So, there’s this baking competition coming up – my work’s annual Valentine’s Day Bake-Off. Last year, I entered 2 of the 4 categories and won both, which was both super exciting and super surprising. Check out that post here. This, however, has added EXTRA pressure for this year’s competition. Therefore, I’m on a mission to bake my way to success. The current mission is a red-velvet infused frenzy. Continue reading
Pick your poison: Breakfast or dessert. Or, you can do what I did, and consume both these recipes as breakfast and dessert…and lunch…and dinner…and walk-by-the-table-and-grab-one snack. Because that’s how good these are. Continue reading
You guys…I have done it. I have made the perfect brownie. From scratch. Perfect amount of chocolate. Perfect amount of gooey. Perfect amount of chewy. Perfect amount of decadence. Continue reading
I’m not going to beat around the bush. I’m not going to toy with your emotions, or promise you something I cannot deliver. But, there’s just no better way to say it: Continue reading
Yes, it’s true…I am that girl. What girl, you ask? I am that girl who makes her puppy homemade baked goods of her birthday. And YES, in case you don’t follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, TODAY IS DAISY’S FIRST BRITHDAY! Obviously, this is very exciting to me and quite a big deal (I mean – come on – I named my blog after her)! My little puppy is growing up so fast! One year ago today she came into this world somewhere out in West Virginia, and, 8 weeks later, she found her way to the SPCA right down the street from us and Christian and took the plunge and adopted our wonderful little puppy. From the moment I held her at the SPCA, I knew she was the one, and every day spent with her just reaffirms that decision. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. When we took her home, it was slightly terrifying realizing this little ball of adorable fur was entirely our responsibility now. Despite the added responsibility and work and financial burden and extra vacuuming that all come with this puppy, she is without a doubt the best decision Christian and I could have made. She is a bundle of energy and love and joy and excitement and silliness and fur. Oh my goodness – there is so much fur! Who knew one puppy could shed so much! Sometimes I wonder how she is not entirely bald from all her shedding. It seems unfathomable with the amount of hair I find on the floor, on me, and on all of my worldly possessions, that there is any hair left on Daisy. But I digress…
I never expected that I would be one of those people who obsessed over their puppy and make pupcakes for their puppy’s birthday. But there I was, over the weekend, vacuuming my apartment thanks to all my puppy’s fur, about to burst with excitement, thinking about what I was going to do for my baby’s birthday. Now, it is strange to think that she has absolutely no idea that today is not a day like any other. She is just going on living her merry life of sleep, play, eat, per usual. But, for me, it is a very special day, and I wanted to share my joy with her. So, in honor of Daisy’s first birthday, I made Pup Cakes! Yes – PUP cakes! Also known as, cupcakes for puppies! Or dogs…Or humans, I suppose; if you like that sort of thing (I suggest leaving off the bacon treat if you decide to have a taste, though).
The recipe: I shopped around the internet for various recipes, using Pinterest as my hub. If you’re interested, you can check out some of the recipes that caught my eye on my It’s a Dog’s Life page. Then, after gathering sufficient knowledge of typical ingredients in puppy snacks, I went to my kitchen and threw a bunch of ingredients I had on hand in a bowl and stirred. (She is a silly puppy who will eat anything, after all – not Florian Bellanger or Candace Nelson, the oh-so-talented-and-critical judges on Cupcake Wars. Daisy will eat almost anything…except bananas…she does not understand bananas.) My two ingredient requirements were peanut butter and bacon. I cannot think of a better puppy combination, can you? Now, that being said, when I got home from the gym last night, I realized I did not have bacon. I flirted with the idea of going back out to the grocery store for the sole purpose of buying bacon to put in my puppy’s birthday pup cakes, but even I have my limits when it comes to my baking and puppy obsessions. Besides, I had an idea: I had turkey sandwich meat, and oil. I don’t know how much of a likeness this bares to bacon, but I chopped up and fried these slices and threw them in the batter at the end. Daisy was all up in my business when I started frying that stuff, so I knew it would be a hit. (I had to banish her from the kitchen!) Once they were baked, I let them cool, mixed up the frosting, and threw on come chewy bacon dog treats for good measure. Daisy was in puppy heaven. And I was a very pleased puppy mommy.
