baking

Cake and Ice Cream – Together at Last!

I’m still alive – and still baking – but really, there are only so many times one can photograph and blog about chocolate cupcakes (which get made more often than not, as they appear to be a perennial favourite).  I needed to break out of my routine!

When I first saw the recipe for Spumoni Cake in Kris Holechek’s Have Your Cake and Vegan, Too!, I was immediately drawn to it.  Spumoni is one of those things…just mmmm…I don’t crave it that often, but there is nothing quite like it, and substitutes (such as plain chocolate) will not be accepted.  I had dragged my heels in making it, though, because although I don’t mind making full-blown cakes for birthdays and other occasions, I find that cakes beget terrible portion control.  Say what?

See, anyone who’s baked a cake or even whipped up a Duncan Hines mix knows that a standard two 8-inch layer cake uses 24 cupcakes’ worth of batter.  Not a problem, except truthfully, when’s the last time you got 24 servings out of a cake like that?  Unless you’re feeding the masses or are hyper-heath conscious, no one cuts slices that thin.

The really obvious solution was to halve the recipe and turn it into cupcakes.  Tah-dah!

spumoni1

The original recipe makes a 9-by-13 sheet cake, and instructs the baker to randomly drop blobs of all three batters, then marble.  Because I was working small-scale, I contented myself with layering a spoonful of each in the cup, knowing full well that they’ll heave and bake up in random patterns.  See?

spumoni2

I did alter the recipe a bit: instead of puréeing cherries for the pink batter, I diced up a few maraschino cherries, and added a bit of raspberry-flavoured Torani syrup for flavour and colour.  I added the syrup to the frosting, too, for a chocolate-raspberry topper that helps bring out flavours in the cake.

When I fed these to my test group, I was told the flavours “kind of play together – it’s hard to pick out each individual flavour without tasting each part separately”.  Hmmm…just like the ice cream!

Thanks for looking!

baking, Cross-stitch and Embroidery, Other Crafts

Pink cake and orange cat

Hello there!

My mom had her birthday at the end of January, but due to work scheduling, I wound up having to make her cake the weekend before.  I saw the basic idea in an old issue of Woman’s World, which is a magazine that I would generally never, ever buy – except that this issue had featured adorable Hello Kitty cupcakes on the front cover, and I had been unable to resist it.  They also had a layer-cake version of the cupcakes inside, but their recipe used something like four egg whites in the batter and another two in the icing, with no mention of what to do with the yolks, so I quickly dispensed with that idea and instead used my trusty vanilla cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World as well as the fluffy buttercream icing from the same.  I also thought I might leave the kawaii characters off the cake, and maybe give it a more mature vibe.  Because nothing says “mature” like pink cake, right?

Ombre Cake 1

I, of course, did not think to get a picture of it while it was intact and free from candle holes.

Ombre Cake 2

Holy ombre, Batman!  I used varying ratios of gel food colours to get the different shades, and they worked like a charm.

Ombre Cake 3

That’s a chocolate-cream cheese filling between layers.  Since the cake itself is just vanilla and not overly sweet, it provided a nice balance and helped keep it moist for the next few days until we could get it all eaten.

She had to wait a couple more days to get the rest of her birthday goodies.  I always try to make a handmade card of some sort:

Surprised Hedgehog

And when I first saw this design on Urban Threads, I knew it had to be made into a t-shirt:

Meow Shirt

I did him in orange to look like her big ol’ furbaby.  He’s painted on – not embroidered – and I think the blue really makes him pop!

Thanks for looking – have a wonderful weekend!

baking, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Take me right back to the track, Jack!

Where does the time go?  One day, I was stitching up Christmas ornaments, and now, poof!  Finals, summer birthdays, that feeling of irritation that occurs when you upgrade your operating system only to find out that none of your (admittedly embarrassingly rudimentary) Windows XP software will run on Windows 8.1….

But I digress.

My dad celebrated a birthday a few weeks back, and in keeping with my Birthday Cake Rule*, I knew I had to come up with something good.  I had seen this cake on the Brown Eyed Baker some time ago and had been wanting to try it for a while.  Here’s my take:

traincake1

traincake2

Since my dad is just a wee bit (ha!) older than the BEB’s birthday boy, I passed on the rainbow cake in favour of something just a little more adult.

traincake3

This is my modification of the basic chocolate cupcake recipe from…wait for it…Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  It’s rich and moist without being too sweet, nice and light, and goes down easy.  Absolutely worth skipping a half-day of classes to make!

I also took a break from needling away at the rather large needlepoint project that’s been occupying my leisure time to stitch him a card.  I saw the pattern in an issue of The World of Cross Stitching, and he rather reminded me of my parents’ cat.

morkandcard

*The Birthday Cake Rule, for the uninitiated: If you really love someone, you’ll make them a birthday cake, or pie, or cookies, or other dessert of choice, from scratch.  None of this store-bakery sheet-cake stuff.

baking

The Faux-stess with the Mostess – Birthday Edition

What happened?  One minute I was basking in the glory that is a month off from any real grown-up responsibility, and the next thing I know: Wham!  I’m thrown headfirst into school, and all the assorted homework and studying that accompanies it.  I’m still not sure what happened to January.

