Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Well, I thought "spring had sprung" but it was cold and snowing (almost invisible but still) on Tuesday when I brought these springy cookies to Ladies' group - it was the only thing spring like about Tuesday morning! The cookies came to mind when I decided to bring Strawberry Cake for my contribution to the food table. I just had to make strawberry minis to go with the cake - more as decoration than anything - they are just cute!

The cookies are an adaptation of my favorite sugar cookie recipe by Sugarbelle. I made them with Nielson Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla and Nielson Massey Orange Extract and 1 tsp. of grated orange zest. They were  very deceptive - they looked like strawberries but tasted like orange - what trickery!

I made some little blossoms for some of the "strawberries" with white fondant and added a dot of yellow royal icing for the center of the fondant blossom. 
Of course - in my tradition of "over doing" almost everything - I just had to add a few chocolate dipped "strawberries" to the plate of springiness :) I also brought some actual chocolate dipped strawberries to completely take it over the top, because that's just how I roll ;) Looking at my "daisy" cookies in this pic - they look like fried eggs ;( oops

Wilton Course 3 Final Cake

Wilton Course 3 Final Cake
Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Buttercream Filling and Vanilla Frosting - Topped with Wilton Fondant 
Strawberry Cake
2 cups white sugar
1 package of strawberry Jell-O
1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
4 eggs (room temp)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree - can be made from frozen sweetened or fresh with 1 tbsp sugar ( I have only ever used fresh because I have never bought frozen sweetened berries

For this course cake, I only needed a 6" round so I made two 8" rounds for a layer cake to take to our Tuesday morning ladies' group. Normally, you could make this with two 9" pans - I've made it into cupcakes before as well. So for whatever you would like - prepare your pans. I use Wilton Cake Release and just to be safe, I also used parchment rounds.

Cream butter and sugar and Jell-O powder, beating until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mixing well after each addition. Mix the vanilla and milk together.
Combine the dry ingredients together and add them alternating with the milk mixture until all are incorporated and stir in the puree. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for about 10 minutes, remove from pans and finish cooling. Top with your favorite frosting.
This strawberry cake is the same one I have used in the 5 layer Neapolitan cake shown here.
This is the strawberry cake that I made in the two 8" pans to take to my ladies' group on Tuesday.

Friday, April 20, 2012

French Vanilla Cake - Cake Decorating Isn't for Sissies!

This is my first fondant covered cake. The flowers are fondant and gum paste/fondant.
Michaels Course 3 - Gum Paste and Fondant - week 3 we covered a square cake and learned how to make daisies and mums. 
The cake and buttercream icing are made with Nielson Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. The fondant and gum paste are Wilton. We used the 20" wide glide rolling pin and the roll-n-cut mat to roll out the fondant for the cake.
Rolling fondant takes some serious muscles! I swear, my arms were aching the next day - I couldn't believe it. Cake decorating is not for sissies! 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter Cupcakes

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream 
These cupcakes were decorated to look like birds nests in the grass. I made nests using left over royal icing which I tinted brown and I put mini gourmet jelly beans which I got from the bulk store. My daughter and I had been shopping and saw something similar for sale as decorations and she said - "Mom, you could make these" - so I did. The nests for sale were by Wilton and were about $8 in Michaels (CAD) (if I recall correctly). 
I also did some cupcakes in "Eastery" colors.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Cookies

These are chocolate roll out cookies by LilaLoa and sugar cookies by Sugarbelle. 
The lambs were inspired by Marian at Sweetopia.
These bunnies on a stick were requested by a friend for a gathering she was going to where there would be some little ones who would enjoy these bunny face "mask" cookies. She told me afterward that they were a hit with everyone. I made some in LilaLoa's chocolate and the others in Sugarbelle's basic sugar cookie.
I also sent a dozen cookies to work with my hubby on Good Friday and he said they were a hit there too. 
Links to ingredients used to make all of these cookies....

Easter Cake

"John's Three Layer Apple Cake"
When planning what cake to bring for Easter dinner, my daughter suggested the apple cake, so my search ended right there since I know it is a favorite for everyone who would be attending. I also made a post about this family favorite here.
The filling inside is cinnamon buttercream and the outside is vanilla buttercream. The roses are the "star" of this cake, they are gum paste and fondant roses - I am now taking course 3 of the Wilton courses at Michaels. When I made these roses, we had not learned how to make them yet. I just followed instructions in the course 3 book and did my best - same for the leaves. 
What do you think? I think they are not too bad for a first try without guidance from our instructor.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wilton Flowers and Cake Design

Last week I completed course 2 of the Wilton courses at Michaels - Flowers and Cake Design. Since one of the main reasons I started taking these courses was to learn how to do roses and flowers, I decided that my final project cake would have roses on it! My final cake for course 1 had roses too but they were different. We learned how to do the basket weave design on the side of the cake during the last class. We brought our cakes ready to decorate. My cake was a strawberry cake the same recipe that I used in the Neapolitan cake from a previous post. The strawberry cake recipe is from and can be found here.

2 cups white sugar
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree made from
frozen sweetened strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a small knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, before tapping out to cool completely.
I filled the cake with strawberry buttercream which was made with butter and a small amount of shortening, powdered sugar, vanilla, LorAnn strawberry flavoring and fresh pureed strawberries.
The frosting on the outside of the cake was Wilton class frosting - with a bit of real butter - class frosting is usually made with white shortening only but I really don't care for it and find if using Crisco, the frosting doesn't crust well so I used a small amount of real butter and flavored it with Wilton clear artificial vanilla.
Now I have completed 2 out of 4 Wilton Method Courses and tonight I begin #3 which is Gum Paste and Fondant. Gotta say, I'm a little intimidated but I'll give it my best try.
Another look at my final cake....