Monthly Archives: February 2017

Elephant First Birthday

Today (look at that timeliness!), I delivered an order for a first birthday that will be happening tomorrow.  The theme is blue and grey elephants.  Such a classic and sweet theme for a first birthday or a baby shower.  This is one of my first orders for someone that I do not know at all.  I have taken orders from friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and friends’ family members, but this was a co-worker of my friend who had the Lumberjack Party. She texted to see if I was interested.  After confirming that her co-worker knew that I do this on the side in-between taxes and kids and was not a professional, I agreed.  Like all orders that involve royal icing, this project spanned a couple days.

I baked the cookies on Valentine’s Day after our annual V-Day dinner outing to Taco Bell. Romantic, right?  The next day, my momma came over and wanted to help.  So I put her to work flooding cookies.  We had a nice assembly line going.  I would do the outline, and she would flood the icing.  It made that process go quickly which was a good thing since I wanted them to dry a bit before adding some details.

I was able to add the eyes, tail, and little white feet on later in the night when the icing had hardened a touch.  I waited until the next morning to add the ears since I was free-handing them and, wanted to be able to adjust the icing with my scribe while not messing up the base layer of icing. The ears were dry by the time I got home and the cookies were able to be packaged.  I packaged the cookies in little treat bags and sealed them with my food saver.  The topper touch was my mom.  She brought paper when she came to help me flood the cookies and had everything cut and ready to go for me.

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Wrapped Elephant Sugar Cookies

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Elephant Sugar Cookies Wrapped with Toppers

For the cupcake toppers, I printed a template for the shape of elephant I wanted and the size of heart I wanted for the ear.  I am not sure why I decided to template these ears and not the ones on the cookies, I just did.  Maybe because the cupcakes are going to be viewed as a group and having them look uniform appeals to me.  I put wax paper over my templates and made the toppers out of royal icing.  Once the heart and elephant were dry, I glued the hearts onto the elephants with a little royal icing.  The eyes I had made with leftover royal icing from another project when I made sprinkles.

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Royal Icing Elephant Toppers

Since royal icing needs drying time, I did all things that required royal icing first.  Then it was on to cupcakes. These were simple white cupcakes with vanilla buttercream using my favorite buttercream recipe. While I made the icing and cupcakes last night, I waited until this morning to pipe it on and add the toppers.  The royal icing will absorb some moisture from the buttercream and become a little more fragile and soft.  This is great for biting into one but not for transport. I already had the icing and tips ready to go, so the process only took a couple minutes.

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Elephant Cupcakes

The last thing I worked on last night was the smash cake.  The smash cake was a small, two layer, 4″ round with vanilla buttercream.  I kept the design simple and added an extra cupcake topper to a stick to be the center piece. It was a nice way to tie everything together.

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Elephant Smash Cake

Everything turned out great and coordinated really well.  I hope this little boy has a wonderful birthday tomorrow.  He has lots of goodies to celebrate!

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Grey and Blue Elephant First Birthday 

Clara

 

Lumberjack Party

Last weekend, the kids and I had a lumberjack first birthday to attend for my best friend’s son.  I was of course commissioned to do the cake, but I always am from her!  I have been helping make her kids goodies since before I made goodies for anyone else.  I am not even sure why I let her pay me because I would do it for free just like I always have, but she insists.  Maybe she is hoping I will quit my job and bake cakes so that when she convinces her hubs that she can quit hers, she can come drink wine with me in my kitchen.  Hey, we can all have dreams, right?

It is February, so the plan was dress like a lumberjack in your fleece, eat chili, snuggle up outside under some blankets, and roast some marshmallows.  Well, turns out it was 65 degrees and sunny outside…in February…CRAZY!  We still ate chili and did turn on the fire for the kids to make a smore, but mostly, the kids played on the swing set and the adults talked.

To go with her lumberjack/outdoor theme, she wanted a bear cake and a smash cake of any kind.  We tacked on the cookies later when I found this cute buffalo plaid stencil to try my new air brush kit my sister got me for Christmas. I started with the cookies a few days before the party.  They took a couple days to complete for drying time.  I baked them on one day, iced the red the next, did the stencil on the third, and then the white icing on the fourth day.  I wanted to make sure the red royal icing was really dry before I laid a stencil on it.  I am still not sure at what point royal icing is deemed dry, but since I can only work on these things at night, I just go with the next day.

This is when I wish I had a projector or a KopyKake to help with the design on top.  Trying to freehand is really hard.  My momma told me maybe I should find a projector solution to put on my Christmas list….and I agree!  Anyway, we did with what we had and I did different designs on different cookies.  Here is the name and lumberjack up close.

Once I had the whole lot of them done, I made sure they were good and dry before I individually packed them for the party.

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Lumberjack Party Cookies

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Wrapped Lumberjack Cookies

Now that the cookies were done, onto the cakes!  Both cakes were fairly easy to assemble. The bear cake took one 10″ round, one 6″ round, and two 4″ rounds.  The setup looked like this:

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Bear Cake Setup

Once stacked, I frosted the light brown color first on the nose and ear areas.  Then, with my “hair” tip, I added the brown fur to the rest of the bear head.  All that was left was the little bit of black detail for the eyes, nose and mouth.  It was a simple but cute design.

