Sunday, January 29, 2012

Are you ready for some foootbaaaaaalll (cake)?!

I have spent the last six days working on this project, and I'm very pleased to finally reveal it. Chris's football banquet was tonight, and I made cake replicas of SU's helmet and football field, as well as football-shaped whoopie pies.
I'll get to all the logistics later (there were a lot of them), for now I want to just show a pic of us dressed up fancy :)
I gave him that bow-tie for Christmas :D
I drew out a diagram of my plan last weekend (I'll post that later). There were a LOT of moving parts, and I didn't finish assembling the cakes until we got to the banquet.
Here are the basics:
Four batches of Swiss Meringue Buttercream
I believe the technical term for that is a "buttload" of frosting :P
Four batches of vanilla cake (resulting in FIVE cakes)
One batch of Marshmallow Fondant
One batch of Whoopie Pies
They don't look great, and that's okay cuz you can't win 'em all!
One jar of Nutella
One jar of Marshmallow Fluff
Rice (wafer) paper
Endless amounts of food coloring (my fingernails are still purple)
Americolor gourmet food writers
Cute football player cake toppings
A face mask made of gumpaste
Two-toned accents around the big cake



Now that that's out of my system...
You may be wondering how exactly I did it. Let me show you....

First up was to make the cakes. 
I used my favorite Vanilla Nirvana cupcakes recipe to make the cakes. I made the batches individually cuz I'm superstitious (or just overly cautious?), but it came to a total of four. Once I got to making the helmet, I was so worn out (and out of ingredients) that I cracked and used... *gulp* a cake mix. I'm not (super) ashamed of that fact, considering all the work I put into this bad boy. 

NEXT, I made the frosting. And boy, did I make a lot of it. 
Here's Sweetapolita's Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe. You can break it down into smaller batches, which is a good idea if you have anything smaller than a 5-quart Kitchenaid. 
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Large egg whites- 16 (2 cups if using liquid)
Sugar- 4 cups
Unsalted butter- 5 cups/TEN STICKS (yeah, you read that right. Ten.), softened but cool
Vanilla extract- 2 tbsp
Salt- 1/4 tsp
1. Wipe down ALL of your tools (mixing bowl, whisk attachment, small bowl, and whisk) with a paper towel and lemon juice to remove any possible trace of grease.
2. In the mixing bowl, add egg whites and sugar. Place bowl over a simmering (not boiling) pot of water, and whisk constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F, or, if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot (feel a drop in between your fingers to make sure no sugar granules remain).
3. Take off the stove, and put bowl back in electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip the mixture until it is thick, glossy, and a neutral temperature (feel the outside of the bowl to test it).
4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and, while mixing on low speed continuously, add butter one cube at a time until incorporated, and mix until it has a silky smooth texture (if it curdles, don't panic! keep beating and it will get smooth).
5. Add vanilla and salt, and mix well.

For the base cake....
I used two 9" layers of the vanilla cake. To get those two-toned dots around the bottom, I put red SMBC and blue SMBC in the same piping bag, and piped 'em out using a large closed star tip. 

I kept the base simple, cuz I figured the helmet would be decoration enough. 

NEXT, I made Marshmallow Fondant. This was the second time I used fondant, and I'm definitely still learning. 
THEN, I stacked and carved the helmet. I had one 6" layer of the vanilla cake, which I split into two, plus half of a Wilton Ball cake. I used Wilton's decorator icing for in between the layers and for the crumb layer.
Here's the cake after I laid the fondant down:

Next, I cut out a strip of red fondant and attached it down the middle, using gum glue (gum paste mixed with water).

Then, I used the method displayed by That Really Frosts Me to cut out the SU logo. Then I used Americolor Gourmet Writers to write "Riddell" on the front and back of the helmet. 
Next... the face mask.
This didn't turn out suuuper great. There are a lot of ideas around the 'net about how to handle the face mask, and I chose to use gumpaste and toothpicks. It kinda broke, but it worked.
I'm gonna put the picture here again, cuz I'm just so proud of it! Hehe!

