Thursday, April 26, 2012

Teddy Bear Picnic

I loved making these little bears for this baby shower cake.
Maybe you would like to make a litte bear. Either for a cake or just to take on a picnic

Instead of giving you a tutorial, here are a few links that I looked at to make them. This is a really cute one and she is thorough.
This one is lengthy, but good too.
This one is not a video, but has great pictures. I really like this one.

This was a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
The letters are fondant. I used tappits to cut them out.
The baby shower invitation was argyle so I tried to incorperate that on the sides.

All the bears and decorations are Marshmallow Fondant.

Thanks for looking.
If you have any questions are just feel like commenting, I would love that!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Monday, April 23, 2012

German Chocolate Cake

When I was single one of my best friends would always tell me that drama seem to find me.

She would do this thing where she would hold up her hand and say, "This is the world", then she would call her other hand Dawn and circle the "world hand" around the "Dawn hand". It has been a joke ever since.
(If you are still thinking about it, "The world revolves around me")

I did have my fair share of drama in my life and she always listened patiently and offered advice or just a hug. This same friend introduced me to a super cute guy and was convinced we were meant for each other. 
Of course she was right! Love her, thanks Erica.
Funny thing happened though, I married that cute guy, had 3 boys and my world started revolving around them. 
I put their needs before mine now. Don't get me wrong, I love it and would not have it any other way. I am so blessed and I love my husband and boys more than anything on this planet!

However, when my birthday rolls around a little bit of "it's all about me" comes out. I love birthdays! My husband doesn't quite understand, he loathes attention. I, on the other hand, bask in it's sunlight. There, I said it, it's out there! For one day of the year it's all about me. 
Honestly, I don't need alot of presents, honest!I like presents, but that is not what is important to me. I just want my family and friends around celebrating with me.
Birthdays are a great excuse to get together! 
A great excuse to eat cake too! No one wanted to make cake for their "cake making friend" and that's perfectly ok, I wanted to try a new recipe anyway. 

My mom would almost always make us a German Chocolate Cake and that is what I wanted. Since my mom lives 3,000 miles away, I had to tackle it.
Side note: Call me crazy, but I always thought it was called that because it was German. Um... no.. a man who's last name was German created it. Duh... that makes sense and why it is called German's Chocolate Cake. 

Ok enough about me, let's talk cake....

You will need:
(adapted from David Lebovitz)

For the cake:
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons water
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cup + ¼ cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted

For the syrup:
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar

For the chocolate icing:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ½ ounces unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

I know it sounds overwhelming, but let's break it down!

Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Melt both chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.

Next, let's make the chocolate icing and pecan filling.
You will thank me later that we did this first.

Chocolate Icing

Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter.

Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate.
Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature.
I recommend putting this in the fridge until you are ready for it.
That way it will be firmer to ice with.

Pecan Coconut Frosting

Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.

2. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)

Pour  immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. 

Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)

Coconut Simple Syrup:

1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir in the coconut, remove from the heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan, bring to a boil and let cook until the mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

German Chocolate Cake

Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Melt both chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave (I chose the microwave, less dirty pots to clean).
Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.

Gather all your ingredients, make sure you have everything before you get to mixing.

Sift together all the dry ingredients. I like to do this before the other steps. 
It's just a thing, go with it.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and 1 ¼ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time.

Mix in a third of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then half the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then half the dry, then the rest of the buttermilk, then end with the dry.

In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks.
This is what droopy looks like to me.

Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar until stiff.

Yes, it's a few steps, hang in there.

Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there’s no trace of egg white visible.

Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake layers completely.

FINALLY, let's put it together!

Brush the layers with the simple syrup.

Layer on the coconut filling.

Add the chocolate icing to the sides.


So here's the thing, I decided to put my name on it because I wanted my cake to have some sparkle and personality.

When I showed my friends this picture, EVERY time they laughed.
Is it sad I made my own cake or vain that I put my name it?
Whatever the reason they are snickering about me and my cake.

Then my sister had a brilliant idea....

Put Mommy on it!
Yes, I love that!
My life does revolve around being a Mommy right now.

