Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Train Cake

Last week when I was in KY my cousin Betsy wanted me to show her how to cover and decorate a cake in fondant for her son Brayden's upcoming 3rd birthday! I absolutely love the train theme she came up with, such a cute idea for a little boy! So in the weeks leading up to my trip Betsy and I exchanged numerous emails about all of the fondant and cake decorating supplies she would need to buy in order to decorate the cake! While I was in town we were making the "practice cake" since Brayden's birthday wasn't going to be for a few more weeks and I wouldn't be around to help her with the real cake.

So we called in my sister, Emily to help with the decorating so that when it comes time to recreate the same cake they could work together on the real cake. Emily actually made most of the 3D fondant train in this picture. Check out this super easy tutorial on how to make the train at Cake Journal. The instructions go step by step with photos using basic shapes to create a super cute train.

So first we got all the fondant ready. We used the Wilton primary color (red, yellow, blue, green) fondant pack you can pick up at your local craft store and then tinted some white fondant with pink coloring. Apparently Brayden's favorite color is pink right now...who would have thought right? He actually requested an all pink cake with pink frosting...but my cousin had to draw the line somewhere. So in order to incorporate pink into the cake but to still give it a boyish feel we decided to sneak small bursts of pink into the cake on the train cars that wrapped around the edge.

We cut out letters that spell "B R A Y D E N" to place on each of the train cars along with some circles for the wheels.

We used a square fondant cutter to get our basic shape and then cut them in half for the individual train cars.

Using a dab of water and a paint brush we applied the train cars and wheels around the base of the cake.

Then added the letters of his name to the train cars.

The birthday boy was sent off to grandma's house during the decorating, but he arrived home just in time to check out the final cake.

This is one happy birthday boy!

He's checking out that pink train car!

Spinning the cake around on the turntable a few times.

Me and Brayden!

Mommy & Brayden. My cousin is actually pregnant with baby #2 right now so Brayden will soon have a little sister in August.

Cake time! I think he's one happy little boy, pink cake and all!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cupcake a Week: Sugar Cupcakery

This weeks Cupcake a Week is a little late I know...sorry I was in KY traveling for work this week. Since I was traveling I was not able to whip up a batch of my own cupcakes this week so I figured the next best thing was to try out a local cupcake shop and share my experience with you! So are you ready to go inside of Sugar Cupcakery in Milford, OH?

I absolutely love their cupcake shop. How cute is this corner cupcakery painted in a deep plum with beautiful flower boxes. I was really impressed with the great curb appeal, I couldn't wait to see what's on the inside!

Sugar Cupcakery opened less than a year ago and has already received national recognition, airing on the preview episode of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network on June 13th. Did anyone else catch that show? I'm sure you know by now with my cupcake obsession that I was front and center in my living room, glued to the tv for an hour watching this cupcake war.

In case you didn't catch the show but want to tune in, here's what you can expect. Each episode of the show there are four cupcake bakeries with teams of two that compete against each other in 3 rounds of competition. After each round the teams present their cupcake creations to a panel of 3 judges, with 1 team being eliminated each round. The first round of competition the competitors are given a table full of ingredients that they have to choose from and come up with a new cupcake creation. The second round each cupcake bakery has to bake & decorate 3 of their signature cupcake flavors. The final round 2 bakeries have to make 1000 cupcakes using their signature flavors and come up with a giant display for them that fits into the theme of an actual party the winners cupcakes will be featured at. The winner also gets $10,000.

Sugar Cupcakery was represented on Cupcake Wars by owners and sisters Carla Jennings and Krista Tevar. All of their cupcakes are organic and they did very well on the show, making it to the final round and taking 2nd place in the competition. So when I found out I was going to be traveling to KY for work shortly after this show aired I knew I was going to make time to fit in a visit to their cupcake shop since I was only going to be about 30 minutes away.

My sister actually told me about this new cupcake shop and about them being featured on Cupcake Wars so I knew I had to bring her along with me. Lucky for me all of my family lives in KY so when I travel there for work I get to visit with them. So my sister, her husband and my mom all took a visit to Sugar Cupcakery.

Here's a sneak peak at the inside of their adorable cupcakery. I love the colors! The purple & brown color combo is one of my favorites (but I'm sure you already knew that). I really like how they added a 3rd color to the mix with the teal blue stripes on the wall. I was in love with the seating area, so simple, sleek and modern and very comfy too!

