Skip to content

Month: January 2012

The Technicolor Elephant Cake

This past weekend was my 1-year-olds birthday party, and I had picked out a pan for his birthday cake around six months ago.  I had done a monkey cake pan for my first son, and wanted to stick with a similar theme for the second, so I had picked out an elephant cake pan.  Well, when it had come to make the cake, I decided to try two other things as well.

First, I was going to try working with fondant for the first time.  Now, I’ve never been a big fan of fondant, as I think it often doesn’t add much to a cake besides providing a smoother finish.  However, I have another project coming down the pipeline where I’ve been asked to use fondant, so I thought I’d at least try it out first.

Second, I wanted to make a regular yellow cake recipe, just to keep things easy, but I wanted it to be more fun.  So, after I mixed the batter, I decided to split it up into 4 bowls and color it.

IMG_0926

I then added it to the cake pan, one at a time right into the middle, and shaking them even a little bit with each layer.

IMG_0928

After baking, it looks a little funny as a blue cake, but you can see some of the other colors poking through while it was cooking before I got a chance to level out the back.

IMG_0933

After the cake was fully cooled, I went to work on the decorations.

I first made up a batch of my basic buttercream frosting, and applied a thin layer over the cake to help the fondant stick when applied.

I then rolled out my fondant with a fondant rolling pin, and then flopped it over on the cake.  I then smoothed it to the contours of the cake with the back of a spoon, and then trimmed the edges at the bottom of the cake.

Once the cake was covered, it was time to break out the coloring for the remainder of my buttercream and the piping kit to do the decorations.  Here is a shot of my work in progress:

Last 12 Months - 0216

And finally, the finished product…

Last 12 Months - 0232

…which was adorable on it’s own, but there was an audible “WOW” when the cake was cut and served.

IMG_0976

IMG_0987

All in all, it turned our pretty awesome.  And it was really pretty easy to do (even if it did require a little extra clean-up), and well worth it the extra little effort in the end.  Everyone enjoyed it, and we barely had any left when all was set and done.

The only thing I’d make sure to change next time would be to roll out the fondant a bit thinner.  I used the medium rings on the rolling pin, and it was easy to handle, but it was a tad thick for the cake.  So, either stick to the really thin fondant (maybe trying the Fondarific as suggested by Jen at Cake Wrecks in her twitter feed), or just stick with the buttercream.

Greg’s Yellow Cake

I’ve previously shared my staple buttercream frosting, and I wanted to add on to that another building block of my dessert arsenal, my basic yellow cake recipe.  Now, there are lots of similar recipes out there, and I’ve tried many of them, and I’ve settled somewhere in between.  This recipe creates a tasty and most yellow cake that is the perfect starting point for many cake and cupcake recipes.

Greg's Yellow Cake
Print Recipe
My basic yellow cake recipe, where many of my other recipes start from and turn into other delicious creations. This recipe will make enough to fill two 8-inch round pans, or about two dozen cupcakes.
Servings
24
Servings
24
Greg's Yellow Cake
Print Recipe
My basic yellow cake recipe, where many of my other recipes start from and turn into other delicious creations. This recipe will make enough to fill two 8-inch round pans, or about two dozen cupcakes.
Servings
24
Servings
24
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks and whole eggs one at a time.
  5. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into prepared cupcake/cake pans.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes for cupcakes, 25-30 minutes for cakes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool 15 minutes before placing onto cooling racks.
Share this Recipe
 
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Lemon Bellies Cupcakes

This past week was my wife’s birthday, and unfortunately, we were not able to find time to celebrate as a family on the day, so we pushed the celebration back to earlier this evening.  Since my wife is a fan of lemon bars, I came up with the idea of turning them into a cupcake.  The result is what I am calling my Lemon Bellies Cupcakes.

lemon_bellies

Lemon Bellies Cupcakes
Print Recipe
First made for my wife's birthday, they are a plain yellow cake mix (slightly influenced by a sugar cookie recipe), injected with lemon curd, and topped with a light-tasting ricotta buttercream frosting.
Servings
24
Servings
24
Lemon Bellies Cupcakes
Print Recipe
First made for my wife's birthday, they are a plain yellow cake mix (slightly influenced by a sugar cookie recipe), injected with lemon curd, and topped with a light-tasting ricotta buttercream frosting.
Servings
24
Servings
24
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks and whole eggs one at a time.
  5. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into prepared cupcake pans.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool 15 minutes before placing onto cooling racks.
  8. Once completely cooled, use a piping bag with Bismarck tip to inject cupcakes with lemon curd in the middle.
  9. For frosting, cream butter and shortening in an electric mixer with whipping attachments.
  10. Stop mixer, add confectioners’ sugar, and slowly combine with other ingredients. Increase speed once fully incorporated.
  11. Add ricotta cheese and combine.
  12. Slowly add cream and incorporate at high speeds. Continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy.
  13. Top cupcakes with frosting (I use a piping bag and cake decorating tips), being sure to cover up holes created while injecting lemon curd.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Thoughts

This turned to be a nice and light tasting cupcake, which really let the lemon curd shine despite there only being a small amount in the cupcake (in comparison to a lemon bar).  The cake and frosting almost took a backseat, while still complimenting the flavors of the lemon.  My wife and I both enjoyed it, though I should probably allow her to speak for herself. I would definitely make these again, maybe for a more summery event, like a picnic or cookout.

