Wednesday, October 2, 2019

minecraft diamond pickaxe birthday cake

Oh man. I'm so behind. I made this cake a year ago, for my oldest son Matthew's 11th birthday. And here we are, one year later, and he just turned 12!

He had requested another minecraft cake. But this time he wanted a giant Minecraft diamond pickaxe topper. I guess they use them to mine diamonds in the game? Anyway he showed me a picture of what he wanted, so I made it for him, out of various colored fondant squares that I had cut out one by one with a mini square cookie cutter.

And then when I assembled the topper, I realized that I had made it waaaaaay too big. Ooops!

For the cake, he had requested vanilla cake filled with whipped cream and STRAWBERRY JELLO. Hmm. Interesting combination, no?

To get started, I whipped up two batches of my favorite vanilla cake (you can find the recipe in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!) and baked them in two 8-inch round cake pans. Once cooled, I sliced them in half horizontally to give me four cake layers. And then I filled them with freshly whipped cream.

And the Jello. I had made the Jello layer in advance, by chilling the prepared Jello in two 8-inch cake pans that I had sprayed with nonstick cooking spray so that I would come out easily. I did have a few cracks in the Jello while I attempted to place the layer on the whipped cream, but it was mostly in one piece.

After assembling the cake (four cake layers, three layers of whipped cream, and two layers of Jello), I covered the tops and sides with swiss meringue frosting (recipe also in my book!). I usually do a quick crumb coat, let it set in the fridge, and then do a final coat, which I then smooth out with an offset spatula. Then I put everything in the fridge to set overnight.

The next morning, I was ready to decorate! First I piped his name in the middle of the cake, and then I added a few of the fondant squares that I had made previously. Just to give the cake a bit of a pixelated look.

Next came the number candles (which I had bought from Party City, I believe).

And then came the topper! I really did make this way to big. And truth be told, it kept falling off the cake, it was just too big and heavy! 

In the end, I got mixed reviews on the jello / whipped cream / cake combination, but the birthday boy loved it so that's all that matters!

Happy Birthday, Matthew! We love you!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

marble glazed donuts

My mom loves donuts, as do I, and I have many memories of us happily eating donuts together! From when I was in high school and we would (quite often!) get donuts from Happy Donuts down the street; fast forward to the time we took a trip to Boston with my daughter and the three of us had donuts for breakfast almost every day that we were there. (The three of us later took a trip to New Jersey together and spent a morning searching for donuts to eat for breakfast!). So when I saw this PureWow post right before Mother's Day last year, I knew I had to make them!

And even better, the recipe was for baked donuts, not fried!

For the glaze, I used lemon juice (instead of milk, which the recipe calls for), and I was glad that I did because it offset the sweetness of the glaze perfectly. And while the glaze was simple to make, I had a hard time dipping the donuts without making a mess! Guess I need more practice!

After dipping, I let the donut dry on a wire rack to let the glaze set. I think in the future, I would make the glaze a bit thicker, and I would also use a knife or something to smooth out the edges of the glaze to get a cleaner donut without messy drips.

While the donuts came out soft and fluffy, they unfortunately did not come close to the texture of fried donuts. The only other time I've made baked donuts was when I made these pumpkin donuts, which had a denser moist texture that more closely resembled (cake) donuts. But still, these weren't bad, and of course we at them all up anyway.

Hope you had a happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 3, 2019

star wars birthday cake with handmade fondant luke and leia cake toppers

Usually it takes me a half year (sometimes a year!) to blog about something that I've baked, but this time I wanted to get this out in time for May the Fourth (be with you)! Anyway, I'm so honored to be able to say that I've made Marni's birthday cake for her every year since she was born, including her the cake for her mama's baby shower! This year for her 6th birthday, she was going to have a Star Wars themed party with her classmate Wyatt, who is her birthday twin, so what better way to represent the birthday twins than Luke and Leia toppers that look like them!

I got start on making the toppers about a week before the party, so that they would have enough time to dry and harden completely. While I used white fondant to form the bodies, I ended up using this pack of natural skin tone fondant for the heads, just to save time on tinting my fondant with food coloring, especially since this pack had most of the colors that I would be needing (for the heads, hands, and hair)!

For Leia, I formed sleeves with white fondant, and then use a bit of black gel-based food coloring added to white fondant, to create a silver belt for her dress.

For Luke, I also formed sleeves (but less bell-shaped than Leia's sleeves), and then used the lighter brown from the fondant pack for the belt. For the belt buckle, I used the same silver fondant that I used for Leia's belt. Then I used the back of a butter knife to make impressions in Luke's clothes to mimick the fold in his robe, as well a crease to form his pants.

Then I used the skin tone from the fondant pack to form the hands, also using the back of a butter knife for form impressions for the fingers.

For Leia's hair, I used the black from the fondant pack to roll long ropes (since Marni has black hair), which I then formed into her Leia's cinnamon-roll hair buns.

Marni is also known for her signature bangs, so I made sure to include that on this version of Leia. And for Luke's hair, I used the dark brown from the fondant pack (since Wyatt has brown hair).

Then I attached the heads to the bodies with a toothpick to hold them together, and then added their eyes and smiles with an edible food marker.

We also wanted to include Marni and Wyatt's names on the cake, so I drew their names out in the Star Wars font, which I then cut out of paper to be used as a template. Then I tinted fondant with golden yellow and then rolled it out thin, before using a paring knife to cut the letters out.

When it was time to make the cake, I baked up two 8-inch cakes using my favorite vanilla cake recipe (which can be found in my book, The Hello Kitty Baking Book!), let them cool, and then cut them in half horizontally, giving me four cake layers. Then I filled each layer with freshly whipped cream and sliced fresh strawberries.

Once the cake was stacked and assembled, I whipped up a batch of Swiss meringue buttercream frosting (you can also find the recipe in my book!), and tinted it with black gel-based food coloring. Then I covered the top and sides of the cake with a quick crumb coat of frosting, let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, and then added a final coat of frosting before smoothing it out with an offset spatula (a bench scraper is also a nice tool for this!)

Once the cake was smooth, I used a food-safe paintbrush, dipped in a mixture of gold luster dust and water, to make gold splatter stars all over the cake. This was my first time attempting this technique, and it was so much fun!

After letting the cake chill overnight in the fridge, I was ready to decorate!

First I added my fondant letters, secured with a bit of buttercream.

Then I was ready to add my fondant toppers! Here they are ready to go on top of the cake.

I made sure to secure them to the cake with toothpicks, so that they wouldn't fall over during the drive to the party.

Wheeeeeee! I'm so happy with how this cake turned out!

I couldn't wait to Marni to see the cake!

I also made a 10-inch coffee chiffon cake (for the adults!), filled with espresso whipped cream and covered with white whipped cream, and decorate with rainbow sprinkles surrounding the number 6.

And now I leave you with some adroable pics from the party!

Happy Birthday, Marni and Wyatt!