Check out these dangling chandeliers...what a fun decorative touch above the tables!

A corner table surrounded by windows so you can people watch and check out whats going on outside the store!

Unfortunately I didn't have much to photograph as far as actual cupcakes go. The store was open until 7PM and by the time I got off work and made it to the store it was already 6:15PM so yes, I was pretty disappointed to see that they had pretty much sold out of everything for the day. They only had 4 flavors left to choose from and only a handful of each of those flavors. I guess that's a good thing though to sell out of your cupcakes on a daily basis...business is booming for them since they aired on the Food Network. Typically they make 8 different flavors a day...here's a look at their complete flavor menu.

The 4 flavors left to choose from were: Grapefruit, Carrot Cake, Coconut Lime and Gluten Free Vanilla. So we got 6 cupcakes (2 carrot, 2 gluten free, 1 coconut lime, 1 grapefruit) so we could sample each flavor.

The Sugar Cupcakery Logo on a napkin...cute!

and the packaging! If I had a cupcake shop I would probably choose something very similar to this packaging. I really like the idea of the brown chipboard boxes with a colored ribbon. The logo sticker adds a special touch to complete the box.

The wait is over...time to taste these cupcakes.

This is the gluten free vanilla cupcake with strawberry icing. I had never tried a gluten free cupcake before and was pleasantly surprised by the taste. The texture was a little more chewy than a traditional cupcake because it was made with a brown rice flour similar to the texture of cornmeal. The cake was very moist and the strawberry frosting was a great compliment.

I also sampled a bite of the carrot cake with a cashew buttercream, which was just ok in my book. There was something about the spices that they used that tasted a little out of the ordinary to the carrot cake recipes I have tried before.

The grapefruit cupcake was good, but I really couldn't taste the grapefruit flavor, it was more just a citrus taste that came across.

Overall, this was a fun and enjoyable cupcake experience. If you live close to Milford, OH I think you should plan a trip to Sugar Cupcakery. I would definitely go back again to sample some more flavors. I was really hoping to try their vegan chocolate cupcake, one of their signature flavors that they made on Cupcake Wars. Next time I'll have to plan for a weekend visit so I can get there early before everything is sold out!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Zebra Cake

Here are some shots of my latest cake creation...Zebra themed! I was so excited when my friend Kelly asked if I would make a cake for her mom's birthday. She said her mom loves animal prints and thought a Zebra striped cake would be a fun idea.

The cake is 3-layer covered in buttercream. The zebra stripes were cut free form out of black rolled fondant using a wheel cutter. To adhere the stripes to the buttercream I brushed the back of them with a tiny bit of water using a small paint brush.

I used a round decorating tip, Wilton #7 to pipe the green dots around the top of the cake. In order to pipe a precise circle of dots, I placed the lid from the top of an oatmeal container on top of the cake. I piped my circles along the edge of the lid, then gently lifted the lid away from the cake.

The ruffle border was piped using buttercream and two different decorating tips. Using Wilton tip # 18 I piped a shell border around the base of the cake. Then using Wilton tip # 127 I piped the ruffle border on top of the shell border.

Hopefully I'll get to make another animal print cake soon, this was a super fun cake to decorate!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cupcake a Week: Lemon Blueberry

Which do you prefer...lemons or blueberries? Well no need to pick, you can enjoy both of these fruit flavors in my latest cupcake creation! Typically I am not much of a fruit fan when it comes to cake flavors. Given the choice I would pick a chocolate cupcake any day over some froo froo fruity flavor. But with summer just around the corner I thought I would change things up a bit and incorporate some fresh and local fruits in my batch of cupcakes for this week.

This past weekend Randolph and I stopped by Betty's Berry Farm in Wilmer, AL on our trip home from the lake. Picking berries is something that Randolph introduced me to back in our college days at Clemson. I still remember my first trip to the Happy Berry Farm in South Carolina and coming home with cartons full of fresh blueberries and blackberries that I made into cobblers and muffins or just simply ate by the handfuls.

For weeks we have been talking about going to pick berries so finally we paid a visit to our first berry farm in Alabama. This is the sign we were welcomed with...I think they were trying to scare us off with a pen full for roosters. Luckily we weren't frightened and proceeded on to row after row of blueberry trees.

Don't these berries look gorgeous!

We even brought our dog Tillman along. Let's just say Black Lab + almost 100 degree temps = tongue hanging down to the ground and incessant panting.

