Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

While scrolling through my Instagram feed I saw a picture of Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes and immediately thought… “I want to try that!” This happens a lot when I am looking at pictures on Instagram. It could be a recipe, a cake idea or a craft project. I recently purchased the supplies for a paint pouring project I saw on AC Moore’s page. I am sure it’s going to be a messy one so I am waiting for a decent weather day to make that outside. I initially thought that the cupcakes were baked in a mini muffin tin and then placed inside of the cupcake cones (silly me!) but after a Google search I learned that no, the cupcakes are actually baked in the cones (even better!) And what was even better than that, I decided that since these were a “fun cupcakes” I would use Funfetti cake mix and lo and behold on the side of the Pillsbury box on Funfetti cake mix were the instructions to make these.

I began by placing flat-bottom ice cream cones in a muffin pan…

Next, after preparing the batter, I poured about 3 tablespoons of batter into each cone. You don’t want to overfill the cones, if you do, you’ll end up with a cupcake spilling out of the cone once baked.

I then baked them in a preheated 350F oven for approximately 25 minutes.

I allowed them to cool completely on a wire rack…

And then piped frosting on each cupcake using a large star tip (I used Wilton size 1M) to resemble a soft serve ice cream cone. And no ice cream cone is complete without sprinkles.

There you have it… Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes. While they are fun and delicious (and probably the perfect treat for a kids party) they do have a downfall, they are top-heavy. Which means transporting them can be a challenge. I dropped a few of them while trying to balance them on a cake stand while walking. Lesson learned!

Black Forest Cupcakes

So, I had never baked with cherries before until this Cherry Pie and here I am making another sweet treat with cherries… Black Forest Cupcakes. With chocolate, cherries & whipped cream how could they not be delicious!

I began by making the cherry filling. Unfortunately this isn’t the most appetizing looking picture of the cherry filling, but, it definitely tasted whole a lot better than it looked.

While the cherry filling cooled in the refrigerator I made the cupcakes.

And once the cupcakes and the filling had cooled I cored the cupcakes and filled them with the cherry filling.

And finally, I topped them with whipped cream frosting, some chocolate shavings and a cherry.

Surprisingly these cupcakes were incredibly light and not overly sweet.

 

Black Forest Cupcakes

  • Servings: 15 cupcakes
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Ingredients:

Chocolate Cupcakes:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons milk*

*I used 2% milk

 

Cherry Filling:

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons corn starch

2 tablespoons water

1 2/3 cups pitted and quartered cherries

 

Whipped Cream:

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, cold

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

chocolate, for grating

cherries, for topping

 

Directions:

Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a cupcake pan with liners.

Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just blended.

In a separate bowl combine the vanilla extract, water and cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Add this to the sugar mixture and beat until combined.

In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternating with the milk. Add half of the flour mixture, then all of the milk and then the remaining flour mixture, mix until the batter is smooth.

Fill the cupcakes liners about 3/4 way (about 1/4 cup) and bake for 15-17 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool a few minutes in the pan and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Cherry Filling:

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Heat until the sugar begins to melt

Add the cherries and stir to coat them with the sugar mixture. Cook the mixture until the cherries begin to soften and they let out their juices.

Remove from the heat once the juice has begun to thicken. Pour the mixture into another bowl and refrigerate until cool.

 

Once the cupcakes and the cherry filling has cooled remove the centers of the cupcakes using a cupcake corer or a knife and fill the centers with the cherry filling.

 

Whipped Cream:

Add the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract to a large bowl and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Pipe swirls of the whipped cream on top of the cupcakes. Then top them with grated chocolate and a cherry. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe from The Cake Blog

Cupcake Bouquet Tutorial

I came across Cupcake Bouquets while doing some research on Pinterest for something else. Once I saw it though I knew I wanted to try making one myself.

To begin, I gathered my supplies: a 6-inch pot, a 6-inch Styrofoam ball, 9oz. paper cups, toothpicks, and glass weights or rocks. You will also need a hot glue gun. A couple of things to point out… Make sure that the size of your pot and ball are the same size, or close to it, so that ball can fit snug inside of the pot.