My regular readers will be familiar with my Birthday Rule; that is, if you don’t make someone a homemade cake/cupcakes/pie/cookies/whatever, you don’t really care about them.  So, school craziness aside, I knew that last weekend I’d be whipping up something for my mom’s birthday.

I had toyed with the idea of a blue velvet redux, using a different recipe and significantly less food colouring than the last time, but my mom is one who, if I make marble cupcakes, will ask why there’s so much more white cake than chocolate.  So, chocolate it was.  My mock-Hostess cupcakes always go over so well, that I decided to try a layer-cake version.

Hostess Cake 1

That’s two layers of deep, dark chocolate cake (the basic chocolate cupcake from VCTOTW, doubled and baked in 8-inch round pans), with a generous layer of vanilla buttercream in between, and smothered in rich ganache.

Hostess Cake 2

All purtied up…

Hostess Cake 3

The Pac-Man shot. 🙂

The birthday girl loved it; I picked up some vanilla ice cream to go with it, just for her, and within a few days only a few crumbs were left.

baking

I “Hab” nothing else to say/Je n’ai rien d’autre à dire

Note pour mes amis francophonies: Le <<bon mot>> par-dessus ne traduit pas à la français avec des bons résultats.  Mais cliquez-ici pour quelque chose bien amusant.

I’d like to point out right now that I don’t follow hockey, although I am certainly not above yanking on my dad’s Jean Beliveau jersey and snapping a picture to taunt one of my friends who’s a die-hard Boston fan.  (Although I suppose he had the last laugh this year.)  Truthfully, the only time I pay any attention is when Chicago is playing at home, but that’s only because I enjoy hearing Jim Cornelison sing the American national anthem.

But…oh…the things we do for love – and Father’s Day!

The cake was my mother’s idea.  “Hey, what if you did the cake to look like a hockey rink, with the Canadiens logo at centre ice?”  Right.  Because I can totally draw the Habs’ logo, and I totally know what a regulation hockey rink looks like.  Thank heavens for Google.  In the end, I came up with this:

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The nets were part of a soccer-themed cake-topper set, and are slightly disproportionate for a 9″ x 13″ rink, but I take what I can get.  I used a toothpick to trace the shape of the “C” in before filling it in with red icing, then adding the blue outline.

But wait!  There’s more!  Once I had decided how I was going to decorate it, I wanted something a little different for the cake part.  Don’t get me wrong – we all like chocolate, but it’s been done.

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I used a cherry chip cake mix, made with a can of ginger ale instead of the standard water/oil/eggs to keep things vegan, and then stirred in a few Wilton baking bits in blue.  Without the icing job, it would make a nifty 4th of July cake, but here it carries the theme through.

Rather than try to cover and hide it in the already-crowded fridge until today, we cut into it last night – my dad was absolutely tickled with his special dessert.

Happy Father’s Day!

baking, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Birthday Quickie

Ha!  You thought this was going to be something salacious, didn’t you?  Get your mind out of the gutter; this is a wholesome, family-friendly post.  Literally, actually, since it was my mom’s birthday the other day, and I’ve only just gotten around to posting pictures.

Since the birth-flower for January is the carnation, I snapped up this mini-kit when I saw it at my local needlework shop a few months ago, figuring it was a card just waiting to happen:

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The corally-pink card, although not exactly a match for the flowers, matches almost exactly the top I bought her.  She claims this was a deliberate theme; I claim coincidence.

But what’s a birthday without cake?  After all, you don’t really care for someone if you don’t bake them a birthday cake, yadda yadda, you’ve heard this before.  After drooling over pretty much all the cakes in Kris Holechek’s Have Your Cake and Vegan Too, I decided on the Almond Mocha Cake.  It’s like an almond mochaccino in cake form!

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Layers of moist almond cake with a rich chocolate ganache in between, and topped off with a coffee buttercream?  Yes, please!

We started the day with banana-split French toast, but that disappeared before I could get my camera…

And now, I’m off for a piece of cake…

baking

A birthday without a cake…

…is like pillaging without burning?  No, that can’t be right…

But I do have a theory that if I don’t make somebody a birthday cake (note: cupcakes, cheesecakes, and pies are all perfectly acceptable alternatives), I don’t truly care about them.  So for my dad’s birthday a few days ago, I made him the Peanut Butter Chocolate Dream Cake from Kris Holechek’s Have Your Cake and Vegan Too.

It’s a fairly standard chocolate cake with a peanut butter filling in between the layers and topped off with a chocolate-peanut butter ganache – garnish as desired.  The recipe was easy to follow, and the cake easy to assemble; if and when I do it again, the only thing I’ll do differently is grease-and-cocoa the pans instead of greasing-and-flouring them, to avoid that flour residue (since it’s not frosted all over, it does kinda show).

And yes, I probably will make it again.  Not only did the birthday boy love it, but it went over extremely well with my omnivorous coworkers, too.  Such is the power of chocolate and peanut butter together.