Monday, February 21, 2011

Giant Cupcake Cake

Practice makes perfect and that's just what I'm going to do! After my last failed cake I decided it was time to get back out there again and practice, practice, practice! So I asked my friends on Facebook if there were any birthdays coming up that they wanted a cake for and one of my friends reminded me it was her birthday that weekend (duh!)

While thinking about ideas for cakes to decorate, I flicked through the Planet Cake book and one particular cake stood out to me. A giant cupcake cake! I had wanted a Wilton giant cupcake tin ever since I found out about them but couldn't justify spending $75 on one! (that is how much they used to cost) Finally I found a silicone version online really cheap so I bought it to try it out. Now I had to think about what kind of recipe I would use. I have some fabulous tried and tested recipes that I use over and over but I hardly ever get a chance to just try something new so this was my chance! I decided it was time to hunt down a good plain yellow cake recipe. I came across this recipe at All Recipes.com and was a little sceptical at first, I mean, look at all the butter and eggs! I wasn't sure how much batter these giant cupcakes usually take so to be safe I doubled my recipe which turned out to be WAY too much, luckily I had cupcakes to make in the weekend too so I just used the leftover batter to make them!

Check out the photos below for a quick how-to on making a giant cupcake cake:


Bake cakes in giant cupcake tin according to instructions. After baking cakes remember to remove the cakes from the mould very gently you don't want big pieces breaking off. Cover entire cake with buttercream or chocolate ganache quite generously.


Cover top of cupcake with chocolate fondant and the lower half with pink fondant. I used a chopstick to indent the sides so it looked more like a cupcake case. Cut a large round cloud shape out of white fondant and stick on the top of the cupcake (this is the "icing")


Pipe little sprinkles on top using royal icing in whatever colour you fancy. Roll red fondant into a ball and insert green wire for the stem. I glazed mine with some apricot glaze to make it nice and shiny, it was very sticky though!


To make the label, paint writing with piping gel and sprinkle disco dust over top, shake it off (and re-use it if you can). Pipe an outline in royal icing.


That is all there is to it! Of course you can decorate your giant cupcakes any way you like. You could even use buttercream instead of fondant and go for some cute piped rosettes! The choice it up to you. Have you tried any new cake decorating techniques lately? Or maybe you've trialled a new recipe, how did it go? Would love to hear from you!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Toy Story Cake

I had been contemplating whether to blog about the cake I made for my Mum's 50th party (the Toy Story one) as I actually was really upset about how the cake turned out! I try not to put myself down about cakes in front of other people (and while they're talking about the cake) so I guess this is me just having a little whine...

The cakes were a little too moist, I was really rushed, I was lazy with the second tier and just free-handed the lines (a mistake I'll never make again) and to top it off, the top tier actually slipped sideways during the travel to the venue! Boo hoo! BUT, no one said anything negative so I have to assume that, either, they're too nice to say anything or that they were genuinely impressed!

Toy Story Dessert Cake

The cake was made entirely gluten free (as was most of the dessert table, to meet my mum's food requirements). The top two tiers were made using Healthy Food Guide's Gluten Free Chocolate Cake and the bottom tier was a delicious recipe from Julie Le Clerc, White Chocolate Caramel Cake. I used buttercream with all of the cakes then covered them in fondant.

The bottom tier was made to look like the wall paper in Andy's room, the notorious clouds from Pixar. To achieve this look I piped a thin line then added blobs in royal icing. I could have used white fondant but I actually liked the way this gave the clouds a kind of 3D look to them.

The middle tier was supposed to be like Woody's shirt, only I should have properly measured where I was going to put the lines. I was in such a rush I didn't think I had time, now I look back and think, who cares if you don't have time, do it anyway! Ahh well, you live and you learn. The lines were made using an edible red marker. You could also paint the lines on using red food colouring gel.

Toy Story Cake

The top tier was to match Woody's vest, once again this one failed me miserably. It actually didn't look too bad until I drove to the venue, where I found that it had moved considerably in the car.

The number on top of the cake was made using gumpaste, which I later painted with gold lustre dust. It was quite tricky to get it to sit up nicely and kept falling over. Next time I would probably put some fondant underneath the numbers to help stabilise them.

Toy Story Cake

So that is it for the cake. My main tips to other people trying to create a fun Toy Story cake like this one would be to try recipes and techniques before the actual event. But at the end of the day, it's all about how it tastes and this cake tasted great!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

What flavour is red velvet cake? That is the most common question I get when I make red velvet for any occasion.

Even though red velvet has been around in New Zealand for some time now I still hear gasps when people see just how red, red velvet can be!

The red velvet flavour is somewhere in the middle of a chocolate and a vanilla cake, made with buttermilk, a tiny amount of cocoa and copious amounts of red food colouring to give it that oh so famous red look.

Red Velvet Cake

Traditionally, the red colour is thought to have come from a chemical reaction of the unprocessed cocoa meeting the buttermilk or vinegar.

The taste that so many people love is not chocolate, nor is it vanilla or red food colouring. It's the mixture of the right quantities of the ingredients paired with cream cheese icing that people really love eating.


