Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

A little Throwback Thursday post to celebrate Thanksgiving! I am grateful for so many things: my family, my home, and this great opportunity to create something special for all the moments in life we celebrate!!

 Anna and I baked this several Thanksgivings ago! 
Back when I was just learning how to decorate with chocolate.

 These mini-pie cupcakes were a snowy afternoon activity. 
And you can't think about Thanksgiving without pie :-)

I have a great amount of respect for Bakerella and the cake pops she creates.
This takes time, patience and a steady hand. 

But the extra jelly beans are worth the effort!

Ok, so these are a throwack :-)

Happy Thanksgiving!
May God's love and mercy surround you all year long!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Can I call this cake inspiration?

Does everything come back to cake? Yes, yes, it does in my house. I saw something this morning that would be great in cake or maybe a cookie... Can I share a little non-cake with you?

I dropped by my friend's house this morning and was so excited about this project. Jennifer Isenberg, a local artist, is starting on these originals for Christmas. Each oversized stocking is her original design, and appliqued with wool.
 These two are almost half the height of the closet door! 
I didn't measure but you can see the a little of the door in the background.
What fun is this guy? I love a kart-wheeling Santa.
These are a few more designs she is working on. 
The Santa with the glasses will be a pillow. 
The cardinal will be a Christmas pillow too.
And she'll start the snowman when the white wool arrives. 
No surprise that wool is hard to find here in the south, right?

I think her plan is to offer these at the Southern Spirit Gallery downtown closer to the season. Since these take time, if you are interested in finding out more now, you can email Jennifer at 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Change is hard... but good!

Finally broke down and upgraded my computer. The blue screen of death prompted the change. I put it off for so long because I looooved my photo editing software and I knew I would have to learn to photoshop anew. Like blurring the background in my cake pics so you can't see all the great things I have in the background!

Anyway, blue screen of death. New computer, new software, blah, blah blah. Here's how it all comes around to cake: I have learned to take better pictures. :-)

The large box as a background worked for a long time. But a white box began to show marks from where I slid the cake across to the center. Marks I had to photoshop out. After looking at pictures from other bakers, I decided to try the black background approach. $2 at The dollar tree for two sheets of black foam board. And wah-lah, better cake pictures! No photoshop needed.

I guess a little change can be a good thing!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Coyote Trail Gluten Free

Most of my cakes are super moist. Super rich. Even in the traditional White Almond Sour Cream cake, I use whole eggs to add a depth of flavor and a little structure to the cake. These are the things I have been looking for in a gluten free recipe. And let's not forget, ingredients readily available.

I have tried chocolate and vanilla from Bob's Red Mill GF Cake Mix, Betty Crocker GF Cake Mix, Cake Doctor recipes, and an online recipe for a GF Citrus Chiffon.

All of the vanilla or citrus were ok, not remarkable, but not something I would say a "Coyote Trail Gluten Free Cake."

The chocolate mixes on the other hand, I could not stand. Not a one. Not any brand, nor any doctored mix,

Until.....Bisquick! I love Bisquick in everything. Even their Velvet Crumb recipe. When I saw Gluten Free Bisquick I had a glimmer of hope. It is available at every store in town, no adding special xantham gum, or rice flour.

Tried 3 recipes from the King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Baking Mix page: GF Vanilla Cupcakes, GF Chocolate Cupcakes, GF Sour Cream Coffee Cake.  I would use KAF if it were available here. Thankfully Bisquick works.

Holy Cow! 3 recipes I can get excited about! I recommend adding 2 tablespoons of pudding to the cupcake recipes. As for the Sour Cream Cake, I left out the filling and the glaze then baked it into cupcakes! Moist and delicious!!!

These are the GF Sour Cream batter baked into cupcakes. Nice and round tops, fluffy and moist on the inside. Each recipe makes a scant 4 cups batter, about 12 cupcakes or one 8" or 9" layer cake. To make the cake below would require 3 batches of the recipe. This is a GF Vanilla cake with buttercream and fondant decorations.

