Maple Butter Cake

Fall is upon us! This is my favorite time of year and definitely my favorite seasonal flavors to bake with. Pumpkin, maple, cinnamon and more! When I came across a recipe for Maple Butter Cake in my Better Homes and Gardens magazine, I knew it was a must try. It was very easy to put together this recipe. The only amendment I made was to bake it in a round tin rather than a square one so I could serve pie slices rather than squares.

Everything about this cake is delicious and the maple flavor comes through with some serious intensity. Definitely give this one a try…if you love maple, you won’t be able to resist adding this to your baking repertoire.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup cold butter

Batter

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

Optional

  • powdered sugar and/or maple syrup (for serving)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine 1 cup flour, 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar, and the cinnamon. Use a pastry blender to cut in the 1/3 cup cold butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling together. Pat into the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan. Bake 5 minutes or just until set.
  2. In a large bowl beat the 3/4 cup softened butter with a mixer on medium 30 seconds. Add the 3/4 cup granulated sugar and beat until combined. Beat in egg and maple syrup. Add 1 cup flour and half-and-half alternately, beating on low after each addition just until combined (batter may appear slightly curdled). Pour into crust-lined baking pan.
  3. Bake about 35 minutes or until the cake is nearly firm when you gently shake it. Cool in pan on a wire rack. If desired, sift powdered sugar over top and serve with additional maple syrup.

Star Wars Galaxy Cake

I was recently asked by a co-worker to make a cake for his twin daughters’ birthday party. They are obsessed with Star Wars and he wanted something that would fit the theme. I’m not someone who works regularly with fondant or gum paste…so I thought, perhaps a mirror glaze galaxy cake would be the way to go! I showed him a picture of my vision and he agreed!

I started collecting a variety of things that would help make the cake come to life. First, I needed some Star Wars accessories and Amazon didn’t disappoint. There I was able to find edible sugar paper decorations, galaxy lollipops, Pop Rocks and Star Wars silicone molds. 

I made two cakes – one vanilla, one strawberry. I then cut the cakes into thin layers and layered the two flavors with vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam (made fresh by my Mom in Vermont!). You can use any cakes, but if you choose to do buttercream, learn from my mistake: I refrigerated the frosted cake overnight. I should have popped it in the freezer. The buttercream was firm from being refrigerated but it would have come out far better if it had been frozen. So, definitely freeze that cake! You can then store it in the fridge if you are making it the day before an event.

I was a little disappointed that the colors of my glaze weren’t quite as vibrant as the recipe I followed here. However, I do think that it still came out beautifully. I would be more careful next time to make sure that my colors aren’t too dark. I used Chefmaster Liqua-Gel Paste Dye which I definitely recommend for mirror glaze projects. I also grabbed a few edible glitters to amp up the shimmer.

Mirror  Glaze:

  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin (bloomed in 1/4 cup of additional water)
  • gel food coloring (black, blue, pink, and purple)
  • edible glitter

Instructions:

Mix the gelatin in a bowl with 1/4 cup of water, and set aside to let it bloom while you begin the glaze. Over a medium heat, stir together the sugar, 1 cup of water, and sweetened condensed milk. Stir occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble. At this point, pour in the gelatin, and stir until fully dissolved. Then turn off the heat, and gently pour in the white chocolate chips. Stir slowly, until all the white chocolate has melted (I find that the white chocolate chips don’t always fully dissolve…so I usually try to get them as incorporated as I can). Pour through a sieve into a large bowl, then divide the glaze evenly between four bowls. Color the other bowls with whatever colors fit your theme. In my case, I did dark blue, light blue, purple and “flesh tone”. Continue to stir occasionally to stop a skin from forming, until the glaze has reached 85 degrees, or is about room temperature.

Once the glazes have cooled slightly, pour half of the black into the large bowl. Then pour about 2/3 of the purple, blue, and pink glazes on top of the black, in a swirling motion.

Remove the smoothed buttercream cake from the freezer (must be fully frozen!! Freeze for at least 4 hours before glazing), and place on a circular object (I used a pint glass turned upside down) on top of a large baking sheet (to catch the excess glaze). I placed the cake on a cake board that was the same size as the cake, then slowly poured the glaze on the cake.  Once the cake is fully covered, dust with edible glitter over the top. Let it drip for about 10 minutes, then placed the cake in the fridge until about an hour before serving.

For my candies, I used the silicone molds I found on Amazon. In hindsight, I wish I had take the time to temper some chocolate instead of using candy melts so I would have gotten a pretty shine on them, but they served their purpose. I decorated the top of the cake with the galaxy lollipops (i cut the stems off) and some “space rocks” (Pop Rocks). I cut out my edible decorations and places them on the sides of the cake along with some of my chocolate molds and voila – Star Wars Galaxy Cake!