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Bear Cake

The last thing was the smash cake.  My friend wanted something simple that her son could break into during the party.  I was pondering what to do as I was staring at all the extra icing I had from the bear cake.  Then it hit me…  Lumberjack…Lumber…Stump.  And better yet, it used nearly all the same colors as the bear.  Win Win.  The smash cake was a two layer 4″ cake.  I frosted the whole cake brown and messed the sides with a fork and toothpick to try and mimic bark.  I added the light brown “rings” on top to resemble the cut wood.  At that point, I wasn’t convinced that there was no question that the cake was a stump.  So I added roots and some grass to the bottom which I think helped.

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Tree Stump Smash Cake

The whole set was fun to do and my friend loved it.  Doing kids parties are my favorite for the themes alone.  I have another one this weekend, so look out for that post next week.  I am OFFICIALLY caught up.  YAY ME!

Clara

 

Royal Icing Sprinkles

I had a couple posts that used royal icing such as my Paw Patrol Cookies and Shopkins Cupcakes.  Inevitably, when using royal icing, you have left over icing.  Royal icing always seems to go farther than you think, and whipping up royal icing colors and consistencies is no easy task.  That being said, I hate throwing away the left over icing.  Well, good news, you can make sprinkles, or other fun creations, out of royal icing.  Once dry, they basically keep forever in an air tight container and they can come in handy for future projects.  With the Shopkins party and the Paw Patrol party only a week apart, I had a lot of extra icing to use up.  I saw the idea on Instagram as people were done making their large Christmas orders.  It really is simple and takes nearly no time.  First was the Paw Patrol leftovers.  I decided to make just regular sprinkles, some eyeballs, and the PAW letters for future Paw Patrol shield cookies.

For the sprinkles, I drew straight lines and let dry over night.  Once dry, I took my knife to them and cut little sprinkles. They are a little larger than the sprinkles you would get at the store, but I didn’t care and I know some kids that won’t either!

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Left over royal icing sprinkles

After the Shopkins cupcakes, I had some pretty pink colors so I made these roses.  They form quickly with a small open star tip by the dozens.  With some leftover white icing, I mixed up some green for leaves to match.

These went nicely on valentines cookies that the kids and I worked on later.  So the next time you have to whip up a tiny bit of black for an eyeball or a tiny bit of green for a leaf, you can save yourself some time by using left over icing creations.

Clara

Shopkins Cupcakes

Shopkins.  I had no idea what a Shopkin was until my 3 year old went to a Shopkin birthday party late last year. A couple months later, and you can’t escape them!   They are everywhere and they seam to appeal to a wide age range of young girls.  So by the time a close friend of mine asked if I could help with her daughters Shopkin birthday treat, I at least knew what they were!

She asked me to do the treats the week of the party, so cupcakes were the obvious answer on a few days notice.  So I started that same night on the cupcake toppers since I knew they would need a night of drying time to complete them. The thing with royal icing toppers, or cookies for that matter, they don’t take a up a lot of actual man hours, but you have to plan on the drying time.  If there are multiple layers of icing, they may take multiple nights to complete, but that time only adds up to about an hour or two for a couple dozen.  Once I had my template ready, I put it under some wax paper and did the first layer.  This is what night one looked like.

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Shopkins Cupcake Topper in Progress

I started with the eyeballs putting down the white, then pink, then black, and finishing with the white dot all in succession.  You want to do them all at once, one eyeball set at a time, so that the top colors meld into the bottom ones to look like one surface.  While the eyes were drying, I then did the outline of the blue icing top and filled in two layers that were not touching.  I let everything sit for about a half hour and then went back and did the yellow body.  Once that sat for a half hour, I finished with the other two blue icing layers and the little arms.  I decided that was enough for the night and would finish the rest the next day.

On the following night, I added the feet, crown, bow, sprinkles, and face. With everything very dry from the night below, I didn’t have to worry about messing up the base layer or pushing through the icing crust that was forming as I added the details.

Once the toppers where completely dry, I peeled them off the wax paper and put them in an air tight container until the day of the party.  Since the party was at 3pm, I baked the cupcakes that morning.  After letting them cool, I whipped up some buttercream in the coordinating pink color and topped them with the Shopkins toppers.

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Shopkins Cupcakes

They turned out great and were super cute.  I love doing the little cupcake toppers as they add something special to an otherwise simple cupcake.  I have some more coming up and can’t wait to get started!

Clara

 

Dinosaur Cake

My very first cake of 2017, was for a friend and former coworker.   She asked if I could make a dinosaur cake for her little boy, Owen.  Owen wanted a blue dinosaur with green accents and made out of chocolate cake. Easy enough!  She had sent me some examples off of Pinterest of dinosaur cakes she liked made of both cake and cupcakes. Outside of Owen’s requirements, she was pretty much giving me free reign.  None of the pictures quite spoke to me so I started looking at pictures myself.  I wanted a version of a dinosaur that I could make out of one batch of cake since that was about what she needed. I ended up merging a couple different designs that I saw into this cake design.  Believe it or not, this is made of two 8″ round cakes.

