Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall Eats and Treats

Unless you've been living under a rock (or just aren't living in New England), you've probably noticed that the annual Pumpkin Spice Mania is well under way.  From Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Pumpkin Spice candles, or cheesecake, or Oreos (yes, that's a thing), it's hard to get through October without running into pumpkin spice in some kind of format. 

And if you're a little bit sick of it, I won't blame you.  So why not switch things up for the next foray into the kitchen?  Still squash, and still spiced, but with a sweet browned-butter-and-maple glaze....I bring you Kris Galicia Brown's recipe for Sweet Butternut Squash Doughnut Holes!

(Don't they look scrumptious?)
I've never made doughnuts at home before, but Brown's page also has some links to easy DIY Doughnuts instructions!  Go check it out!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Tasty Side of Science

Woop, it's October, whaddaya know.  Things have been a little crazy (job hunts and such), but this fun article was too good not to share.

Source: Handle the Heat

Ever been frustrated by a cookie recipe? Maybe it wasn't fluffy enough, or chewy enough, or crisp enough (because there are strange folk out there who want crunchy cookies, shudder).  Never fear, science is here!  Baking is, after all, a kind of chemistry--so check out the full article by Anne Miller here!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Caution: Cake Under Construction

Looking for a cake for the bulldozer fiend in your family? Have a Hard Hat theme for your next party? Simply looking for a fun way to incorporate stripes into your design?  Check out this awesome cake, and tutorial, from Fredellicious!

Fredellicious

Fredellicious
Get her cake recipe here, and learn how to do angled stripes here!
 
 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spotted: Oakleaf Cakes

Oh hey, guess where I am??  I'll give you a hint:

 
No?  How about...
 



!!!OH YEAH, OAKLEAF CAKES!!!

After work today I tracked down their brand-new store in the very convenient location of 12 Westland Ave in Boston, MA (for any Bostonians reading this blog, it's right near Newbury Street.)  

I've been a huge fan of Amanda and her crew ever since I attended one of their fondant classes as part of a birthday celebration (at which point it was still Amanda Oakleaf Cakes), a little over two years ago. (See the post here.)  When I found out they were moving, I couldn't wait to finally stop in, do some sampling, and see what classes were coming up.  Going in, I told myself I was only going to get coffee, and maybe one pastry type thing.  As you can see below, things did not go entirely according to plan.



The cupcakes were dispatched with the ladylike delicacy and class I reserve for public spaces (three bites instead of one).  On today's picks...

Peanut butter: (I snagged the last one from the case!)  Here is all you need for your peanut butter chocolate and/or Reeses craving: smooth peanut butter frosting (it was hard to remember it WAS frosting) on top of a light chocolate cake.  With a wee peanut butter cup on top. (So cute! So wee!)

Coconut lime: A light fluffy cupcake that I'm pretty certain was banana--a nice undertone (no overwhelming fake flavors here!) that added to the overall tropical feel of the cupcake.  The frosting had more lime than coconut, I think, but that can't exactly be called a drawback.  Definitely a good summer cupcake!   (And it had sparkles.)

Worth the $3.50 apiece?  Yes.  Yes they are.  This caffeine fiend also gives a double thumbs up for their coffee, which, from what I remember from the last store, is a new addition..  Each cup is brewed to order, so it really really doesn't get much fresher.  Today's cup tried was Yirgacheffe, a light roast that this reviewer happily describes as "most nombly, especially with a little bit of milk."

Another reason to stop by, especially if you're looking to acquire a cake: their fondant.

Now, I know the whole fondant-is-good, fondant-is-the-scourge-of-the-earth divide is still going strong in the baking and the consuming world of pastry.  If you fall into the latter category, but still like the clean lines of fondant cakes,  I do recommend stopping in to give their marshmallow fondant a try.  It's not as sweet as regular fondant; think a slightly less sweet marshmallow rolled over your frosting. 

To wrap up, look at some of the awesome new cakes up on their website!  A smattering of my favorites, from the classic to....well, Gandalf.





(Dinosaurs and lace. I want to hug whoever commissioned this one.)



(P.S. - want to take a class, but a little far from Boston? Check out their Hamburger Cake class on CakeMade, right here.)

Until next time!
 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bakery Life

After I finish listing all the flavor options for a customer, and it's just like

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Stars, Stripes and Sugar

Well, it's a little bit past the 4th--but hopefully you were all out enjoying the fireworks and sparklers (or, for any non-USA readers, some lovely July weather).  I got an unexpected long weekend, so to celebrate the last few hours of vacation time...how about some cake?

I've been seeing a couple of Jessicakes' lovely pieces popping up across the web, and they're just too lovely to not post.  From elegant silver swirls and stars...


Jessicakes

 
...to this super cute number whose dots and retro-style fireworks definitely remind me of summer. 
Jessicakes
Run on over to her blog here for more lovely cakes, plus a whole bunch of tutorials. It also looks like she's got some Craftsy classes going!

Speaking of tutorials, if you want to make a thoroughly patriotic cake, I'm going to have to recommend SugaryWinzy and her Fourth of July Flag Cake:


SugaryWinzy
 Yes, there really are thirteen stripes. Unfortunately, the stars don't come baked in, but just keep a piping bag on hand during serving, and you're all set!  Find out how to make the cake on her blog, here.

