Sunday, October 30, 2016

elephant birthday cake

Last year for Doan's son's first birthday, I made this Circus/Carnival cake with a fondant lion topper, and this year she wanted a similar cake, but this time in green and with a fondant elephant on top!

A couple weeks before the party, I started on the fondant elephant, in order to give it enough time to dry. I used a bit of Super Black gel-based food coloring to tint my white fondant the perfect shade of gray (or so I thought), and formed the body, arms, legs, and a ball for the head. Then I use a toothpick in the center of the body, to firmly attach the head.

I also formed the trunk, and used a heart cookie cutter to cut out the shape for the ears. (I also used pink fondant and a slightly smaller heart cookie cutter for the inside of the ears). Finally, for the eyes I used an edible marker. Then I let it dry.

After a few days, I noticed a color change in my shade of gray. It was still gray-ish, but had much more of a blue tone. Hmm ...

Anyway, moving on to the cake! The night before the party, I made two 10-inch vanilla cakes, which I sliced in half horizontally to give me four layers. As with last year's cake, I filled each layer with freshly whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

After stacking all four layers, I was ready to frost!

I whipped up a batch of buttercream, and tinted the majority of it green (I left a small portion of it white, to be used later). I did a quick crumb coat on my cake, then let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, and then did a final smooth coat.

With the white frosting, I piped a beaded border around the bottom of the cake, and piped the birthday boy's name across the front. Then I let the entire cake chill in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, it was ready for the elephant topper! By now, the elephant had taken on a strange blue/purple tinge. But at least he was still cute. :)

Happy Birthday Roland! Hope you enjoyed your elephant cake!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

mini pumpkin swirl cheesecakes

It's about that time of year where everything in pumpkin flavor starts to show up everywhere! And these are no exception. I made these mini cheesecakes for Thanksgiving last year, but I think they would be great around Halloween time as well!

It starts with an Oreo cookie crust, made with melted butter mixed with pulverized Oreo cookies (filling and all). I used this recipe from Crazy For Crust, but you could also do a graham cracker crust if you like. Just press the crust mixture into the bottom of a cupcake tin lined with paper liners.

Next comes the filling!

The basic recipe for the filling is in my book, except instead of topping the cheesecakes with jam after baking, I mixed a small portion of the filling with canned pumpkin puree, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, and ground ginger (you could also use pumpkin pie spice to make it easier). (See here for other filling options!)

After adding a few dollops of the pumpkin mixture on the top of the filling, I used a toothpick to swirl it around into a pretty pattern.

Then I baked them in a water bath at 325F for 20-25 minutes, until set and just barely jiggly in the center. (Note that it's important to bake them in a water bath to prevent cracking!)

Then I popped them into the fridge to let them cool and continue setting, until it was time to serve them!

You could also use raspberry puree or blueberry puree instead of the pumpkin, but I think the pumpkin swirl is just perfect for this time of year!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

rainbow sprinkle birthday cake with beaded border

In addition to the whale birthday cake that I made for my friend Irene's son, I also made this larger cake for the guests! It's practically a tradition that I make her a nectarine and cream cake, so that's what we decided on again! And this time, I was able to use fresh nectarines straight from the nectarine tree in our backyard!

I baked up two 10-inch round vanilla cakes (recipe in my book!), and sliced each cake in half horizontally to give me four layers. Then I filled each layer with freshly whipped cream, and sliced nectarines. Then I covered the whole thing with vanilla buttercream.

After a crumb coat, a quick chill in the fridge, and then a final smooth coat, I was ready to decorate!

To get the number "2" in the middle of the cake (see here for more examples of my rainbow sprinkles cakes), I drew it on waxed paper, cut it out, and placed it on in the middle of the cake. Then I piped a beaded border around the perimeter, and then added my sprinkles while the frosting was still sticky. I let the cake chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes, and then I was able to peel off the waxed paper "2", and voila! A number "2" surrounded by sprinkles!

Here's a shot of the inside of the cake!

Happy Birthday Aaron!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

whale birthday cake

For the past few years I've been making celebration cakes for my friend Irene, including her baby shower cake, her baby's first birthday cake (a smash cake and a tiered cake for her guests, as well as Korean Hanbok cookies!), and now, a cake for her baby's second birthday!

It's pretty much tradition that I made her a nectarine and cream cake (it all started with her baby shower cake!), but this time she wanted a strawberry and banana cake for baby! She wanted a whale cake to go with the nautical theme, and then I would make a second larger cake for the guests (which would be a nectarine and cream cake, of course!)

Somehow I forgot to take pictures of the cake and the filling, but you'll have to trust me when I tell you that I made two 6-inch vanilla cakes (recipe in my book!), sliced them in half horizontally to give me four layers, and then filled each layer with freshly whipped cream and sliced strawberries and bananas. Then I whipped up a batch up buttercream, tinted it sky blue, and did a quick crumb coat with it before smoothing it out, chilled it in the fridge, and then doing a final smooth coat on top.

Then it was time to add the whale details! A few days previously, I had made some fondant pieces to decorate with - the white ribbed piece for the whale belly ...

... two round pink circles for cheeks ...

and then I piped the eyes and mouth using black frosting with a small round tip.

Next I added two blue fondant whale flippers, and the final touch was fondant pieces for the water coming out of the whale's spout!

Now, I had modeled the cake after a picture of a whale cake that Irene had sent me, but after I was done I wasn't sure if it was fully apparent that this was supposed to be a whale. In fact, after I was done assembling my cake, my 8-year old son walked by and asked, "What is that? Why does it have a beard?"


Anyway, Irene did a fantastic job with the food and decorations for the party! Everything was beautiful and delicious! Too bad the whale cake melted in the hot sun though! Aaack! By the time it was time to cut the cake, the whale looked like it had bangs made out of a wave of frosting! (I'm so sorry, Irene!)

Happy Happy Birthday, Aaron!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

fall leaf cutout apple pie

It's become tradition that I make apple pie for Thanksgiving (and Christmas!), so last year for Thanksgiving I decided to decorate my apple pie with leaf-shaped pie crust cutouts! I used this awesome leaf cookie cutter from Cookie Cutter Kingdom, and it worked out perfectly! (Note: I also used the same cutter to make these leaf cookies decorated with royal icing!)

After making my favorite all-butter pie crust (recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), I divided the dough in half and shaped each into a disc, then wrapped them in plastic wrap and let them rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then I rolled them out to about 1/8" thick, and fit the first half into the bottom of my pie dish.

With the second half, I used the leaf cookie cutter to cut out my leaf shapes.

Then I placed the prepped pie dish and leaf cutouts in the fridge while I made the filling.

After peeling, cutting, and mixing my fresh apple filling (recipe also in my book!), I poured it into my chilled pie dish.

Next I used the leaf cutouts to decorate the top of my pie. I like to arrange them in a shingled pattern, but you could just throw them on randomly as well.

The leaf cutouts served two purposes, a) to add a pretty decorative touch to the pie, and b) the spaces between the cutouts serve as vents to let the steam out of the pie, this way you don't get a soggy pie!

After placing my final two cutouts in the center of the pie, it was almost ready to bake!

But before I put the pie in the oven, I applied a light coating of egg wash and sprinkled on some sanding sugar to give it some shine.

I baked it at 425F for 15 minutes to get the beginnings of a golden crust, and then turned the heat down to 350F and baked it for another 40-45 minutes.

And there you go, a beautiful fall leaf cutout apple pie - perfect for Thanksgiving or any other fall gathering or event! Enjoy!