Since I had a piece of circular Styrofoam I decided to cut it down to fit inside the bottom of the pot…

So, just in case any of my glass weights escaped from the newspaper I wrapped them in they wouldn’t fall through the hole in the bottom of the pot. The reason for the weights in the pot is to prevent it from tipping over if all the cupcakes are removed from one side.

Next, I lined the inside of the top of the pot with hot glue and placed the Styrofoam ball inside and let it dry for a few minutes before hot gluing paper cups – that I cut to an inch tall – to the ball. Make sure you place the cups just above the rim of your pot, you don’t want too much space. You could attempt to just stick the cupcakes on to the ball using toothpicks, but, using the cups will give the cupcakes more support and less chance of them falling off.

 

I continued gluing the cups around the ball, placing them fairly close together. I ended up with 9 cups in my first round.

For the second round, I placed the cups in between two cups from the first round, ending up with a total of 6 cups. And then, one final cup on top of the ball. Don’t worry about the spaces as they will be filled later with cupcake liners.

 

And finally I placed toothpicks inside of each of the cups. Three toothpicks forming a triangle in the first round, and two toothpicks in the cups on the second round and the one on top. Leave about half of the toothpick out. Be careful as you might stick yourself with a toothpick here and there and it can be quite painful.

A quick recap… A 6-inch Styrofoam ball in a 6-inch pot will yield a 16-Flower Cupcake Bouquet.

Next, bake your favorite cupcakes – I decided on Chocolate & Yellow cupcakes. Once they cooled I stuck one into each of the cups on the ball.

  

Now it’s time to fill the spaces between the cupcakes. Using green cupcake liners, I gathered them and began placing them in the empty spaces, using toothpicks to anchor them to the ball.

 

Next, the fun part – decorating the cupcakes. Since you will be piping flowers, make sure your frosting is firm enough to be piped. Your best bet is to make your own. My favorite frosting to use for piping and decorating is this Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. It’s the perfect consistency and tastes delicious. I used a Wilton 1M tip to creates the roses and a 2D tip to create the hydrangeas. Before you start piping the flowers on to the cupcakes just give them a little nudge to make sure they are all the way into the cups secured by the toothpicks.

 

And finally… You have your Cupcake Bouquet. This is a nice gift for a birthday, a cute idea for a baby shower, or a nice alternative to flowers, etc.

 

 

Eggnog Cupcakes with a Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

So, what have you been baking this Holiday season? Cookies? Cupcakes? Cakes? All three? I haven’t baked a cake yet, but, I have baked my fair share of cookies. Did you catch any of my Cookie Palooza recipes last week? There were some good ones in there. Today though I am bringing you a cupcake that encompasses a few flavors of the season… Eggnog and Cinnamon in an Eggnog Cupcake with a Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting. I highly suggest you use an eggnog that you like as opposed to any old one you happen to come across at the supermarket and don’t worry if you don’t like eggnog these cupcakes are not overpowering with the flavor.

To make the cupcakes I began by stirring together all the dry ingredients in one bowl – flour, sugar, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another, using my hand mixer I beat room temperature butter until it was creamy. I then added in all of the flour mixture and continues beat the mixture until it resembled crumble topping.

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Next I added in two eggs and continued beating…

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And finally I added in the eggnog and mixed it on low speed until the batter was silky and smooth (kind of a funny way to explain cupcake batter).

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Next I divided the batter evenly among my 12-cavity cupcake pan (about 1/4 cup in each cavity) and of course I used holiday inspired cupcake liners…

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I baked them in a 350 F pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes and then transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, I topped them off with homemade Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting. This frosting is so good I could just eat it out of the bowl. I had to refrain from too many taste tests since I needed enough to frost the cupcakes!

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Eggnog Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

2 eggs

1/2 cup eggnog

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl stir together all of the ingredients except the butter, eggs and eggnog and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter with a hand mixer on medium speed until creamy. Add all of the flour mixture and continue beating until it mixture resembles a crumble topping. Add the eggs and beat for an additional minute; the batter should be light in color and a bit fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Finally, beat in the eggnog gently until just combined and the batter is silky and smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake pan (about 1/4 cup each cavity).