Once you've got your stars and stripes down, I suppose all that's left is to top off your cake with good ol' Uncle Sam.


 
Cake Central's CakeADoodle
He's never looked cuter. 
Or you could always go the buttons-and-bows route:

My Cake School
That all said, however, I think the grand prize for today's Independence Day cakes has to go to Amazing Grace Cakes, who eschewed the usual patterns for an incredible I-Can't-Believe-That's-Cake rendition of William Diamond's Drum, complete with writing on the top:


Amazing Grace Cakes
...then again, it might tie with this life-sized George Washington cake.  I'll let you all debate about whether this surpasses "cake" and ventures into a whole new genre. Happy Independence Day!


By Roland Winbeckler

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

Game of Cakes

I know, I know--the finale.  That thing that happened and no I didn't see that coming either and that person did that thing, and it's going to be a heck of a long wait for the next season.  So in the meantime, why not celebrate the end of another bloody, brilliant, and mildly over-sexed season (you never fail to entertain, HBO).......with cake?


Sweet Ruby Cakes
I don't know which detail I love most--the tiny dragon, or the beautifully mimicked wood carving, or the tiny crown waiting for someone to live long enough to wear it.
And you've gotta admit, those are some pretty awesome swords happening there. 

Of course, with so many families busy killing each other off, it's hard to keep track of all those sigils.  Fortunately, this cake is here to help:

Cake Haute Couture
 Dat Chain Mail, too. 

To be honest, it's always going to be a toss up as to whether Daenerys or Tyrion is my favorite character. I'm kind of hoping they end up as co-rulers of Westeros, slinging fire and snark at all their enemies.

Speaking of Daenerys, I really think her wedding missed on an opportunity for a thematic cake.  But it probably wouldn't have been as classy as this lovely number by Sophie Taylor.

Found here
Or this one:

The Cake Zone
(Did you spot all the references?) While some of the guests might be confused by the sword, talk about an elegant nod to the series without being too overt.  Here's another beautiful cake that followed the subtle theme:
Candytuft Cakes
I particularly love the embroidered layer, considering the sheer amount of work that goes into the costumes in the show.  The embroidery is done by hand embroiderer Michele Carragher.  If you haven't gotten an up-close look at what she's done, check it out at her site here, including the dress that was the inspiration for the cake layer above.

Anyways, hopefully it won't be a Red Wedding Cake...
 
Choccywoccydoodah
...too soon?

Anyways, go forth and enjoy your cake, my lovelies! 




 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Egads, we're back to May! Also, natural food dyes

My goodness, has it really been twelve months?  (Eleven? I didn't double check the month on the last post.)  Nevertheless, it has been a crazy crazy cake-filled year on this side of the screen.  Like so many of my fresh-faced, diploma-clutching brethren, I graduated with a lovely degree that I promptly set aside in favor of the career field I could get in to: The Bakery World.

Admittedly it's been a Grocery Bakery World, but it has been a smashing time with all sorts of forays into the world of natural and organic foods.  (If you can guess where, good for you. :) ) As it turns out, baking with organic flour is not much different than regular flour, although once you're in the food preparation industry, the process of maintaining the organic-ness of the product gets a lot more complicated.  (If the organic apple brushes a non-organic apple, the first apple is now no longer considered organic, etc.)

What IS massively, painfully, frustratingly different is the dye one uses when artificial dyes are not permitted.

Let me say, right now, that there are no good, natural sources for blue or black.  Red is tricky, but can be accomplished with the beet-based red (pro-tip, alone it'll make a gorgeous shade of pink) and a few drops of the orange (made from juniper? Carrots? I don't remember off the top of my head).  So the next time you're venturing into your neighborhood Organic/Natural/Wholesome Grocery, and look to get a custom cake with Thomas the Tank Engine draw on it, know that it's going to look more than a bit different from the picture your three-year-old is accustomed to seeing onscreen.

So what are some tricks for the odder colors?

I've had a good degree of success making blue with India Tree's blue/periwinkle dye--in large quantities it tends to create a navy-type shade--blue with a grayer undertone.  Depending on the dye, however, it can also appear more of a purplish-blue-gray.  By adding some green I can generally get a teal shade that can be a convincing sky blue once a small quantity of dyed frosting has been remixed into a batch of plain/white frosting.  (I'll need to double check the brands we use for the green, but I believe India Tree sells small quantities commercially of the periwinkle in their three-pack dye set.)

Black is more of a challenge, and so far my best solution has been to make a very, very dark chocolate frosting (keep adding in that cocoa powder), and then adding a bit of the periwinkle/blue dye to cancel out some of the reddishness of the cocoa.

The drawback is that generally there's so much cocoa powder that the frosting becomes stiff once it's allowed to sit for any period of time.

Another solution is to just use ganache--noticeably brown, but dark enough to get away with as a black-type substitute--and infinitely tastier than the chocolate/blue mix.

Anywhosies--hello again all my lovelies!  Hopefully I'll be back in the groove from now on!