These pupcakes are extremely simple and actually not half bad (yes, I tried them – how could I not try my own creation!?!? I was curious!). Plus, I knew what every ingredient was, so I knew there was nothing sketchy or unappetizing in them, and they are pretty healthy, because there is no sugar or butter. I was actually thinking I could pretty easily modify this recipe to make a very healthy very yummy human snack. My mom has been hounding me to make her “healthy cupcakes” (oxymoron much?) for awhile now, so maybe I will finally experiment with that.
There is plenty of wiggle room in this recipe, so go crazy and put in your pup’s favorite! Blueberries? Great, and full of antioxidants! Parsley? Help freshen their breath! Cheese? Let’s be real, what self-respecting dog doesn’t go wild for cheese? What do you have in your pantry that your dog loves?!?! Get creative!
I hope your puppy enjoys this treat as much as mine did!
Happy Daisy Cakes!!!
Daisy’s Birthday Pupcakes
Yield: 18 minis and 4 regular cupcakes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 8 minutes for minis, 15 minutes for regular
1 cup rolled oats
1 -1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup honey
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup chopped bacon
Treats of your choice for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
- Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
- Fold in bacon pieces.
- Put batter into muffin pan and bake for 8 to 15 minutes, depending on size.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: Perfect amount to ice these cupcakes with no extra
Prep time: 5 minutes
6 oz cream cheese
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vanilla yogurt (plain, Greek, any kind works too)
Food coloring – if you are crazy like me and want colorful frosting
- Mix all ingredients until combined.
- Once cupcakes are cooled, ice with frosting.
Well, the Super Bowl has come and gone, and many felt it was quite the disappointment. (Peyton Manning is at the top of this list, I’m sure.) I have to agree, considering I only watched until halftime because my boyfriend got bored. Now, if HE turned off the Super Bowl, you know it had to be bad! For those of us who were not emotionally invested in either team, we were watching the game for the commercials, the halftime show, or, at the very least, for a good game. There were a few pretty good commercials, from what I saw, and I’d be lying if I said more than a couple didn’t pull extra hard on my heart-strings…but then, I’m a sucker for sappy. And from my perspective, Bruno Mars killed it. Spot on, my man. The game though (aka, the MAIN event)? Well, the score says it all.
As such, what better way to celebrate the Super Bowl than by making a football cake? Ok, maybe there are many better ways to celebrate the Super Bowl, but for an avid baker and lover of all things decorating, this way takes the cake! (ha! Pun intended…) So, my Super Bowl party involved me making and decorating a cake. What kind of cake, you ask? A Funfetti Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Buttercream. Covered in fondant. To look like a football! Woo!
I really want to practice and improve my fondant skills, so, the only way to do that is by making a cake and decorating it.
This cake is delicious. It is moist and dense, soft and fluffy, and overall wonderful. It is the perfect amount of sweetness, and paired with the frosting, it is irresistible. And in case the flavor alone is not enough to put a smile on your face, the little morsels of funfetti delight will.
To start, I used a different method of mixing than most of my recipes. I usually cream the butter and sugar together first, then add the rest of the wet ingredients, then add the dry ingredients in three parts to that. This recipe, however, uses a method known as high-ratio mixing. In this method, you mix all the dry ingredients with all the butter and some of the liquid first. The mixing times are important, as is careful scraping down the side of the bowl for an evenly blended batter. I used this technique and created this recipe based off of the method used by a yellow butter cake found in one of my trusty cookbooks. I am quite proud of the result.
This batter was so thick before adding the remainder of the liquid and the egg mixture that I am pretty sure I almost burned out my mixer motor! Granted, I only have a hand mixer, and a stand mixer could definitely handle the thickness much better, but still – my trusty hand mixer has been with me through many a baking adventure.
To shape this cake, I made two 8” round layers and torted them once to give me four approximately 1” layers.
I then took an 8” round cake board and cut it roughly to the shape of a football (sorry, I only have an “after” picture!).
I stacked the layers on the board, filling each layer with a generous helping of chocolate buttercream (can’t get enough of that stuff!). I then began shaping my cake, slicing off the sides of my round cake and shaving down the top. Tip: Always cut less first because once you chop it off, it is very difficult to “glue” pieces back on!
Once the cake was my desired football shape, I slathered on more buttercream! You don’t have to be too particular or smooth with the buttercream, and can fill in any needed crevices with it, because the fondant cover is very forgiving, thank goodness!
