Favorite Quote Ever :)

Life is short. Eat more cake!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

2014 North Carolina State Fair Competition Cake

I always struggle SO much with deciding on a design to attempt for my State Fair cake - I like to use my competition cake as a way of pushing myself and trying new things and I just always have so many techniques or things on my "cake decorating bucket list" that it's just so hard to choose! Thankfully this idea wasn't too hard to settle on! I've slowly been working my way through learning various sugar flowers and thought it would be fun to really create a lot of them to go on a cake - certainly more than I've ever attempted to make & place before! I also wanted to attempt some wood grain and can't even begin to say how excited I am with the outcome there - most folks don't realize the bottom tier is fondant as well until I tell them, so taking that as a good sign. It's hard to see in my photos, but I also made one of the white tiers slightly different - when kneading my fondant, I mixed in some pumpkin pie spice to give it little "flecks" that almost resemble linen! My family will be visiting the Fair on Monday, so we'll see if my attempts garnered a ribbon then :)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Ah, Fall baking! A pretty big part of why I love Fall so much! :) Give these a try if you dare...you won't be able to stop eating them!

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Maple Cinnamon Swiss Meringue & Sugared Pecans

Sugared Pecans:
1 cup chopped pecans
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
Cooking Spray
-Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine pecans, brown sugar and heavy cream. Mix thoroughly. Spread into a baking pan, sprayed with cooking spray. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until coating is dry and slightly crystalized, stirring once. Remove from oven to cool and stir once more.

1&1/4 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
6 ounces (or one small) sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
-Heat the oven to 350 F and line a 12 cup cupcake pan with paper liners. Steam the sweet potatoes until fork tender, about ten minutes. Set aside to cool slightly then mash with a fork until smooth. In a medium bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light in color, about three minutes. Add the egg, sweet potato, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix until well combined. In a large bowl sift the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and whisk until no large lumps remain. Do not over mix. Divide the batter evenly between the baking cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed in the center. Cool for three minutes in the pan then remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

2-3 large egg whites (75 grams)
½ cup plus 2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple flavoring
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
-Add egg whites, brown sugar and salt to mixing bowl and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160 F. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (This can take up to 10 minutes or so). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture. Add vanilla, maple flavoring and cinnamon, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
 Pipe buttercream on top of cooled cupcakes and top with sugared pecans, if so desired. Enjoy!

*Makes 12 cupcakes

Owl First Birthday

Fun little buttercream cake to match the birthday girl's party invitations! Vanilla cake, vanilla buttercream filling and frosting with fondant details.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Navy & Coral Wedding Cake (And an Exceptional Location!)

I had the pleasure of not only making this lovely bride's wedding cake, but also attending her wedding - set at Willow Oaks Plantation in Eden, NC. And let me just say...the drive was worth it! With the sun setting just as the couple completed their vows - it was truly magical! The couple selected several flavors, their favorite being quite a popular choice this time of year, pumpkin spice with cinnamon cream cheese filling. They also chose chocolate with caramel swiss meringue, vanilla with vanilla swiss meringue and red velvet with vanilla cream cheese. The cake was covered in fondant with piped scrollwork and a ribbon at the base of each tier. I created coral pink peonies from gum paste to top everything off - loved working on those!