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched in the center and a cake taster comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

Recipe from Betty Crocker

 

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Enough for 24 Cupcakes*

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

4 cups (1 lb. box) confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

*I opted to divide the recipe in half and had enough frosting to frost 10 cupcakes using a 1M Wilton Tip Swirl

Directions:

Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter and vanilla extract on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Stir the cinnamon into the confectioners’ sugar, gradually add this to the butter mixture. Beating well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add milk (or heavy cream) and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy. If you find that the frosting is a bit thick and heavy to spread add more milk/heavy cream to thin it down.

Recipe from McCormick

Día De Los Muertos Cupcakes

Happy Halloween! This year instead of a Halloween inspired treat I opted to go with a Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) one instead. So, what is Día De Los Muertos you may ask? Well, it’s a three-day Mexican holiday where one remembers and celebrates friends and family members who have died. And while pumpkins and ghosts are symbolic of Halloween, sugar skulls are the symbol associated with this holiday. These are skulls that are colorfully decorated. The biggest difference I would say between the two holidays is how one celebrates death and the other fears death. With Día De Los Muertos people set-up altars to celebrate the dead, bring food and/or beverages, among other gifts, to their loved one’s grave site. While with Halloween, children wear masks and costumes as protection and jack-o-lanterns are meant to ward off evil spirits. So, whichever you choose to celebrate, or if you are among those who did not celebrate at all, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with candy! One of the reasons I decided to go with this theme was because I was giving these cupcakes as part of a birthday gift to a friend who really likes the décor of the holiday and she’s probably a bigger pumpkin spice fan than me.

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I began these cupcakes by making the sugar skull toppers. I melted Wilton White Candy Melts and poured them into skull molds and then placed them in the refrigerator so they could set.

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The following day using an array of sparkle gel…

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I decorated the skulls to mimic sugar skulls and then placed them back in the refrigerator.

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A few days later I made the cupcakes. To make the batter I began by whisking together melted butter, oil and milk. Once that was well combined I added in brown sugar and continued whisking until it was smooth. And then finally I added in vanilla extract and eggs. In another bowl I combined the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt) and then added them to the wet ingredients. Next I folded in pumpkin puree and chocolate chips.

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I then filled Día De Los Muertos themed cupcake liners about 3/4 full and baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

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After letting them cool completely I made a cream cheese frosting to top them off.

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So the sugar skulls would pop a little I opted to stripe the inside of the decorator bag with green before adding the frosting to pipe. And there you have it… Día De Los Muertos Pumpkin Cupcakes.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup vegetable oil

5 tablespoons milk*, room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

14 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree

3/4 cup chocolate chips

*I used 2%

Cupcake Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and lined a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl whisk together the butter, oil and milk until smooth. Add in the brown sugar and continue mixing until smooth and finally add in the vanilla and eggs, continuing to whisk until smooth.

In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix it until smooth.

Fold in the pumpkin puree and then the chocolate chips until well combined.

Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full and bake for about 21-23 minutes, until a cake inserted in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Let cupcakes cool in the tin for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Ingredients for Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

4 cups Confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 cups vanilla extract

Frosting Directions:

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and mix together until smooth.

Add half of the sugar and mix until smooth, then add the vanilla extract and continue mixing. Finally add the remaining sugar and continue mixing until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes.

Recipe from The Cake Blog

A Sweet Way to Ring in the New Year… Chocolate and Strawberries!

Happy New Year! So, how did you ring in the year? Asleep? Out and about? Or like me, surrounded by family and friends? In my case, the friends actually fall under the family category, so I should say I rang it in with family. Either way, I hope it was an enjoyable time and a great kick off to the new year ahead. And how about those resolutions? Did you make any? I may have mentioned it before, but, I don’t make resolutions. I think it’s great for those people who do so, but, I don’t think you need a new year to make a new start. Every day you wake up is an opportunity to do something different and better for yourself and those around you. I sound like self-help guru or something… LOL! But, it’s true. Every day we have a choice as to how we are going to lead our day and we can make the decisions that are best for us or the ones that are not so great. But, it’s up to each of us to make those decisions. So, maybe that’s my resolution, to live the best day possible each and every day. And trust me I know from experience that it’s not always easy, but, you always have to try and find the silver lining because if you don’t you may always wonder, “Why me?” And now on to the Chocolate and Strawberries!

