Monday, November 28, 2011

And... I'm back!

Sorry for the lull in posts. A lot has happened in the last five months. First, I started a new job in July. I am still working in public relations, however I am with a new firm. It has been a nice change of pace. The atmosphere is more professional. I have my own office with a door, windows, etc. The only downfall - a commute. It isn't a big one, but with rush hour traffic it takes 30 minutes or so.

I also added a new addition to my family. Abby, a beautiful Goldendoodle puppy. I had been looking at dog breeds for a months now. I talked to a few of my friends. Visited with different breeds. In the end, the stars aligned and a fabulously beautiful puppy became available. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

8 Weeks

9 Weeks

10 Weeks

11 Weeks

It has been a change having a dog in the house again, but it is welcomed. I will say, however, that I have not had a puppy in 15 years. So the whole potty training and fits of energy are something that has taken some getting use to. Abby is doing great with potty training though. We have very few accidents. And she loves her dog door and newly sodded backyard. She is definitely a spoiled little girl, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Next up, training for another half marathon - the Rock 'n Roll half marathon in St. Petersburg. After taking the summer off from running, it has been difficult to get back in the running groove. My body isn't the same since the marathon. So I am taking things slowly and easing back into things. Thankfully, I have until February to get back in shape. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Frosting for the Cause

As some of yo u may already know, I joined forces with Frosting for the Cause this year. Here's how it works: bakers who join are given a day to blog on the site, sharing one of their recipes. Bakers must also donate at least $25 to the cancer charity of his or her choice. And then donate the goods baked for the blog post to a local cancer hospice or charity.

My blog day has finally arrived. I baked key lime cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. You can read my post on the Frosting for the Cause website. This year alone the bakers who share on this site will help raise more than $9,000 for cancer research.

In addition to Frosting for the Cause, I would also like to thank my friend, Steph, for letting me share her story through my blog post. It really was a major reason I chose to take part in this project.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ganache Gives Your Cake Panache

As many of you know, when I am stressed out or have a lot on my mind I bake. That was case this week. So I decided to challenge myself a bit and make a torted chocolate layer cake with peanut butter frosting. But that wasn't enough. I wanted to kick it up a notch, so I tried my hand at covering the entire cake in chocolate ganache. It turned out really well. I even had some leftover sugar flowers to use as decorations.

I can't wait to cut the cake to see how the layers turned out. Since this was just an 8 inch cake, the layers were not very tall to begin with, so cutting each layer in half was a challenge. I will have to take a photo when we cut into it tomorrow night. Speaking of cutting into it, I hope it tastes ok. If it was anything like the groom's cake I made for my friend, I am sure it will be delicious. That cake was awesome, so pouring chocolate on top can only make it better. Don't worry, I bought some milk to go with it. I have a feeling this one is going to be rich.

How to Ganache a Cake:
For those of you interested in chocolate ganache, all you need to know is you heat some heavy cream (you can do this in the microwave - don't let it boil). Then dump in an equal amount of chocolate chips and a tablespoon of butter (that give it the shine). If you want to pour it on top of the cake (it is good to frost it first), you let the ganache cool down a bit. This will allow it to thicken up a bit. Then you just pour it over the cake, letting it run down the sides. You will have to use a spatula to make sure the sides are well covered. After the first pour, I put the cake in the fridge to set. Then I poured a second layer on. Keep in mind you can take the used ganache and reuse it. If you chill it, it becomes a great frosting (which is what I used to pipe around the cake and set the flowers). You can also roll the chilled ganache in balls and make truffles by coating them in cocoa powder or chocolate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My First Wedding Order

The power of word-of-mouth advertising is amazing. I booked my first wedding and the client is not a friend or someone I know. I was hired to make cake pops and a small wedding cake. The colors guava and marine needed to be incorporated into the design, as well as a big bow on the cake.

Here's how everything turned out:


The cake is a 6 inch double layer vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. I covered the cake in ivory fondant, added a quilt design, border and accents of colored frosting and candy pearl. Then I topped it with a fondant-gum paste bow.

The cake pops were made to match the main cake. The marine color is chocolate cake. The guava color is red velvet cake. And the white are vanilla cake. In all, I think it coordinated nicely.

