Saturday, August 28, 2010

Devil's Food and Strawberry Cupcakes

After watching all of the new cupcake shows it's really put me in the mood to bake some cupcakes so when Daniel told me someone at his work was having a picnic for his group this weekend I thought that was the perfect time to make cupcakes. I really wanted to try something different than the normal chocolate or vanilla which is all that most of my cookbooks have (unless you use a cake recipe). Of course, that gave me an excuse to purchase a new cookbook. I decided on the Martha Stewart Cupcakes cookbook. It got good reviews and had lots of recipes. When I asked Daniel what sounded good he said he liked them all but prefers just plain chocolate. So, I decided to make one basic chocolate recipe and one strawberry. Only problem was after going out to dinner on Friday and doing a short run Saturday morning that didn't leave much time for making cupcakes.

Friday night was spent making the strawberry cupcakes (not the frosting). I ended up staying up until midnight. It's amazing how much longer it takes to bake then you think it will. I prefer getting all of the ingredients out prior to mixing anything. I often end up doing that while the butter or eggs come to room temperature. The only complaint I have so far about this cookbook is the lack of weights for measurement, but that's the case with most cookbooks. At least with this one it gives the method for measuring things like flour at the back of the book.

And, my helpers for the night. Don't worry Missy stayed off the countertops I was working on.

Saturday morning after my short run I debated whether I should still make the chocolate cupcakes or just focus on the strawberry since I didn't start as early as planned. I decided to go ahead and make the chocolates ones and simplify the frosting if needed. The devil's food recipe was different than others I had made. It has you melt the butter and sugar together before mixing everything.

After baking the cupcakes and getting ready for the picnic I really only had about 45 minutes to make the icing and ice the cupcakes so I knew that wasn't enough time to make two completely different recipes so I decided to make the basic fluffly vanilla frosting recipe from the book with a minor tweak to make it tolerate the Texas heat a little better, and then for half of the frosting I added pureed strawberries. And, I took the extra 5 minutes to top them with strawberry slices.

I sent Daniel to the store for a second cupcake carrier after lunch so we were all ready to go. Everyone seemed to love the cupcakes at the party. Mine even went better than the ones that someone bought at Sugar Mama's Bakeshop!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Catching Up

The last month I've been really busy with a big cake project and a couple cake classes as well as general life stuff that has kept me from sitting down to post. So, this post will include lots of pictures.

The big cake project was my in-laws 25th wedding anniversary cake. I was told there were going to be around 40 people at the party so I decided this would be a good chance to practice doing a two tier cake. My mother-in-law asked for some interesting fillings for the cake. So, I decided on a devil's food cake with cookies and cream filling and white cake with lemon buttercream. Both cakes were going to be covered in fondant so it didn't matter if they matched. Since, the filling recipes were both new to me a couple weeks before I took cupcakes to work in those flavors:

I had originally planned to make gumpaste roses for the cake, but then my mother-in-law asked if I could make hibiscus so I looked online to see if I could find a good tutorial. I found this one which is very detailed. I worked on them the weekend before the party. They ended up taking me 10 hours to make 6 flowers, but I think they turned out really great. I just wish I had taken more pictures of each step.

Once those were complete I still had to make the actual cake and put everything together. I had decided on a schedule. I needed to bake and freeze the two cakes (each two layers) by Wednesday at the latest, and then on Friday evening I would defrost the cakes, make the icing (3 different kinds), and torte and ice each of the cakes. I managed to stick to the schedule, but workout and sleep schedule ended up suffering a little. On Monday I made the two 12" layers for the Devil's Food cake. Unfortunately I learned that my mixer really can't handle that amount of batter. I somehow managed to make it work, but it wasn't pretty and may have affected my cake in the long run. I also learned how to use heating cores to bake the cake evenly though I later learned there are other nicer ways to do that. On Tuesday evening I made the 8" white cake with no issues. Sorry, no progress pictures here. Then on Friday I stayed up past midnight to torte and ice the cakes and get them in the fridge to set the icing a little. The smaller cake was no problem. I had never torted a cake before, but it wasn't too hard. I ran into issues with my larger cake being too dry and decided to try using a simple sugar syrup for the first time to moisten it. It was very simple to make, and I will certainly do that again.

Saturday morning after a short run I had to make more icing to finish frosting the chocolate cake because I didn't have quite enough for the crumb coat. Once that was done, it was time to get the cakes and cake board covered in fondant. This was only my third time to cover a cake in fondant and only my second time for a two tier cake. I stuck with a simple design to keep the flowers the showcase of the cake. I just used a template to pipe on a simple design and then brushed the cake with pearl dust.

After I got the cake ready I steamed the flowers to set the color and make them a little shiny. Then we put the cake in a box. Unfortunately the box was just the right size which meant that it pulled a couple edges of the fondant on the cake board off, but I fixed that by cutting it off the rest of the edges off. I put the flowers and "25" on the cake once we got to the party. Many people at the party thought the cake had been professionally made. I'm very happy with how the cake turned out though as my own toughest critic I can always find plenty of flaws.

So, the other big cake thing I did were cake classes in the evening on the 10th through the 13th with Marco Antonio Lopez and Sonia Escobar. They were in town from Colombia and teaching classes at All in One Bakeshop. I originally planned on just taking one class, but I talked into taking another one. The classes were taught in Spanish with an English translator which was good because my knowledge of Spanish is pretty limited to numbers 1-10 and a few other words. The first class was on modern cake decorations where we learned how to do stenciling, a bow with an edge to it, a bow with a buckle, and a few other cool things. The second class was modern gumpaste flowers. We learned how to do a lot of neat fantasy flowers. The first day of each class was demonstration, and the second we got to practice some of the techniques. I'll just post pictures of the things I did, but there were a lot of other really cool things in the classes.