May 6th, 2013
Back in March I was asked to make 3 different birthday cakes, which all happen to be on the same weekend! It sounds stressful, but I didn’t hesitate because they were for three adorable kids. With a little planning ahead of time, I finished the cakes on time and they turned out great. The kids loved them and the parents were happy! Take a look:
Cake #1: A Train-Themed Cake for Landon
This was a 9-inch chocolate cake filled with chocolate buttercream and covered with fondant.
Cake #2: A Girly Cake for Violet
This was a 6-inch vanilla sponge cake, filled with lemon mousse. The exterior was covered with buttercream rosettes.
To give the cake more texture, I added edible sugar pearls at the center of each rosette.
Cake #3: A Despicable-Me Cake for Gavin
This was a 6-in chocolate cake filled with chocolate buttercream and covered with fondant. Surprisingly, I have never seen Despicable Me, but when I was doing my research on the Minions, it looks like a very adorable movie. Will have to add it to my movie list.
These Minions were carefully molded with fondant…lots of details involved
February 14th, 2013
Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m usually not a big Valentine’s Day person and like to take it easy on this day. I think from here on out I will use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to bake something fun and festive, which I did this time around. I couldn’t resist making heart-shaped macarons. Besides, when else do you see macarons shaped like a heart? At first I was a little hesitant because I wondered if the batter will hold the shape once they were piped, but sure enough, it did! I didn’t use any templates for the hearts, which might have been easier to get consistent sizes of macarons. Instead, I carefully piped the hearts free-handed. Believe it or not, the fun part was trying to match up the hearts when it came time to sandwiching them.
I filled half the macarons with strawberry buttercream, which I had leftover from the dinosaur cake and the other half with chocolate buttercream. The chocolate buttercream was easy to make. I saved some of the plain buttercream from the dinosaur cake and added melted dark chocolate. If you are short on time, another option is filling the macarons with raspberry or strawberry jam.
Hope your day is filled with love, chocolates, and plenty of sweets! Happy Valentine’s Day!
7 oz powdered sugar
4 oz almond flour
4 oz egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
3 1/2 oz sugar
red food coloring
- Sift powdered sugar and almond flour together. Set aside.
- In a mixer bowl, whisk egg whites on medium speed.
- Once the whites become foamy, add a pinch of cream of tartar. Whisk on high-speed to incorporate.
- Slowly stream in granulated sugar. Continue to whisk until whites reach a medium peak.
- At this time, add food coloring and whisk to incorporate. Add as much or as little food coloring to get desired color.
- Whisk until stiff peaks.
- Fold in the dry ingredients in three additions and carefully fold with a spatula to incorporate each time.
- Once all the dry ingredients have been incorporated with the meringue, transfer batter to a piping bag with a round tip (I used an Ateco 803 tip).
- Pipe heart shapes on parchment lined sheet pans. Tap sheet pan against counter to remove any air bubbles. Allow macarons to rest 1 hour before baking.
- Bake at 310F for 10-12 minutes.
- Once cooled, fill macarons with buttercream.
February 13th, 2013
This past weekend I made a birthday cake for someone very special. It was my fiance’s birthday and I decided to make him a cake. The only requirements given to me were the cake had to be vanilla and it had to have dinosaurs. So with that, I created a four-layer vanilla sponge cake with alternating layers of strawberry buttercream. The entire cake was then covered with fondant and adorned with two dinosaur cake toppers, which I molded.
It was my first time using this cake recipe and I’m happy to say that I’m a fan. It’s a milk sponge cake and it remained quite moist. Needless to say, the 6-inch by 5-inch cake was more than enough for seven people and the birthday boy was happy!
Milk Sponge Cake
6 1/2 oz AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter
1/2 C milk (2% or whole)
10 1/2 oz sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
8 oz egg whites
12 oz granulated sugar
1 pound 8 oz butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
For the cake:
- Butter 6-inch cake pan and lightly dust with flour
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.
- Heat milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Set aside to cool.
- Over a double boiler, whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla until temperature reaches 110F.
- Transfer to a mixer bowl and whisk until light, fluffy and cooled.
- Sift half of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and fold using a spatula.
- Sift in remaining dry ingredients and fold.
- Carefully pour the cooled milk and butter mixture around the batter and fold to mix.
- Divide batter into two 6-inch cake pans, bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
For the buttercream:
- Heath egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until temperature reaches 140F.
- Transfer mixture to a mixer bowl and whisk until cooled.
- Add softened butter in chunks.
- Add vanilla extract.
- Add strawberry puree to taste. (I processed frozen strawberries and strained to get the liquid).
Alternating layers of cake and buttercream.
Dinosaur cake toppers
Cross section of the cake
Photo credit: Cindy T.
January 27th, 2013
It’s been awhile since my last update and I apologize! Things have been a little busy and I fell behind with my posting. However, I did want to share something I made over Christmas. I found these adorable and functional macaron boxes at BRP Box Shop and decided to order a case of them. Craft stores, such as Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics do not carry macaron boxes, so if you’re looking for them, check out BRP Box Shop. They also carry a variety of boxes for cakes, cupcakes, and pies
So for Christmas, I made gift boxes and filled them with a variety of macarons, including, coffee, peppermint chocolate, lemon, and strawberry. They were a hit and the boxes looked great!
November 25, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving! I’m extremely happy that the holidays are here because I’ll be baking in full force. The past couple of days I have been making a few items in preparation for Thanksgiving, so be prepared to see a few updates. This post is a little long because I’m posting step-by-step pictures on how to make puff pastry for Palmiers, so sit back and enjoy!
