Monday, September 26, 2011

Roll out the Barrel...of cake

Pretty sure that says, "Happy 60th Aleksandr" in Russian - but I'm not 100% sure on that.
I'll just help myself

A friend's father is turning 60 years old and the family is having a big party.  As an extra surprise, they asked me to make a cake that looked like a beer barrel with the Dad sitting nearby.  Right before they picked up the cake I filled the glasses with carmel sauce to look like beer...But of course I didn't get a photo of that.  

The cake was a moist yellow cake filled and frosted in vanilla buttercream and covered in Marshmallow Fondant (MMF).  I didn't deliver this one so hopefully it made it to the party in good condition.

Happy Birthday Aleksandr!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pumpkin Cake - but just on the outside

This pumpkin cake is largely inspired by a cake from Debbie Brown's book 50 easy party cakes, but with my spin on it.  This cake was donated to the Union Hill United Methodist Church for a silent auction.  The auction was part of a fundraising fall festival event held last wkend.

On the inside this cake is Apple Cinnamon, another recipe from the Confetti Cakes for Kids cookbook.  I covered it with a "Quick Carmel Frosting" out of the Cakemix Doctor's cookbook.  The flavor combo was really quite nice, but this is more of a glaze than a frosting.  You cook the ingredients and then try to get it on the cake in a nice even coating as fast as humanly possible before it stiffens up and then that's it. I had used this frosting, or rather glaze, once before but it had been a while and so I had forgotten how utterly frustrating it is to work with.  HOLY CRAP!  It was going so badly that I just had to laugh-out-loud or I would have started crying.

Luckily I had already planned to cover the entire cake in MMF so I didn't have to worry about how ugly it was after the carmel glaze episode.  I drove it up to my friend at the church and she liked the way it looked.  Later on she told me that her sister ended up buying the cake and she was able to eat a slice, as well as her mother.  She mentioned that her mother said it was the best tasting cake she'd ever had.  WOW!   I think is high praise, so I'm pleased.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Meaghan's Horse Cake

My neice Meaghan, has horse fever, just like my twin girls.  All I hear about, all they play with are horses - same with Meaghan (I think).  Last year for her birthday we gave Meaghan a stick horse.  Meaghan and my own girls loved it.  So a few months later for Christmas, my girls got stick horses from Santa.  And so the horse fever was perpetuated.  This year for her birthday she requested a horse cake.  A tan horse with a brown mane.

As soon as her father told me what she wanted I envisioned and square cake covered with a green buttercream pasture.  Around the sides a fence and in the middle a fondant figure of Meaghan and her tan horse.  As you can see from the photo above...That vision was modified...When out of pure habit, I pulled out my 9 inch round pans and poured the batter in.  It wasn't until they were half baked that I realized the mistake.  And as you can also see from the photo...Meaghan is NOT sitting in the pasture with her horse.  It just didn't happen.  Here is the list of excuses;

  • Allergies
  • Insomina
  • 80 pounds of tomatoes in my basement slowly being turned into sauce or mold, depending on who gets to them first.
  • Kerry committing to do another cake for the same day
  • Migraines
Now I am capable of doing two cakes in one wkend...But I guess with everything else life served up for me this past wkend, something had to give.  Sorry Meg.  She didn't know that she was missing so she didn't miss herself - and liked the cake.  It was a vanilla cake with two layers of strawberry filling and one layer of buttercream - because you can almost never have too much buttercream.

And another photo to show more of the details.  Yes, I am proud of this cake.

Tulips in September and a bluebird on the fence post.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Canning like crazy

I'm tired.  Tuesday I spent the entire day canning.  Now mind you, this is the first year I have ever canned ANYTHING.  So of course it seemed like the only natural (crazy) thing to do would be to plan on canning everything possible.  So I bought 6 cases of quart jars and a case of jelly jars from a kindly old woman whose canning days have passed, long passed...As evidenced by the inch of dust and dead spiders inside some of these jars.  One or two cycles in the dishwasher and they are good as new!  All these "good as new" jars are in addition to the 2 cases of jars I already had.

