Monday, August 25, 2014

Simply Beautiful Floral Cake

I mentioned how it is hard for me to come up with cakes ideas for certain events such as guys' birthdays and baby showers when the gender is not known. However I also said that ladies' birthday cakes are usually pretty easy to come up with something. One design I use often when I don't personally know the person's taste is a floral cake. I mean who doesn't love flowers?

In general, it's faster to make flowers out of frosting, such as buttercream or royal icing. You can make almost any flower using frosting. But I prefer to make flowers out of gumpaste or fondant. I think they have a more realistic look to them. Plus you can make them ahead of time. As in days, or weeks or months ahead of time!

I have this set by Wilton it comes with an instruction booklet. You also need to buy some additional fondant tools to go with this set. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How to Freeze (and Bake!) Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Who doesn't love chocolate chips cookies? Especially hot and fresh from the oven! Sure they are good the second day too (and let's not kid ourselves, they don't make it to the third day.) But it's hard to beat a fresh baked cookie. Well, my friends, I have discovered the answer to this problem. Okay, I didn't discover the answer, the much wiser cookie bakers have probably known this secret for years. But I am going to share with you my method of freezing cookie dough.

First of all, use my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. This recipe is already a doubled recipe so it makes quite a few cookies. (About 50 cookies that are about 2-1/2 inches in diameter.) But feel free to go crazy and make this batch twice. (I wouldn't recommend trying to make a bigger batch in any standard size stand mixer. This about hits the capacity limit.) Once your cookie dough is ready we need to gather some supplies.

  • You will need a cookie sheet or two. (Or something that will fit in your freezer! I use a small cutting board)
  • Freezer paper or waxed paper or parchment paper
  • Freezer bags or freezer quality storage containers.
  • Permanent marker (for labeling)

Cover your cookie sheets with freezer paper. Spoon out the cookie dough onto the cookie sheets to the size that you want your cookies to be. You don't wan the cookies to be touching, but the can be very close together. Now you are going to flash freeze your (raw) cookies. (If you don't know about flash freezing, read "How to...Flash Freeze" by Ree of "The Pioneer Woman") Let them freeze for about half an hour. You want them to be firm to the touch. You can leave them in there longer, just don't forget about them overnight, or until next week when you go to pull something else out of the freezer. You run the risk of them getting "freezer burnt." (Not saying that I've ever done that...)

Once they are frozen transfer them to storage bags or containers. Label them! Label what they are (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough) and the month and year that they where made! It is also helpful to write the baking directions on the bag.

When you are in the mood for some fresh baked cookies, bake them in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 14 minutes. (Time my vary depending on your cookie size)

It is also possible to freeze cookie without making it in to cookies first. You can just put your cookie dough into a freezer bag or a freezer quality container and freeze it. Then when you are ready to make cookies you thaw it and make your cookies as you usually would. 

You can also freeze already baked cookies. This is also a good option! You can either thaw them at room temperature or you can put them in a preheated oven for a few minutes.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Strawberry-Banana Oatmeal Muffins

We had a couple of banana that were beginning to turn an unappealing shade of brown. Much past the stage where I would eat them. (Who am I kidding, I'll hardly eat a banana when it is in it's prime. I don't like the texture but I look the flavor that banana adds to things, smoothies and banana bread for example.) They weren't mushy yet, but it was only a matter of time. Also I have been wanting to experiment with muffins. So those bananas where calling my name.

I wanted to create something breakfast worthy. Something hearty. Something with fruit in it. I think I came up with a winner!

Strawberry-Banana Oatmeal Muffins with Struesel  Topping

1 Cup of Pureed Strawberries
2 Mashed Bananas
1/4 Cup of Canola Oil
1 Egg
1 Cup of Oatmeal
1/2 Cup of All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Cup of Sugar
2-1/2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder

Struesel Topping

1/4 cup ground oatmeal
2 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Butter, melted
1/4 Cup of Regular Rolled Oats

To Make Muffins:

In a large bowl mix together Strawberries, Bananas, Oil and Egg. Stir to combine. Add Oatmeal and mix. Add Flours, Sugar and Baking Powder. Stir until just combined. Spoon into greased muffin tins.

