Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Elsa Cake for a Frozen Birthday Party

Like most little girls, does your daughter love Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen?  Mine does, which is why I was talked into making an Elsa cake for her Frozen-themed birthday party. 

So I got out some Duff blue food colouring, some edible gold and silver food spray and got to work.

The dress portion of the cake was an angel-food cake with an icy mint buttercream. Under the 'snow' lay a Flourless Icy Mint Chocolate Truffle Cake, which was absolutely delicious.  The blue icing was also a minty buttercream.

I used white fondant for Elsa's sleeves and I took apart and washed my daughter's doll for Elsa's upper body.  Let's face it, the hair colour on those doll's are a perfect match, so why try to recreate it in gumpaste?  I used buttercream icing to slick her hair back and get a good 'Elsa braid'.

The shimmering effect was created by edible gold and silver food spray that I found in the cake section of Michael's. The beads were candy pearls.

I also made a small Olaf out of gumpaste and a large Olaf out of cardboard for a blind-folded "Place the Nose on Olaf"  game.  A roll of Frozen wrapping paper helped with the table decorations and an icy style tree that I got at the party store.

The party was a success!

Here is a photo gallery of how the cake came together:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Curling Cake for a Curling Enthusiast

Winter is here and that means avid curlers are hitting the rinks. So perhaps it's time to make a birthday cake with a curling theme for that curling enthusiast in your life.

This curling cake looks simple but was actually quite complex. First I had to cover the cake in white fondant, then cut circles with sharp-edged bowls and glasses to get the rings on the ice surface.  I rolled out both blue and red fondant to create the exact same-sized rings to insert into the white fondant. This gave it the smooth surface of a curling rink.

Small pieces of grey-coloured fondant were used to make the stones (rolled into balls and then pressed with a thumb to get the right shape) and red and blue fondant for the handles.  You can add people made of gumpaste and the brooms for a more elaborate cake.

Tip:  Do not make this cake in July or in high temperatures - your blue or red fondant may leak food colouring down the sides of the bright white cake.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Rustic Fall Leaves Wedding Cake with Copper and Eggplant Purple

This Fall-wedding cake was all buttercream, so it was truly delicious.  The copper and eggplant leaves were made of coloured gumpaste and lightly coated with edible silver and gold glitter sprays.  The swooshing vanilla buttercream gave a rustic feel to the cake.  And with no fondant covering the cake, it was that much tastier.

What's Inside?  The bottom tier was 'from-scratch' chocolate cake, layered with creamy semi-sweet chocolate ganache and lot's of organic milk chocolate chips. The top tier had layer of vanilla cake with pumpkin-spiced buttercream.
An all-chocolate interior made this cake super tasty.

Rustic Fall Wedding Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and Copper and Gold Leaves.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Cakes: Fondant-Covered Pumpkin Cake

There are just a few days left to make the Halloween Cake that you've been stressing about.  Well, stress no more!  Here is a simple way to make a pumpkin-shaped cake.

This Fondant-Covered Pumpkin has four layers of moist vanilla-chocolate chip cake inside and pumpkin-spiced buttercream. It was covered in Duff's brand of orange fondant, which both tastes great and has really good coverage (and it NEVER cracks! I am not paid to say these things, I have just tried so many types of fondant and been disappointed so many times, but Duff's truly is the best and has the most 'awesome' colour range. Plus, I am a long-time fan of the show Ace of Cakes and know that if Duff recommends it, it must be good!).

How can you make a pumpkin-shaped cake?

There are two ways:

1. Bake a cake in two bundt pans and then flip one upside down, ice in between and then press together, matching up the grooves.  Ice the outside and cover with fondant.

2. Bake four thick layers of cake in 8" or larger pans. Layer with buttercream, and then carve the whole stacked cake into a pumpkin shape. This is not as easy as option one, but you can add more buttercream this way, and it is the best option if you do not own a bundt pan! 

For the stem, make a cupcake and place upside-down in the top of the 'pumpkin' or shape rice treats into a stem shape, then cover with green or brown fondant, or melted chocolate.

For a jack-o-lantern cake, use black fondant to cut the mouth, eyes and nose. Stick them on to the front of the cake with a tiny amount of water onto the back of the fondant.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Halloween Cakes: Fondant-Covered Witch Hat Cake!

Halloween is fast approaching and it is time to plan Halloween party treats, and cakes for kids who are celebrating birthdays during the spooky season.  This witch Hat Cake was made for a Halloween party at a local daycare.  The kids loved eating the tray of spider chocolate truffles, as well as this carved, cackling cake.

What's Inside? Chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream!

How to make it:
First you need black and orange fondant (in Canada, you can find some at the Bulk Barn or Michael's, but the best brand really is Duff's).