I was extremely excited to make puff pastry at home because it’s quite versatile in the products you can make with the dough. It is a time-intensive dough because it requires rolling, folding and resting of the dough in order to create the light and flaky layers.
The biggest challenge of making puff pastry is trying to keep the butter from melting. Since you are handling the dough so much, the temperature from your hands will soften the butter quite quickly. The key is to work fast and to work on a cool surface. I have a granite countertop, which helps keep the dough cool. Also, if the dough is too soft to work with, just pop it in the freezer for 5-10 minutes before handling it again.
My end goal was to make Palmiers with the puff pastry dough, which are sometimes called palm leaves or elephant ears. The dough is basically rolled in either sugar or cinnamon sugar and baked until crispy and golden brown. Some other products you can use puff pastry for is chicken pot pie, fruit galettes, and turnovers. Puff pastry is used a lot for savory items, which is why it’s so versatile.
125g cake flour
125g bread flour
1 tsp salt
125g-200g cold water
35g softened butter
250g cold butter
- Make the dough: mix all the dries together in a mixer bowl. Mix with paddle. Add the 35g of softened butter.
- Add water a little at a time until dough comes together. The dough should look shaggy at this point.
Continue reading below for picture instructions. Note: At any time the dough is sticking, generously flour the surface area.
- Remove dough from mixer bowl and finishing mixing by hand. Flatten dough into a square; wrap and refrigerate. Meanwhile, prepare the butter (not pictured): loosely wrap the 250g of butter in plastic and slightly pound with rolling pin to soften. Shape into a square, wrap and refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes.
- Roll out four flaps of the dough so that there is a center spot for the butter.
- Place chilled butter in the center of the dough. (Make sure flaps are large enough to cover the butter. If they are not big enough, roll flaps out a little more).
- Fold each flap up and over towards the center of the butter.
- The dough now encases the butter. Together, this is known as the paton.
- Roll out: turn paton so that the seam side is down. Flour surface area and carefully roll out the paton to a rectangle, about 1/8-in thick.
- Make one fold with one end of the rolled out paton.
- Make a second fold with the other end of the paton. At this point, the paton may be a little warm from all the handling. Wrap in plastic and chill in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes. After the paton has chilled, repeat steps 5-8 again to make a second set of folds. After making the second set of fold, you can wrap and refrigerate or freeze the paton until the next day.
- Roll out the paton to a large square/rectangle so that it is fairly thin. (Another option is to cut the paton in half before rolling it out so that it is easier to handle). Once rolled out, cut the square in half. Place one half of the dough in the freezer or refrigerator so that you are working with one piece at a time.
- Lightly sprinkle/spray some water on the dough. Generously sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the surface. Carefully flip the dough over to cover the other side with cinnamon sugar.
- Fold the edges over to create a flap that is about 1-in wide.
- Fold the flap over again. This should leave a small gap in the center.
- Fold one flap over to the other flap so that the center gap is now sealed. It should now resemble a log. Give the log a good press to seal and tighten. At this point, wrap the log and place in freezer for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to cut later!
- Using a sharp knife, cut the log into thin slices. If the log is still too soft, let it sit longer in the freezer. As you are cutting the slices, make sure the folds do not open up.
- Place slices on parchment-lined sheet pan, about an inch apart, as they will puff and expand in the oven. Bake at 370F for 9 minutes, then flip each Palmier over and bake another 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown.
Whew! It’s a long process, isn’t it?! But it’s worth it because the Palmiers are delicious! Also note that for unused portion of the dough, you can freeze for a few days and make other products with it. I used all my dough for Palmiers and it actually yielded quite a bit!
November 8, 2012
I made this fruit tart since I was going home to visit. My parents are big fans of fruity, not so sweet desserts, so I knew they would like this fruit tart. Berries are out of season, so be prepared to pay a little more if you want to use them for the tart. The various fruits make this tart very appealing because of the bright, vibrant colors.
You can find ready-made crust at the supermarket, but I made mine from scratch. It is a Pate Brise dough, and fairly easy to make and can be frozen if not used right away.
For the Pate Brise Dough
250g cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
125g cold butter, cubed
65 mL water
Yield: two 8-in tarts
- Sift cake flour, salt, sugar together.
- Cut-in butter into dries using a bench scraper until you get lentil-size pieces of butter.
- Form a well with the middle of the mixture. Add some water.
- Sift the mixture with fingers to combine the water with the dries.
- Add more water as needed, but be careful not to add too much water.
- Continue to sift mixture until the dough comes together.
- Wrap and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
- Carefully roll out dough and line tart mold.
- Blind bake the shell at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
For the pastry cream filling
2 tsp vanilla
2 egg yolks
Yield: ~2 cups, enough to fill one 8-in tart
- Heat milk, vanilla, and half of the sugar in a saucepan. Occasionally whisk the mixture.
- In a bowl, whisk egg, yolks, sugar, cornstarch together.
- Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, temper the egg mixture with half the liquid. Whisk.
- Return the tempered mixture back to the saucepan.
- Heat on low while stirring constantly until the mixture slightly thickens, about two minutes.
- Cool pastry cream over an ice bath, or cool overnight before filling the tart shell.
- Fill tart shell with pastry cream.
- Carefully cut and slice strawberries and kiwis.
- Arrange fruits in any pattern.
- Nappage fruits to give a glossy sheen. You can buy apricot preserves, dilute it with some water and heat the mixture up. Apply nappage using a pastry brush.