Mummy Cupcakes

Halloween is just around the corner. Although, if you go to some stores it may look as though Halloween & Thanksgiving have already passed as they are stocking their shelves with Christmas items already. It’s only a matter of time before “Jingle Bells” and other familiar Christmas tunes begin to fill our ears during our shopping trips. But for today, let’s just stick with Halloween. You may recall that when I posted about the NY Knicks cake I made I mentioned making some cupcakes along with the cake to decorate with a Halloween theme. Well, that theme was Mummy Cupcakes. I got the idea for these cupcakes from the Mummy Cake I made last year for Halloween. Now, I mentioned last year that making the cake was super easy, so, you can only imagine how much easier it is to make the cupcake version. I

These cupcakes are very versatile. Meaning you can use any flavor for the base. I opted with yellow cake since I was going to have extra batter from the cake I was making. And, if baking from scratch is not your thing you can totally use a box cake mix (as I did) and store bought frosting to make them. The two specialty items you may need is an Ateco #45 decorating tip and piping bags. Although, you could skip the decorating tip and cut a small hole at the end of a piping bag on an angle. I haven’t tried this so I am not 100% sure how it will work out though.

So, once my cupcakes were cool I fitted a 12-inch piping bag with the Ateco tip and then filled it with vanilla frosting. And then I simply piped flat stripes of frosting across the top of each of the cupcakes. Once the tops were covered with those stripes I added a few extra one’s going on an angle.

Next I tinted a small amount of frosting black and red to make the eyes of the mummy. First, I piped two red dots on each of the cupcakes and then I piped two black dots in the center of those red ones.

 

And just like that I had Mummy cupcakes.

New York Knicks Themed Cake

I recently got a request for a basketball themed birthday cake, specifically a New York Knicks themed one. The recipient sent me two pictures of what they wanted… One was simply a round cake with the Knicks logo on top and the other was a jersey themed cake. I opted to go with the latter.

At first I thought I would have to carve the cake on the sides and on the top to replicate the armholes and neck hole, but, after going through some pics on Pinterest and envisioning the cake in my head I realized I wouldn’t have to. Which was a good thing, I have never carved a cake before and I don’t think the first time I attempt it should be for someone’s birthday cake.

To make things simple I opted to use a box cake mix for the cake. While the directions on the box said one would suffice to make a 9×13-inch sheet cake I wanted to be sure the cake would have some height to it so I opted to use one and a half boxes of mix. I thought using two full boxes would be too much and the cake might overflow while baking and I also had a Halloween theme I wanted to try with the cupcakes – that’s coming in a later post. I prepped the cake mixes per the directions in two separate bowls and then with one I filled the cavities of a 12-cup muffin tin with a 1/4 cup of batter in each. I then poured the remaining batter into the bowl with the full amount and folded the two together before pouring it into a 9×13-inch pan I sprayed with baking spray. Once the cake was done I let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack to cool completely . Once it was cool I wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight.

And while I used a box cake mix for the cake, I opted to make the frosting from scratch. I made a simple vanilla frosting that I planned to use for both the cake and cupcakes. After torting the cake, I placed the cut side down on a cake board and spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides. Then it was time to decorate. I opted to decorate the cake as the home jersey for the Knicks in white. Initially I was thinking of decorating it by using fondant paneling as I did with the YouTube themed cake I made earlier this year. And I even started doing so by cutting strips of white fondant and placing them on the sides of the cake. But, when it came to placing the top piece on I decided to cut it a little longer and wider than what I needed. And I am actually happy I did so. When you looked at the cake along the sides it almost looked like the jersey was draped and it gave the cake nice round edge.

After getting the white fondant done it was time to decorate with the blue and orange fondant to create the armholes and neck hole. At one point I was thinking of doing this part with frosting, but, I am happy I nixed that idea. The fondant gave it a much cleaner look and it was easier to correct any mistakes in measuring and placing. I rolled the fondant into strips and then cut them to form the curves. I let the pieces sit on the cake for a few minutes so they could take on curved shape while drying out a little to make it easier to adhere them to the cake with a dab of water. Next, I added the last name, which was a little tricky since I had limited space for all of the letters, but, I was able to make it work. At this point I took a break from decorating and placed the cake in the refrigerator to continue working on it the next day.