To make the hat (2 ways):

1. Make a cake batter and pour it into large and small sizes of cake pans (i.e. a cupcake pan, a 3" cake pan, a 5" cake pan, a 7" cake pan and an 8" cake pan), then once baked, stack your cakes and layer with buttercream, so that the smallest cake is on top and the largest on the bottom.  Then carve your cake into a cone shape. 

2. Make Rice Krispy Square treats, but shape them into a cone before they cool, instead of the usual squares. Carve it down a little for even edges if necessary. Cover with a little buttercream and cover with black fondant.

To make the bottom of the hat:

Make a large round cake (I used a 14" round pan, but that feeds 35 or more people, so you can use an 8" or 10" or whatever you like depending on your party size). Roll out a large piece of black fondant and cover the cake with it, but let your edges stay long and ruffle like a hat (this is easier than trying to cut a straight edge anyway!).

To make the 'buckle':

Use orange fondant and spray with edible gold spray (I buy this at Michael's or online at Golda's Kitchen) or brush on edible gold shimmer dust.

To make the spiders:

I used my signature toffee mix (with a round chocolate truffle inside) to make the spiders, but you can make spiders out of black fondant by rolling round balls of black fondant and then little strips for the legs.  A dot of water will act as adhesive (once dry) to secure the legs to the spiders.

Good luck with your Halloween Party!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eight-Layer Nutella Buttercream Cake with Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Ganache

This cake is nearly one-foot tall with rich Nutella Buttercream icing layered between eight layers of rich chocolate cake. Crumbled pieces of milk chocolate are sprinkled between each layer and it is topped with Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Ganache.

A cake this tall is certainly a celebration cake! You need a large plates to serve it (and be sure to yell "timber!" when you let it fall on the plate); your guests will be impressed with every slice.

Instructions to Make an 8-Layer Cake:
  1. Simply bake a moist chocolate cake recipe (I can' share my business recipe, but you can use your favourite or a cake package mix - you'll need at least 2 packages) and spread just enough batter on 2 parchment-lined 8" round pan to cover the bottom (the batter should not be higher than 1/4 to 1/2-inch once spread and levelled in the pan). 
  2. Bake only for 9 or 10 minutes until a knife comes out clean. 
  3. Pop them out onto wax paper to cool, scrape off your parchment, re-butter your pans and do this 3 more times until you have 8 layers.
Instructions to Make Nutella Buttercream Icing:
Add 2 cups of Nutella to your favourite buttercream icing recipe. Use this recipe, but add four cups of Nutella and simply choose all butter or all shortening instead of a mixture of both, if you prefer.  You will have some icing left over for Nutella cupcakes.  Top with pieces of toast for that true Nutella experience!

This cake is also gorgeous when milk chocolate shavings are pressed into the sides all around the cake.  But you'll need a lot of chocolate shavings for that!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall Leaves Cake with Buttercream 'Bark'

For this rustic wedding cake, a butterscotch buttercream icing was the highlight, which gave the cake a rougher bark-like appearance, and a delicious flavour. It rested on a cake plate and on a cut of a tree as the cake stand. The 250 cupcakes that matched the cake were also displayed on several different sizes of tree cuts that surrounded the cake.

To get the rustic appearance, I doubled the amount of icing sugar in my white buttercream icing recipe to cause it to come out of the decorator bag a little thicker and drier. And instead of vanilla, I added a little butterscotch sauce to it to add a sweet and delicious flavour. To get the rough texture, I used a fairly common decorator tip, Wilton #199 Open Star, but a Basket Weave tip may also accomplish the same effect.

What's inside?  The bottom tier highlighted a Butterscotch Buttercream icing, layered with milk chocolate chunks and moist chocolate cake. The top tier had Peanut Butter Buttercream and milk chocolate chunks.

The cupcakes came in three flavours: Butterscotch Buttercream, Peanut Butter Buttercream with Milk Chocolate Ganache, and Chocolate Buttercream.

Learnings and Tips:  I used fondant to make the leaves because I required 250 of them for the cupcakes and for the overall price of the cake display, expensive gumpaste (which dries hard) was not feasible.  Fondant leaves normally hold up very well, but in the unusually hot and humid early Fall weather, the fondant wilted significantly.

It would have been fine if the wedding location had been air-conditioned, but alas, it was not.  In future, I will recommend that leaves be made of gumpaste for cupcakes at a higher price, or smaller, mini leaves be used on the cupcakes if the weather may be humid.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Birch Bark and Fall Leaves Cake

This birch bark cake is perfect for a Fall themed wedding.
A dark chocolate-toffee rope wraps the cake, with a mix of fondant and gumpaste leaves (coloured with food colouring gel and sprayed with food colouring spray). The acorns were made of fondant and dark chocolate toffee.
I copied real pieces of birch bark to get the effect, and used edible brown and black markers to draw on the lines. Food colouring was painted on the top of each cake tier to make it look like the wood inside of cut pieces of the tree.
What's Inside?  The largest bottom tiers were made of Chunky Chocolate Blitz cake, which has a lot of different kinds of chocolate chunks, chocolate buttercream and moist chocolate cake.
The top tiers were made of layers of vanilla cake and pure raspberry buttercream icing.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fall Themed Cakes - Split Three-Tier Wedding Cake with Fall Leaves

The weather is starting to cool and so comes the time for Fall-themed weddings. And what is always included in a seasonal Fall wedding cake?  Leaves, leaves and more leaves!