So, I always want to make something different and delicious as a sweet treat for New Year’s Eve and I was pondering attempting to make macarons, but, I quickly decided against it. I think that’s best left for when it’s just a random day and if they don’t come out well I don’t have to scramble to make something else in their place. So I opted for cupcakes. Something that is foolproof and always a crowd favorite. And these were cupcakes that I wanted to make for a month or two now. I came across the recipe when I was flipping through an old holiday magazine for cookie recipe ideas – remember I am a bit of a recipe hoarder! They are a super simple mocha chip cupcake with a chocolate sour cream frosting. The coffee in the cupcake offsets the chocolate from the chocolate chips in it and the sour cream adds a nice tang to the frosting so overall this isn’t an overly sweet or chocolatey cupcake. And to make it festive I sprayed a few using an edible gold shimmer spray and topped the others with strawberries.

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And since I had leftover strawberries and half a bag of chocolate chips left it was the perfect set-up for some chocolate covered strawberries. I simply melted the chocolate chips in the microwave in minute intervals and then dipped the strawberries in it and then placed them on a wax-paper covered cookie sheet and placed them in the refrigerator until set. Once they were set I drizzled more melted chocolate over them. These were a HIT and barely made it to midnight!

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So, stay tuned in 2016 for more sweet treats, slow cooker meals, beaded jewelry and yarn projects!

 

Mocha Chip Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 cupcakes
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Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 12 standard cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. While the mixer is running, slowly poor in the sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, with the mixer on medium-high speed beet until the mixture is light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, on medium speed. Beat until the batter is smooth and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and the melted chocolate and beat until smooth and blended. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the dissolved espresso powder. Finally stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tin and bake 20 to 22 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed in the center.

Let the cupcakes cool in the tin for 5 minutes on a wire rack and then remove them allowing them to cool completely on the wire rack.

Recipe from Fine Cooking

 

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

  • Servings: 1 1/4 cups
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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup sour cream

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, spooned and leveled

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

milk, if necessary

Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk butter, sour cream, vanilla extract and salt to blend. Gradually whisk in the sugar until smooth. Add the chocolate and beat it in with the whisk until the frosting is smooth and creamy. The frosting must be thick and spreadable; if it’s too thick thin it with a drops of milk. If it’s too thin, chill it briefly, stirring occasionally until thickened.

Recipe from Fine Cooking

Patriotic Treats

Hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day and enjoyed the rest of the holiday weekend! Mine was filled with great food, great friends and a delicious and patriotic dessert.

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Before I get to that amazing cake though, here are some patriotic cupcakes that I made earlier in the week. They were simply a yellow cupcake with a vanilla frosting – sometimes there’s nothing better than a classic combination. To create the striped icing effect I brushed the inside of a plastic decorator bag with red food gel coloring on one side and blue on the other after fitting it with a 1M Wilton Tip. I then filled the bag with vanilla frosting and began piping each of the cupcakes. Once I ran out of frosting in the bag I simply brushed the colors once again inside the bag and then filled it with more frosting.

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Now, onto the cake. Prep work for this cake actually began a week before July 4th. I made the glitter stars that topped the cake by rolling out gum paste 1/8″ thick and used varying sizes of cookie cutters to cut out stars. After snipping 22 gauge silver floral wire into different lengths I dipped one end into egg white and gently pushed that end of the wire into the stars about 3/4 of the way up. I laid the stars out on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let them dry out (harden) for a full day, flipping them occasionally.

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After they were completely dry it was time to decorate them. To do so, I brushed the stars with egg white and then sprinkled glitter on them, making sure that I covered the edges of the stars as well.

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I let them sit out for a day or two to make sure they were completely dry and then stored them in a waxed lined plastic shoe box.

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To make the actual cake I began by baking the red velvet layers of the cake – 2 of them. I’ve made red velvet cake quite a few times before and this recipe was quite different than the ones I have normally followed. For one thing, instead of buttermilk this recipe called for sour cream to be whisked with water to thin it down to the consistency of buttermilk. I’ve heard of using lemon juice and milk as a substitute for buttermilk, but never sour cream. I was fine with this though as I usually have sour cream in my fridge as opposed to buttermilk. Also, this recipe called for butter and oil to be used, which turned out an incredibly moist cake. After making the batter I divided it into two 9-inch pans tapping the pans down to release any air bubbles and then baked them in a 350 F oven for twenty-five minutes.