To create the numbers for the cake I purchased Wilton fondant molds. At first I had no clue how to use them. I knew I couldn’t use them as regular cookie cutters but I tried to anyway and it was a fail. I had a feeling that I would have to get the fondant into the crevice and then freeze it, but, just to be sure I did a quick Google search and my suspicions were correct. So, I pressed small amounts of fondant into the crevices and then placed the molds in the freezer for about a half hour. Once the fondant had frozen it was easy to remove it from the molds and I had a perfect 4 and 0.

Now, to create the basketball on the cake I got pretty creative. I could have just done it with a mound of frosting, or shaped one of the cupcakes I made, but, while at the craft store picking up supplies for the cake I though why not cut a Styrofoam ball in half to create the perfect round shape. I was pretty sure I had Styrofoam balls at home from other craft projects, but, I wandered over to the aisle anyway and found something even better, a half round ball Styrofoam that I wouldn’t have to cut.

I began decorating it by creating the lines on the basketball. I tinted chocolate frosting with black food coloring (it’s much quicker and easier than using vanilla frosting) and simply piped the lines onto the Styrofoam. Next, I tinted about a cup of vanilla frosting with copper gel food coloring and using a small star tip I filled in the Styrofoam ball between the black lines with small stars. I decorated it on wax paper and then placed it in the fridge for an hour or so so the frosting could firm up before transferring it onto the cake.

So, I had the numbers on the cake and the basketball, but, I felt like it needed something more..

To finish the cake I added the New York Knicks logo to the top. I could have been super creative and made it myself using fondant, but, I made it myself by printing it off the internet and then cutting it out. I definitely think that was the finishing piece the cake needed.

Everyone loved it and can I just say, there I something that is so delicious and comforting about a simple yellow cake.

 

Pumpkin Quick Bread

It’s officially Fall… Bring on the pumpkin treats! While I have purchased and enjoyed some pumpkin spice treats – Special K cereal (I’m yet to try it), Pumpkin Pie Spice Butter (still haven’t tried this either), Pumpkin Pie Kit Kats (I definitely didn’t need a whole bag of these) and Werther’s Original Caramels (just a nice hint of pumpkin spice) – I have refrained from posting any pumpkin treats on here until Fall officially began. And while last week brought some Fall-like days this past weekend felt more like Summer. I guess Summer wanted to go out with a bang.

For my first pumpkin treat of the season – there will definitely be more, just not sure how many more – I bring you a Pumpkin Quick Bread. Now, I have shared a Pumpkin Bread recipe on here before but this one is a bit different as it doesn’t involve using any canned pumpkin. Some of you might be taken back by the ingredients, but, trust me, it’s delicious. It involves a box of yellow cake mix and a box of Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Pudding Mix. I got the idea for this quick bread after making a Pistachio Quick Bread earlier this year with a box of white cake mix and a box of pistachio pudding mix.

I began by making cinnamon sugar and then setting it aside. In a large bowl I whisked together the cake mix and pudding mix. I then added in eggs, sour cream, water and oil and beat it with a hand mixer. I poured about 1/2 cup of batter into the bottom of two loaf pans that I sprayed with baking spray. The batter was thick so I used a spoon to spread the batter evenly across the pan. I then sprinkled the top of both with 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar. I spread the remaining batter evenly over the cinnamon sugar in both pans and smoothed the top with an offset spatula and then sprinkled the remaining sugar evenly over both. There didn’t seem to be a lot of batter in the pans and I thought that I was going to end up with loaves that lacked height…

But, after baking both loaves for about 40 minutes both had risen nicely.

I let them cool in the pans for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

And once they were cool it was time to slice into one of the loaves. You can see the cinnamon sugar swirl in the bottom of the bread and a little up the side of the cake. As for the cinnamon sugar on top, it baked in nicely to the breads.

I kept one loaf for myself and brought the second one to a friend’s house for Sunday dinner and it was a hit!

 

Pumpkin Quick Bread

Ingredients:

1 package yellow cake mix

1 package instant pumpkin spice pudding mix

4 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup canola or corn oil

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prep two loaf pans by spraying them with baking spray or greasing them with butter.

In a large bowl combine the cake and pudding mix. Add the eggs, sour cream, water and oil and beat until blended (the batter will be thick).

Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Spoon about 1/2 cup of batter into each of the prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon sugar over the batter in each pan. Divide the remaining batter among the two pans and sprinkle the top with the remaining cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe modified from Taste of Home

An Ombre Cake, the Fall and A Few Other Things

With Labor Day weekend over summer has unofficially ended. The weather is also signaling the end of summer as well. Looking at the extended forecast there doesn’t seem to a day in the 80’s in sight. I am not complaining though. Fall is my favorite season and I very rarely complain about the cold temps the winter brings. While I am not a fan of hazy, hot & humid days of the summer I will rarely complain about them as well. Truthfully, I love being able to enjoy the 4 seasons in my neck of the wood. Although, it seems like Spring happens in the blink of an eye. It’ll start off super cold, then a few rainy days (possibly even snow) and then finally a few Spring-like days and then bam, there will be days of crazy heat before the Summer has truly began.

Labor Day was a rainy one by me. The weekend was beautiful, although, I spent half of it in the kitchen baking, decorating a cake and making floral centerpieces for a bridal shower. The alternative would have probably been yardwork so it’s all good.

I started the day by making Cheesecake Brownie Bites. I’ve been making these for years and while they are always a hit, I probably have tried them once of twice. Crazy I know. Well, I had extra brownie and cheesecake batter so I made a few extra that I ended up snacking on throughout the day and I will definitely be eating them the next time I make them.

After running a few errands I came back home and got to work on the cake. The plan was a two-tier blue ombre buttercream cake decorated with fresh sunflowers. To save myself time (and stress) I baked the cake layers a few days before, let them cool and then wrapped them in plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator. I started by making my short-cut chocolate mousse and then refrigerated it while I whipped up a batch of vanilla frosting. Once the frosting was done I then torte, filled and crumb coated the two tiers. Each tier was a three-layer cake – chocolate cake sandwiched between two yellow caked. Once 6-inch, the other a 9-inch.

I then placed the cakes in the refrigerator and whipped up two more batches of vanilla frosting. Yes, this cake took about 12 cups of frosting to complete. I’ve learned that it’s best to have left-over frosting as opposed to barely enough, especially when tinting the frosting. One time I was decorating a cake with a ruffle design in pink frosting. Well, by the time I got to the top of the cake I had run out of the pink frosting so I ended up having to frost the top of the cake with white frosting. It didn’t look bad, but, I was definitely kicking myself. Once I was done making the frosting it was time to tint it. I used three Wilton colors to create the ombre effect – Royal Blue, Cornflower Blue & Sky Blue. Once the frosting was ready I started by frosting the top of each of the cake. The smaller tier with while frosting and larger tier with the cornflower blue frosting. I filled piping bags with the remaining frosting and snipped the ends off the bag.

I began by piping the bottom of the larger tier with the royal blue frosting. I then switched to the cornflower blue frosting to finish piping the sides of the cake. Next I used a straight edge icing spatula to smooth the sides of the cake. And finally I used a small spoon to create stripes on the cake by dragging it along the frosting while spinning the turntable.

After placing the smaller tiered cake on the larger one and securing it with a wooden dowel I repeated the frosting and decorating process using the sky blue and white frosting. At this point I popped the cake in the refrigerator overnight so the frosting could set (and I could take a break).

After resting and taking a dinner break I got to work on the centerpieces.

The next morning it was back to the cake. Here’s a pic of the cake before adding the sunflowers…

And with the flowers added…

And finally on display at the bridal shower.

So, now that Fall is right around the corner it’s, dare I say, time to think about the holidays, especially if you are planning on doing any crafting for it. Earlier this year I started crocheting hexagons to make a Christmas tree skirt. I completed about 2/3 of the hexagons but I put the project on hold as I couldn’t find 4 skeins of the same dye lot of the green yarn I wanted to use. I finally got them so that project is back on. Fingers crossed I will get it done. I started working on the hexagons again and for some reason the size is not matching up to the ones I made earlier. I keep ending up with an extra side, so instead of hexagons I am making heptagons. Not sure what I am doing wrong. I made so many hexagons already that I thought making them would utilize muscle memory but something is off. Ugh! I also started looking at Christmas card designs on Pinterest during some downtime. I think I know what I am making this year. I always wait until the last minute to make my cards and I am doing by best this year to start early so I am not scrambling in mid-December. If all this talk about the holidays has you stressing out, I apologize. At least I haven’t started shopping. Back to Fall though, I started decorating with some pumpkins around the house, nothing outside though. I will wait until it’s actually Fall to do that. I was almost tempted to put up my scarecrows but I held off. And of course there is baking… I’ve got some ideas for Fall treats and I am already looking ahead to Christmas cookies. Sorry, I brought it up again. But, my fellow crafters and bakers know where I am coming from. You’ve got to be a season ahead with these things, especially when you are blogging about them. For now… Happy Fall Y’all (albeit a few weeks early!)

