Thursday, January 5, 2017

harper's first birthday

Turning one is a big deal, and this cutie's parents helped her celebrate with a big party with family and play group friends.

The cake was funfetti with vanilla frosting and pink, white, and orange accents to complement the party colors.

It was fun making bunting and modern/abstract flowers from fondant.

There was a cupcake just for the birthday girl to do with as she pleased.

cookies for turning one

These number 1 cookies were cute and simple party favors for a sweet girl's first birthday party. Lemon-vanilla sugar cookies with pink royal icing, dressed up just a touch with a deep pink heart.

bridging from juniors to cadettes

A simple, festive chocolate cake for a Girl Scout troop bridging from Juniors to Cadettes. Chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, the Cadette symbol, and sprinkles. Delicious and an excellent accomplishment by a talented group of girls!

(And yes, it's not in focus. Not one of the pictures I took was, apparently, but I didn't want that to stop me from marking the occasion.)

indian elephant cake

The biggest problem with posting pictures of your daughter's 12th birthday cake 9 months late is realizing you never actually posted pictures of her 11th birthday cake.

For her 11th birthday, she requested an Indian-themed party. We dressed in Indian clothes - some borrowed, some purchased for a Bollywood-themed auction a few years ago - and draped the girls in skirts, scarves and bangle bracelets. We did henna tattoos on hands and feet. We served Indian food. And I made a cake with brightly colored frosting and a bedecked elephant. She claims it was her favorite cake that I've made her. And I have to say, I loved how the elephant came out. It was so much fun making little fondant adornments.

My favorite things on the elephant are her blanket and her wrinkled skin. Please don't fault me if this elephant doesn't look authentically Indian. I think the African elephants' ears are shaped like Africa, so hopefully this one is close enough.

I love the technique of smearing the frosting together to blend the colors. It's fun and it looks cool. Plus it comes out different each time.

Little fondant flowers.

sprinkle velvet cake

My girl likes to remind me that New Year's Day has another important meaning: it's her 3/4 birthday. Yep. She is possibly the only person in the world to mark that occasion, but she talks about it every year. Since we've just moved into January, I'm realizing that I'm approximately 9 months late to post her 12th birthday cake pictures. Oops. She had very specific wishes for this cake. Velvet cake (if I remember right, it was a layer of pink, which looked magenta, a layer of blue-green, and a layer of orange), fluffy vanilla frosting, sides covered in sprinkles, and a dozen frosting balloons, each in a different color. Of course, she got what she requested, plus an extra balloon to grow on.

Covering the sides with sprinkles had an interesting effect of making the frosting fall off in large clumps as I cut the cake. I'm not sure why, but it didn't seem to affect anyone's enjoyment.

I was asked to document the different frosting colors.

I know it's belated, but happy 12th birthday, Bug! I love you so!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

citizenship cupcakes

Every year, I donate a gift certificate for baked goods to my son's school auction. This year's winner called me up last weekend and asked for mini chocolate cupcakes to celebrate her becoming a US citizen. I was so touched and excited to help her celebrate. I've had a few good friends become citizens in the last number of years, and I've always been taken by how emotional the process is. I hope she had a wonderful celebration with her friends and family, and I hope these shimmery red, white and blue star cupcakes helped make it sweeter.

cakes for a favorite client

Still catching up... Here are a couple of cakes I did for one of my favorite clients. She has three little guys, so there are lots of fun opportunities to celebrate!

First was a turquoise-and-purple, Lego-themed party. I don't know if there are round Lego pieces like this (probably not), but I do love how the candy-dipped Oreos are just the right size to be the Lego studs.

Next up was a surprise birthday/baby gender reveal party with a tropical island theme. I can't get enough of making free-form fondant fish. And the octopuses! So cute. I've done a couple of similar cakes, but I never made a beach blanket and flip flops before. (Luckily my kids love cocktail umbrellas in their smoothies, so we always have them on hand.) It's also super fun to mix the shades of blue and white frosting to make waves. Not only is it a fun and easy way to frost, it gives the cake a swirly sense of motion that I like.

Then the birthday girl had her first communion. I don't know much about the symbols involved, but luckily, I was given very explicit instructions about what the cake should feature. A chalice, host, and dove; mostly white with just a hint of blue accents.

And finally, little brother had a Harry Potter party with his own book of magic spells.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

boy-o birthdays 8 and 9

I'm way, way behind on posting... such that Boy-o is now 9 1/2 and I haven't posted pictures from his 8th birthday or 9th birthday. Ouch.

For his 8th birthday, we had a party at a local golf-n-stuff place. He was super into flag football, so we had a football cake. (He seems to be super into flag football every fall, and then forget about it for approximately nine months.)

If I knew anything about football, I'd say something clever about the blue guy who seems very intent on this play. But I don't even know what position that's supposed to be. Or, for that matter, why there are red and blue guys on both sides.

