Friday, March 30, 2012

This Takes the Cake!

I noticed today that I've got quite a backlog of photos, due in part to the photo frenzy that spring always sparks for me and in part to not having my computer for several weeks. Hence, a mid-week post dedicated solely to baking!

I love to bake on holidays, even 'minor' holidays like St. Patrick's Day. Some years are more elaborate than others, but this year I decided to just make cupcakes. But not just any cupcakes...rainbow cupcakes! Alas, no pot of gold.

I don't have the kind of food coloring that makes really lovely saturated colors, so mine were pastel. I whipped up a basic white cake and split the batter into 6 separate bowls. Each bowl was given a different color.

Then, I dropped spoonfuls of each color into the cupcake liners.

When baked, they looked more psychedelic than rainbow.

I frosted them with a simple white buttercream and topped them with green sprinkles.

They were really, really delicious. I think I've found my go-to white cake recipe. Score!

The recipe made around 20 cupcakes. About 1 minute after I took this shot, the left-hand leg of the cooling rack I was using folded and half of them slid off the table and onto the floor...frosting side down. Splat.

At least I had some Irish soda bread to ease my suffering!

A week later, I decided to make some Yoda cookies for Todd, who was getting together with some Star Wars friends. Showing up with cool cookies = instant popularity boost, right?

I was inspired by Sweet Sugarbelle's tutorial for Yoda. I am clearly not as talented as her, though, so mine weren't quite so nice!

I took a spider cookie cutter and stretched the body out a bit. Perfect Yoda face. With royal icing, thinned to a piping consistency, I outlined the face and made a grid for the forehead. You're supposed to fill in alternate sections of the grid and let them dry to give them more definition. Outlining and filling in certain sections, waiting for them to dry, and filling in other sections took a REALLY long time.

I made some royal icing eyes on the face using quick drops of frosting...really easy. Then I filled in the rest of the face, but I wasn't very happy with how it looked...especially with icing encroaching upon the eye space.

I ended up pounding down the surfaces of the old eyes with the blunt end of a chopstick, taking a perverse pleasure in my task after so many long hours bent over my decorating space. To cover the gaping cavities in Yoda's face, I made lots of royal frosting eyes on wax paper and set them over the holes with icing 'glue'.

Piped icing covered any remaining evidence. At last...complete!

Part of the problem for me, I think, was that I decorated so many Yodas.

Not ten, not twenty, but rows and rows of them...enough Yodas to haunt my dreams for weeks to come. Shudder!

I chose a more pleasant topic for my Easter cookies...spring!

Royal icing chicks hatching out...

...simple dots...

...swirly lines...


...and sheep!

The sheep were my favorite. I only had a stegosaurus cookie cutter so I had to improvise.

They're so cute!

I boxed them up...

...made little Easter tags...

...and got them ready to send to out-of-town friends and relatives!

And today...I made this.

I'm really proud of it! Recently I'd seen a tutorial for making fancy-looking icing roses with a simple twist of the wrist and a Wilton 1M icing tip. Sometimes at night, while waiting to fall asleep, I went over it in my head, practicing. I became obsessed, telling Todd, "I have got to try to make those roses." A friend of mine is due to give birth any day, and I'd just seen a recipe for a strawberry cream layer cake, so I had the perfect excuse to make a cake for a friend and try those icing roses. Yay!

Make a mound, make a swirl, and you've got a rose! It may look complex, but believe it or not, it only took about 10 minutes to decorate the entire cake.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are SIX sticks of butter in that cake if you include the frosting. One and a half pounds of butter. It weighed a ton!

And, because the house smelled so good after the cake was delivered to my friend...and because I didn't feel like doing my real work...and because it's spring and I still had some strawberries left...I made another one.

Because I hadn't planned on doing any fancy swirly roses, I added a brick of cream cheese to my buttercream to complement the strawberries.

I've never had a strawberry cream cake before. The taste was very subtle and mild. The addition of the cream cheese and extra whipping with my KitchenAid gave the frosting a fabulous, airy texture.

Really good!

Todd's birthday is in two weeks, and I think I'm going to tackle Martha Stewart's six layer salted caramel chocolate cake with real drippy caramel and fudgy frosting between every single layer.

I can't wait.

Hope you have a sweet week!


  1. oh my gosh....Jaime, you are the master.

  2. Love the cupcakes. I have just seen where jello is doing something similar.

  3. Wonderful treats! Love your cupcakes designs and the rainbow ones are absolutely amazing!