All this week I will be posting pictures of cakes that follow a seasonal Fall theme.

The wedding cake shown here was a three tier cake, split into two parts.  The top tier sat on a giant martini glass off to the side, which followed some of the theme of this wedding and the invitations.  The leaves, made from gumpaste and fondant were sprayed with edible food spray to get just the right shade of orange to match the invitations.

The branches were made from the toffee that I use to make the chocolate TOFFLE, however, you could use dark brown fondant (add a little black colouring to brown fondant to darken it further) to get the same effect. Both the branches and leaves were attached to the cake by brushing on a little water, which makes the fondant on the cake sticky.  Once that dries, your leaves should stay on.  To secure them further, white royal icing can be used.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fun and Simple Dinosaur Cake

This simple dinosaur cake will stand out among the clutter of any child's birthday party.

The dinosaur is made with rice treats (Rice Krispie Squares) that were shaped by hand.  The scales were made by pushing candy sticks into the back, then placing the scales on top and securing them by brushing a little water onto the bottom of them (the water makes it stick once dry).

The rocks, eyes, spots and dinosaur 'skin' are all made with coloured fondant. The mouth was drawn on with food markers.

What's inside?  This cake did not have a chocolaty centre - as the parents were not quite ready to introduce their young son to chocolate.  But it was still delicious!  A tasty, all natural rich buttercream icing was layered between moist vanilla cake layers.

Tip: Cut the scales from fondant with a leaf cutter, placing two leaf shapes together around a toothpick.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Layered Blueberry Buttercream and Vanilla Cake

If your buttercream icing is the all-star flavour that you want to highlight, layer it up with thinner pieces of vanilla cake so that your buttercream truly stands out.

How-To: Toss 1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed and at room-temperature) into your best buttercream recipe (1/2 cup if it is a small batch of icing).  You can use this recipe for vanilla buttercream icing or the Vanilla Bean Buttercream Icing recipe in this PIECAKEN recipe.

You can also use the vanilla cake recipe from the same page (mentioned above)!  Or use a store-bought mix for vanilla or pound cake.  Just pour 1/2 inch or less of cake batter into the bottom of your 8" pan and bake for only about 12 to 14 minutes.  Bake several layers to get a good height to your cake. Be sure all the layers are cooled before you start layering on your icing.

Because of the fresh/frozen blueberries, you will need to serve and consume this cake within 2 to 3 days at most.  Best if served the same day or within 24 hours.

Decorating Tips:  Cover your cake in a Vanilla Bean Buttercream (see link above to recipe) and then press quality organic white chocolate shavings or chunks into the sides of the cake. Blueberries and white chocolate are a wonderful pairing. Add some shredded coconut for an over-the-top flavour!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Flourless White Chocolate Cake with Fresh Ontario Peaches

The peaches are ripe in Ontario right now and I was fortunate enough to be given five baskets of them.  So the ideas for recipes began to flow. The result? A flourless white chocolate cake with a white chocolate ganache topping and lightly cooked peaches.  This turned out to be a great pairing, and not overly sweet like many white chocolate desserts can be.

Other bonuses to this cake:  no icing sugar and you can get away with using coconut sugar instead of cane sugar, no nuts (if that's required) and NO WHEAT OR GLUTEN.  You can also change up the topping to any fruit that you like, such as blueberries, strawberries or cranberries.

Here is the recipe:

Flourless White Chocolate Cake with Ripe Peaches Recipe:

For the cake, you need:
  • 10 ounces of white chocolate
  • 1 cup(1/2 lb) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar (you can replace with organic coconut sugar)
  • 4 eggs (cold)
  • the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean (or 1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract)

For the topping, you need:
  • 4-5 cups of pealed and sliced peaches
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (you can replace with agave or organic coconut sugar)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

For the white chocolate ganache, you need:
  • 5 ounces of white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup of whipping or heavy cream.