Sprinkle Fault Line Cake

Earlier this summer a new cake trend began flooding my Instagram feed… A Fault Line Cake. Initially I thought it would be extremely difficult to create. And I am sure some of the ones I have seen are – ones with macaroons, lemons, edible decorative paper and so forth – but, the one that caught my eye and seemed somewhat easy to practice on was a sprinkle one. Essentially, the center of the cake exposes a design between two thick layers of frosting. Sort of like a fault line separating after an earthquake and exposing the ground beneath.

I first attempted this trend a few weeks ago and it was a complete DISASTER! Since I was just trying out the technique I attempted to take some short-cuts… mainly use store bought frosting. Chocolate frosting at that and I really should have known better. Not that there is anything wrong with store bought frosting – I have used it quite often to decorate – but, it was hot outside (and inside my house) and I have learned that store bought frosting just doesn’t hold up as well in the heat as homemade. Also, I made a six inch cake using boxed cake mix thinking that would give me enough height for the cake and I was wrong on that account as well.

Here’s what happened… I baked a yellow cake mix into a two-layer 6-inch cake and it came out just fine. Then, I started to frost it and the issues began. Like I said it was hot on this day so I decided to refrigerate the frosting for about 20 minutes so it could firm up a little. Once it was firm, I started by crumb coating the cake and it just wasn’t going on smooth, but, I plowed ahead. Once I finished with the crumb coat I placed the cake in the refrigerator so it could set. After about a half hour I removed the cake from the refrigerator and attempted to add more frosting to the middle of the cake to adhere the sprinkles and it was a mess. The crumb coat never got a crust on it so when I added more frosting it was all just coming off. I continued and finally got a layer of frosting around the middle of the cake and then added the sprinkles. But, since I had to add such a thick layer of frosting to the cake to get it to adhere my sprinkles got swallowed up by the frosting. It was such a fail. At this point I just gave up. I realized that the frosting was just not going to cooperate and that the cake didn’t have enough height to look good.

Fast forward a few weeks later and with a free weekend ahead of me I decided to try once again. I made some tweaks this time though. I decided to make a three-layer 8-inch cake and for the frosting I whipped up two batches of Martha Stewart’s Fluffy Vanilla Frosting. It’s my go-to frosting whenever I have to decorate a cake. It has a great consistency that makes it perfect for frosting, piping and/or tinting.

I opted to go with a box cake mix again. I used a yellow cake mix to make two 8-inch layers and then a chocolate mix to make one 8-inch layer. I used the remaining chocolate batter to make 6-inch cake.

Once the cakes were done I let them cool in the pans for about 15 minutes and then transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely. I then wrapped them in plastic wrap and placed them in the refrigerator overnight. I used to just leave my cakes out at room temperature, but, I have found that refrigerating them makes it easier to torte, layer and frost.

The next day I made two batches of vanilla frosting and my short-cut chocolate mousse (beat a package of Jell-O chocolate pudding mix along with a cup each of heavy whipping cream and whole milk until thick). I then torted and layered the cake, filling the layers with the chocolate mousse. Next I crumb coated the cake and placed it in the refrigerator for about a half hour.

After the half hour I removed the cake from the refrigerator and added an extra layer of frosting in the middle of the cake…

And then added sprinkles to that layer of frosting.

I then placed the cake back in the refrigerator for another half hour so the frosting and sprinkles could set.

I transferred frosting to a piping bag and snipped the end off and piped the frosting around the cake, except for the part with the sprinkles.