My First Gluten-Free Cupcake

Gluten-free has never been much of a concern of mine.  There aren’t any gluten allergies that run in my family, and I just don’t know too many people with them. However, when I wanted to make a cupcake to take to daycare for my son’s first birthday, I thought it would be best to play it safe and avoid as many potential allergens as possible, so that all the kids could enjoy the cupcakes.  That lead to me attempting a gluten-free banana maple cupcake.

gluten-free-cupcake

Thoughts

I topped these with my standard buttercream recipe, just colored “red” (yes, it never got past hot pink…I eventually gave up), sprinkled with some yellow sugar and topped with candy pieces. I have to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavor of the gluten-free flour I used.  It didn’t provide as sweet of a flavor as I had been looking for, but it worked well enough with the bananas.  If I were to do it again, I’d probably go with an arrowroot flour/starch because I’ve seen it more with infants crackers and cookies, and I think it may give a sweeter flavor.  However, for my first venture into gluten-free, I don’t think it was too bad.

My First Gluten-Free Cupcake
Print Recipe
I made these as mini-cupcakes so there were plenty to share with the kids at daycare, and the cook time is for those.
My First Gluten-Free Cupcake
Print Recipe
I made these as mini-cupcakes so there were plenty to share with the kids at daycare, and the cook time is for those.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the bananas until fully combined.
  5. Beat in the egg yolks and whole eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and maple syrup.
  6. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool 15 minutes before placing onto cooling racks.
Share this Recipe
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe

Greg’s Standard Buttercream Frosting

It seems appropriate to start off the recipe portion of this blog with some of the basics that I work with.  So, since I plan on spending a lot of time on cupcakes, I thought I’d start with the basic frosting I use to top many of them (or tweak to get those great flavors). I used to always use the basic Wilton Buttercream Icing recipe, but I found that too often it wasn’t as firm as I wanted it to be.  Therefore, I made a few tweaks to it to get the kind of frosting I wanted, and ended up with this recipe:

Greg's Standard Buttercream Frosting
Print Recipe
Greg's basic buttercream frosting recipe, that is often the backbone of my other frosting variations.
Greg's Standard Buttercream Frosting
Print Recipe
Greg's basic buttercream frosting recipe, that is often the backbone of my other frosting variations.
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and shortening in an electric mixer with whipping attachments.
  2. Add vanilla and combine.
  3. Stop mixer, add confectioners' sugar, and slowly combine with other ingredients. Increase speed once fully incorporated.
  4. Slowly add cream and incorporate at high speeds. Continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy.
Share this Recipe
 
Powered byWP Ultimate Recipe
You may notice that my two biggest changes are to use more shortening and heavy whipping cream instead of milk, and I feel that these make for a more stable frosting, which is great for piping onto cupcakes. Don’t worry…the cupcakes recipes will be coming shortly!

Kicking Off A New Year In 2012

Well, a new year is upon us, and it’s time to look at what we want to accomplish in the coming year…

That’s right, the dreaded NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!

I’m keeping mine pretty simple this year, though that doesn’t mean that they won’t be challenging:

#1 – Lose 30 Pounds

Yes, I spend a lot of time between work and taking care of my boys, but in the past few years I definitely haven’t taken care of myself the way I need to.  It’s time to change my routines and diet, and take care of myself for the long term.  It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but it’s a change I need to make.

I weighed myself this morning, and I checked in at 267.6 after the holidays, so I’m shooting for 237 by the end of 2012.  I’ll be posting updates throughout the year, both to share what has and hasn’t been working, and to help hold myself accountable to my goals.

#2 – Run Four 5k Races

In 2010, I started running over the summer and managed to complete two 5k races by the end of the year.  Then in 2011, I didn’t stick with that effort, instead dedicating my time to our boys.  In 2012, I want to get back to that level of training and getting that sense of accomplishment from finishing the races.

 

That’s going to be it for this year.  There will still be plenty of my time focusing on my boys and spending quality time with my wife, but this year I need to make sure I take care of myself as well.