If you want to know how to make the multi colored letters....

Roll the colors like a sausage and line them up.

Flatten them out.

Cut out as you like!

I hope you enjoyed this way too long post, but hey, it's my birthday so it's all about me.

At least for a day.

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vanilla Bean Cake with Pineapple filling and Coconut Buttercream

Have you ever lost your voice?
I mean, completely lost! 
For the past week I have been reduced to a whisper.
My boys are loving it. I am so not intimidating. I tell them to pick up their toys and they just grin at me. 
I go to the store and have to ask for something. They grin at me too. 
I know if you could hear me, you would probably be grinning too.

On the plus side, people really have to stop and listen to what I have to say. 

My son and his friend asked what happened to my voice. I told them little green elephants with wings oh so blue came into my room at night and took my voice for a while. They are just flying around singing with my voice.
My son, knowing it is part of a book we read and that I am just plain silly, laughs. His friend is looking at me wide eyed and says, "Are you serious?" I know he was thinking he may be next. Poor little boy. I assured him I was kidding, he didn't look convinced.
I do miss my voice, I hope those elephants return it soon. 

Today, I want to share a recipe with you.

It is super yummy and tropical. One of my favorites.
It has a few steps, but totally worth it.

Vanilla Bean Cake
(adapted from Bobby Flay's Coconut Cake)

2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for pans
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, slightly cold

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour 2 (9 by 2-inch) round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.

Whisk together the milk, egg whites, vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With mixer running at low speed, add the butter, one piece at a time and continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1/2 cup of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more.
Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 20 seconds longer. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pan and smooth the tops using a rubber spatula.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 22 to 24 minutes. Cool in the pan on baking rack for 10 minutes.
Run a small knife around the side of the pan and invert cakes onto the baking rack, removing parchment paper, and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Once the cakes have cooled, level the cakes or just slice off top layer.
Brush a coconut simple syrup on the cake layer before putting on the filling.

Coconut Simple Syrup:

1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir in the coconut, remove from the heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan, bring to a boil and let cook until the mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Make a border with the coconut buttercream and then fill with the pineapple filling.

Coconut Buttercream:
2 stick unsalted butter, softened
4-5  cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cream of coconut
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add the cream of coconut and vanilla, beat until combined and smooth.

Pineapple Filling:

1/2 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
 1 cup crushed pineapple
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon butter

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine sugar, flour and salt. Stir in egg, pineapple and pineapple juice. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has thickened. Stir in butter. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

I did not get a picture of it completely frosted. Oops. 
I get to decorating and forget about the pictures sometimes.

It really is a tasty cake if you have the time to make it!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Red Velvet Cake

What is the deal with Red Velvet? 

Does everyone love it because it is red? Because of the cream cheese frosting? Which, by the way, I heard is not true to the original recipe.  
What is it that draws people to this cake? If you are one of those that love this cake, please leave a comment and let me know. Yes, it is delicious, but I seriously want to hear your thoughts.

I have tried numerous recipes, all of which were so-so. Nothing that really stops traffic.
I live in the south now so I really need a great Red Velvet recipe. It's requested quite a bit.

I usually dislike making it because it has so many little steps... make a cocoa/red dye paste, make a vinegar and baking soda fizz... really... is all that necessary. I aimed to find out.

I went to the Queen of Southern cooking, Paula Deen. On she has her cousin, Johnnie Gabriel's recipe listed. It looked different and has received rave reviews so I thought I would give it a try.

Wow! So much easier to make and sinfully delicious. That is exactly what my friend said when she took a bite. This is officially my go-to recipe now!

Let's talk about it shall we.

You will need:
(slightly adapted from here)


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (recommended: White Lily)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cocoa (could probably use a little more)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

1 cup butter 
2 (8-ounce) package cream cheese 
1 1/2 -2 boxes confectioners' sugar, sifted 
(just depends how sweet you want it)1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) round layer cake pans.

Sift flour, baking soda and coco together.
Next time I will try a bit more cocoa, maybe 1-2 Tbls. 
1 tsp. just didn't seem like enough.