I also made a dozen vanilla cake pops for the kids. Those were just dipped in candy dots to make them festive and fun.

Happy First Birthday, Gabe

I know I haven't blogged in a while, so it is time to play catch up. My cupcake business seems to be taking off. A college friend hired me to make treats for her son's first birthday. There really wasn't a theme for the party, so I tried matching the cupcakes to the invitation, which had candles all over it.

This is what I came up with. I made individual candles out of royal icing to top the cupcakes, which were chocolate and strawberry. They look a little creepy on the wax paper, but looked cute on the cupcakes.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the cupcakes, especially the kids. It was neat to see the candles dye their tongues blue, green and red. But most important, the birthday boy had a great time playing with the frosting and cake.

Happy 1st birthday, Gabe! And thank you for letting me be a part of the celebration, Isabel.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

That's What Friends Are For

I have been putting off writing this post for a while now. Those who know me will tell you I am a loyal Florida State fan. I went to school there. I still go to football games every season. I am proud to be a member of the Seminole Nation! Go Noles!

However, I put my loyalty aside when my friend, Brie, asked me to help her surprised her soon-to-be husband with a groom's cake for their wedding. He kept asking for one, but she managed to make him think they were tacky and unnecessary, especially since he wanted a Florida Gators cake. Brie is a proud USF Bulls fan! 

So despite my disdain and utter hatred for UF, I managed to tackle the request. Actually, I am pretty proud of how the cake turned out, despite the ugly orange and blue frosting (haha). And the best part is the groom, Mike, had no idea until he got to the reception. It was the perfect surprise, which Brie made even better with her figurine of the bride dragging the groom away from a tiny television showing a Gators game.

Of course, I had to add my own personal touch. While I couldn't mess up the cake (it was their wedding after all), I could let my love for FSU show. So I made him a special tomahawk to cut the cake. The best part is he used it to cut the cake, which was a double layer chocolate cake filled with peanut butter frosting and mini chocolate chips.

I am very honored that Brie had enough confidence in me to ask me to make a cake for her wedding. I was definitely nervous about it. There will be photos of this cake floating around for years to come. But I am glad I did it and thankful to be included in their special day.

Mike and Brie are two of the kindest, most loving people I have ever met and I am so glad to have them as friends. I love the both of you and wish you the very best on what I am sure will be a lifetime of happiness. Congratulations!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gum Paste & Fondant Class Complete

I finished my third cake course - Gum Paste & Fondant. This class was more about gum paste flowers than anything else, but we did get to work with fondant a bit the last two classes. We covered a cake board in fondant. Then covered our final cake in fondant and the gum paste flowers of our choice. I went with a spring motif with some cute double layer daisies.

Unfortunately, there are no more Wilton cake classes for me to take. There will be a 3 hour workshop on tall tiered cakes later this month. I will definitely be taking that one. I feel like I will go in withdrawal if I don't. Taking these classes has been an amazing experience. I have learned so much and feel so much more confident baking and decorating. I will be sure to post my creations, as I will be continuing to bake up a storm in the future.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Flowers & Cake Design Class Complete

I know I keep saying it, but I am loving 20II. I completed another cake class this week - Wilton's Flowers & Cake Design. The last class was pretty fun. We brought in an iced 8 inch cake and any royal icing flowers we made. Then we learned a couple border techniques and were told to decorate. My finished cake turned out pretty good.

I was a little disappointed with my final cake though. I made 25 lilies to arrange on the cake. However, since it was very humid and rainy outside, the flowers did not hold up. When you tried to handle the flowers and move them to the cake, they would crack or fall apart. I managed to get five on there; however one or two were a little cracked in the center.

I finish class three on Thursday - Fondant & Gum Paste. I have made a few dozen daisies in different sizes to put on that cake. It should turn out to be a cute celebration of spring. I will be sure to post some photos.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cake Flowers Class - Week 3

Week 3 in Flowers & Cake Design class was a busy one. I actually had to make this class up at a later date because I skipped it for my birthday. Class three was all royal icing flowers. We learned the daffodil, pansy, violet and lily.





The last class is this week. The goal is to bring in an iced cake that we will decorate with the flowers of our choice. I went with the lily. I made 25 of them in two different colors for class. Hopefully that is enough to fill the cake. 