Once we got to the banquet, I oohhh so carefully placed the helmet on top. I couldn't do it ahead of time, because my cake carriers aren't tall enough!

The field was pretty simple. I bought the goal posts and players at a baking supply store in Winchester, and I used rice paper and red edible paint for the logo. Forgive me for not having taken more pictures, I was just so relieved to be done with the project! Also the banquet was starting, and I didn't want to be that weird person in the back taking random pictures of cake....

I have a TON of homework and sleep to catch up on, so I promise to add the recipe for the whoopie pies tomorrow! 
Ta-ta for now! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tomboy Cake

I definitely deserve some doghouse time right now. I know it's been... 18 days since my last post and I'm sorrryyyy! The new year has gotten off to a bit of a hectic start. More on that later.
I attempted to make Miette's Tomboy Cake twice. One was so hideous, I just couldn't bring myself to take a picture. I didn't have the correct pan size, and then I tried shaping it and it wound up looking like a "cake mountain" as Chris's friend said. They still inhaled the whole thing, but I had to give it another shot.

Here's take 2. It's nowhere near as gorgeous as the one on Miette's cover, but that's to be expected, seeing as I am an amateur and have made this cake a total of 2 times.
You know what that means... more "practice!!!" Yessss.

This cake is truly delicious. I used a different frosting the second time, because the one in the book calls for OVER A POUND of butter. Now, when I'm at my parents' house, that's cool, cuz they always have a fully stocked kitchen. But when I'm at my apartment, not so much.

So, here's the recipe! It's nomlicious.

Miette's Tomboy Cake
Double Chocolate Cake
Yield: TWO 6-inch, 3-layer cakes
All-purpose flour- 1 1/2 c
Unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT dutch processed)- 1 1/4 c + a little for the pans
Baking soda- 1 1/2 tsp
Baking powder- 1/2 tsp
Kosher salt- 3/4 tsp
70% cacao chocolate- 2 oz, coarsely chopped
Boiling water- 1 c
Buttermilk- 1 c
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Large eggs- 2, room temp
Canola oil- 1/2 c
Sugar- 2 1/4 c

1. Prepare two 6x3" cake pans- butter generously and dust with cocoa powder. Tap out excess cocoa.
2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl, and set aside.
3. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over it. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool for 15 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and vanilla. Set aside.
5. In the bowl of a stand mixer (whisk attachment), whisk eggs on high speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add oil, then whisk until fully incorporated, about 1 minute.
6. Reduce speed to low and slowwwly pour cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Slowly add buttermilk mixture, then add the sugar and whisk until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes.
7. Stop the mixer, and add the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated, preferably by hand using a spatula or spoon. Make sure you get all the chocolaty goodness from the bottom and sides of the bowl!
8. Pour batter through a medium-sized mesh sieve into a bowl to remove any lumps. Press against any lumps with a spatula, then discard any that remain.
9. Bake cakes at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed and the tester comes out clean.

Only 2 months til my 21st birthday, when I'll hopefully get my big present
*cough cough Mom and Dad* Subtlety was never my strong suit :D

Miette's Vanilla Buttercream
Yield: ~6 c, enough to frost two 6-inch cakes
Sugar- 2 c
Water- 1/3 c
Large egg whites- 5
Cream of tartar- 1 tsp
Unsalted butter- 3 c (1 1/2 lbs), room temp
Vanilla extract- 2 tbsp
*Candy thermometer!

1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook the mixture until it reaches 248 degrees F, about 5-7 minutes (depends on your stove).
2. Meanwhile, combine egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer (whisk attachment), but DO NOT start whipping it!
3. Once the sugar syrup has reached 248 degrees F, turn on the stand mixer on a low speed. Slowwwly pour in the sugar syrup. When it has all been added, turn the speed up to high, and beat until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch, ~5-7 minutes.
4. Once the meringue is cool enough, begin adding the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. Make sure each tbsp is completely combined before adding more.
Note: I prefer to use the paddle attachment while adding butter, but either way works.
5. After all the butter has been added, the frosting should be smooooth and thick and luscious. Add vanilla and mix to combine.