I see plenty of room for improvement, but for my first try – I think this was a hit!

IMG_0816IMG_0817

IMG_0815

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I had never eaten this treat prior to attempting to bake it. It feels very retro to me, which makes sense, given that I think its heyday was the 1950’s when maraschino cherries were all the rage. However, given that it’s a piece of American nostalgia and a favorite of many, I wanted to give it a try.

After looking at a bunch of recipes, I decided to go with the King Arthur Flour version as it looked super moist and their picture showed that buttery sugary goodness oozing off the platter. YUM.

I think I under-baked my cake just a tad as I was so fearful of the sugar burning. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be fine. Don’t get all antsy like I did! 🙂

TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 20-ounce can pineapple rings in juice, drained
  • candied red cherries or maraschino cherries

CAKE

 INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan.
  2. To make the topping: Melt the butter, and mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.
  3. Space the pineapple rings atop the brown sugar mixture. Place a cherry in the center of each ring. 
  4. To make the cake: Beat the butter and sugar until fairly smooth.
  5. Beat in the egg, then the salt, baking powder, vanilla, and coconut flavor.
  6. Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing at medium speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.
  7. Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges of the pan. It may not cover the pineapple entirely; that’s OK.
  8. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven, wait 3 minutes, then turn the pan over onto a serving plate. Wait 30 seconds, then lift the pan off. If anything sticks in the pan, just lift it out and place it back on the cake.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  11. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

IMG_2890 (1)

Irish Cream Cupcakes

I love a festive cupcake – heck, I love cupcakes for all occasions. So, even though I’m not an Irish lass, I celebrated with some green and a nip of Bailey’s to mark St. Patrick’s Day!

This super moist cupcake packs a little surprise with the addition of just a few mini chocolate chips and frosting can easily be adult-only or kid friendly to your liking.

IMG_2914

Let’s get started, shall we? Recipe adapted from http://www.food.com

Cake Ingredients

3/4 cup unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
6 tablespoons butter
1 2/3 cup cake flour (you can sub all-purpose if you want)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Frosting Ingredients

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 (1 lb) package confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream (sub heavy cream for kid friendly cupcakes)
1/8 teaspoon gel/paste food coloring

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tin with liners (I made about 24 cupcakes with this batter).

MIX cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl until dissolved; set aside.

MELT the 6 tablespoons of butter in a microwave proof bowl or cup; set aside

STIR flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.

ADD buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and cocoa mixture to flour/sugar mix and beat until fully incorporated.

STIR in mini chocolate chips.

DIVIDE batter among liners. HINT: for perfectly even cupcakes, use a disher (aka, a mechanical cookie scoop) to divide the batter among the liners. If you use the Oxo brand, I use two medium scoops per liner.

BAKE 18 – 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

TRANSFER cupcakes to wire racks to cool.

Meanwhile…

BEAT 1 cup room temperature butter until fluffy.

STIR in confectioners’ sugar until blended.

ADD Bailey’s (or heavy cream) and beat until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).

STIR in food coloring until blended.

PIPE or spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes.

ENJOY!

Tie Dye Cake with Mirror Glaze

Part of why I blog and share my bakes with people is because I want to share the good with the bad. So many blogs make all these different baking fads look SO easy, when in reality, they aren’t that cut and dry.

I love how this cake LOOKS, but hindsight being 20/20, I would have used a different cake recipe to get the tie dye effect, I would have chosen to go with a different type of cake for the mirror glaze effect and I would have just frosted my bad-ass white cake and mowed down. Ok…let me break it down for ya.

Tie Dye Cake

This is actually not tough. You could, in the spirit of efficiency, simply take a store bought white cake mix and dye it a bunch of colors and just scoop the different batters into a pan. I, of course, wanted to make everything from scratch, so I opted for a white cake recipe that I’ve used in the past. I didn’t stop to think about the fact that the cake gets its super moist consistency by folding in egg whites. When you separate the batter and you add dye…you have to mix the batter EVEN MORE…thus resulting in a denser cake because you have effectively removed all the lovely air you incorporated into the batter by folding in the egg whites. WHOOPS. My mistake.

If you love a great basic white cake, then here is the recipe I usually follow. A couple notes on the recipe. One, it’s not a snow white cake (for that, you have to sub out the butter for shortening). You can make it lighter in color by whipping the butter and sugar a tad longer. Also, be sure you are using clear vanilla extract…otherwise, you are adding additional color to the batter that will make it more ivory in color. Because I was adding dye to the batter anyway…it hardly mattered the color. I just wanted a light batter that would take the dye easily.