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Chocolate Cake Rounds

One of the rounds made up the main body.  It was cut straight down the middle and set on the flat ends.  The other round was cut into various shapes to make the rest of dinosaur. I wish I would have taken a picture of the template but I did keep it for future reference, so maybe next time.  You can kind of gather by the picture below the set up though.  The tail was an outer crescent of the cake, and the rest went toward the head, neck, and feet. There was very, very little scrap left which is was I was going for.

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Dinosaur cake setup using two 8″ rounds

Once I had the structure of the cake complete, I started icing using a star tip.  I like using the star tip for cakes like this because it is really hard to get smooth icing on cakes with a lot of pieces and crevices and I refuse to use fondant. I started by icing all of the blue first leaving a space for the eyes and nostrils.  Then I filled in the eyes and nostrils and touched up any blue around those areas.

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Blue Dinosaur in Progress

Last, I printed a template for a diamond shape and used it under wax paper to make some green chocolate scales.  When I am going to be sticking an accent into a cake, I like to use chocolate since it is much sturdier than royal icing and will withstand being pushed into the icing and cake.

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Blue Dinosaur Cake

The green added a nice touch and a pop of color.  Way to go Owen.  The cake turned out really cute and I think he liked it, even though he was too shy to say so. I am glad I kept all the templates because I see myself making this one again with all the little boys in my life.

Clara

Poinsettia Christmas Cake

My last December catch-up post!!  Goodbye 2016.  I ended the year on a little Christmas cake for my family get-together on Christmas evening.  What is even better than this cake is the productive day I had on December 23rd when I made this cake.  My work was closed for the Christmas Eve holiday since it fell on a weekend.  However, my husband still had to work and the kids’ school was open until 3pm.  Give a momma a free day and a deadline of 3pm and watch stuff get done! Outside of the usual things that need done the days before Christmas (wrapping presents, grocery shopping, making dishes to take all over creation, etc), I got some quality time in the kitchen.  I had been needing a day that I could focus and stock the freezer with some fresh pasta and this was the day. While I was waiting on cake to cool, I was able to make some homemade spaghetti and butternut squash ravioli in addition to my cake.  It was a productive day and I which I had more of them.

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Homemade pasta and cake

Back to cake!  Once my cakes had cooled, I popped them in the freezer for a bit.  Freezing your cake helps keep the cake moist and it is easier to build with when it has a little stiffness.  Now, you would think since I make the same buttercream ALL THE TIME that it would turn out the same each time….WRONG.  Sometimes it is a little thicker than I want and sometimes too thin.  Sometimes I simply didn’t whip it enough or the butter was a tad too cold or warm, or wrongly measured the milk.  This was one of those days.  Let me also say, that this is a really easy fix when you have some patience.  Too bad I lack patience. Instead of putting the buttercream back in the mixer and adjusting, I went with it.  Then when I am mad that the buttercream didn’t turn out the best once on the cake, I beat myself up about my lack of patience. Vicious cycle!  Anyway, I digress. I coated the cake in white buttercream and then added little poinsettia flowers on top using a leaf tip. I finished it with a pearl boarder matching one of the flowers.

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Poinsettia Cake for Christmas

Even with the messy buttercream, it was a cute cake.  And since my family loves me and thinks I am wonder woman (mainly my sister), they didn’t notice!  Love is blind.

Clara

Black and White Birthday Cake

Back in December, my niece was not the only one with a birthday.  Actually, we have lots of December birthdays in the family, but my only other birthday cake was for my father-in-law.  This is what the beginning of December looked like at the end of one night of baking. Cakes for days…..

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Cakes ready for the freezer

Those white cakes were for my father-in-law.  He is a white cake with chocolate buttercream kind of guy.  I love this combination because when you cut into the cake, the crisp lines of white cake sandwiched between layers of chocolate buttercream is really pretty.  I should have taken a picture of it cut, but once again, I failed.

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White cake with chocolate buttercream

This cake was fairly easy to throw together.  I make this chocolate buttercream using my usual buttercream recipe however, when I add the milk and vanilla, I add about a half to 3/4 of a cup of cocoa powder.  Once mixed in, I complete the rest of the recipe.  At the end, I adjust the consistency with some milk as the chocolate really thickens up the mixture.

For the top, I had some left over chocolate from making homemade thin mints that I didn’t want to throw away.  I spread the extra chocolate on a piece of parchment paper and let dry.  Once it was set up, I cut “shards” of chocolate and stuck them in the cake.  It was a simple design that adds a little wow factor.

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White cake with chocolate buttercream

This cake was only assembled for approximately 2 hours before we devoured it.  Enough time for people to arrive at the house, eat dinner, and have the kids sing Happy Birthday to their grandpa!

Clara