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Lemon Buttermilk Sheet Cake

4 Jun

Hi blogging world!

This past weekend I decided to whip up this awesome sheet cake from America’s Test Kitchen’s Best Summer Desserts book and it was fabulous! It had lovely texture; a crumbly, moist, lemony cake with a lemon glaze and a crunchy sprinkle of lemon sugar, which complemented it beautifully. I’ve always been a fan of America’s Test Kitchen, it combines two of my passions into one awesome little cookbook – journalism and baking. The informative write ups on the recipes beforehand are always helpful to me, especially the little features about the equipment on the sides (Sidenote: When you think stand mixer, you think KitchenAid is the one to beat. Not the case, the Test Kitchen’s tests prove that the Cuisinart model is the better option. Guess which one my gourmet Dad and I picked out?). Anyways, if your looking for a nice summery, colourful desserts book this season, give this one a try and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with all the great stuff! Anyways – on with the pictures!!

I was feeling a bit artistic this time around with the photos, but that’s okay, right? Unfortunately, my camera broke! Which means, that now I’m on the search for an expensive DSLR. That should be fun.

A Cake fit for…. a dog?

11 Sep

Tomorrow is my baby Sandy’s 8th Birthday! We’re celebrating today a) because she’s a dog and she’ll never know the difference and b) it’s a weekend day where everyone will be at home for her!

Yesterday I made her dog biscuits (which she LOOOVES. She’s getting good at performing a little routine of sit, lay down, spin with voice command and shaking of a biscuit) so she’d have something yummy just for her. Isn’t she sweet?

Anyway – onto this ‘doggy cake’.

Sandy got her biscuits – and I got to make a cake. I’ve had these awesome Chicago Metallic cake pans that I’ve been dying to be using for ages! Sandy’s birthday was the perfect excuse for me to make another cake. I made Cake Boss’s recipe for Chocolate Cake and kind of improv-ed the icing. Which is why the icing didn’t turn out that great. It was a bit too dry to spread very well – needed more milk. I was planning on sharing it with you guys – but it wasn’t exactly my best. Next time I’ll try a different one!

For the lack of icing design potential, I turned to gumpaste to add some cute 3D dog stuff on the cake. I made a cute food bowl (filled with mini chocolate chips), a water dish (filled with blue piping gel), a tennis ball and a dog bone. For an added effect, I turned to my gumpaste letter cookie cutters to spell out ‘Happy 8th Birthday Sandy”. It was a pretty cute cake. Here’s some photos!

Cake, Cupcakes and Canucks

16 Jun

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Last night I was up until 11:00pm scrubbing dishes, putting away ingredients and wiping icing sugar off the counters. Why? Today is my school’s summer BBQ. And guess what? They have a cake walk. My school has around 400 kids, so they need tons of cakes. I made three. Well, technically cupcakes are cakes, so it’s alright.

Cake 1: Flourless Chocolate Cake

One of my good friends has an allergy to gluten and she requested that I make a gluten free cake. Luckily, I have an awesome recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake and I was excited to make it. I made this cake first because of it’s simplicity – no clean up and quick to make! My friend has promised that she will pick mine if she wins – which makes me happy 🙂

Cakes 2 and 3: Simple Flower Cupcakes

These were really adorable cupcakes! Inspired by the pink pig cupcakes I’ve made previously and my new pastel food colouring gels, these cuties were born. It’s a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream and a small gumpaste flower on top. Really adorable – and not too much exhausting decorating. I made 24 in total, but made 2 plates of seven cupcakes to donate to the fair. The rest I keep for myself! Omnomnomnom 🙂

It was really stressful doing all of this – in one night! Nonetheless game seven of the Stanley Cup where Boston was crushing the Canucks – which being Canadian, was very upsetting! And I had a supposed “quick” trip to Michaels in between cakes so I could grab the molds I needed for the graduation cap cake pops I plan to make my class (coming soon!), but it ended up being an hour… i love michaels 🙂

Oh well – now off to the barbecue to win a cake!

