Sunday, September 26, 2010

Starry Night

In an attempt to take my mind off of my freshly pulled wisdom teeth, I made these cupcakes while trapped at home with chipmunk cheeks. A fantasy football draft was going on at my Aunt and Uncle's house, so even though I couldn't gnaw these babies down, I knew they would be eaten by the big, burly, football lovin' men.

I decorated the cupcakes to look like Van Gogh's Starry Night. I know that this might not have been the best choice to make for a room full of manly football lovers, but it took the least precision which I needed in my slightly loopy condition. This is another creation from "Hello, Cupcake".

To make the cupcakes I had to place wafer cookies between the gaps of the cupcakes so that the frosting could be iced on smoothly. Then I dyed the frosting, which was much more difficult than I thought it would be; the cupcakes require NINE different piping bags. The worst part was that the frosting had to be different shades of the same color.. very challenging with only one shade of dye. So instead of wasting nine piping bags, I used plastic baggies instead. They worked well for the most part, just a little messy. "Hello, Cupcake" recomended that I add a frame to put around the cupcakes, which I thought was a little silly, but it did actually make the whole ensemble look more put together.

In other news, I am currently back at school! Being that I, unfortunately, do not have an oven in my dorm room, the next cake creation can be expected around Thanksgiving. But I've been having a great time at school. The only negative thing I can say about this year so far is that I have failed to achieve my goal of graduating without dropping a tray of food in the cafeteria. Last week at breakfast I was attempting to hold my tray and squirt ketchup on my hash browns at the same time. Needless to say, my tray (with 3 plates on it) slipped and fell to the floor with the loudest crash I have ever heard. The plates broke and the food splattered all over myself and the floor. Worst of all, the ketchup dispenser is right in the front of the caf. with every table facing it. The entire cafeteria went silent for a second before the traditional round of applause broke out. I must say I was very humble as I laughed, raised my hand and took a bow. All I can guarantee is that this will be a ketchup free semester from here on out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Momma

August 29th was my Mom's birthday, which gave me a great excuse to make another cake. I was feeling adventurous and indicisive about how to design it so I decided to make a cake with various colors and flowers for a wildflower look. This project ended up being a very time consuming one (as you can imagine), but the finished product was worth it. Looking back, I probably should have made the flowers a day before to break up the work and also to let them dry completely. When I was putting them on the cake the larger flowers were still soft so some were difficult to pull off the wax paper (where I piped them) and some even broke. Lesson learned!

I am a huge fan of fruit filling, if you havent figured that out yet. I find it's a great way to avoid the problem of having the cake be too sweet. So I experimented with the frozen fruit I had in my freezer that day and settled on a peach and strawberry filling. The tangyness complimented the sweetness of the sugary frosting very well but I still have to find a way to make the fruit flavors more prominent. It was still delicious!

I stuck with the basketweaved sides for this cake, but for my next one I'm dying to try out this same pattern but piped with multiple tips to give it a different kind of look. I bordered the cake with a simple shell border. Because the flowers took so long to make, I refused to make the frosting from scratch. So I bought Pillsbury frosting to ice it instead. It ended up being soft and runny so I had to put the piping bag in the freezer every 5 minutes or so to keep the basketweave from melting off the cake. Other than that small issue this cake turned out great!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Once I was home for the summer, I decided to take a real Wiltons Cake Decorating class at my local Michaels craft store. The class I took was called "Flowers and Gum Paste", which taught you (can you guess?)how to make different types of flowers out of icing and gum paste. It was SUCH a helpful class and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in cake decorating. The class only had about 10 people in it (all middle aged women of course) which allowed for personal instructions and attention.

Throughout the class we were ultimately working toward our final cake which we were to decorate during the last class. The final cake was to be created and designed by ourselves, so I was torn between making a cake with roses or a cake with daffodils, but finally decided on the daffodils only because its something that you do not see everyday.

The daffodil petals are piped with a specific tip. Once the petals have been piped the tips must be pinched by flour powdered fingers. After the base has been made the tubular center is piped by circling icing upward, "as high as you dare" according to my instructor. The final touch is to squiggle icing around the top of the tube.

The side of the cake is a basket weave pattern which is nice on the eyes texturally and also is great because it hides any imperfections. I learned from this cake to always start the basket weave from the BOTTOM. Not the top. This is because the bottom of the cake is the closest you will come to having a straight line to follow, while the top of the cake is sometime slanted. Its so simple but will make your life so much easier.