I then smoothed the frosting and added some 1M swirls on top of the cake and sprinkled them with sprinkles and my cake was done. I finally created a successful Fault Line Cake. I wonder what new cake trend will be flooding my Instagram feed next.

Spring Themed Palette Knife Painted Cake – Tutorial

Happy First Day of Spring! To celebrate I decided to try my hand at a Palette Knife Painted Cake. Using a spatula and buttercream frosting you basically paint a picture, design, flowers onto the sides of a cake. It’s definitely a lot more forgiving that piping a design on a cake and cake easily be fixed with a little more buttercream and some extra strokes of your spatula.

I used a yellow box cake mix to bake a two layer 6-inch cake. While the cake was cooling I whipped up a batch of my go-to Fluffy-Vanilla Frosting from Martha Stewart. I reserved about 3/4 cup of the frosting and then applied a thin crumb coat to the cake and then refrigerated the cake for about 30 minutes. While the cake was in the refrigerator I tinted the reserved 3/4 cup yellow and tinted the remaining frosting teal, for the background of the cake.

I then applied a generous amount of frosting to the cake and smoothed it as much as possible. I wanted a fairly thick layer of frosting around the cake for the next steps.

Next, using the tines of a fork I created a basket weave pattern around the cake. To begin, I placed the tines of a fork at the base of the cake and dragged them upwards about 1-inch. You don’t want to press so deeply that you are touching the cake though, hence, having a thick coat of frosting on the cake. Then, holding the tines horizontally above the first set of lines on the left I dragged the fork to the right stopping when I reached the last line from the bottom set of lines. I repeated this pattern up the side of the cake until I reached the top. I then started the next row with a set of horizontal lines, and then vertical and so forth. Continuing the alternating pattern until the entire cake was covered.

I then reserved about a tablespoon of the teal frosting and then tinted the remaining frosting green by adding in green gel food coloring. Using a tapered spatula and starting at the base of the cake I began dragging the tip of the spatula through the buttercream to create stems. Making sure not to press too deep as to touch the cake, but, going deep enough to create a channel. I passed the spatula through a few times to make sure it was deep enough making sure to wipe the spatula between each pass. I did this around the cake and even added in a few smaller channels between the larger stems.

To paint these channels, I picked up a small dollop of the green frosting and then using my fingers I round the frosting onto the tip of spatula so it was smooth. Next, I simply dragged the frosting through the channels. I repeated this step – making sure to wipe the spatula between each pass – until all of my stems were painted with frosting. At this point I placed the cake in the refrigerator for about an hour.

After the hour, I removed the cake from the refrigerator. Using the reserved yellow buttercream I painted flowers onto the cake. Using a rounded spatula I picked up a small dollop of yellow frosting and once again smoothed it with my fingers. I then pressed the dollop onto the cake and pulled the spatula away to create a petal. I continued doing this around the cake. I’ll admit, my petal didn’t come out exactly as I had hoped. This step actually reminded me of the pulled dot design on a cake. I actually wondered afterwards if it would have been easier to create the petals using that technique, although then the cake wouldn’t completely be a palette knife painted cake then.

I got the idea for this cake from The Cake Blog, for more detailed instructions click here .

 

Mummy Cake

Are you looking for an easy Halloween cake to make? Well, this Mummy Cake might be the one. It’s simple, doesn’t take a lot of time and you don’t need any fancy cake decorating skills to make it. I got the idea and directions from The Cake Girls. They have an online shop with a bunch of cool baking supplies, recipes and step-by-step tutorials with detailed pictures. I first came across their website on a blog I follow, The Cake Blog. A blog that has an array of wonderful recipes and cake decorating ideas and instructions from various bakers and cake designers.

I purchased a skull pan from The Cake Girls website to create the mummy. Now, if you are a good cake carver you could simply bake a box cake mix (or your favorite cake recipe) in a 9×13 inch pan and then carve out the shape of a skull. Or, if you already own one here’s a new idea to put it to good use. I own quite a few shaped pans that I’ve only used once, but I won’t part with them just in case.