Science? Or A+ Cake?

14 Jun

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Cake decorating isn’t something that you get marked on (unless you enter competitions). There’s no As or Bs. No pass or fail. Until now…

For my science project at school, we had the task of creating a model of a cell. And… this happened. Well, what would you expect from me, after all? Styrofoam? Pfft. I’m talking ’bout cake.

I paired up with my “apprentice decorator” best friend and we made this scientific cake. We started with a vanilla sponge in a square pan (we were creating a “cellule vegetale” – pardon the translations, I’m a french immersion student so science is in french), using  the extra batter to make multiple cupcakes. We whipped up a buttercream icing and tinted it green. And then came the candy…. oh boy. We had a giant bag or gum balls, gummy worms, nerds and two packages of wafers (2!!). As you can imagine, we had leftovers. Luckily, they were in re-seal-able bags and will come in handy on our upcoming field trip to Quebec City!

We had a diagram of what our cell was supposed to look like, and we placed the candy on top. Wafers coated the sides, cupcake on top, we really decked it out. At school, we used a label maker to add some little tags to the different cell parts to dress it up (Unfortunately, the label maker broke when we had only one more to go…). We memorized our definitions, got the presentation down-pat and we were ready to go!

The worst part of making this cake, was trying to feed a class of 30 with a small square cake, I think it was 8 by 8 inch pan. We had so many people come up to us and ask if they could have some! So in the end, we just split the cake and brought it home. Also, the mockery for this was pretty bad. A group of guys bet that they could make a better cake then me… and they actually made a cake! Which I thought was very surprising… though it was a Duncan Hines mix, not something from scratch – so I still have my dignity. Next step? Making everyone feel bad for the mockery with graduation cap cake pops the last week of school 🙂

Spring Fair Cake!

27 May

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Is it possible for someone to put so much care and detail into a cake that they’re giving away – for free? Yes – it is. When there is a cake competition involved.

It’s my little brother’s school’s Spring Fair tomorrow and they host an annual cake walk. Undoubtedly, my mom signed me up to bake a cake. A simple cake…. that soon turned into the most intricate cake I have ever made. And the one I’ve spent the most time, effort and energy on. And only to give it all away to some little child who wins the cake walk…. sigh.

(I swear, if my brother or I doesn’t manage to win it back, I might die a little inside)

First of all, the night before I made gumpaste accessories. That way, they would harden up a bit over night, making them easier to decorate. I used little daisy and leaf cut outs to make some daisies and leafs and a food colouring cap to punch out the daisy centers. I actually bought a letter cut out set and cut out the words Spring Fair to place on top of the cake. I used a lot of food colouring – and my hands are still the awkward blue and red shades  after numerous heavy duty hand washes. Once they were a little hard, I etched on some designs with a tooth pick to add detail. I still haven’t gotten actual gumpaste tools, so this proves that even with pretty much nothing you make make gumpaste beautiful 🙂

I wanted to do my best chocolate cake recipe, but I was convinced not to because chocolate crumbs would show more than vanilla. So I made a vanilla recipe that I’ve used before, but haven’t been too impressed with because I usually substitute vegetable oil for olive oil or grapeseed oil to please my organic mother. But since it’s for a school fundraiser and we don’t need to spend 10$ on a stick of organic butter or anything, I used canola oil and it was delightful! (I ate crumbs I shaved off the top :))

Icing it was… adventurous. I used maybe a full teaspoon of food colouring on a simple vanilla buttercream to turn it a green hue. I outfitted my piping bag with a star tip and did some abstract grass work on the top – which took an agonizingly long time. I used my basket weave tip and decoratively iced the sides – and that didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. I really should have shaved off the sides because there was an obvious gap between the two cakes, which made it extremely difficult to make it look elegant. Luckily, I had some gumpaste leaves to mask a few slip ups, but there are some spots where you can still tell.

