Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Aunt's Wedding Party - Part 2

When I woke up the Saturday morning (at the crack of dawn because the kids were running around), I discovered my aunt had left the window open in the kitchen, and the freezing cold night/morning air had dried out the cupcakes a bit (initially I thought they might be frozen). This was a little disappointing, but they weren't too bad. I mixed some cream cheese frosting, covered the cake in it, and then rolled out white fondant to cover the cake with. The fondant amused my cousins to no end; I gave them each a small piece to play with. I think I may have inspired some future bakers. I really need practice when it comes to covering cakes in fondant. There was a pretty large crease in the back of the cake. Given that this was only my 3rd attempt at a fondant-covered cake though, I'd say it wasn't too bad.

After the cake was covered, I set it aside and piped the frosting onto the cupcakes. On each cupcake, I placed one of the flowers I had made the night before. Then, I painted the cake with sparkly white luster dust and "glued" on the flowers and S with royal icing. Overall, the cake did not come out looking too bad. As long as you were looking at it from the right angle (the back was sort of a mess).

One thing I would do over would be to pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge of the cake layers before filling it with the mousse, which was way too soft and got squeezed out of the cake with each additional layer that was put on top. I should have thought to do this in the first place. I also can't wait to take a class to improve my fondant capabilities. I'd love to do more cakes in addition to cupcakes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Aunt's Wedding Party - Part 1

This past weekend, my aunt threw a party to celebrate her recent marriage. She and her husband had a tiny ceremony in North Carolina with just the two of them and my aunt's two kids, so she wanted to have a larger party to celebrate with her friends and family. I immediately offered to bake the cake and cupcakes. After work on Friday, I made the very long, traffic-ridden journey out to Effort, PA where she lives. If you've never been there, it's really quite an experience. When she asked where I was en route, my response was "Well I just passed a fireworks store and an ammo supply shop."

My painting workstation

My aunt is not a baker and her kitchen is virtually devoid of any baking equipment or ingredients. Earlier in the week, I had given her a grocery list of things I would need, and I brought a few things of my own like a mixer and fondant. Unfortunately, shortly after I began baking, my mixer spazzed out and broke. I was pleasantly surprised when my aunt pulled out her own hand mixer. I don't know what I would have done if she didn't have one. Mix things by hand? How did people bake before the introduction of motors for mixers?

Close-up of the flowers

The first thing to go into the oven was a 6 inch round vanilla cake. I set aside the leftover vanilla batter, mixed some chocolate, and prepared the marble cupcakes. Once the cake was cooling and the marble cupcakes were in the oven, I began mixing one of my favorites - red velvet. I've talked here before about my love of red velvet; to me it's such a classic, awesome flavor. In the event that I one day get married myself, I want a red velvet cake or cupcakes (baked by me of course). My younger cousins were shocked to see the bright red batter though. After declaring it looked like something off a horror movie set, I don't think I would have been able to bribe them to eat it.

Unfrosted cake - the filling spilling out

After everything was baked and set aside, I rolled out some fondant and cut the flowers that would adorn the cake and cupcakes. To expedite the process, my aunt painted them with a sapphire-colored luster dust while I "glued" on the edible pearl centers. Her new last name begins with 'S' (as did her former last name), and she requested a monogram on the cake. I formed the S out of a rolled snake of fondant, set it aside to dry, and painted that with the luster dust as well. After filling the cake with chocolate mousse I had prepared earlier and fresh raspberries, I covered it with plastic wrap and stored it for the night in the refrigerator.

This post is pretty long, so I'm going to split it into two and post the rest tomorrow. To be continued...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Baking Challenge: Whiteout Cupcakes

Prior to yesterday, I hadn't baked in almost two weeks. I was feeling up to a difficult baking challenge, so I cracked open my Baked cookbook. For whatever reason, Baked has the hardest recipes in them. Almost all of them span multiple pages, have countless (and very expensive) ingredients, and utilize baking techniques I've never even contemplated before, much less used. Out of all the recipes in Baked, I've only tackled two of the recipes - the Sweet & Salty cake (twice, the first time was a disaster that produced a frosting flecked with chunks of butter) and the brownies (delicious, but they contained about $15 worth of quality chocolate).

Cupcake with the Baked cookbook

I picked the whiteout cake because it seemed like something that would appeal to a lot of people. We recently moved to a new office and I now work with more people than I used to. Which just means more people to eat my baked goods, an exciting prospect for me.

The first thing that gave me pause with this recipe was that the liquid in the cake batter was ice water. It's usually milk, cream, buttermilk...something more substantial than water. I went along with this, finished the batter and popped the cupcakes in the oven. While the cupcakes were cooling, I started on the frosting. The first step was to melt white chocolate on a double boiler. Easy enough. Then the next step said to combine white sugar, flour, milk and heavy cream on the stove until it thickened and boiled. Flour?? In a frosting? I guess I got distracted by that thought because somehow I let my first attempt at this burn. The second attempt turned out much better. After that mixture cooled, I gradually added an unspeakable amount of butter, small pieces at a time, and then the melted white chocolate. The result was a lighter, smoother frosting than my typical frostings. I liked it a lot and they were a big hit in the office today.

I'm looking forward to trying more Baked recipes this fall; for whatever reason, I feel they're more cool weather desserts. I'm also going to try to make the trek to Baked in Brooklyn this fall...I've been dying to get there for over a year now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cupcake Obsessed's Male Readers

One of the biggest surprises for me since starting this blog is the discovery that boys enjoy this blog almost as much as the girls do. I'm constantly surprised when guys admit their secret (or not-so-secret) obsession with my blog.

One of these awesome guys is my friend's roommate Howard frequently checks out my blog and always has the nicest things to say about my latest cupcakes. His girlfriend's birthday was last week and he wanted to take cupcakes with him up to Boston when he visited for her birthday weekend.

After some discussion about what kind I should make, we decided on chocolate with raspberry filling and chocolate ganache. I absolutely love the combination of chocolate and raspberry together. I had these great new pink cupcake liners from NY Cake that I used as well. Because they were greaseproof, I figured they would lock in the moisture and keep the cupcakes fresher for the weekend trip.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kate!

Yesterday was one of my best friends' birthdays, and in honor of it, I made her a cake disguised as a giant margarita. After seeing this cake on Frosted Garden a couple months ago, I knew immediately that I would be making it for Kate's birthday.

Before adding the final layer of frosting

I had seen these giant margarita glasses before at Michael's (craft store) and picked one up a couple weeks ago to prepare for the cake. I had meant to bring my smallest Pyrex bowl home with me from Hoboken to Toms River, but completely forgot it. Fortunately, after rummaging through my grandmother's cabinets, I found a glass bowl that seemed to be the right size.

After deciding on funfetti cake with vanilla frosting (seemed to be an appropriate "birthday flavor"), I baked the cake for what felt like forever. I'm so used to cupcakes and their short baking time that a deep cake like this tested my patience. Especially since I couldn't wait for this to come out of the oven so I could take a nap.

No Kate, you can't drink that

After the cake baked and cooled, I made some vanilla frosting, tinted it light green, and frosted the bottom and sides of the glass. This part was the trickiest because I had to make sure that you didn't see any spatula lines through the glass. I cut the rounded-bottom cake in half, placed the bottom half in the glass, filled in a layer of frosting on top of it, and then topped it off with the other cake half and another layer of frosting to complete the cake. I added a hot pink straw and a slice of lime to complete the look.

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