Beat sugar and eggs together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl mix together oil (next time I may use a litte butter as well here, about 1/4 cup), vinegar, food coloring, and vanilla. Yes, I know, there is nothing pretty about this photo.
But very important to note, this is nothing like the usual recipes I have used. Usually you make a paste with the dye and cocoa. Usually you make a fizz with the soda and vinegar. But not here, and I love that. 
Seriously, so much easier and the cake is super yummy.
Ok moving on...

Add the oil mixture to the bowl of eggs and sugar
and beat until combined.
Another not so pretty photo, but you get it.

Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the wet mixture by alternating the buttermilk and dry ingredients. Always start with the flour and end with the flour.
And yes, I always use White Lily if you can find it near you.

Pour batter into pans. Tap them on the table to level out the batter and release air bubbles. This is important because as you see in the photo the batter was quite bubbly. The bubbles didn't completely go away, but I tapped it a few times to release most of them. 

Bake for about 25 minutes
or until a cake tester inserted near the middle comes out clean. 
Be careful not to over bake or you'll end up with a dry cake.

Let layers cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning out of pan. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

Let butter and cream cheese soften to room temperature. Cream well.

Add sugar and beat until mixed but not so much that the frosting becomes "loose". I had never heard that term before, but makes so much sense and probably why my frosting gets too gooey sometimes.  

Add vanilla. 


I do apologize for not getting a better picture of the finished cake. I went into cake making/decoarating mode and didn't get a picture until it was cut. Then I got so busy cutting and everyone got busy eating that I didn't get a better picture.

I did make some taste tester cupcakes though, so I will share those photos so you can see how they bake up and look. They actually made cute dome cupcakes and had such a pretty color.

The most important aspect is the taste. These were Delicious! 
I didn't miss those tedious steps and they were just as good if not better than any Red Velvet I have tried.

I definitely recommend trying this one.
I promise I will make it again with my minor modifications and come back and update this post.

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Monday, April 9, 2012

Three Themed Birthday Cake: Sparkles, Cars and Curious George

No matter how well I think I plan ahead, nothing ever goes "according to plan". 

Even in my cake adventures. I think about it, borderline obsess about it, and how I want it to look. I attempt to draw a picture and realize I am not artist. 

I write out a list, a timeline if you will, of how things are supposed to go down. What I will make and what day, fondant decorations etc. 

I had a three tier cake to make, so I had to dedicate a whole day to just baking cake, ALOT of cake.
Don't get me started on the frosting. I wish I could have a silo of powdered sugar in my backyard.

Once the cake gets rolling, I change my mind according to what happens. Fondant cracking, decorations failing... you just have to roll with it and try not to stress. Even when you son sticks a dowel in the side of your cake, yeah, just take a deep breath and try to cover it with a sparkly cloud, or whatever you happen to be decorating with.

For once, I had just enough frosting! Woohoo! You don't know how huge that is. 

I am just going to share the cake with you today, I will share the recipes with you a little later. I tried a new Red Velvet recipe that is Fab.u.lous. I also made a Vanilla Bean cake with Pineapple filling and coconut frosting. 

I love this cake and even though I always see what went wrong, what matters is the kids loved it! I couldn't have finished it without my wonderful hubby and my friend Mallory. She came to watch and help, she ended up being the biggest help ever! Thanks my friend. The cake sparkles because of you :)

There are so many things going on with this cake. I will break it down for you.

The bottom layer was for a little girl turning 7. She like horses, rainbows and all things that sparkle. I got these letter tappits and I love them! I wish you could see how they sparkle.
Disco dust, my new obsession. Don't know why I haven't used it before.

The sparkly flower rainbow!

The inside before frosted on the left.
On the right is after it was cut into.
Colorful inside and out

Middle layer was for Luke turning 6 who wanted Cars 2.

I cut out some fondant cars and attempted to make them similar to the race cars on the movie. My son approved and new who they were so it was a successful attempt.

Curious George topped it off for their 2 year old.

Here are a couple more full views around the sides.

Ok, here is the last two and I'm done. This was super fun and challenging at the same time.
I hope you enjoyed viewing it as much as I did making it!

I will be back as promised later this week with the recipes!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,