Russian Decorating Tips

If you’ve been perusing decorated cakes on Instagram or Pinterest lately you may have noticed an influx of cakes decorated with some fancy and elaborate looking flowers. You may have thought to yourself that they require some advanced skill in cake decorating to create, but, the truth is, they only require specific types of decorating tips, a little patience and the right frosting consistency to replicate.

When I first started seeing them I did a little research and discovered that the flowers were being created with decorating tips known as “Russian Decorating Tips.” After a little more research I discovered that these tips have nothing to do with Russia. So, how did they get their name? Per another blogger, I Am Baker, they got their name because they were being sold by a company called Ali Express and they named them “Russian Tips.” At the time I didn’t feel like ordering a set over the internet, but, not too long ago I discovered that my local AC Moore began selling a set of 8 (along with an extra-large coupler to use with them) for less than $10. Truth be told, you don’t need the coupler. You can just cut your decorator bag and drop the tip in. I would suggest using a 16-inch decorator bag with these tips as opposed to a 12-inch one.

 

Unlike traditional decorating tips from Wilton & Ateco, these tips do not have numbers on them. The tips have a laser cut design on the end that allows the frosting to be piped through and form the different flowers. I will say that some of the tips are easier to use than others. Some of the designs, especially those that have detailed centers meant to emulate the stamen & stigma part of the flower, take a little more practice to master. One other thing that is different is the way you pipe them. With your usual tips you sometimes have to add a little wrist twist to get the flower design, or, you have to hold the bag at a 45 degree angle. But, with these tips you hold the bag at a 90 degree angle about an inch or so from your cake (or cupcake) and squeeze for a few seconds to form the flower. Before piping the next flower I would suggest wiping the tip clean to get a nice flower for the next pipe.

Like I mentioned earlier I purchased a set of these tips from my local AC Moore store. I can’t remember how I knew they carried them; I probably saw something on their Instagram feed. I decided to hold off on using them until I made my Mother’s Day cake. I did test them out using store bought vanilla frosting and as I had suspected and had read a little bit about, the frosting was too thin to get a well-formed flower. All of my test flowers looked like little blobs of frosting as opposed to a flower.

So, using my go-to Fluffy Vanilla Frosting that I then tinted in 4 different colors I began decorating the top of my cake. I was soon a bit frustrated with some of the tips. The flowers weren’t piping well and even though the frosting was a stiffer consistency the centers of the flowers weren’t looking nice. So, I decided to switch the tips I had chosen to use. Soon enough I got the hang of it and ended up with a flower topped cake I was content with. It wasn’t until I added in leaves (using a Wilton 352 tip) that I piped around the cake and in between the flowers to fill in the gaps that I was truly happy with the outcome.

  

 

 

 

 

Vanilla Squared Cupcakes

I recently got a request for a basic yellow cupcake with vanilla frosting. No sprinkles, no additional flavors or anything, just plain vanilla. I can understand… One of my favorite desserts is a yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting. It’s such a simple and satisfying combination and sometimes that simplicity is a better dessert than something intricate and complicated in flavor. It’s a comfort and familiarity. For the cupcake, I tried out a vanilla cupcake recipe I got from an issue of Food Network Magazine quite some time ago and for the frosting, I whipped up half a batch of my favorite vanilla frosting from Martha Stewart. Final result, the perfect Vanilla Square Cupcake.

 

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 cupcakes
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Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk*

*I used whole milk

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue beating until creamy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time and then beat in the vanilla extract.

Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk. Beat until just combine and then divide the batter among the muffin pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cool rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and transfer them to the rack and allow to cool completely.

Recipe from Food Network Magazine

 

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. After adding the first cup and then second cup increase the speed of the mixer to high and beat for 10 seconds to aerate the frosting.

Add the vanilla extract and beat the frosting until its smooth.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Halloween Sprinkle Cake

Happy Halloween! So, will any of you be dressing up today? I can’t remember the last time I dressed up. These days I prefer to dress-up my baked treats with a Halloween theme. And this year, I made a Halloween themed Sprinkle Cake. If you’re wondering, a sprinkle cake is exactly what it sounds like. A cake covered in sprinkles. What’s fun and great about them, they work for any occasion… you just have to change the color of your sprinkles and you are all set.

I started off by baking, crumb coating and frosting my cake – getting it as smooth as possible. I opted to use a box cake mix – Pillsbury’s Halloween Funfetti Cake Mix – and store bought vanilla frosting – Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting. Since I wasn’t all that sure how many ounces of  sprinkles I was going to need – I had a rough idea -and because I was planning on rolling the cake in a bed of sprinkles I opted to keep it small – 6 inches.

Speaking of the sprinkles… I order nonpareils – basically tiny balls of sprinkles – in purple, orange and black from NY Cake. I did a little research and they had the colors I wanted at the best price. I also ordered the green cupcake liners I used for the Cupcake Bouquet I made back in May from them. I went to their shop once in NYC and at the time I was just wandering around aimlessly looking at things. Since I decorate cakes more often now I am sure I would make the most of my next visit.

Next, I emptied the sprinkles onto a rimmed baking sheet and mixed them together. Let me just apologize now for my pictures. I need to stop baking and decorating at night and also on rainy days. Well, I can’t control the rainy days, but, I could definitely pick better times to start my baking/decorating projects.

To efficiently cover the cake in sprinkles I opted to roll the cake in the sprinkles. To do so, I placed a cake board on top of the cake, as well as the bottom, and simply rolled the cake in the sprinkles back and forth until it was covered. I used a spoon to cover any small spots I may have missed. To cover the top, I carefully removed the cake board and spread more frosting on it and poured handfuls of the sprinkles over it. To remove any excess sprinkles, I carefully tilted the cake to the side and tapped the bottom cake board so they could fall off.