   

To begin, I sprayed the cake pan with baking spray and then poured my cake batter (I used a box cake mix) into the pan. I placed the pan on a baking sheet and baked it in a 350 F preheated oven until a cake tester inserted in the middle came out clean. I let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes and then inverted it onto a cake board to cool completely. Don’t worry if your cake has a small dome on it and doesn’t lay completely flat. You will be able to hide this minor imperfection with the frosting design. Once the cake was cool I lightly wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in the freezer overnight. Having the cake cold makes frosting it much easier. This was my first time freezing a cake and while I know bakeries and a lot of home bakers do it all the time I have always been apprehensive to do so because I fear the cake will end up having a weird taste/aftertaste once it defrosts. But, I am happy to say that this was not the case.

Before removing my cake from the freezer I made the frosting. I decided to make the frosting that was recommended on The Cake Girls website, Brenda’s Bakery Buttercream. It involves using butter and Crisco, which I am sure some people will frown at, but, when I took the Wilton Decorating Classes a few years ago there go-to frosting recipe included Crisco and I recall it tasting great and holding its shape well when it came to decorating. Something else new I tried… Using chocolate frosting (store bought) to make black frosting. I recently read that making black and red frosting is easier to create when starting with chocolate frosting. I can attest that that is the case for black frosting, but, will have to test the theory for red frosting. Perhaps with a Christmas themed cake. Oh, one other thing I tried, Wilton’s new Color Right Performance Food Coloring, for some reason I thought it was only for chocolate (don’t ask me why) but after doing a little research I learned it can be used on frosting. I believe I saw a video on Instagram of someone using it and that prompted me to find out more about it. I must say, I definitely liked the dropper bottles a lot more than their usual gel color containers. I always seem to get the gel on my hands and they get all clumpy and what not after being opened. I think the dropper bottles are the way to go. They are also supposed to be more concentrated so you can get the color you want a lot quicker and can easily mix the colors to get different hues.

Okay, so once my frostings were ready it was time to get to work. I started by applying a thin coat of white frosting on the skull leaving the eye socket area uniced. I iced the socket area and the sides of the cake in that area with the black frosting. At this point I placed the cake in the fridge for a few minutes because I found that the black frosting wasn’t smooth as I was getting a lot of crumbs mixed into it. While the cake was in the refrigerator I prepped two piping bags with two different tips, Ateco #128 (an XL rose decorating tip) and # 45 (a flat decorating tip), and filled each with the white frosting. Also, I prepped the eyeballs for the cake. I purchased Styrofoam eyeballs from my local craft store and using a sharp knife sliced them in half so they would sit flat on the cake.

 

Once the cake had chilled for a bit I added more black frosting to the cake and was able to smooth the icing.

Now it was time to decorate…Starting with the larger tip, I began piping stripes of icing across the cake. Not just merely on top of the cake, but on the sides as well. I covered up some of the black icing, but, left enough of a gap to place the eyeballs. I kept piping until the cake was covered. Don’t worry about minor imperfections or the frosting not laying completely flat, you can cover up anything and everything with the next step.

Once the cake had been covered in the large stripes, I used the smaller tip to fill in any gaps and to give the cake more definition. To give it a more ragged look, I started these smaller stripes from different points on the cake, not just edge to edge. I also added some pieces to the sides of the cake on the cake board as well. And finally, I placed the eyeballs on the cake. I covered the back of them with the black frosting before placing them on the cake so there wouldn’t be the chance of any small Styrofoam pieces getting stuck to the cake and accidentally eaten. What’s really nice about this cake is that there is no right way or wrong way to decorate it. You could go crazy with adding the stripes to give it a real ragged look, or keep it clean and simple with the stripes. Either way, your cake will look perfect.

Zebra Cake

It’s one thing when a cake is appealing to the eye on the outside, but, when you cut into a cake and reveal a hidden surprise on the inside your eyes widen in wonder and delight. That’s the excitement behind a Piñata Cake. Who wouldn’t want to cut a slice of cake to only have sprinkles and candy come cascading out? A smile (and squeals from little one’s) is sure to follow. The same can be had when the cake itself reveals a pattern or design. Think of a Checkerboard Cake (Sorry for the pictures in both of those posts – Nighttime baking is not a blogger’s friend when it comes to taking pictures.)