For the fondant decorations, I attempted employing my skills acquired in my Wilton course 3 cake decorating class. I succeeded mostly, but my fondant work is still not perfect.
To prepare the fondant, I started out with a hunk of fondant about the size of my fist. Again though, it’s always preferable to overshoot and have a little extra than to run out and have a fondant-less corner on your cake! (I use Satin Ice fondant – far tastier than Wilton! Duff brand is good too though and can be found in your local craft store. I’ve only found Satin Ice in specialty stores or online.) After adding several drops of brown Americolor Soft Gel Paste food coloring (this kind is my favorite), I kneaded the color into my fondant. I did this I think three times before reaching the desired darkness. Guess and check, my friends.
For an 8” round cake, you want at least a 10” round piece of fondant. (You can find all these recommended measurements online. Just Google it and you will be overwhelmed by the wealth of information on covering cakes with fondant! Since my original cake was 8”, I figured this was a good starting point. When I rolled out the fondant, I made sure to give it a little extra size since this cake was a little on the tall side. I used 1/16” thick rolling bands on the ends of my roller for an even fondant thickness.
The first time I rolled the fondant out, it was too sticky and stuck to itself when I rolled it onto my fondant roller to transfer it to the cake. The second time, I put a little more cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture to keep it from sticking, and didn’t wrap it so tightly around the roller. It worked!
To make the white stripes, I used this nifty little fondant cutter. It comes with all these different “blades” that come in different shapes (zigzag, squiggly, etc.) and it has different spacers so you can make ribbons whatever width you like. It is great.
Tip: Work quickly when working with fondant so it doesn’t dry out and start cracking. Put unused fondant in a sealed bag or rolled flat between a plastic mat to prevent it from drying while you work on another piece.
Once I cut the white strips, I put them in between plastic to keep them from drying out at all while I was laying everything out on my cake. I used gum paste glue (a mixture of gum paste dissolved in water) to stick the white stripes to the brown base.
I am happy with the result. It looks quite lovely from this angle.
As you can see, I think my problem here was I did not pull quickly enough for the fondant to fall flat, so it bunched like a table cloth here. It may have also been a little on the thin side…Or I am not sure. Hopefully my next try will give me some insight into why this happened.
Now, if I had been making this cake for the purpose of presenting it at an actual party, I would have put a little grass border around the bottom of it to hide the seams of the fondant. Since it was just for practice and I was taking it to work, I really didn’t feel like making another small batch of green icing for the sole purpose of grass. I got what I wanted out of this cake, which was fondant practice. And my boyfriend and coworkers got what they wanted out of it, which was delicious cake. Everyone was happy and wanted seconds…win-win!
I’d also like to add that you better save those scraps! A significant portion of this cake went to the chopping block to give it its football shape. You can simply slather on some more icing and eat them, or turn them into cake pops! I should do a cake pops post in the near future…It’s been a while since I’ve made those little guys…
I hope you try this truly scrumptious recipe! Enjoy!
Funfetti Yellow Butter Cake
Yield: One 8″ x 4″ round layer cake (two 2″ layers)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 35-40 minutes
- 3 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup whole or low-fat milk (divided use)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F. Coat two 8″ round cake pans lightly with cooking spray.
- Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the butter and half a cup of milk to the dry ingredients, mixing on medium speed until smooth (about 4 minutes). Scrap down sides of bowl as needed to ensure even mixing.
- In a separate smaller bowl, blend the eggs, egg whites, the remaining 1/2 cup milk, and vanilla extract. Add this mixture to the batter in three additions, mixing for 2 minutes on medium speed between additions. (Mixture will look close to curdled by the end.)
- Divide batter evenly into 2 pans and bake until layers spring back when touched lightly in the center, or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow layers to cool completely in the pan on wire rack.
*Make sure to be precise with mixing times, as this ensures the batter is well-blended and the resulting cake is the desired consistency!
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened (but not melted!)
- 3 1/2 cups, confectioners (powdered) sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon almond extract)
- 4 tablespoons milk (or heavy cream)
- Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.
- Sift powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. With your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere), mix until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes.
- If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk a little at a time.
*Note: I use vanilla extract and milk in mine.
See my Fudge Brownie Tartlets post for another way to use this absolutely mouth-watering recipe! (Seriously – I can eat this stuff with a spoon…it is THAT good!)