After I folded in the egg whites (I only partially folded them in, realizing at this point, I had chosen the WRONG batter for a tie dye cake), I split the batter into four parts. I dyed each one with a different color (hot pink, blue, orange and purple). It’s always best to use gel dyes as they won’t add any additional liquid to your batter, but if you use a liquid dye, just use it sparingly.

After I gave my bundt pan a generous rub down with Crisco, I layered in the different color batters. I didn’t do it neatly as that’s part of the appeal of a tie dye cake. I started with hot pink, then orange, then blue, then purple. After I was done, I took a cake spatula and very gently ran it through the batter a few times to swirl things up. I didn’t want to do it too much and then have a gray batter (a very unappetizing color!).

I baked the bundt cake for about 30 minutes (just until a pick came out clean) and let it cool for about 10 minutes. I turned it over, wrapped it in parchment and saran wrap and popped it into the freezer to cool down (why? because a frozen cake helps the gelatin in the mirror glaze set immediately).

Mirror Glaze

As I mentioned earlier, I would have glazed a different kind of cake. But, for my first time making a glaze, I think the cake came out beautiful. A bundt cake is hard to get the coverage from the glaze (and as I didn’t have a frosting base for it to adhere to, it was more transparent that it might have otherwise been). That being said, I think the cake was quite pretty.

I follow this recipe for the mirror glaze. It was easy to make, but let me tell you…this was one of the messiest projects I have ever undertaken. It requires quite a few dishes…and quite a bit of effort, but the end result is pretty WOW.

I actually strained my glaze twice to make sure it was perfectly smooth. I strained the first time just before it was going into the bowl of white chocolate chips. After the chips were melted and stirred in, I strained a second time to get the waxy bits that didn’t fully incorporate out of the mixture.

I set aside 1 cup of the mixture and I dyed it black (using gel dye – definitely recommend GEL for this recipe). The bulk of the mixture I died hot pink (again, using gel dye. I use all the Wilton paste dyes – you can get them at any local craft store like Michael’s or AC Moore).

I had to get creative with my bundt cake as you need to raise the cake so that the glaze drips off its sides. So I grabbed a glass tumbler from the cupboard and set it in the middle of a sheet pan. I then took my bundt cake and lowered it over the glass tumbler (as it was frozen, it didn’t break the cake) until it was snug, but not tight.

I poured the glaze over the top of the cake slowly. I quickly realized I would need to glaze it twice, so rather than make another mix, I simply moved the cake to a clean sheet, and upended the sheet pan and poured the glaze that had pooled in it back into the bowl. Then I started the process again with a second glaze. After that, I took my black glaze and using a small spoon, I streaked the black glaze across the top of the hot pink. The end result looks pretty awesome, if I do say so myself!

 

Basketball Cupcakes

Basketball Cupcakes

A very talented friend of mine had just finished her first major documentary and we wanted to celebrate in a special way when she announced a viewing party at her home. Her documentary subject: Lebron James. The documentary is called Losing Lebron. I highly recommend checking it out if you have some time!

Of course, what better way to celebrate a fantastic documentary about basketball than with some basketball cupcakes!

This was my very first (and only, thus far) try and attempting this cupcakes and so they aren’t as pretty, nor as neat, as some of my other work. But the attempt is a fair one and they tasted great. You can make whatever kind of cupcake you want…and frost with whatever type of frosting you’d like. What makes these cupcakes special is the basketball decoration.

I went to my local grocery store and grabbed a box of original donut holes (original because the ones that have cinnamon or chocolate on them tend not to look as smooth and finished when dunked into chocolate). I tinted my vanilla buttercream orange and then melted it down to a dipping consistency in the microwave (only takes seconds, so don’t over-microwave).

Using a candy spatula (the kind with the opening in the bottom that allows excess frosting to drip off), I dunked each of my donut holes into the melted orange frosting. I let them cool for a few minutes on wax paper before giving them a second dip to ensure a full coat.

After they had dried a little longer, I then plopped each one on top of a cupcake and used milk chocolate (melted, of course) to pipe the basketballs lines. In hindsight, I would have piped these lines on before they went on the cupcakes…lesson learned.

Even though it needs some finesse, I think these came out pretty cute!

Spiderweb Cupcakes

Spiderweb Cupcakes

It’s pretty obvious at this point that I’m obsessed with Halloween cupcakes. This is a throwback to a few years ago (ok, more than a few…like five), but this cupcake won’t go out of style!

To decorate, I whipped up a chocolate ganache and when my cupcakes were completely cooled, I dipped the tops in the ganache. Then, I piped thin stripes of vanilla icing in circle shapes (starting from the inside out) and then, before it could set, ran a toothpick through to make it look like little spiderwebs.

This one is super easy to do at home, and very easy to do if you just use store bought icing as well!