Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Baking date: September 3, 2017

I love that Pinterest is filled with “the best”, “the most amazing”, and “the best ever” recipes for anything your baking heart desires. Most of the recipes I have tried have been delicious. But a recent attempt at new recipes found on Pinterest didn’t turn out quite the way I envisioned.

My husband called me from the store and asked the question “do you have the stuff you need to make a yellow cake with chocolate frosting?”  I responded with “sure, but could you get me some extra powdered/confectioners sugar.” What I really was thinking was “holy Hell man, how long have you known me? I can’t believe you even have to ask that question.”

I searched Pinterest and found this old-fashioned yellow cake recipe. Then I looked for a chocolate buttercream recipe.

Long story short — my husband thought the cake itself was a bit dry. And he said the frosting tasted like “what they use on Tastykakes.” Hmmm…I guess everything on Pinterest isn’t the best or to to be fair, to everyone’s unique liking.

It did give me the opportunity to use Viva paper towels and a fondant smoother to try a buttercream frosting smoothing technique I found on YouTube.

Here’s the cake, after using the smoothing technique (I should have snapped a before picture – next time, I promise):

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I’m sure these recipes will work for others, but for my husband, his advice was “why do you go to all the trouble of homemade cake and frosting? Just buy a box of cake mix and a can of frosting and I’ll be good to go.”

Sigh

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Shirley Temple Cake

Baking date: August 18, August 19 and August 27, 2017

They say the third time’s the charm, right? Well, after my attempts at a Shirley Temple bundt cake, I’d have to say I agree. What it really comes down to is I’ve always avoided sprinkling the pan with flour after I use baking spray. But after trying this cake three times (and finally getting it almost perfect!), I know that’s an important step in the baking process.

Attempt #1: The first time I made the cake, it was for a friend who moved into a new house. There were big chunks out of the side and I only reserved 4 cherries, which didn’t cover all the holes I made to pour the reserved maraschino cherry juice into. I also drizzled the glaze while it was on the cake plate and that was a huge mess to wipe up.IMG_0598

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Not very pretty, but evidently very tasty because her daughters and niece enjoyed it:

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I decided to try again for a family gathering we were having that Sunday. This time, I iced it on a rack with wax paper underneath. Clean up was much easier, but I still had the issue with parts of the cake sticking to the pan. And it is so much batter that it climbed over the top too far, so the base was a mess when it was turned out of the pan:

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Determined to make this an attractive cake, I tried a third time. This cake was going to a family that had made one of the dinners after my Achilles surgery. I had the pan they delivered the calzones on for two months. I felt so guilty about returning the pan after so long, that I couldn’t return it empty. Plus, their son who plays on my oldest son’s baseball team loves Shirley Temples.

For this third attempt, I got a larger jar of cherries. I cut the cherries that would be stirred into the batter in half, and drained them. I poked 8 holes in the top and rather than putting a full cherry on top of it, I halved 4 of the best looking cherries and put them over the holes. I also didn’t pour all of the batter into the bundt pan — only filled it about 2/3 full. I put the remainder of the batter into a rectangular cake pan.

And most importantly, I floured the bundt pan after I sprayed it.  This time, there was only one small spot that didn’t release:
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And one very small spot on the inner part of the cake:

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Here’s the cake with the glaze drizzled and the cherries on top:

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Here are both cakes on the sheet pan I was returning:

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Of course, a full returned dish is always appreciated:

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And the third time did turn out to be the charm.

Get Well Soon Eyeball Cake

Baking date: August 6, 2017

My friend Rebecca’s fiance had cataract surgery recently. Since I’ve been itching to get back into my baking rhythm after Achilles surgery, I jumped on the opportunity to make him a get well cake.

It was a simple enough recipe of one bowl chocolate cake and a dark chocolate canned frosting. The not so simple part? Adding eyeballs to the cake.

I used a technique I had seen for a Halloween cake. You twist/separate (carefully!) Oreo cookies so that the cream filling is all on one side. It’s not as easy as you would think. Then, place a Junior Mint in the center of the white cream.

I added eyebrows with some buttercream icing. With the remaining dark chocolate frosting, I added bursts along the border. In the center of the bursts, I added a white sugar pearls.

Here’s a side view…

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And here’s the top view:

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You can also make the eyeballs with mini-Oreos and M&M’s, if you’d like to add more pairs of eyes or have the eyes be smaller in size. I did that for the Monster eyeball cake I made for a friend who was going through some tough medical issues one year around Halloween.

Here’s to a quick recovery, Gary!

Baby Shower Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes and Lemon Velvet Cake with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

Baking date: July 21, 2017

A friend commissioned me to make 60 cupcakes for her daughter’s baby shower. I had made cupcakes for her bridal shower two years earlier, and a gender “reveal” cake when her daughter became pregnant. The the mom-to-be again requested the fresh strawberry cupcakes with buttercream frosting for her baby shower.

I told them I would make a cake as my gift to the bride. We decided on a lemon velvet cake with raspberry buttercream frosting.

The theme of the shower included elephants and the colors pink and grey. The grandma-to-be purchased pink polka dot cupcake liners, elephant cupcake toppers in pink/grey and pink/grey zigzag, and other shapes, as well as a cake topper. Links included to show samples; I can’t vouch for the vendors since I do not know where grandma-to-be purchased them.

The website for this cake topper wouldn’t load, so here’s a picture:

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For the cupcakes, I pulled out my big gun of a cupcake pan. This was the last of the batter going into the oven:

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The cupcakes were topped with a swirl of buttercream frosting. I then added pink and silver sugar pearls around the cupcake, and then topped them with the cupcake toppers that had been hot glued onto toothpicks.