Now it was time for a little more decorating. I’ve been seeing a lot of cakes on Instagram with a chocolate drizzle and I have been wanting to try it myself. I decided that this cake would be perfect for that. I made a chocolate ganache – the same one I made for the Pumpkin Crepe Cake – and poured it into a decorating bottle. I let the ganache sit for a few minutes so it would thicken up but still be pourable. You don’t want to pour it too soon or you’ll end up with a runny mess on your cake. I put it in a decorating bottle because I was only planning on decorating the edges of the cake and the sides, but, if you want to cover the entire top of the cake you could pour the ganache in the middle of cake and then use an offset spatula to smooth it out and let it drip down the sides.

After that, I tinted some of the remaining vanilla frosting a light orange color and piped a border around the bottom of the cake and used a large star tip to decorate the top. And finally placed a bat and a few creepy crawlers – spiders – on the cake for a final touch.

 

I love how this cake came out! I can’t wait to make another one with a completely different theme.

Happy Halloween!

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!

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.

Funfetti Cake

Are you ever too old for sprinkles? If you ask me, I’ll say absolutely not! I’m thirtysomething and when I go to Carvel to get a cup of soft serve vanilla ice cream I always ask for them to put sprinkles in the bottom of the cup before swirling in the ice cream and then ask for more sprinkles on top. So, when a friends’ younger sister asked me to make her a Funfetti cake for her 30th birthday I was more than happy to oblige!

To create this Funfetti cake, I followed a recipe to make a white cake and in the end I folded in a cup of rainbow sprinkles. To create the batter for the cake I began by beating butter until it was creamy and then gradually added in sugar and continued beating it until it was light and fluffy. In a separate bowl I sifted together flour and baking powder and in a measuring cup I mixed together milk and vanilla extract. I added these two to the butter mixture alternating between the two, starting and ending with the flour mixture. In another separate bowl, I beat 5 egg whites until stiff peaks formed. I then folded the egg whites along with the sprinkles into the batter.

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I divided the batter among 3 8-inch round cake pans that I sprayed with baking spray and then baked them in a 350 F oven for about 25 minutes. After letting the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes I then turned the cakes out on wire racks so they could cool completely.

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I then made my go-to frosting, a Fluffy Vanilla Frosting from Martha Stewart. After crumb coating the cake…

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I finished frosting it, added some dropped dollops on top and of course some sprinkles. While everyone wasn’t a fan of the Funfetti Cake – I never realized it was one of those cakes that you either love or hate – the Birthday girl thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Funfetti Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

5 egg whites

3/4 rainbow sprinkles

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 3 8-inch round cake pans.

Stir together the milk and vanilla extract and set aside.

Beat the butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add in the sugar, beating until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl sift together the cake flour & baking powder.

Alternatively add the whole milk and flour mixture into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat at low speed after each addition until just combined.

Gently fold in the egg whites and sprinkles and then divide the batter among the 3 pans.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tested come out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, and then invert the cakes on the racks and let cool completely.

Recipe based on Mrs. Billets White Cake

 

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 pound (4 cups) Confectioners’ sugar, sited

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

With an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, after every 2 additions increase the speed to high for 10 seconds to aerate the frosting. Scrape the bowl as necessary.

Add the vanilla and continue mixing until smooth.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Candy Corn Inspired Ombre Cake

Not all Halloween treats have to be spooky ones. This ombre cake is simple to make with 2 tubs of vanilla frosting, a box of white cake mix, yellow and orange food colors, your favorite cake filling and is inspired by a candy that is synonymous with Fall… Candy Corn. There’s nothing spooky about that.

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I used my Wilton 5-layer pan set to make this cake since I wanted the inside of the cake to emulate a piece of candy corn as well. But, there’s no need to get that precise. You could simply bake a two-layer, three-layer or a one-layer cake and let the frosting on the outside speak for itself.

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Since I was planning on tinting the cake batter I opted to use a box of Betty Crocker White cake mix. Betty Crocker is my go-to cake mix when I am not in the mood or just don’t have the time to make a cake from scratch.

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After mixing the batter per the directions on the box I divided the batter to tint it. From making quite a few cakes in the past I knew that the batter yielded about 4 cups so each pan would have just shy of a cup of batter. Since the top layer of the cake was going to be white I immediately poured that batter into one of the prepared pans (I sprayed it with baking spray) and then divvied up the rest of the batter to tint – about 3 cups for the orange layers and 1 cup for the yellow layer.

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Following that I poured the yellow batter (the bottom layer) in the prepared pan and divided the orange batter (the middle layers) among the three remaining pans.

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I then placed all of the pans on a rack in my 350 F preheated oven for about 15 minutes and after letting the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes I transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once they cooled, I did a little torting to make sure the layers would sit evenly on top of one another…

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It was then time to fill the layers – I opted to fill them with a quick vanilla mousse recipe that uses two ingredients: 2 cups of heavy cream and Jell-O vanilla pudding mix.

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And then I crumb coated the cake with vanilla frosting and placed it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

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Then it was time to create the candy corn ombre effect on the outside of the cake. I tinted about a cup and a half of the vanilla frosting with the yellow food color and frosted that along the bottom of the cake…

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Next I tinted about two and a half cups of the vanilla frosting with the orange food color and spread that along the middle of the cake and finally I used the vanilla frosting untinted to frost the remaining portion of the side of the cake as well as the top of the cake. To create the ombre effect, I smoothed the sides of the cake with a long icing spatula.

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And for presentation some candy corns around the base of cake…

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And here’s a peek inside…

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And there you have it, a super cute and super simple unspooky Halloween treat!