The last note to share is that my kitchen is NOT gluten free. However, I wash all utensils, pans and my mixer thoroughly before beginning any gluten free projects.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Up the Learning Curve

Of all the things I learned cake making last year, there a few little tips are the make a huge difference.

1. Cake Photography

If you are an amatuer photographer like me, with a point and shoot camera, the single, most helpful purchase I have made is a large cake box. White on the outside. Largest one I could find in our little town.14" square cake box.  I folded it inside out, white is on the inside, leaving the top up and the front open. It is the perfect background for cake. Also, I have taped a little bit of white tissue paper over my flash to make it not so harsh. However, placing the white box near a window during daylight is the best condition all around for lighting.

2. Measuring Ingredients

The second most important tip I have learned is to weigh my shortening for frosting. I use a 1:1 ratio with butter. Once the butter is in the mixer, I use that wrapper to weigh out the shortening. Why is this important? Simply because it is one less mess measuring cup to wash. It only makes a difference if you are also the Head Dishwasher in your bakery.

3. Stacking Cake

There are plenty of websites that describe in detail how to stack cake. If it is a small two tier cake, you can use large soda straws, not the skinny ones. Google "bubble straws" and you'll see what I mean. I can find those near the ice cream cones in our local grocery stores, for milk shakes I think.  But if you want to stack more, a lot more, you need this:

A brand new, stainless steel, unopened pair of nail clippers. These clippers are absolutely perfect for cutting wooden dowels without leaving splinters. It is easier and safer than cutting plastic dowels with a knife. Quicker, cleaner and more precise than a hacksaw for wood. No splinters, sanding or dust to worry about when you stack a cake. Give me a pack of wooden dowels and these clippers and I can stack cake all day.

A few little tips can go a long way up the learning curve!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Favorites from 2013

Oh my gosh! Looking through all the pictures from this past year. Truly a privilege to have been a part of so many fabulous celebrations.

Chocolate and ganache always receive lots of love on Facebook and in person too!

There are a couple of "most requested of the year" designs:

Birthday cakes are so much fun!!

And then there were some "special projects" this year. This were cakes that require hand painting or multiple mediums, and lots and lots of time. 

Thanks for taking a little stroll through some of my favorite cakes from 2013!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mini Cheesecake Bites

There are those days. Those days when your child says something like, "Oh yeah and I need a dessert today." Really. Today? I like to think, plan, shop and create something special, unique, just for you! Not just throw something together at the last minute while running out the door. 

Today was one of those days. And I found myself standing in the grocery store aisles thinking, "I can do this last minute. I know I can. What would Sandra Lee do?" Thank you Sandra Lee for reminding everyone that semi-homemade can be special too. 

Here's the Mini-Cheesecake Bites I pulled together in less than 15mins, not including the trip to the store!

Mini Cheesecake Bites Recipe

1 pack of Chocolate graham crackers, crushed and mixed with 
5T melted buttter
2T sugar

Press 1t into each mini cupcake cake liner.

No-Bake Cheesecake Mix combined with 
1 1/2 Cup Milk

Follow directions on package for the the filling. Set the graham crust packet aside for another time. 
Pipe the filling into the mini cupcake liners. Leave room for the topping.

Whip Hershey's White Chocolate Pudding with 
2 C whipping cream till it thickens. 

If you whip it too long it won't look as pretty, but will taste as good! Try not to eat this all straight from the bowl. Use the same piping bag with a star tip to pipe a little swirl on top of the mini cheesecakes.

Finally, drizzle a little of the fudge sauce on top. I used some peppermint ganache I had already made. If you want to add a little peppermint extract to the fudge sauce you can. I used peppermint candy oil. I think they carry it at Michael's.

Let the cheesecake bites set-up in the fridge for an hour. Although I think I had a little less time than that today and it was no problem. The picture a quick shot while running to the car :-) 

Here's what I can do with a little more notice: 

Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Frosting, Peppermint Ganache and Chocolate leaves
Hope you are making some sweet treats for the holiday! Merry Christmas