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Following that I let the cakes cool in the pans for about ten minutes and then inverted them onto wire racks so they could cool completely.

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While the red velvet layers were cooling I baked the white cake which had a hint of lemon thanks to the addition of lemon zest. Once I made the batter I poured it into a 9-inch pan that I sprayed with baking spray and lined with parchment paper – which I also sprayed with baking spray. I did this same prep work for the pans I used for the red velvet layers as well. As I also did with the red velvet layers, I tapped the pan down to release the air bubbles and baked it in a 350 F once again for twenty-five minutes.

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After cooling the cake in the pan for a few minutes I inverted it onto a wire rack so it could cool completely.

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Once the cakes were cooled it was time to make the frosting – cream cheese frosting – and assemble the cake. I spread about a cup of frosting between each of the layers…

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And then crumb coated the cake and placed it in the refrigerator so the frosting could firm up.

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Once the crumb coat was firm I finish frosting the cake and created a design on the cake by using the back of a spoon. While rotating the cake on a cake turntable I ran the back of the spoon along the edge of the cake and around the top.

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And then it was time to decorate the cake with the glittered stars and some fresh berries – blackberries, blueberries and strawberries.

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And how did the stripes look once the cake was cut into…. Perfect!

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This was definitely one cake that tasted just as good as it looked!

Red, White and Blue Cake

Red Velvet Cake Layers:

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)

1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 1-ounce bottle red food coloring

1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream mixed with 1/4 cup water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, then line bottoms with rounds of wax paper. Butter paper and dust pans with some additional flour, knocking out excess.

2. Resift cake flour together with cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

3. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer (fitted with paddle attachment if using stand mixer) at medium-high speed until combined well, then add oil and beat until very pale and creamy, about 3 minutes.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla extract.

5. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and sour cream mixture in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and mixing until batter is smooth.

6. Divide batter between pans (about 3 cups in each) and smooth tops. Rap pans on counter a couple of times to expel any air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a wooden pick comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides of pans, 25 to 30 minutes. Keep oven on.

7. Cool layers in pans on racks 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pans. Invert layers onto racks and peel off wax paper. Cool layers completely.

White Cake Layer:

1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large egg whites

1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 2 tablespoons water

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Butter one 9-inch round cake pan, then line bottom with wax paper. Butter paper and dust pan with some additional flour, knocking out excess.

2. Resift cake flour together with baking soda and salt into a bowl. Whisk egg whites in another bowl with sour cream mixture until combined.

3. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer (fitted with paddle attachment if using stand mixer) at medium-high speed until combined well, then add oil and beat until very pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in zest and vanilla extract.

4. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and sour cream mixture in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is smooth. Transfer batter to pan and spread evenly. Rap pan on counter a couple of times to expel any air bubbles.

5. Bake in middle of oven until a wooden pick comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from side of pan, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan. Invert layer onto rack and peel off wax paper. Cool layer completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 1/2 8-ounce packages cream cheese (20-ounces total), softened

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Beat together cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixture until creamy and smooth. Beat in lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt.

2. Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl and add to cream cheese mixture. Mix on low speed until incorporated, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until smooth.

Frost cake:

Brush loose crumbs from cake layers with a pastry brush.

Put a red velvet layer, bottom side up, on a cake plate or stand. Spread 1 cup of frosting over layer. Cover with white layer, bottom side up, and spread with another cup of frosting. Top with second red velvet layer, bottom side up.

Spread a thin layer of frosting around sides and over top of cake. (This is called crumb-coating. It tamps down any loose crumbs to keep them out of the top layer of frosting and fills in any crevices. This is particularly important with red velvet cake layers.) Chill or briefly freeze cake just until frosting is firm.

Spread sides and top of cake with remaining frosting. Chill or briefly freeze cake just until frosting is firm.

Fruit Topping:

1 pint (8 ounces) strawberries, halved

1 pint (12 ounces) blueberries

1/2 pint (6 ounces) blackberries

Toss fruit together in a bowl, add a teaspoon of sugar if desired. Top cake with fruit and spread some around the sides of the cake.

For a complete list of supplies and a more detailed description of how to create the stars check out this link. I’m planning on using this technique to create other shapes for cakes in the future.