Slice each 6-inch cake into 3 layers. Pipe frosting onto the bottom layer using a star tip, then smooth out with a spatula, leaving the sides pretty and frilly. Repeat.

*My go-to Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting (SMBC)
Courtesy of Whisk Kid
Large egg whites- 5
Sugar- 1 c
Unsalted butter- 1 c (2 sticks), room temp, cut into 1 tbsp chunks
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp

1. Combine sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk. Place over a small saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water!).
2. Whisk the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Rub a little bit of the mixture between your fingers to test.
3. Remove bowl from stove, and secure into the stand mixer (whisk attachment). Whisk on high speed until the mixture is cool to the touch and is very glossy and light, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. Make sure each tbsp is completely combined before continuing!
5. Once all the butter has been added, continue to beat for a couple minutes, until the frosting is thick and luscious. Add the vanilla, and beat to combine.

For this cake, I made a raspberry variation of Whisk Kid's SMBC. To achieve it, I added a couple spoonfuls of seedless raspberry jam, and 1/2 tsp of raspberry extract. There are a LOT of ways to add flavoring to frosting; this was the most convenient way for me. You could also make a puree, as Miette recommends, but I didn't have any raspberries on hand. So just do what feels right! Kaitlin over at Whisk Kid does a great job listing the various flavoring options, so click on the SMBC link to check it out :)

I have a HUGE week of baking coming up- Chris's football banquet is a week away, and I'm making some desserts to take :D

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First post of 2012!

It's a tradition for me to open a present from my Aunt Sandy on Christmas Eve. This year, Aunt Sandy gave me the book by MIETTE owner Meg Ray.
I freaked out. I stayed up an extra hour on Christmas Eve to read it cover to cover. The book itself is GORGEOUS and the recipes? Amazing.
My mom asked me to make something for a big client meeting she has tomorrow. We chose the Lemon Tea Cake.

Lemon Tea Cake
Courtesy of Miette
Makes 4 small 5-inch loaves OR 2 standard 8-inch loaves

Lemon Simple Syrup
Water- 1/2 c
Fresh lemon juice- 1/4 c (you'll need at least 3 for all the recipe components)
Sugar- 1/4 c
Combine ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and heat on medium-high. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes, stirring constantly. It won't thicken, and that's okay. Let it cool completely, and then stain over a bowl. 

Lemon Tea Cake
All-purpose flour- 2 1/2 c
Sugar- 1 1/2 c
Baking powder- 2 1/2 tsp
Kosher salt- 1/2 tsp
Heavy cream- 1 c
Large egg yolks- 7
Large whole eggs- 2
Vanilla extract- 1 1/2 tsp
Grated lemon zest- 2 1/2 tbsp (I had only had 2 1/2 lemons, but the cake was still delicious!)
Butter- 1 1/3 c, cubed
1. In a medium bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, stir cream, egg yolks, whole eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Set aside.
3. Beat dry ingredients on medium speed for 30 seconds. Reduce speed to low, add the butter, and mix for 1 minute.
4. Add half of the egg mixture, beat until incorporated and mix for 1 minute. Repeat with the other half of the egg mixture.
5. Divide the batter between buttered and floured pans. Bake at 350 degrees until the tops of the loaves are golden brown, and a tester comes out clean; about 45 minutes for small pans, 50-55 for the larger pans. 
6. Transfer to wire racks, and immediately brush tops with the lemon simple syrup. Let cool for 20 minutes, then invert onto the racks and cool for another 20 minutes. 

Lemon Glaze
Fresh lemon juice- 2 tbsp
Corn syrup- 1 tsp
Powdered sugar- 1 1/3 c
Whisk together the lemon juice and corn syrup. Gradually add the powdered sugar and whisk until the glaze is thick and silky. Drizzle/spread over the cooled cakes, and let the glaze dry about 30 minutes.

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