This past year, he wanted to make a crazy candy cake, and he wanted to decorate it himself. We did blobs of colored frosting swirled all over the cake, and then he and his sister went nuts with every kind of candy they could get their hands on. You can see there is some method to the madness, but it was definitely a sugar fest. (And you should have heard the ruckus of all those 9-year-old boys, hopped up on sugar. Cue the children wrestling on my bed.)

Happy two years of birthdays, Boy-o!

aunt ruth's apple cake

I've talked about my great aunt Ruth before... she's the one who came 3000 miles to visit with all her recipe cards... and any time I want a reliable, old-school, delicious recipe, I know one of hers will fit the bill. We just made plans to go to the east coast this summer, where I'm hoping to visit with Aunt Ruth's daughter and granddaughter, so I guess that has me thinking about family.

This time, I made Aunt Ruth's apple cake. It's the perfect thing to use up a few apples (it takes six), and it makes a delicious dessert or teatime snack or even breakfast, if you're stretching your idea of what "fruit for breakfast" means. You can see all the thinly sliced apples on top, and there are layers of cinnamon-apple-y goodness running through the cake as well. It's moist, it's sturdy, it's sweet but not cloying, and it holds up nicely for a couple of days under a cake dome.

Aunt Ruth's Apple Cake
Makes one 9" round tube pan cake.

Toss together:
6 apples, peeled and sliced thinly (I like to use really crisp apples that hold up well to baking - maybe Honeycrisp or Granny Smith or a combination, but you can use whatever you prefer)
5 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons sugar

In a large bowl, measure the following and the beat together until smooth:
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) flour
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup oil
1/4 cup orange juice
4 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a tube pan. Pour half of the batter into the pan and spread it evenly. Spread half the apple slices over the batter. Add the remaining batter and top with the remaining apple slices. Bake for 90 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed with a finger. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

chocolate rose cake

I just never tire of these piped rose cakes, do you? They are elegant and pretty and surprisingly fast and easy to assemble. Win-win!

bicycle cake

One of my parents' best friends has become a bit of a bike fiend. So when he celebrated a birthday, we thought it would be fun to do something with that decoratively on the cake. I decided to pipe cute bicycles out of candy melts. I found a simple picture of a bike (too many details would have been extremely fragile when made out of melted chocolate) and used it as a template underneath a piece of parchment. So I piped directly onto the parchment and then let the bikes harden in the fridge for about 10 minutes. I used an offset spatula to very gently lift them off the parchment. Best advice: pipe a couple of extra just in case they break!

I made a simple lemon cake with lemon-vanilla frosting. (His family all love chocolate, but when you're the birthday boy, you get to pick the flavor!) I kept the cake and frosting decoration very straightforward so the bikes would pop, and I stood them all around the border of the cake. Great for a bike enthusiast!

kite cupcakes

Our friends' daughter celebrated her birthday with a kite birthday party down by the beach. How much fun is that? They brought in a kite expert to teach the kids how to make and fly kites!

To match the festive occasion, I made cupcakes with kite cookie toppers. They're chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting and sugar cookies with royal icing and licorice tails. I picked bright, fun colors for the kites because my favorite kites are always brightly colored against the sky.

Print chocolate cupcake recipe.
Print vanilla frosting recipe.
Print lemon-vanilla sugar cookie recipe.
Print royal icing recipe.

crazy candy cake

I love all versions of this cake: it's just a simple, frosted round cake - any flavor with Kit Kats edging the outside and the top filled in with M&M's. You can do it at Christmas time with red and green M&M's, or at Easter with pastel colors, or really any time. These are fall-colored M&M's, so I suppose it's a fall cake. The curling ribbon is just to make it extra festive and cute. Only caveat is that it takes a small boatload of Kit Kats to wrap around a 9" cake - maybe as many as 6 or 7 full candy bars!

baby shower animal cookies

Baby shower cookie favors for a shower featuring cute jungle animals... monkey, tiger, elephant, and lion. I love how the accents of the different colored royal icing add dimension!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

baby shoes for baby g

Nothing like a baby turning 1 to remind you it's time to post the baby shower cake pictures. (Oops. Though my posting tardiness is well-known throughout the land.)

From everything I hear - and my parents are friends with this boy's grandparents - this is the sweetest, bounciest, happiest baby boy ever. He sure is adorable and well-loved.

Before he was born, his family wanted to celebrate his arrival with a fabulous shower that included a cake designed to mimic part of the invitation. I took the baby shoes featured on the card and built similar, old-fashioned ones out of fondant, and then placed them on top of a Tiffany-blue baby shoe box. Since that wouldn't be enough cake to feed the whole party crew, the shoe box topped a giant chocolate cake filled with chocolate buttermilk frosting and covered in dark chocolate ganache. (That's become this family's signature cake!)

Here's the bottom half of the invitation:

And here are the fondant baby shoes, the shoe box, and the chocolate extravaganza:

Happy birthday to this sweet baby boy!