I recently made a cake to celebrate a friend’s daughters (aka my nieces) dance recital performance – it was their first. Since I was making a cake for one of their birthdays the day before I didn’t want to make another chocolate cake for their recital celebration. And since I was making a themed cake for that birthday I also didn’t want to make a cake that I would have to heavily decorate – I was actually able to find doll-sized versions of their dancing shoes to top the cake with so I figured that was perfect enough decoration. So, I figured I should do something special with the inside. After a little thought I decided to make a zebra cake with a Nutella mousse filling since they both like the hazelnut spread.

To make things super easy I went with box cake mix – a yellow cake mix and a chocolate cake mix. I prepared both per the box directions. Whenever I use cake mix I normally use Duncan Hines. One of the reasons, and it will sound silly, is because it has a Wilton approved emblem on it. Truth be told though, Duncan Hines is perfect for making a zebra cake because they do not have pudding in the mix which can make the cake batter thick and not ideal for making this cake.

Once my batters were prepared, I poured a ¼ cup of the yellow cake batter in the center of two 8-inch cake pans that I sprayed with baking spray. Next, I poured a ¼ cup of the chocolate cake batter in the center of the yellow cake batter, and then a ¼ cup of the chocolate cake mix in the center of the previously poured yellow cake mix. I continued in this pattern until the pan was about 2/3 full. You won’t use all of the batters, but, just about.

I gently tapped the pans down and then baked them in a preheated 350 F oven for about 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle came out clean. I let the cakes cool in the pans for about 15 minutes and then inverted them on cooling racks to cool completely.

One cooled, I torte the cakes to remove the dome that formed on both. The zebra pattern was instantly visible and I was quite excited that it worked.

The pattern was even more visible once the cake was layered and cut into.

You could really customize this cake. Use a white cake mix and tint it colors to show your team spirit, someone’s favorite colors or even a gender reveal cake.

And here’s a pic of the birthday cake I made the same weekend – An Elena of Avalor themed cake.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I recently made a Pineapple Upside Down Cake for a birthday celebration. Secretly I was happy to make it because it meant I wouldn’t have to make frosting to decorate the cake and I could final try a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Yes, I have never had it before. Not really sure why… I like pineapples and obviously I like cake, but, it never crossed my mind to make one.  Well, as they say, there’s no time like the present.

This cake is super simple to make, especially if you use a box yellow cake mix. After preheating my oven to 350 F, I melted a stick of unsalted butter directly in a 9×13 inch pan in the oven. I checked on the butter every so often to make sure it didn’t burn and also to tilt the pan so the butter wouldn’t melt in one spot. Once the butter had melted I removed the pan from the oven and sprinkled 1 cup of light brown sugar over the butter. Next, I arranged 12 pineapple slices – I used pineapple slices in pineapple juice and I reserved the juice to make the cake – and then place a maraschino cherry inside of each pineapple.

Next, I prepared the cake mix per the box directions. The cake mix called for 1 cup of water and I opted to use ½ cup of the reserved pineapple juice and ½ of water. You could also use an entire cup of pineapple juice. Since this was my first time make the cake I didn’t want to go overboard with the pineapple flavor, next time though – yes, there will be a next time for this cake – I will use the entire cup. Once the batter was ready I poured it over the pineapples and cherries in my prepared pan. I was concerned that the cake might end up sticking to the sides of the pan, but, once I added the batter to the pan some of the melted butter rose up to the sides so I didn’t have to worry about that. I spread the batter a little to even it out and then baked it for about 40 minutes – until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake came out clean.

I let the cake cool for a few minutes in the pan and then inverted it onto a cake board and platter. I was initially just going to use the cake board, but, was concerned that the syrup that was created by the butter and sugar would spill over so I went with the platter as well. After inverting it, I let the pan rest on the cake for a few minutes to make sure that all of yumminess had dripped down. I easily removed the pan and a few pineapple stuck to the pan, I removed them and placed them on the cake.

I can’t wait to make this cake again. It only took about an hour from start to finish and while I was concerned that it would be overly sweet and that the cake would be very thin, the outcome couldn’t have been farther from the truth. The cake was just the right height and was fluffy and light and the sweetness was right on point with the cake, pineapples and light brown sugar. One other thing that’s nice, thanks to the pineapples it’s so easy to cut this cake into 12 equal portions!

 

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

12 pineapple slices in pineapple juice, reserve the juice*

12 maraschino cherries

1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients listed on box to make cake**

 

*I used a 20 oz. can & an 8 oz. can. The 20 oz. can had 10 slices and the 8 oz. had 4.