Red Velvet Cake
Recipe adapted from Pinch My Salt

Ingredients
2 1/2 C Cake Flour (See substitution here)
1 t Baking Powder
1 t Salt
2 T Cocoa Powder
60ml Red Food Colouring
120g Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 C Sugar
2 Eggs (room temperature)
1 t Vanilla Extract (or essence)
1 C Buttermilk (room temperature)
1 t White Vinegar
1 t Baking Soda

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line two 9" round cake tins or three 8" round cake tins.
  • Sift the flour a couple of times before sifting together with the baking powder and salt into a medium bowl then set aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix food colouring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps (I use a whisk) and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about three minutes) 
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.
  • Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. 
  • Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. 
  • End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
  • In a cup, mix vinegar and baking soda (It fizzes!) 
  • Add the vinegar mix to the cake batter and fold in to just combine. 
  • Working quickly, divide batter evenly between cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or when skewer inserted come out clean.
  • Cool the cakes in their tins for 10 minutes then remove and place on wire cooling rack before icing.

Recipe notes:
Whenever I make red velvet cake I just KNOW I'm going to end up looking somewhat like Elmo (red that is, not furry and cute). So make sure to wear an apron and be careful with the red food colouring as it tends to get everywhere in my kitchen too!
Don't worry too much if you don't have two cake tins of the same size, this recipe has worked fine for me when I've baked half at a time.
This recipe can just as easily be used to make cupcakes (and makes 24) , just change baking time to 10-12 minutes.
I've also done 1 1/2 times this recipe to make a 9" cake with three cake tins and it's been just the right amount.
If you're wanting to make this layer cake for a fondant covered cake you'll need to pair it with a plain buttercream icing as cream cheese will be far too runny and should be kept in the fridge.

Red Velvet CakeRed Velvet Cake

Cream Cheese Icing Recipe

Ingredients
453g Cream Cheese (softened)
120g Unsalted Butter (softened)
2 1/2 C Icing Sugar
1 t Vanilla Essence
Pinch of Salt
  • Mix the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  • Sift icing sugar into a large bowl and add to butter mixture one cup at a time.
  • Add the salt and vanilla extract and mix until light and fluffy.

Icing Notes:
If you're not going to use the icing straight away you'll need to refrigerate it, when you need to use it bring it back to room temperature and beat until smooth again. You can add more icing sugar to make the icing sweeter. Red velvet cake can also go with plain vanilla buttercream or cinnamon buttercream.

Red Velvet CakeRed Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake

Hopefully as red velvet gets more popular here (and I think it will) people will start to get more educated on it's yumminess.

I remember taking a cake into work once and at first people were a bit unsure about trying a piece but by the end of the day I spotted two very proper office ladies licking the icing and crumbs off the cake stand! Caught red handed -literally!

Have you ever made a red velvet cake? What reactions did you get?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Whenever people talk about having too many lemons on their lemon trees I’m green with envy.

It pays to have a friend with a lemon tree!

Lemon Meringue CupcakesLemon Meringue Cupcakes
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

When my friend told me to take as many lemons as I wanted I immediately thought about making lemon curd. Then I thought, why not cupcakes? So lemon meringue cupcakes it was!

If you’re short on time (or lemons) you can use a store bought variety of lemon curd like Barkers. Nothing beats the real deal though! You’ll need to make it in advance so it has time to cool and thicken, I made mine the day before.

Lemon Meringue CupcakesLemon Meringue Cupcakes
Lemon Meringue CupcakesLemon Meringue Cupcakes
Lemon Meringue CupcakesLemon Meringue Cupcakes Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Makes approx. 12 Cupcakes

Lemon Curd:
2/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
Zest from 4 lemons
5 egg yolks
90g butter, cubed

Cupcakes:
125g butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsp. lemon rind
2 eggs
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup milk

Meringue:
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar

Lemon Curd:
  • Put all ingredients in a small pot over a medium heat and whisk until butter is completely melted and ingredients and combined.
  • Use a wooden spoon to stir consistently while mixture thickens, take care not to let it boil.
  • When mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon easily it is ready.
  • Remove from heat and pour into a bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap so that it touches the curd (to stop a layer of skin forming on top).
  • Refrigerate until cold, at least one hour, or overnight if possible.

Cupcakes:
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.
  • Beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
  • Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.
  • Add lemon zest and mix until combined.
  • Add eggs one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. The mixture will look separated, don’t worry it’ll go back to normal soon!
  • Sift flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
  • Add dry ingredients and milk in three additions, starting and finishing with the dry ingredients.
  • Stir in coconut and mix until combined.
  • Spoon mixture into cupcakes cases.
  • Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Leave in the tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Using a small sharp knife, cut a hole in the centre of each cupcake and discard the tops (that means eat them).