Instructions to make the flourless white chocolate cake:
  1. Prepare a 9" or 10" springform pan by lining the bottom with parchment paper and greasing both the sides and the paper with butter.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Chop the butter into cubes and place in a stainless steel or glass bowl over double boiler (a pot with about an inch of steaming (not quite simmering) water in it) on your stovetop.
  4. Add the 10 ounces of white chocolate and stir the butter and white chocolate constantly until it melts together. Take it off the heat while you still have a few lumps in it and stir until smooth. You may experience some separation of the cocoa butter from the white chocolate, which is normal for white chocolate, but your room temperature sugar and cold eggs should recrystallize the cocoa butter and bring the mix back together.
  5. Add the 1/2 cup of sugar and stir.
  6. Add all four eggs at once and immediately - using a hand mixer or stand mixer - blend on low or medium until the mixture is slightly lighter in colour and completely mixed.
  7. Toss in the vanilla bean or extract and stir.
  8. Pour the entire mix into your prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes it looks slightly puffy and cooked on the sides, about 1 inch in from the edges. If should still be jiggly in the middle, but if it still looks too wet and undercooked in the middle, add five more minutes to your cooking time. Then, turn off the oven and let the cake sit with the door closed for 5 more minutes.
  9. Remove from oven.  Let cool for one hour, then refrigerate until cold.
  10. Place your cake on a serving plate and continue to chill until you are ready to top it with ganache.

While your cake is cooking, prepare the peach topping:
  1. Place sliced peaches in a pot with sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon and place on stovetop.  Cook at a slight simmer for 10 minutes.  You can cook for longer (15 to 20 minutes) with 1 tbsp. cornstarch for a thicker, fully cooked topping, if you wish.
  2. Remove from heat and let sit until it cools.  Then refrigerate so that your topping is cold when you place it on the cake.

Once your cake is cold, prepare the white chocolate ganache:
  1. Place your 5 ounces of white chocolate in a microwavable bowl.
  2. Cook on medium power for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture onto the cake and spread just to the edges.
  4. Chill the cake for at least 1 hour before adding the peach topping.
  5. Once chilled, top with the now-cold peach topping.  You can decorate it with swirls of melted white chocolate or chocolate shavings, or whatever you like! 

You can cut this cake in quarters, then cut each quarter piece into 3 slices to get a good-sized piece per serving. Since this cake is rich, you can also cut the cake in quarters, and then cut each quarter into 4 pieces to get 16 small servings.

Best served within 1 to 2 days. Consume within 4 days.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wedding Cake with Lilac-Coloured Cascading Flowers

This summer, I made a wedding cake that had a bright and cheery feel with its lilac-coloured flowers that cascaded down a white, three-tier wedding cake. Below is a photo-guide as to how I decorated this cake, to give you ideas and instruction on how to make a similar cake.

What's inside?  The top two tiers had milk chocolate chunks sprinkled on a rich peanut butter buttercream icing between layers of moist chocolate cake.  The bottom tier had five layers of vanilla cake layered with a real-butter and naturally flavoured raspberry buttercream icing.

The chocolate and vanilla cupcakes were topped with a rich vanilla buttercream icing. For the icing recipe, click here.

So how did this cake come together?  Here is the visual guide:

Start with baking and layering the 14" Bottom Tier - and don't forget the vanilla crumb-coat!Vanilla Cake
Next up - layer and crumb coat (thin layer of icing refrigerated until hard, before adding an outer layer of vanilla icing and then finally covering in fondant) the 10" second tier.
Finally layer and crumb coat the top 6" tier.
Cover each tier separately in rolled fondant (also called 'decorice' icing).  Seal the tiers together with royal icing.

Smooth the royal icing seal with a spatula or gloved finger to get a flat look (so your ribbon will be smooth and flat).

Add straws or wooden dowels to the bottom and second tier to support the top two tiers of the cake.  Distribute evenly so the top tiers don't tip. The refrigerate the cake for two hours or more while you make the flowers to harden up the icing before adding the ribbon and flowers.

Be sure to have your gum paste on hand at room temperature. Use colour gels to get the right shade.

The Wilton Gum Paste Flower set will give you a lot of options for flower types, including roses and Calla Lilies. 

Wire for gum paste flowers makes it easier to add stems and hand your flowers upside-down to dry.

Once you have made your flowers, hang them to dry.  Don't have a drying rack?  Get creative and use knobs or hang a string across your kitchen to hang them off of.
Cut a variety of flowers to fill in open and empty spaces.

Make a variety of roses and flowers and vary the colour slightly to add a more appealing visual effect.
Let them dry and harden overnight.
Add the ribbon by wetting the entire piece (wetting the whole thing gives it a consistent colour) and then smoothing it onto the cake with a brush.  Be sure to have the seam at the back of the cake or where your cascading flowers will cover it.
Start to add the flowers. You can use yellow food colouring and a paint brush to colour in the  centre of daisies.

Attach your flowers with stiff white royal icing.

Let the royal icing harden in the fridge overnight to ensure the flowers do not fall off!

Bring along extra gumpaste flowers to lay on the table during set-up to extend your cascade.