What do you do when your child or a client wants cupcakes that are vanilla and chocolate. No, not seperate cupcakes but half and half creations in the same cupcake wrapper. One method can be to spoon the differebnt batters on each side of the cup at the same time and hope they don't mix too much. You need both batters to be the same consistency or the tops of your cupcakes could be strangely uneven. As you can well imagine there is actually a tool for this type of cupcake look, as there seems to be a tool for absolutely everything cake decorating related! The tool was developed in Ohio by Kimber Cakeware and it is incredibly simple and effective. It is a dishwasher safe plastic piece shaped like a cupcake which you place in the center of one of your cupcake liners and then spoon or pipe your two batters on each side of the plastic partition. Then you remove the piece and the batter simply joins in the center. You do this with all your cupcakes and bake as usual.
When your cupcakes are done they will have two separate flavors and a really interesting look. You can frost, fill them with icing or mousse or simply dust them with icing sugar to serve. This technique works with any combination of cake flavors so experiment until you find a new favorite, maybe strawberry and peanut butter!
Every year I consider creating a truly spectacular gingerbread house complete with little trees, gazebos, sleighs and tiny sugar wreaths on the door. I even have several wonderful books with pages marked which would walk me through the intricate process of creating such a masterpiece. Then I remember that every year we make an easy kit gingerbread house and before the icing is even set and dry it is devoured down to the last jellybean and crumb. The idea of a "real" gingerbread house meeting a similar fate after hours and hours of work makes me put my books away.
Obviously gingerbread house are meant to be eaten so this destruction is actually fine. We do try every year to create a better house than the previous holiday structure so new decorations and piping work are incorporated.
Some of the great decorating tricks and tips we have accumulated are:
- Flood work for the windows, doors and snowmen in the yard
- Shredded wheat or Shreddies (yes!) used as a thatched roof
- Candy cane pillars
- Rolled wafer cookies for log cabins
- Pretzels or tootsie rolls for log piles
- Popcorn for snow covered trees
- Toasted almonds for stone work
The snow is on the ground (at least where I live!) and emails are starting to arrive about when I am starting my Christmas baking. There has also been several requests in person as well! Baking treats during the holidays is a tradition in my home along with watching White Christmas when decorating the tree and opening warm snugly pajamas on Christmas Eve. The trouble is that every year there seems to be more cookies and squares required and everyone has a favorite.
If you are a holiday baker you probably do some sort of variation on sugar cookies or shortbread that requires icing and sparking sanding sugar to complete the look. If that is the case you might want to expand your skills and try a little flood work on your cookies as well. This technique is perfect for covering the entire surface of the cookie and looks lovely, if you get it right. If your cookies turn out nice enough you can also make a batch with to hang on the Christmas tree as ornaments, unless you have dogs (which is a mistake I made a few years ago).
Cupcakes, mini-cakes, cookies, Twinkies and even hamburgers have all been used as wedding cakes in the last few years and now donuts are starting to take center stage. These sugary treats are being stacked on cupcake stands in lovely concentric rows for the enjoyment of guests and couples alike. Does this mean cake decorators have to get fryers and learn to make donuts to be able to compete?
This is probably not the case but learning to create these configurations and decorate them might be a good idea if you get a request or want to try stacking them up yourself for an event. Decorating stacked donuts is probably similar to cupcakes and cookies but you should probably be aware that the icing might be an issue and guests probably should remove the donuts from top to bottom, not from the middle. Donut cakes might be a better idea for an interesting groom's cake rather than the main wedding cake.
To all those who Trick or Treat, who love to dress up in fabulous costumes and those who love treats that look like ghosts and bats have a safe and festive day!!
Fall is an absolutely glorious time to get married even though Spring seems to be the choice for many couples. I got married in late fall and it was magical. When you live in areas that have fall colors in the trees you will appreciate the season even more. The autumn colors were in full glory on my wedding day, the weather crisp but still warm enough not to require a coat, I wore pale gold and pearls and we decorated our reception with mums, asters, Russian sage and helenium arranged in small bright pumpkins.
Pumpkin also featured prominently in out cake and desserts. I had a beautiful pumpkin layer cake glistening with crystallized ginger, pumpkin truffles and gingerbread cookies. Everything warm, spicy and fragrant. so when you see those piles of pumpkins at the local farmer's markets think cake rather than Jack O'Lanterns.
Soon Halloween will be over for another year and people will start dusting off their cookbooks in anticipation of Thanksgiving and the massive amounts of food that will be prepared and consumed. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that features way too many choices for both the cook and consumer. Many people eat an entire weeks worth of calories in one day!
Dessert is sometimes an after thought when planning the meal because the turkey and accompanying sides take center stage. Dessert is most often some type of pie such as apple and pumpkin or another pumpkin themed creation. Dessert is also usually the part of the meal that is least enjoyed because people are absolutely stuffed full. Instead of making something heavy or intricate why not create some festive cake pops instead with a Thanksgiving theme for your family and guests? These delectable bites are not filling, they provide a perfect sugar fix and they can be made in advance for a less stressed day.
Cake balls or cake pops are still big business and are getting more intricately decorated every day. They show up at weddings, birthday parties, corporate events, special occasion parties and even in high end restaurants or retail stores. Everyone wants to either make or eat these delectable little treats!
The technique for creating these darling desserts can be a little tricky the first time especially the dipping portion of the process so it is no surprise that there are now tools available to make your cake pop journey easier. One tool is a cake pop maker which kind of looks like a big waffle iron. Instead of the standard waffle pattern there are holes which match up to create perfect cake spheres. These doughnut hole like cakes are lovely but do not have the decadent combination of cake crumb and icing that is the traditional formula for cake balls. So you gain convenience and perfect shapes and lose a healthy measure of tempting icing in the mix. It is up to you which is more important to your final cake ball presentation!
If you have ever made a cake for a wedding you might have seen a great deal of your hard work thrown out at then end of the night because the cake was just for the pictures. This is a terrible waste and can be avoided with a beautifully decorated dummy cake made out of Styrofoam. Many brides and grooms are moving in this direction rather than dealing with a mound of leftover cake because it is more economical and the pictures are still lovely. It is actually easier to decorate, transport and display a fake cake than one filled with cake and icing.You can even bring it to the event completely done with an intricate wedding cake topper in place with no hassle!
A company named WeCutFoam in Sunnyvale California has a wonderful solution for people who want a dummy cake. This company cuts all the tiers and even provides a cake board for the bottom. The pieces or whole cake in some cases are shipped to anywhere in the United States. These dummy cakes are also great for beginner cake designers to practice their decorating skills on instead of real cake. You can cover, strip, recover, pipe and decorate again and again until your skills are perfect.
Chocolate is an obsession for many people and there has been quite a bit of hype about the health benefits of dark chocolate which has the health conscious consumer buying more chocolate. This increase in sales along with a shortage in cocoa beans means chocolate may soon hit an all time high in price. The price may reach as much as $12.25 a kilogram before long. Would this mean you would not use as much chocolate for cake designs?
Chocolate can add just the right touch touch to a lovely cake creation but a little can still go a long way when considering budget. In order to not break the bank you could:
- Use chocolate to make lovely monograms for a cake topper
- Shave, curl or grate chocolate over more of the cake with less
- Make pretty small molded design elements instead of full tiles of chocolate for the sides
- Create hand formed chocolate roses out of chocolate clay
- Do an easy lattice of melted chocolate
- Dip strawberries into chocolate to use as a border