger to press on the washer to steady the ribbon cutter as you roll.

Attach ribbons at the edge and weave ribbon pieces over and under one another.  *You can vary your lattic top appearance by weaving the lattice tightly together, or loosely apart, and of course you can cut the ribbons thicker or thinner.

Paint, using a  pastry brush, with and egg yolk and a tsp or 2 of water.

Bake at 350 for 60 minutes.  The pie is done when the filling begins to bubble. Its always a good idea to place a cookie sheet beneath a pie with a fruit filling so that any bubbling fruit does not bubble over and set off your fire alarm.

Add a comment April 6, 2011

Chocolate Torte

I did some experimenting with some gum paste orchids– rather complicated for flowers but fun once you get the hang of it.  I’ll hopefully post a video in the future.  For now a recipe based on on of my latest cakes– Chocolate torte.  I realized only after doing this recipe that torte usually indicates that the cake contains ground nuts as opposed to flour…this recipe only has flour, but was a dense, rich chocolate cake all the same– not light and fluffly, but thats fine with me.

From: RedBookMag.com

Chocolate Raspberry Torte

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk, warmed
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine your dry ingredients: Sugar (yes this time its a dry ingredient), flour (sifted), cocoa (I used 1/3 dutch processed, 1/3 valrhona), cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix till combined and set aside.

In a small sauce pan heat milk– I only warmed it, don’t scald.  Melt butter– over the stove or via the microwave.

Lightly beat eggs. Add vanilla.

Slowly pour in warmed milk.

Add butter.

Add dry ingredients.

Mix until just combined. Bake (in 2 8″ pans-greased and floured) at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Finishing a chocolate torte can be simple– the cake is dense and sweet enough that fresh whipped cream and fresh fruit are perfect.  I went more on the choco-holic side of things.

To Finish:

Each layer will be about 2- 2 1/2″ tall.  I leveled both rendering four layers and iced with a raspberry butter cream (I added a teaspoon or 2 of raspberry extract and 2 tablespoon of raspberry jam.  Seedless is preferable– but I had trouble finding it, even in New York City.

**Careful when added jams or syrups to icings.  In my experience your frosting can get gummy and hard to deal with aka it starts oozing all over the place unpredictably. Between layers I spread raspberry jam.

A little trick to getting you icing super smooth.  With traditional buttercream (butter and powdered sugar) you’ll find that the icing “Crusts” or dries to the touch after about 10 minutes.  Sometimes it even crumbles a little. If you find that you have some spatula marks on your cake you can dip a metal spatula in warm water– don’t get the spatula too wet lightly swipe your spatula against the dry frosting and you’ll notice the marks melt away.  The finish of the frosting will be a little shiney — careful not to use too much water else the cake will look melted.

I finished the cake with Chocolate Ganache— which isnt too complicated to do, but I think is best described in a video…to come.

Chocolate Ganache

2 c semisweet chocolate

1 c-1  1/2c heacvy cream

Melt in a sauce pan over low heat stirring constantly.  Ganache should be cooled but still runny.  I also placed the cake in the freezer to settle and firm up a bit.  Place cake on a cooling wrack, on a large tray.

Pour ganache over the top of the cake letting it drip over the sides.  Push ganache over sides with spatula.  Give one or two passes around the sides of cake to smooth and make sure ganache has totally covered the whole cake.

The best thing about ganache is that if you allow it to cool a little longer its just like chocolate frosting– if you don’t want to pour it over your cake you and spread it like frosting or pipe it with a pastry bag. If it gets too cool warm it up in the microwave or roll the pastry bag filled with ganache between your hands until it softens enough to pipe again.

3 comments March 23, 2011

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

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