**Substitute the water with the pineapple juice

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Place the stick of butter in a 9×13 inch pan and place in the oven to melt. This will take a few minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter. Arrange the pineapple slices over the sugar and then place a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice. Set aside.

Prepare the cake mix per the box instructions and then pour over the pineapple slices. You can tap the pan down or use a spatula to even out the batter.

Place in the oven and bake 35 – 45 minutes, until the cake has browned and pulled away from the sides of the pan.

Let the cake cool for a few minutes and then invert on a platter. Let the pan sit on top of the cake for a few additional minutes so all of the syrup can drain out and then remove the pan. If any pineapples or cherries remain on the pain just remove them and place them on the cake.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Boston Cream Pie

I remember when I was younger I was not a fan of filled donuts. Jelly, cream, chocolate, whatever the filling, it was not my thing. Fast forward a few years and I can eat them now, but, and I apologize if this sounds a little gross, I squeeze out the excess filling first and then eat the donut. I just don’t like the filling to overpower the donut and that seems to happen a lot with filled donuts. And that, in a very roundabout way brings me to today’s post… A Boston Cream Pie. A yellow cake filled with custard and glazed with chocolate. I’ve have it in a donut form, but, the pie version is a 100x better.

I began by making the cake. To do so I started off by sifting cake flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. In my stand mixer I whisked eggs and sugar on high speed for 15 minutes. This part is integral as it ensure that the cake will be light and airy. Once the egg and sugar mixture was ready – it will be pale and tripled in volume – I gently folded in the flour mixture in two addition with a rubber spatula. And finally, I added in whole milk, vegetable oil and vanilla and returned the bowl to my stand mixer and beat it until everything was combined. I poured the batter in a 9-inch round cake pan that I sprayed with baking spray and baked it in a 350 F oven for about a half hour.

While the cake was in the oven I made the pudding. In a large bowl I whisked whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar until it was light and fluffy, and then whisked in cornstarch and salt. In a medium saucepan I heated whole milk and vanilla extract until it was hot, but not yet boiling. I then whisked in a 1/4 cup of the milk mixture into the egg mixture in order to temper the eggs and then gradually whisked in the remaining milk mixture. I then returned the entire mixture to the medium saucepan and constantly whisked it on low heat until it was thick and pudding like. Once it was the right consistency, I strained the pudding through a fine mesh sieve by pushing the pudding through the sieve with a rubber spatula. After letting the pudding cool for a few minutes I pressed plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and refrigerated it for at least 2 hours.

Once the cake was done and the pudding cooled it was time to assemble. I cut the cake in half and spread the pudding on the bottom half.

After topping the cake I made the chocolate glaze by melting semi-sweet chocolate with heavy cream, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. I then spread the glaze on the cake…

And then refrigerated it until the glaze was set.

Final verdict… YUM!!!

 

Boston Cream Pie

Ingredients:

For The Cake:

1 1/4 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup whole milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

For The Pudding:

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs plus 4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

Pinch of salt

 

For The Glaze:

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch-round cake pan with baking spray or butter and flour.

Make the cake: Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Beat the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed until pale and tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Gently fold the flour mixture into the eggs mixture in two additions using a rubber spatula.

Add the milk, vegetable oil and vanilla and beat with the mixer until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until a cake tested inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool and then invert onto to the rack to cool and invert once again and let the cake cool completely.

Make the pudding: Heat the milk and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan over medium heat, but, do not boil. Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and salt and continue whisking until no lumps remain. Whisk 1/4 cup of the milk mixture into the egg mixture and then gradually whisk in the remaining milk mixture.

Pour the egg-milk mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until thick and pudding like, 10 to 15 minutes. It could take longer as well. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve by pushing the pudding through the sieve using a rubber spatula. Let the pudding cool for a few minutes and then place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Slice the cake in half and spread the pudding over the bottom half of the cake. Top the cake with the top half.

Make the glaze: Heat the chocolate, heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until the chocolate is melted and all of the ingredients are well combined and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes, you want it to be slightly thickened, then pour over the entire cake using an off-set spatula to smooth it. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so the glaze can set.

Recipe from Food Network