Here are the cupcakes:

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Then it was on to the cake. I will say that I tasted the batter before I cooked it. It didn’t taste real lemony to me, so I squeezed some fresh lemon juice into the batter, in addition to the lemon zest and the lemon extract.

The raspberry buttercream recipe — holy cow — it makes a ton! This was the cake and the frosting before I got started:

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I tried a buttercream smoothing technique I saw on YouTube. I had placed the cake in the frig, so it took a bit longer and I never did get it completely smooth. In the future, I’d ice the cake and let it “crust” at room temperature, and then do this technique with the Viva paper towel and the fondant smoother.  I should have taken a before and after picture because it did help smooth out the frosting. Here’s the after:

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Around the base of the cake, I piped on bursts, and added a large white sugar pearl in the center of each burst. Finally, I spelled the baby’s name with raspberry buttercream piped on candy melt circles in bright white that I added some black color to in order to get a grey.

Here’s all of the sugar, ready to be delivered to the party:

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Here’s the table full of goodies:
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Congrats Kaitlyn and Kevin – we can’t wait to meet baby Hannah!

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Photo courtesy of Lidia Miller Photography.

My pricing philosophy:

How I price my work

Future Bobcat Cake

Baking date: July 14 & 15, 2017

I had some extra red velvet batter and cream cheese frosting left over from graduation cupcakes I had been commissioned to make, so rather than let it go to waste, I made a one layer 9″ cake.

Since the graduate was heading to Frostburg State University and would be playing baseball for the Bobcats, I added a red and black paw to the candy melts I was already making for the other cupcakes and cake. I also used candy melt molds to spell out FUTURE BOBCAT.

Here’s the top of the cake:

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Around the base, I piped on bursts. In a feat that would make Sister Francis Miriam — my elementary school algebra teacher — proud, I counted the bursts and then based on the number of mini-M&Ms I had, figured out how to space them equally around the base in the center of those bursts. I then added ruby red pearlized sugar sprinkles on top of the bursts. Here’s a shot that shows the base with the mini-M&Ms and sprinkles. Always remember to place the “M” side down.

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All the best as you head off to college this Fall, Josh!

Career Stolen Bases Record Cake

Baking date: July 14 & 15, 2017

This season, one of the seniors on the varsity Walkersville Lions high school baseball team set the record for most career steals. Josh has played on the varsity team all four years of high school. Since I love to make these pay-it-forward types of goodies for people we know in the community, I was ready to fire up the oven and get baking! This would be my gift to him, as I was already commissioned to make the cupcakes for his graduation party.

I decided to go with an baseball infield cake, so I started with the 12″ square pan in red velvet – Josh’s favorite cake flavor. I wasn’t sure how I was going to decorate it, but would worry about that later.

After some thought, I decided to make a baseball infield with the bases. I made one cake in the easy layer square pan, and cut the layer into quarters for the square bases. One of the squares I fashioned into the shape of home plate.

The entire cake was covered in canned white frosting. The bases were placed on top in each corner of the diamond, and I frosted them as well.

I made a large lion paw in royal blue and yellow candy melts. For each number of stolen bases in each year, I made royal blue numbers. I dyed some of the icing golden yellow, and piped the year (“Frosh”, “Soph”, “Jr”, “Sr”) on the base to indicate the number of bases stolen each year. The total number was in the middle, along with the paw and “Career Stolen Bases” piped on in the golden yellow icing.

Around each base, I added brownie/turtle crunch topping. It’s my “go-to” for dirt for all the baseball cakes I make. Unfortunately, I can’t find it anymore (may be discontinued?) and since I didn’t have a lot left, I only placed it around the bases and home plate. Originally, I wanted to make the entire dirt infield, but we pivot when we must!

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On the third base side of the cake I piped on Josh’s twitter handle:

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and on the first base side, I piped on “Lion Pride”:

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Around the entire base, I piped on a burst and placed a large white sugar pearl in the center of each burst. Finally, I added royal blue and yellow sugar sprinkles on top of the bottom border.

Congrats Josh and all the best as you continue your baseball career in Frostburg!

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Home Run Cake for Jake

Baking date: May 26, 2017

I’ve made so many home run cakes over the years, I can’t keep count. This year on my son’s travel team, only one player hit a home run.

Technically, he hit two home runs. But one of them came after May 31 and I have been out of the baking game since then, when I had surgery to repair/rebuild a rupture in my Achilles. Recovery required 6 weeks completely off of my foot, so the the kitchen has been shut down while I was on the mend.

Jake requested a vanilla cake, so I used a French vanilla box mix — always add that extra tablespoon of vanilla when mixing to make it seem a bit more homemade.

The frosting was white. I dyed some red for the baseball stitches and some green for the grass around the base, piped on with a #233 tip. I also used some of the white for piping his name and date of the home run on the star candies. The large red star candies were for his name; the small star candies for the date of the home run. Home run was spelled out using royal blue candy melts (only the number mold is shown on the site, but they have an alphabet mold also).

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Finally, I added turtle crunch sprinkles around the base of the cake on the grass to simulate dirt. It’s been my go-to for sports cakes that require dirt, but I fear the product has been discontinued. It’s no longer on the Wilton site, and every place that does show it says it’s out of stock with no anticipated available date. Guess I’ll have to buy Heath bars or Butterfingers and pulse them in the blender if I need “dirt”. *sigh*

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Turtle Crunch sprinkles – the perfect “dirt”

Congrats on your home run, Jake — and welcome to the cake club!

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