Placing the final touches was so much fun! The gumpaste flowers looked so regal and pretty on top of the ‘grass’ and “Spring Fair” really popped out. It was a blast to make and I hope I can manage to snag an award tomorrow!

Enjoy the pics!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

8 May

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Have you ever asked yourself, is there something absolutely delicious, classy and quick that virtually leaves no mess behind? Usually, you just get back to whatever your doing instead of searching epicurious for this super-recipe.  Well, not anymore my friends. Not anymore.

Anyone heard of something called Flourless Chocolate Cake? This rich, dense cake is usually made in one layer and paired with a gourmet sorbet. The gist of all the recipes is to melt butter and chocolate, add in sugar, eggs and cocoa. Seems kinda mediocre – right? No way. Not unless you use really good chocolate. I used Baker’s premium (the one in the gold box) dark chocolate for melting and Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa powder. They really pushed this could-be mediocre cake out of the stratosphere.

Since there is no flour in Flourless Chocolate Cake (No – really?), the cake is extremely rich and dense. This also means that it won’t really rise that much. The good part of the rich, density of this cake is that there’s really no need for frosting. Yup – that’s right. After you tire yourself out making the cake, you don’t have to wash all of your dishes and make something else. Sometimes, this cake just tastes best with a little sprinkle of icing sugar on top. How sweet 🙂

I made this cake for mother’s day. My Mom has some sort of addiction to dark chocolate. She loves flourless chocolate cakes, so I whipped this up the day of in around 20 minutes plus baking time. I found the recipe on epicurious, but I made some more user friendly adjustments to this cake. While some people may top the cake with some sort of fruit coulis, a chocolate glaze or just keep it plain – always remember to have some ice cream or a tall glass of milk on hand as this is extremely rich.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

– 4 ounces (4 squares) fine-quality bittersweet or dark chocolate

– 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (salted or unsalted, doesn’t make a difference. whatever you have on hand)

– 3/4 cup sugar (Not much of a sweettooth? This is all the sweet in the recipe)

– 3 large eggs

– 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used premium Ghiradelli)

– Optional: glaze, coulis or icing sugar sprinkling for the top

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Butter 8″ round pan and line bottom with wax paper

2. Chop chocolate into small pieces. Put butter and chocolate in large glass bowl to melt in microwave. (about 3 minutes at power level 5 so the chocolate doesn’t burn)

3. Add sugar to chocolate mixture and mix well.

4. Add eggs one at a time and whisk after each addition.

5. Sift in cocoa powder. Mix well.

6. Pour batter into pan and bake in center of oven for 25 minutes or until cake develops a thin crust on top.

7. Let cool. Top cake with coulis/glaze/icing sugar if using.

 

(June 12th 2011 edit: I’ve attached a picture of my latest experiments with this recipe. I made it again for dessert tonight, but with a citrus flair. Instead of topping with icing sugar, I artfully spread raspberries on top and sprinkled icing sugar on top. Quick. Easy. Sophisticated. Delicious.)

Easter Cakes!

24 Apr

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Happy Easter everyone!

I think Easter is the baker’s dream holiday. The holiday is marketed with tons of chocolate and candy – perfect for decorating cute cakes and cupcakes! Though it’s a bit late for me to post a recipe, I thought I should show  you what I came up with for my family’s Easter dinner. Everyone loved it for it’s cirtusy flavour. It was a vanilla cake with lemon cream cheese frosting – delish! In the spring months, chocolate and red velvet are too heavy (especially since you’ll be eating tons of chocolate as is!) and regular vanilla is too sweet. So we came up with a citrus frosting in lieu of the sickly sweet vanilla frosting. Though the frosting didn`t  really agree with me (too soft, wouldn`t hold up, kept sliding down), it had a really nice taste – no need for ice cream either! Anyway, here’s my Easter cake – hope you feel inspired! Side note: As you can see, the mini eggs around the bottom kind of solved my icing problem! They masked up the runny icing pretty well! 😉