To make struesel:

In a small bowl add ground oatmeal, brown sugar and melted butter. Stir to combine. Add in rolled oats. Sprinkle the struesel on to the uncooked muffins.

Bake the muffins at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

My Tips

  • I only had about 2/3 of a cup of strawberry puree so I used milk for the remaining 1/3 of a cup.
  • I usually use cupcake liners to bake my muffins (it's easier to clean the muffin tin!)
  • After the muffins cooled, I topped with a glaze made out of powdered sugar and milk. To make the glaze but a 1/4 of a cup of Powdered sugar into a small bowl and add milk (or water or orange juice or lemon juice, etc.) a few drops at t time until it is the desired consistency.
  • I always grind up oatmeal in my blender to make "flour" I often use it in various recipes in place of part of the flour. For the struesel topping you can substitute all purpose flour for the ground oatmeal if you prefer.
  • These freeze well! Just take them out and let them thaw. Or thaw them in the oven.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I haven't made cookies in a long time. As in months. And the last time I made Chocolate Chip Cookies was probably last summer. Or last spring! Regardless, I was way overdue to make them! I mean who doesn't love a good Chocolate Chip Cookie? So when my daughter requested them, I was happy to oblige!

I believe that the original copy of this recipe came from the back of a Great Value (Walmart's store brand) bag of Chocolate Chips. I have modified it somewhat to suit my taste.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

4-1/2 Cups of Flour
2 Teaspoons of Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
1 Cup of Butter, Softened
1 Cup of Crisco
1-1/4 Cups of Brown Sugar, packed
1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
4 Cups of Chocolate Chips

Cream Butter, Crisco, and Sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and beat well. Add 1 cup of Flour, Baking Soda and Salt. Mix. Add in remaining Flour 1 cup at a time mixing between each addition. Add Chocolate Chips and mix until combined.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-13 minutes.


My Tips

  • I usually use 1/2 all purpose flour and for the remaining 1/2 I use a combination of whole wheat, pastry whole wheat, oatmeal and ground oatmeal
  • I will often use a combination of chips such as butterscotch, chocolate and cherry

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Baby Shower Cake

There are two types of cake designs that I struggle to come up with. One is a generic guy's birthday cake and the other is a generic baby shower cake. For a lady's birthday cake you can always do flowers. Even if you don't know anything about her, you can do flowers and it will look beautiful and appropriate. Kids' birthday cakes? There are endless options. Bridal shower? The ideas are endless! But give me a guy's birthday cake and I'm stumped. Unless he likes hunting or fishing or sports I usually struggle to come up with a fun cake idea. Usually they and up looking something like this "present" cake. There is nothing wrong with it. But it really isn't anything special!

Then there are baby shower cakes. There are tons of great cake ideas out there. Just check out the Baby Shower gallery on Cake Central. You could be stuck there for days. Literally. At the time of this post they have 64,000+ pictures of baby shower cakes. And that number grows every day! The problem comes with trying to make a gender neutral cake! There is only so much you can do with yellow and green! Yes, I know there are plenty of other colors you can use that are also neutral, but then you start running the risk of it being too modern or to girly or too boyish. You could always go with an animal theme. There are tons of beautiful owl cakes, duck cakes, monkey cakes and jungle animal cakes. But if you don't know the mother that well, it's hard to know if she's really into the whole owl craze!

So, I'm still trying to come up with a baby shower design that is generic enough to fit any baby shower yet fun enough to have the "WOW!" factor. If you have any ideas, please let me know! For know, this is my generic cake. (Yes, I know, this one is boyish. But the design can easily transfer to girl or neutral to fit the celebration.)