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Monday, June 30, 2008

Jesse's cake (or Why We Need Central Air IMMEDIATELY!)

This weekend I made a Cookie Monster cake for Jesse's 1st birthday. No problem - I knew exactly how I was going to make it and how I'd decorate it. What I didn't plan on (though I should have) was 80 degree temperatures in my kitchen Saturday night and Sunday. Made the frosting on Saturday night - (fortunately, the vanilla bean cakes were already made and tucked safely away in the freezer) and it immediately turned to blue soup (was too tired and cranky, or I would have taken step by step photos.)

It spent the night in the fridge, and I managed to get a crumb coat on the layers before the kitchen got too hot (was about 74 at the time). My first thought was to decorate the cake with the grass tip, which ends up looking like fur - similar to the elmo cupcakes and lion's mane. The frosting was WAY too melty at that point and turned into a blue blob on the cake, so I improvised and made peaks by pressing with my small offset. That worked great for the top, but when I tried pipe out frosting on the sides, it totally started sliding down. I moved into the living room and the finished the cake (cursing under and over my breath the whole time), and managed to spackel this together.

Jesse's Cookie Monster Cake

Hi Shelteriffic Readers!

I was beyond thrilled when I saw that one of my favorite blogs, Shelteriffic, mentioned this blog in a weekly round-up last week. I've been using this blog primarily as a dumping ground/journal for things I've baked, as a way to remind myself what I liked and didn't like about each project. Nice to see that others might appreciate it - it's definitely encouraged me to post more frequently, and maybe even branch out a bit. To start including the "and then some" part of my tag line. Watch this space!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Max and Stella's cake

Max and Stella's cake
Max turned 5 on June 8 and one of his best friends Stella turns 5 on the 21st, so we decided to have a joint b-day party (I should add they go to school together and have almost all of the same friends.) Maxie's cake ideas ran the gamut from subway car, to race car, to Amtrak train, to (well, I guess his ideas weren't that broad!) Finally he decided on a racetrack cake, which just so happens to be the same cake he wanted last year, for his 4th birthday. Perfect! Again with the cobbler's children thing, I didn't have a ton of time to get things together and make a new completely original cake, so I was very happy.

Same size - two 9-inch layer cakes, chocolate and vanilla bean, with chocolate buttercream filling, outside was colored vanilla bean frosting and chocolate cookies for the dirt. Last years cake had green coconut for grass, which people loved, but I thought it made the whole thing look like a monster so I decided black/white stripes fit in better.

I think someone has photos of the cake in action, with flags, candles, etc, and I'll post them when I get them.

Max and Stella's cake
Stella's name was on the other side, also in orange.

Making of the racetrack cake
The 9-inch layers pieced together

Making of the racetrack cake
crumb coat - looks a little bit like boobs, I think

Making of the racetrack cake
Lining up the circles

Doug's cupcakes

Note to self: I really need to start making Doug take ALL the photos of my stuff. My little camera (and my meager skills) just aren't cutting it! Moving on...

Doug's birthday was May 26, but we were traveling home from a wedding in PA that weekend, I was out in LA for BEA the next, and so on and so forth. The poor guy never got a proper SaraBakesCakes birthday celebration (the cobbler's children, etc., etc.,). I made it up to him yesterday with a cupcake of his own design. Spice cupcakes with a banana in the middle, topped with an attempt at Nutella buttercream. The problem was I tried to just flavor the vanilla buttercream I already had with the Nutella, but that just added to the sweetness and didn't provide a lot of hazelnutty flavor. Don't tell the parents, but I also dumped in a lot of Frangelico, which sort of worked but it was still way too sweet, in my opinion.

Next time I'd make an italian buttercream and flavor that one. For those who care (ha) - flavoring a powdered sugar buttercream does work really well when the flavor you're adding isn't already really sweet (like peanut butter or bittersweet chocolate).

I wish I'd taken a photo of the cross section with the banana inside, because it looked really cool. And the papers?? I just bought them when I was in LA at Surfa's - a magical cooking supply store. Next I'll bust out the orange and yellow ones - I need another special occasion for those!

Doug's cupcakes close up

Doug's cupcakes

Cupcake in a Cup
a cup in a cup

Cupcake on a plate
We have all this old cool serving ware from Doug's grandmother. I hope to use more of it in my photos. This is from a 20 piece demi-tasse cup set.

Cupcakes for Summer Birthdays party at Maxie's school

There were four kids with summer birthdays at my son's school and right before school ended they had a party for all of them. If it's not obvious, the letters are for each of the bday kid's name. I bought the Wilton letter/number set - and made them out of gumpaste. Not a big fan of the Wilton stuff, but this did the trick. Vanilla bean cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream.
Cupcakes for Luc, Stella, Eliza and Max