The border of the cake is a "reverse shell" (the direction of the shells alternate), which I am torn about. I think that it looks cool and unique to someone studying it, but a little sloppy at a quick glance.

In the end I absolutely loved this cake. I thought it had the perfect balance of color, elegance and texture. I would make it again in a heartbeat.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We Brought Caaake

I made this cake after taking a 3 hour, free cake decorating class at my school in RI. (The cake I actually made in the class was pathetic, but I unfortunately dont have a picture for you). The class pretty much taught me how to ice a cake.. and that was it. But I had to learn sometime! And what can you expect from a free class. They did give me lots of materials for free though, like piping bags, tips, and couplers (plastic pieces that allow you to switch tips, if needed, on your piping bag). I figured out later that the class was a Wilton's Cake Decorating class, which are usually fairly expensive, but the reason it was free was because Wilton decided to update their classes. Therefore all the free stuff I was given was their old materials and kits. But I'm not complaining! It was a great starting point for my cake materials.

(Made from two 9" vanilla cakes with raspberry filling)

So there it is, my very first cake. Like I said, I only learned how to ice the cake, so I had to figure the roses and rose buds out on my own (I know now that I made them completely wrong, but I fooled you didn't I?). It would have been nice to have a border on it but I REALLY didnt know how to do that. The center was a raspberry filling that I made, which consisted of frozen raspberries, sugar and corn starch. The consistency ended up being a little watery and because of that I had a long, losing battle to keep the filling from pouring over the sides of the cake. My trick now is to pipe icing around the border of the bottom cake to keep the filling from escaping. But I must say the filling was still delicious.
The day I made this cake I was invited to stay a night with friends down the shore. The house we were staying at was rented and my friends and I had no idea who or what to expect once we got there. Figuring that it would be all people I knew and loved, I brought the cake along so we could all enjoy it. Once we got to the house we climbed the stairs to the front porch, this elegant cake in hand, only to find a room full of ghetto-looking boys we didnt know, yelling and playing beer pong. One was wearing a wife beater that said "Fuck Bitches, Get Money".

(The random boys who ate my cake)
We stood there speechless until my friend broke the silence with "Ahem.. We brought caaake". It was all a very embarrassing experience but the night was a fun one and although my cake was destroyed by boys eating it by the fistfull, it was not put to waste.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I stumbled upon another cupcake design in "Hello, Cupcake" that I though was SO cute and also manageable called "Fat Cats". I must tell you that I am a big cat person. I have two cats, Zeus and Apollo, whom I adore. So I will dedicate this post to them.

(Zeus and Apollo)

The kitty cakes require one cupcake for the head of the cat and another cupcake for the fish bone on their full tummy. The book called for a lot of candies that I couldnt get my paws on so I did improvise some ingredients.

  • Fur- dyed vanilla (which ended up being a little too yellow, whoops) and dark chocolate icing. Piped from a baggy with the corner snipped in the shape of an X. This gives the icing the fur effect.
  • Ear shape - half of a chocolate cookie wafter. The fur icing was then piped on top. This posed somewhat of a problem because the cookie was heavier than I anticipated. It was difficult to keep the ears on the cupcakes.
  • Eyebrows- shaped from tootsie rolls, which made my fingers ache. chocolate icing or licorice (which they called for) would have been much easier.
  • Eyes- mini M & Ms
  • Nose- heart-shaped Sweet Tarts, which I was unhappy with. The directions called for the heart candies in Runts but can you believe I couldnt find a package of Runts anywhere?! Ridiculous. Anyway, the Runts would have been much better because the candies are brighter and smaller, making the cat faces a little more proportional.
  • Cheeks- Mentos mints. I was not happy about this ingredient either because I feel that, texturally, hard chewy mints and soft cupcakes do not go together very well. Plain white icing or maybe the tops of marshmallows would have done a better job.
  • Tongue- Laffy Taffy
  • Fish bone- white chocolate wafers, melted and traced on a stencil
  • Paws on the belly- half of a mini marshmallow with icing as the claws

I was fairly happy with the final product, though the many candies and loads of icing did make the cupcakes harder to eat. If I were to make the cupcakes again I would replace some ingredients and make sure my vanilla icing was white, not yellow. Nevertheless, these were very cute cupcakes that are great for sugar-loving kids.