So what am I canning?  Well, a couple of wks ago I canned, with my mother's help (THanks mom) 17 quarts of peaches.  Yesterday, I canned 14 quarts of pears AND 5 quarts of crushed tomatoes (whole tomatoes skinned and cored and then packed into a jar and pressed / crushed so that their juices fill the spaces between).  I have another 80 pounds of tomatoes in my basement waiting their turn, all home grown).  So tonight and mostly likely into tomorrow I'll be making Seasoned Tomato Sauce from the Ball Blue Book guide to preserving.  Eariler this season, as you may recall, I made jam and jelly.

So, when someone asks what have I been doing?  The answer is easy, trying to hold on to summer through fresh food preserving.

Enjoy the warm weather while it lasts.

THis is my fate for the next few days - 80 lbs of tomatoes

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lemon Zucchini Cake drizzled with Blueberry Buttermilk syrup

So about two weeks ago I tried this Blueberry buttermilk syrup recipe I found and thought it might be nice on a pound cake.  (go to blueberry buttermilk syrup post)  Well, I had some left over and had just frozen a lemon zucchini cake - one family can only eat some much zucchini in all its fabulous forms.  So I froze the extra syrup thinking that I would drizzle it over the cake when it was time to eat it.

We were invited to dinner at a friends house, so out came the zucchini cake and syrup.  The syrup was a good addition.  After being in the freezer the cake had dried a little and needed some extra moisture.  And the navy blue syrup was a beautiful contrast to the cake.  I poked some holes in the top of the cake with a toothpick, hoping the syrup would penetrate the surface.  It did soak in a bit, but not to the extent I was hoping.  I guess I'll have to make bigger holes next time.  I suppose I should add this one to my cakebook.

Yes, I have hopes of creating a cakebook some day.  Not that I'll ever publish it, but at least I'll have something to show the kids if they ever ask me for a recipe.  And as I experiment, I'll have a place to write down what I did and whether it worked.

Until then, enjoy the last bit of summer and stash away your zucchini cakes until it's cold and you need the reminder of summer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Pink Monster - a 3 tiered cake

My friend Megan turned 30 years old this August and her fiancee graduated with this MBA this spring.  So they threw a big party and asked me to make a cake.  Megan had clear ideas of type of cake she wanted.  Three tiers, pink fondant, silver dragees and white lace on the tops of each cake.  Three tiers means this is a big cake.

Let's review the stats for this beast.
3 pounds of marshmallows
9 pounds of confectioner's sugar
9 sticks (2.25 pounds) of butter
11 cups of granulated sugar (roughly 5 pounds)
3 pounds of flour

Yes, I think I have it named properly as The Pink Monster!

But as a special little extra Andy thought it would be fun to have fondant figures of both Megan and Andy.  I put Megan on top holding a small pink cake.  And Andy was so tired from trying to climb up the cake, he collapsed on the of the top.  Though some thought he was tired from all the schooling.

The bottom tier was Chocolate Cake with dark chocolate ganache filling.  The middle tier was vanilla cake with cannoli cream filling.  The top tier was a yellow cake with peach puree and buttercream frosting as the filling.  Everything was from scratch.  The cake recipes were straight out of the Confetti Cakes Cookbook, except for the addition of the peach puree.  That was my experiment.  The peach flavor didn't come through so I'll have to work on that one.  Everyone seemed to like it but most importantly, Andy and Megan liked it.  So that makes me happy.

Andy was holding his diploma and cap but it's behind Megan.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Raspberry Jelly

Homemade raspberry jelly.  Yes I have figured out the difference between jelly and jam (thanks to the Blue Book guide to preserving by Ball).  As a child, my mom would make jams and jelly every summer.  My favorite part was getting a taste of the sweet and sticky stuff while it was still hot.  She'd spread a little on a Ritz cracker.  This is my first year making jams and jelly.  And so the tradition continues.  As I scrape off a little from the top of the pot and spread it on buttery crackers for my own girls.

The difference is my mom used to make raspberry jam, which includes bits of crushed fruit and ALL those seeds.  I own a Back to Basics food mill, and recently purchased a berry screen...Which means, I can easily make raspberry jelly (excluding the seeds)!  All the great flavor of raspberries without having to pick your teeth for hours trying to get those seeds from between my molars!  The food mill with berry screen worked great!  All the juice, none of the seeds.