Meringue:
  • Make sure all equipment is completely oil free by washing it hot soapy water and drying completely before starting.
  • Using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on a medium speed until soft peaks form.
  • Gradually add the sugar, one spoon at a time.
  • Continue to mix for about 10 minutes, or until stiff peaks form and mixture is thick and glossy.
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
  • Spoon lemon curd into cupcake holes, about 1 - 2 teaspoons should fill it up.
  • Spoon meringue into a piping bag fitted with large round tip.
  • Pipe meringue on cupcakes over top of the curd and place on oven tray.
  • Bake about 5 -8 minutes or until lightly browned, alternatively brown the edges of the meringue with a brulee torch.
  • Enjoy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Toy Story Dessert Table

After months of preparation, I finally finished the dessert table for my Mum's 50th birthday party!

Mum and I decided on a Toy Story theme which then developed to a "Nostalgia Revisited" theme, where guests were asked to come dressed as their favourite childhood toy.

I planned a dessert table with gluten free cake & cupcakes, cookies and cake pops for the event and started organising this with my friend, Danelle, who helped me heaps with the planning, baking and decorating.

Toy Story Dessert Table
Toy Story Dessert Table

I was told there was going to be approximately 150 people there and neither of us had ever catered for that many people!

Luckily my mum had organised for a lot more food to be available on top of the dessert table we were making. The whole thing took about a week to achieve, making the cake pops, cupcakes, cookies, icing, cakes and fondant decorations. Then the day came and time just flew by!

The cupcakes were a combined effect between Danelle and I. Danelle made Chocolate Gluten Free Cupcakes, then we iced them together and stuck on some fondant discs I made earlier in the week.

I made the vanilla cupcakes using a plain vanilla cupcake recipe, substituting the flour for gluten free flour which worked out fine. We iced the vanilla cupcakes with green buttercream and piped large blobs using a large round tip. We then popped on some eyeballs made out of white fondant and an edible marker for the dots on the eyes.

Toy Story Dessert  CupcakesToy Story Dessert Cupcakes
Toy Story Dessert TableToy Story Dessert Table

The Etch-a-Sketch cookies were made using a flooding technique with Royal Icing. Once the grey icing was dry I put silver lustre dust all over it to make it look shiny then stuck on two white chocolate buttons with more Royal Icing to make it look like the knobs.

Danelle made the Rex cookies by using the flooding technique.

Toy Story Dessert Etch-a-Sketch Cookies
Toy Story Dessert Rex Cookies

I made the Mr Potato Head cake pops using Bakerella's instructions (who else?!) I had to change some of the things that weren't available in New Zealand but managed to make them out of fondant instead which I think worked quite well!

I also made some plain cake pops that were purple and green and called them Buzz Lightyear cake pops.

Toy Story Dessert Cake PopsToy Story Dessert Cake Pops

We had little labels for each thing on the table which was especially important to show what was gluten free. Danelle came up with the great idea of using mini cupcakes as a name tag holder so we stuck the cardboard to a toothpick and inserted it into a little cupcake.

I think they looked quite effective and what's even better, they are edible!

Toy Story Dessert Table
Toy Story Dessert Etch-a-Sketch CookiesToy Story Dessert Table

The cake didn't turn out quite like I'd hoped but hey, these things happen and at least I can learn from my mistakes!

I think the key thing is to try out recipes before you make them on the day, then you know what you're dealing with. That, and having lots of time! The cakes were gluten free, here are the recipes I used for the cake.

Toy Story Dessert Cake

The end result was great, everyone was raving about the cake pops and cupcakes!

I know my mum had a fabulous time at her party and it was well worth all the effort we put in for the dessert table because people really appreciated all the detail we had put in.

I also loved that people who attended the party really made an effort to dress up. I think my favourite costume would have had to be the family who dressed up as lego, their child had a little costume too, he was the smallest lego piece, too cute!

Toy Story Cupcakes

I recently made cupcakes for a Toy Story Dessert Table, this was for my Mum's 50th birthday and as I've mentioned before, she's Gluten intolerant. The recipe I used for the vanilla cupcakes was my basic Vanilla Cupcakes recipe. I just substituted normal flour for Healtheries Gluten Free Baking Mix. I like using the Healtheries Baking Mix because they already mix the different GF flours and gum so I don't have to!The recipe held up quite well with the GF flour, I made them the night before the event and the next day a few of them were a little sticky on top but other than that, they tasted really good! This recipe makes approx 40 mini cupcakes.

Toy Story Dessert Cupcakes

Toy Story Dessert Table

My friend, Danelle, helped me make the second half of the cupcakes for the Toy Story Dessert Table. She used a recipe from Healthy Food Magazine for a Gluten Free Chocolate Cake. This recipe made approx 35 minis. The chocolate cupcakes seemed to me to have quite a lot of ingredients, I wouldn't mind finding a simplified version of the recipe, I guess I'll have to keep looking! The main thing was, they tasted really good!

Toy Story Dessert Table

Toy Story Dessert Table

The icing I made for the minis was just plain buttercream icing (120g butter, 3C icing sugar & 1t vanilla essence) and I added lots of cocoa to the chocolate one (about 1/4c....maybe more!)

The decorations on the Toy Story cupcakes pictured were all made out of fondant and made in advance, ready to be stuck on.... and then munched on!