We will also be practicing the basket weave icing technique.I am looking forward to learning that. Can't wait to post photos of the finished cake!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Year of WINNING Continues...

So as I have referred to several times on this blog, this year is 20II - the year of me. It has been a great year so far filled with amazing friends, gifts, accomplishments and WINNING. Last night, I returned home from cake class to find a huge box at my doorstep. I thought maybe it was birthday care package from my mom, but look what I found inside.

I won a Spanish tapas and Tapena wine party package from one of my favorite food blog, Slashfood. The package included a big ice bucket, Spanish olives, almonds, spice packets, a cookbook, three bottles of Tapena wine, a corkscrew, two pens, some coasters, temporary tattoos and some magnets. I have to say it is pretty awesome. I can't wait to get the girls together and try some of the stuff. Should make for a fun night!

Fondant & Gum Paste Class - Week 3

Fondant and gum paste class was a little lackluster this week. We worked on two more flowers - Daisies and Mums.

We also started preparing for our final class project - a 8 inch double stacked cake. We will be covering this cake in fondant and then covering it in the gum paste flower creations of our choice. So before we left class, we covered our cake board in fondant. I chose a lovely shade of light blue. I actually ended up dying my hands blue while tinting the fondant, but I was able to take some nail polish remover and cure my Smurf problem. I also played around with an imprint mat, which allows you to put designs into the fondant. 

Since I ended up putting a daisy imprint on the cake board, I think I am going to stick with the daisy theme for the cake. Sure the flowers are really simple to make, but I think a cake covered in blue fondant with a nice assortment of daisies could end up looking real nice. Plus, it's just for class and then I will probably give it away. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fondant & Gum Paste Class - Week 2

As I mentioned in a previous post, week one of fondant & gum paste class was pretty boring. We just made bases for flowers. And when I say bases, I mean balls of gum paste in various shapes stuck to pieces of spaghetti. Nothing to write home about. But week two, we took those bases and created beautiful flowers. They look so real.


Calla Lilies and Carnations

The great thing about these flowers are they can last for years. The gum paste dries hard. You just have to worry about dust build-up if you use them for a cake display or something like that.

I am looking forward to my next class. We will be making a couple more flowers and then playing with fondant. More photos and posts to come.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Cake Pops

So I thought I would make something sweet and festive for St. Patrick's Day this year. Thanks to a friend, I was forwarded a blog post about green cake pops. It all starts with Green Velvet cake, yes green. Tastes the same as red velvet, just a different color.

Green Velvet Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 oz green food coloring

Combine wet ingredients in a mixer and blend.  Combine all your dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Next, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet. Once blended, put the mixture in cake or cupcake pans.  I baked two 8 inch cakes at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Cupcakes will probably take 22-25 minutes.

After the cakes have baked and cooled, you grind them up in a food processor. You're looking to create a crumb like mixture. Once you have that done, you gradually add frosting to the crumbs and pulse in the food processor.  You can use canned frosting, I just always make my own.  You're looking for the crumbs to form more of a dough; a mixture that can easily be molded in your hands to make balls.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz block of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 stick of butter (softened)
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Once you have the mixture ready, you form the cake crumbs into small balls. Try to shoot for the size of a ping pong ball. I made mine a little bigger than that and it caused a bit of a problem.

Now you are ready to add your lollipop sticks. It is best to dip the sticks in your melted chocolate first. It acts as a glue and helps hold the stick in place. As for the chocolate, I just used the white chocolate melts you can buy in craft stores and followed the instructions on the back. 

Once you have all the sticks in place and have given them some time to dry, you're ready to coat them in chocolate. This process can be a pain. The chocolate melts tend to melt to a thick consistency, so you can't just dip them in and pull them out. I had to use a spoon and coat each cake ball. Then while they were still wet, I sprinkled them with green sugar and placed them on wax paper to harden. You can also use a strainer to hold your cake pops while they dry (so they don't have a flat bottom). Just check to make sure the lollipop sticks fit in the holes before you stick a finish cake pop in there.

Once they are dry, you just peel them off the wax paper and can package them for gifts, bake sales, etc.