Monthly Archives: May 2016

Purple Practice Cake

 

So I have a couple graduation cakes coming up in June.  Both are cake for 100, both are for people at work, both want white and chocolate cake with buttercream, and both want a split between cake and cupcakes. (And both happen to have the school mascot of bulldogs!)  They also happen to be back to back weekends.  So I was feeling a little anxious about the task.  I bake because it calms me, I like it, and it gives me the (very little) creative outlet I need.  So i decided I just needed to practice.

Turns out this was a good thing for multiple reasons.

  1. I needed to get some glitches out of my buttercream
  2. The girls at work were glad to look at something to help them decide on what they want and taste the cake.
  3. I wanted to practice stacking with the bubble tea straws.
  4. I wanted to practice a couple of the decorating ideas I wanted to use.
  5. I would be traveling downtown with the cake during rush hour.

I had baked the cakes ahead of time.  The top tier was chocolate and the bottom was white. So all I had to do was build.  I took my cakes out of the freezer, filled and stacked them.  They are easier to work with when cold.  This brought up my first issue.  I like to use a crusting buttercream meaning the when the buttercream sets, it has a crust that can be touched without messing up the icing.  The thickness of the buttercream started crusting on me quick when hitting the cold cake.  It made it very difficult to work with and started frustrating me.  In my moment of stubbornness, I didn’t just stop and fix it, I just kept going. Not really a good answer.  So I had a hard time getting smooth sides and when I did my scallops, the icing did not smear smoothly…it had rough spots.  Boooooo.

IMG_2362

Purple Practice Tier Cake – Scallop Icing – (Sim)fully Sweet

I finished the scallops since I had already started.  But I knew it would absolutely not work with the scrolling work.  And since I am still practicing all these techniques to get better, I figured my icing shouldn’t be working against me.  So I added a little milk, whipped it back up, and got it thinner and smoother. This helped on the scrolling.  After adding in the detail, I realized I could have gone even a little thinner, but I was pretty happy with it given my earlier frustration.

IMG_2360

Purple Practice Tier Cake – Scrolling – (Sim)fully Sweet

Once I did the scallops on one cake and scrolling the second, I stacked them and added a border and some flowers.  Flowers are something I want to get better at but I need to just sit down with a batch of buttercream on a rainy day and just practice…not do it in conjunction with a cake.

In the end, the cake turned out pretty well.  I can see lots of mistakes, but that is what practice is for.  And all that really mattered is that all my co-workers said it tasted delicious.

~Clara

IMG_2369

Purple Practice Tier Cake – Scallop and Scrolling – (Sim)fully Sweet

Snow White Cupcake Cake

IMG_2033

Snow White Cupcake Dress – Simfully Sweet

This weekend I made a Snow White Dress Cupcake Cake for a three year old birthday party.  Bea is a little girl of some friends that we see at IU football games.  I have two boys, so making a princess cake was a refreshing break from construction and Avengers.

This cake had 48 cupcakes and a whopping 2 batches of buttercream icing.  Those little roses take a lot of buttercream! The buttercream icing recipe I use was in my last post found here.  I ended up adding a little extra powder sugar than my usual 9 cups to make sure I had a stiffer batch to hold the texture of the roses.  It worked great.  It was pretty simple to construct and I was pretty please with the end product. This is the pattern I decided to go with:

IMG_2026

Snow White Cupcake Dress before icing – Simfully Sweet

I drew it out on paper first and then marked my circles with the colors.  The main dress was pretty simple, it was figuring out how big the sleeves needed to be relative to the dress.  I stared with the body of the dress first to make sure it looked right so that I could make adjustments if necessary.  Then I did the sleeves of the dress.  Both of those sections took one full batch of buttercream.

IMG_2027

Snow White Cupcake Dress – Simfully Sweet

IMG_2028

Snow White Cupcake Dress – Simfully Sweet

 

Next up came the dress.  I whipped up a new batch of buttercream and just added my yellow gel coloring straight to the mixer.  I made sure to take out a healthy scoop of plain white before I did that so that I could do some writing on the banner and have a little extra in case something happened that needed fixing (which I ended up needing).
IMG_2030

Snow White Cupcake Dress – Simfully Sweet

The last little touch was adding the Happy Birthday.  There is no pretty way to write on this cake with all those roses.  So I came up with the banner idea.  It ended up adding just the right thing to the cake by bringing some red to the bottom of the cake.  The banner is made of chocolate.  I used the Wilton chocolate melts.  I melted red chocolates and put it into a bag with a number 2 tip.  I had made a template on paper and covered with parchment paper.  I outlined the design and then popped it in the freezer for a minute to set.  Then, I filled in the design and put back in the freezer.  Once set, I was able to write on the chocolate with the spare white buttercream I had set aside.

IMG_2033

Snow White Cupcake Dress – Simfully Sweet

That was basically it.  Now about that extra buttercream I ended up needing.  The holes in between the cupcakes that I filled, sank overnight.  So I needed to refill so that the dress looked solid.  So for future reference, I need to just go ahead and fill the holes all the way to the board from the beginning.  Other than that, I had no other real problems and it turned out as expected.  I know that won’t always be the case in the future, but I will take it!

~Clara

The Best Buttercream

A year and a half ago, when I started getting more serious about making my kids cakes, I started making my own buttercream.  If I would have known how easy it was, I would have started sooner.  However, I took me almost a year to find the right buttercream recipe for me.  I tried multiple different recipes from all shortening to all butter and different amounts of powdered sugar.  I knew I had hit a good one when my hubby said “keep that one.”   Conveniently, it was called “The best buttercream icing recipe, like ever.” by Gwen Whitfield.  He has the sweet tooth, so I trust his taste buds.  We all know no matter how pretty the cake, it always comes down to taste.

The recipe goes as follows:

Icing

I follow the recipe exactly but here are a few notes.  I usually start with the 8 cups but end up at right about 9 cups of sugar.  I also use salted butter…trust me, it tastes better.  A tip I learned (I think from the Ree, The Pioneer Woman) is to cover the bowl around your mixer with saran wrap before mixing the powdered sugar.  It will keep the mess to a minimum.

And if you want to make the above recipe into chocolate buttercream, here is the adaptation: Add 1/2 cup of high quality unsweetened cocoa between steps 3 and 4.  The mixture will get much thicker when adding the cocoa, so I add a little more milk (about 1/4 cup) to get it to the right consistency. That’s it!

~Clara