Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flavors of Spring

When the weather turns warm, my cravings start to gravitate toward those of the fruit variety. Behold, I give you the Strawberry Cupcake!

These cupcakes were made for some dear friends of mine that I had lunch with last week (yes, I'm late posting these but better late than never!). The cake is vanilla with pieces of strawberry mixed in the batter. I used my usual vanilla cake recipe and added about 2 cups of quartered strawberries, mixing them in right before dividing them into the cupcake pan. The frosting is strawberry butter cream based on this recipe. I loosely follow it and adjust it based on how it's tasting as I add the sugar, and also on the consistency I need. Using strawberries in the frosting can make it a little runny, so it needs to be played with a bit to get it just right. Also, that particular recipe makes a LOT of frosting, so you may need to adjust it unless you are making more than 2 dozen cupcakes. The really great thing about this frosting (aside from it's scrumptiousness) is the color. That pink is all-natural, no artificial coloring needed!
These cupcakes are not only delicious, but also showcase my new-found frosting abilities! Don't you just love the little rosettes? So sweet! Just like a strawberry cupcake :).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Coupon Magic

So once upon a time, I heard an internet rumor that once a year or so Hobby Lobby has a big sale on all of their Wilton products. As in, any possible cake decorating tool I could ever need would be discounted. Now I know, I know, Hobby Lobby and Michael's have weekly 40% off coupons, but they're only good on one item at a time. Who wants to go to a store over and over, buying one gadget at a time? I don't know about you, but I have a 7-month-old baby and I'm lazy. So no thanks.

Anyway, so I was browsing the internets on Monday and I decide to check out the deals for the week at the HobLob, and low and behold, this is what I find. Notice how it says "no limit." Jackpot! So, I printed out the coupon, saddled up the baby boy and we headed over to the Lobby. Now, I have to say that I felt Hobby Lobby's selection of Wilton products was a little lacking. I'm used to buying my supplies at Michael's, as that is where I took my class (and they have quiet a large Wilton section).

"Hmmm....," I thought. "Didn't I once hear that Michael's matches their competition's sales?"

Yes kids, yes I did.

That's right, after buying a basket-worth of tools and fun at the Lob, the munchkin and I headed over to our local Michael's, where we promptly got in line to confirm with the bored cashier that they would, in fact, honor my coupon.

They did! Squee!!

So, the point is, I bought a lot of cake decorating crap for 40% off. That means today's project was finding a home for all of it, which of course means I forgot to take a picture of my haul for this post before I put it all away. But, for the curious, here is my list:

Set of 3 Wilton cookie sheets
Fondant rolling/cutting mat
Offset spatula
Set of Star fondant cutters
Set of Flower fondant cutters
2 packages of patterned cupcake wrappers
Container of Piping Gel
1 6" Round cake pan
1 8" Round cake pan (3" deep)
Wilton Course books 2 through 4
2 decorating tips
Bag of 150 Lollipop sticks
Stand-mixer spatula
4 mini decorating squeeze bottles
50 disposable pastry bags
Reusable 12" pastry bag
4 pack fondant cut out shapes
Container of Gum Paste mix
Fondant smoother
3 color pack of shimmer dust
3 bags of Candy Melts (cocoa, pink, and white)

All for the Grand Total of.....$77.36! I know, it still sounds like a lot of money. But, if you consider that it would have been about $130.00 regular price, or approximately 43 trips to the store with individual coupons, I consider it a bargain. Plus, it was fun. The moral of the story is, I hope someone else can benefit from the awesomeness of this deal, so tell your friends. And expect some amazing decorated cakes and cupcakes on this blog soon!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Adventures in Cake Decorating

During the month of March, I participated in a Wilton cake decorating class at my local Michael's. It was a basic intro to cake decorating course, so of course I had to amass an obscene amount of tools and gadgets. Right up my alley! Anyway, we made 2 cakes and one batch of cupcakes over 4 classes. These are the cakes I made, the cupcakes were nothing special as we were basically just messing around trying out new techniques (read: not cute or pretty). The first cake (made for class 2) is a rainbow cake. It's 2 vanilla cake layers filled and frosted with vanilla buttercream and decorated with a star-tip rainbow. Pretty easy to make and overall a good, fast effect. Not bad for my first decorated cake!

Oh, the rainbow isn't just off-center, I was supposed to put some Happy Birthday writing underneath it, but, well, I didn't feel like it.

This next cake is also all vanilla. It was made for the forth class, which I didn't actually attend as it was a very stormy and tornado-y night. I had all the cake and frosting ready to go, however, so I just followed the directions in my class book and winged it. We had been working on the beginning of the rose in class, so I had to teach myself the rest of it. It was actually pretty fun! My roses are a little ragged, but not bad for a first time. I'll work on it. I like the shell border and I will definately use that on future cakes.

I had a good time taking the class, but I'm not sure that I will take any of the other three that are offered. All the tools get expensive and the instructors want you to use the Wilton frosting recipe, which uses Crisco instead of butter (in buttercream (!)). It was not tasty. I think I may just purchase the other course books off of Amazon ($3-4/book) and teach myself the other techniques I want to learn. I am glad I learned a bit about decorating though, my future baking projects will be that much more glam!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Never fear...

I know, I know. I start this blog, share some luscious cupcake pictures with you, and then just abandon it. Well fear not, gentle readers! Posts will be returning soon, including pictures from my achievements in cake decorating, aka the cakes I made for my Wilton cake decorating class. I am currently away from home, but will be returning after Easter, and there will be updates! I refuse to be that blogger, so I'll try not to let this happen again. Personally, I blame the Twilight books. Posts soon!