Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Last Year's Christmas Cookies

I just can't wait to go home and bake my signature Christmas sugar cookies. Unfortunately for me, my last exam is the night of the 20th which means I won't be able to go home until the 21st. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll have time to make them in all the rush I'll be going home to. I also hope that my gold spray will work colouring cookies because I'm determined to find a use for the spray after the stencil catastrophe.

Well, until I go home I still have last year's cookies to make me feel christmasy and inspire me to make some really original ones this year. This year I plan to use gold, burgundy and a more olive-y green as my colour scheme and I want to use some different cutters. Until then...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Petit Fours

This weekend/week I got an opportunity to go home and spend some time with my family before my exams. So this morning my mother and I baked petit fours with lady cake and a glaze icing which I had some pretty high hopes for. The original plan was to use some christmas cookie stencils I had been given as a gift and use a gold food spray. I had never used food spray before but I had a friend who had used it to colour fondant and it was suggested on the stencil package. When I sprayed the petit fours what instead happened when I lifted the stencil was the whole thing covered in watery, barely visible gold. So as a back-up I decided I would spray it into a bowl and paint trees onto them...once again barely visible. So my second back-up was just to sprinkle some gold lustre dust on them...over all boring but very, very tasty. And next time I make these I will make sure I have my decorating supplies at home!

The recipe I used was a Lady Cake (a white cake with lemon and almond flavouring) from the Joy of Cooking. It was a dense but moist cake similar to a lemon pound cake. I baked them in muffin tins filling them only half way but I would recommend if you have the time to bake a sheet cake and use a cutter to cut out the cakes so that they're more level.

Lady Cake

3 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (not specified but I used 2%)
1 teaspoon almond extract
grated zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 cups of butter (3 sticks)
1 2/3 cups sugar
6 egg whites
3/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar
additional 1/3 cups sugar


Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl (I just used the liquid measuring cup) mix together the milk and flavourings. I decided to keep the zest separate until I added the milk mixture to the butter mixture but at this time grate the lemon.

Beat butter on high until creamy: 30 sec. Gradually add the sugar while beating on high until its lightened in colour. Next add the flour in three parts, alternating with the milk mixture in two parts (at this time I added the lemon) and beat until completely mixed. This recipe makes a heavier batter and it will be really thick at this point but once you add the egg whites it will get a little lighter.

In another bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Then gradually add the sugar and beat until the peaks stiffen without becoming dry. Despite making this recipe many times, this time around my egg whites didn't really form peaks and I over beat them to the point that it went flat again. If this happens don't worry it shouldn't affect the recipe in the end.

Finally fold in the egg whites with the batter and bake at 375. The petit fours in the muffin tins took about 15 min. and the thin cake layer we made was about 20.

Glaze Icing

3 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons softened butter
8 - 12 teaspoons of butter


Add icing sugar and butter in a bowl. Add milk as needed and mix until a think paste is made. Heat in a microwave until warm and smooth (I did so for 40 sec.).

Dip petit fours in the glaze and sit on a rack to let the excess drip down. I laid a sheet of wax paper underneath to catch the icing.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Gum Paste Rose Tutorial

When making a gum paste rose, I find that there is no specific way that I make them. This is the general outline that I follow but the way that I choose to style or shape I base on images or a particular look I'm trying to copy.


The first step to making a gum paste rose is to start with a base. This can be a small ball or you can shape it slightly to make a cone. 

Then you make the first petal. The first petal I like to make particularly wide so that I can make a very defined curl in the centre.
To make the petal: roll out the gum paste and cut a petal using a rose petal cutter. Further roll out the petal to make it even thiner. The thinner the petal is the more it will look realistically delicate. Transfer the petal onto a spongey surface and using the large ball tool make small circular motions around the edges until they start to curl.
Depending on whether you need florist wire to attach your flower to the cake you would stick the wire into the ball now. If not, just start adding the petals to the base.
The first petal is attached to the base by curling it around it. 
Next make a few more petals. These ones are smaller. The amount of curl on these petals is much more minimal. What is being made now (the center of the rose)has a closed rose appearance and so the petals have a stiffer, less delicate shape. These are curled around the base, covering the edge made by the last petal added.
The next petals made are what are going to make the petal more opened. These petals are larger and have a more defined curl around the petal edges (I like to think the curl reminds we of a billowing curtain). 
These are made the same way as the previous petals but more emphasis is put on the curling and so use the ball tool for longer and I like to use it all over the body of the petal. 
These petals are attached in mostly the same fashion but are flared out more so as to make the rose look more open.
This a half open rose. The more petals you add and the more you flare them produce a fully open rose. Typically when making an arrangement you might want to add a variety of rose styles.
Here's an example of open roses I made in the past for another cake:

(with these some of the petals were curled inwards using a toothpick)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Peanut-Butter Swirl Brownies

  • Brownies are one of those things that when I go out to eat I love to buy but I'd never really had them at home and I'd never baked any myself. So I found this recipe by Martha Stewart and decided that it was the best way to do some baking with peanut butter which my friend had been wanting to do since we started this and for me to try something new. 

    I can definitely say that the recipe tasted good, although it didn't have the same dense, fudgey-ness that makes up a brownie. The peanut butter filling (of which the recipe made too much) made the batter much lighter and closer to a dense cake than a brownie. 