More berries!

All in a days work...heading home from the farm.

I think we hit the blueberry jackpot! We came away with 6.2 lbs of plump, bright blueberries! The whole ride home I was thinking about all the great recipes I could make...blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, blueberry cobbler and of course some blueberry cupcakes!

So let's move on to the good stuff: Blueberries + Lemons + Cupcakes = HEAVEN! I am pretty sure these might be one of my new favorite cupcake flavors!

I used both lemon juice and lemon zest in the cupcake batter and the frosting!

Plus 1 cup of blueberries in the batter!

Rather than fold the blueberries into the batter, I decided to place 4 berries on top of each spoonful of batter.

It's all about presentation, I wanted the berries to still be visible in the cupcakes once they were baked. I didn't want to overwhelm the batter with too many berries and resemble the idea of a muffin. Instead the lemon was the star flavor in these cupcakes and the berries offered a fresh burst of color and a little texture with every bite.

I made a lemon cream cheese frosting to go on top and then garnished with a single blueberry!

I love the simple look of these cupcakes . But don't be fooled by the simplicity, these are full of sophisticated flavors of lemon and vanilla bean. For those of you that aren't so much a lemon fan (I didn't think I was until I tasted this cupcake), the taste of lemon isn't overwhelming in these cupcakes but rather a subtle and pleasant burst of flavor. So if you are looking for a cupcake with a lighter flavor that is super moist and fluffy you have got to try this recipe!

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes (makes 30 cupcakes)

-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups cake flour
-2 cups sugar
-2 sticks butter, room temperature
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 tsp baking powder
-5 eggs, divided
-1 cup sour cream
-1 Tbsp lemon zest (1 lemon)
-2 Tbsp lemon juice (1 lemon)
-2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
-1 cup blueberries, plus more for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  • In medium bowl combine flours, salt, baking powder and lemon zest.
  • In bowl of electric mixer beat butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy.
  • Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add lemon juice and vanilla bean paste and mix well.
  • Gradually add in flour mixture and beat until combined.
  • Add in sour cream and mix.
  • In a small bowl beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into cupcake batter.
  • Spoon batter evenly into prepared pans about half full.
  • Add 4 blueberries on top of each scoop of batter in cupcake liners.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool on wire racks for 30 minutes.
  • Frost with Lemon Cream Cheese icing. Garnish with a blueberry on top.
Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

-1 stick butter, room temperature
-4 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese
-1 Tbsp lemon zest (1 lemon)
-1 Tbsp lemon juice (half lemon)
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • In bowl of electric mixer beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
  • Gradually add confectioners' sugar and continue to mix.
  • Add lemon juice and lemon zest and mix until combined.
So head out to the berry farm, pick some berries and whip up a batch of these super yummy cupcakes!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ruffles & Flowers

I just finished my fourth Wilton Cake decorating class, Fondant and Tiered Cakes a few weeks ago. So what you see here is the final cake I designed. This cake combines a variety of decorating techniques that we learned throughout the 4-week class.

This is a tiered cake covered in fondant, with a buttercream rufffle border and royal icing sugar flowers. My favorite part of the class was learning how to make the royal icing flowers. I am still so amazed at how a few simple decorating tips can create such realistic looking flowers.

Some of my favorite flowers we made in class were yellow Petunias, blue Morning Glories, and white Easter Lilies.

When you add the stamens to the Easter Lily it really brings the flower to life.

My favorite part of this cake is the ruffle border. To create this look you actually pipe a buttercream shell border around the edge of the cake first with Wilton tip # 18. Then you go over top of the shell border with Wilton tip # 127 and create a ruffle. To get the ruffled look its all in the movement of your wrist. I couldn't figure it out the first week of class, but knew for my final cake I wanted to give it another try and I'm definitely pleased with how it turned out. This is definitely a border technique I plan to use again on future cakes.

To create the cluster of flowers on top of the cake I put a mound of buttercream in the center and then just placed flowers strategically to cover the frosting and filled in all the gaps with green leaves using Wilton tip # 68.

Too bad I didn't have a special occasion to use this cake for. So as usual I consumed about half of the cake myself and sent the rest of it to my neighbor's house!

I guess since I've conquered the 2 tier cake, it only make sense to try a 3 tier cake next right?

I think I'll wait a little longer for that though, I'm still enjoying the view from the top of this cake!
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