    When we made the recipe we made a few mistakes (for what reasons I don't know) which I've bolded in the instructions so that no body else reading this will make the same mistakes. These lead to a slow and painful start of the baking process, however before we put it in the oven it looked great. I'm going to blame the amount of filling to batter ratio for what happened next and that was the peanut butter puffing up and covering the brownie batter making it take longer to bake and final product to break and fall  apart where the peanut butter swirls were.

    So I would conclude by saying that the brownies did not look as good as was planned, did not particularly taste like a brownie and were the source of quite a lot of frustration and a lot of salt spilling on the floor. But I would also say that they tasted really good and were a nice combination of creamy peanut butter and dense chocolate.  


    For the batter

    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
    • 2 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For the Filling

    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    Line a 8x8 pan with parchment paper.

    Place a bowl over a simmering pan of water. Coarsely chop chocolate and butter and stir in the bowl until melted. Let cool slightly.

    Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt (careful not to spill everywhere) in a separate bowl.

    Add sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until completely combined. Then add the eggs, stirring until each is combined. Add vanilla and then flour mixture. Stir until completely combined.

    Melt Butter (or in our case add hot water at the end) and mix with peanut butter, icing sugar, salt and vanilla, until smooth.

    Pour 1/3 of the brownie mixture into the square pan. Add spoonfuls of peanut butter on top and spaced evenly. Quickly run a knife through the batter to swirl them together. Add the rest of the brownie mixture and repeat steps with the peanut butter mixture. You probably won't have to use all of the peanut butter mixture because it tends to disfigure the brownies when baking. 

    Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween Spider Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!
This weekend to celebrate Halloween  we made spider cupcakes with devils food cake and ganache frosting. The recipes were both from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes.

Devil's Food Cupcakes

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt (we used sea salt)
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Recipes typically call for you to preheat the oven before you begin and line the muffin pans then. I usually do this towards when I'm finishing so that I'm not wasting too much energy.

Whisk together hot water and cocoa and set aside (use a small bowl for this). In another bowl, whisk together baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour (use a medium bowl for this).

Melt sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium high heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and pour in a bowl (use your largest bowl for this). With an electric mixer, beat until cooled (5 minutes) on medium-low speed. Add eggs, mixing in between until each egg is fully combined. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, mixing until combined. Reducing the speed, mix in dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beating until each is combined.

Divide batter into the lined muffin pans evenly, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Transfer to racks to cool.

Ganache Frosting

1 pound bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 
2 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup corn syrup

Place the chocolate in a large heat proof bowl (in our case we didn't have a bowl so we used a rectangular pyrex container). Bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer over medium high heat. Pour the mixture over chocolate and wait about 5 minutes for the chocolate to melt.

Stir the mixture, beginning in the center. The mixture will slowly start to turn thicker and brown. Continue stirring until the mixture is combined and smooth. It will look something like chocolate syrup. 

Refrigerate and take out to stir every 5 minutes. It will take about 20 minutes for it to reach the desired consistency (you should be able to lift the spoon and small speaks will form or more generally that it holds form rather than looking like pudding).

Finally the decorations were made by first dipping the top of the cupcakes in black sprinkles, silver dragees (or balls as they are sold in bulk barn) were used as eyes and white chocolate button were cut up into little fangs.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

DIY Cake Stands...Kinda

So when I found this tutorial that had been posted by http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com on craftgawker I was really inspired to make my own dessert stand. The steps were incredibly simple. All it is is a plate and glass glued together with a silicone sealant and spray painted.

I originally had all the supplies ready to make two stands for around $20. This was on the weekend and we had a quick painting session in the park which all in all made a successful day one for the project.

However today when applying the last coat of paint, as the paint dried it began to crack and completely ruined the small stand leaving me with only my tall stand (and even that was sprayed on the sides and is cracking). Fingers crossed this should be fine for pictures (as long as a don't show any of the lower half stand) but I was really disappointed in the outcome.

So all I've really taken from this project is...Christmas List: white cake stand.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


My first project that I planned to post was supposed to be Halloween cupcakes which was the original plan I had made with my friends. However, last minute we decided to get together and make butterbeer (the hot beverage of wizards). The recipe we ended up choosing (was made mostly by me because I can't stand carbonated drinks) was probably the easiest recipe I'd ever seen. The choice was also made because one of my floormates had made a carbonated butterbeer before and said she gagged instantly as well as because it was easy to get all the ingredients on such short notice.

Hot Butterbeer

2 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of butterscotch syrup or chips
Whipped topping or whipped cream


Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butterscotch chips or syrup. Stir until melted. Bring mixture to almost boiling. Pour into mugs. Top with whipped topping or whipped cream. 
(courtesy of harrypotterrecipes.net)

(ironically my friends ended up doing all the work and I just took the pictures)

We ended up making two servings of the recipe which came out to 5 tall glasses and required a milk-run to the corner store which only sold a very strange brand with a castle on the label and a fairytale about immigrant  milk workers.

Despite the very unimpressive recipe (seeing as a five year-old could make this), it was delicious (reallllly sweet but still delicious) and was perfect for Canadian weather.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Every Flavour Blogging

Since moving to university it's been difficult to find time for baking (and by that I mean any time) but when I was home for Thanksgiving I brought up as many of my decorating equipment as I could fit in my bags.
Despite being incredibly busy with school work the primary reason for not being able to bake is that my residence does not have an oven.  Lucky for me though I have a friend off campus with an oven and she is equally eager to start baking.
Fingers crossed that we can make this work despite being poor students and that this blog will be successful and showcase some amazing, edible pieces of art.