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
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
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!)
I think I’ve maybe mentioned it in passing, but I want to come clean about something: I love sprinkles. Yes, I know; I’m 5 years old at heart, and bright colors are my favorite. I also love sugar, and baking, as you very well know by now. From these facts, it can be inferred that I love funfetti. It was a magical moment the first time I bit into a fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth piece of yellow cake smothered in sweet (pink) vanilla frosting, to find a plethora of colorful dots awaiting me on the inside. It was love at first bite. ( #loveatfirstbite…yes, I went there. ) I was hooked.
Up until two days ago, every funfetti recipe I had ever made had come from that little Pillsbury Doughboy. But, as I’ve also mentioned in the past, since I began baking from scratch a couple years ago, it just isn’t the same pulling a box of mix off the shelf, adding a few ingredients, and voila! While quick and easy, I bake for therapy, for pleasure, and for love. It’s just over too quickly if I use a box mix. So, this week I ventured into the world of from-scratch funfetti. This adventure took the form of Funfetti Sugar Cookies.
Now, let’s be real here: I love sugar cookies, and I love sprinkles. Why it took me so long to combine the two, I may never know. The point is, they’ve been introduced now and I’m hooked. These cookies are to die for. I mean, if you like sugar cookies, you really can’t go wrong with these. Because these are buttery, fluffy, light and chewy sugar cookies. The sprinkles make them all the more fun, and the possibilities with this recipe are endless. You can make them bigger or smaller, add a frosting or glaze to them, change the sprinkle colors for different occasions, plop a filling in between two and make a sandwich…The list goes on and on. Check out Sally’s Baking Addiction for some of her ideas of how to transform this recipe!
These cookies are super easy and super delicious. I made a triple batch in no time! The only difficult part was trusting Sally when she said bake 8 minutes, no more! They really don’t look done after 8 minutes (like, they seem still raw in the middle), and I reeeaaally wanted to leave them in longer, but don’t! I made these cookies in three batches and the best batch was the final sheet when I trusted the baking gods and took the cookies out after 8 minutes. The bottoms were barely golden, but the cookies turned out impeccable. (Note: All the cookies were delicious, but the last sheet was the softest and chewiest and therefore, the bestest..and still totally baked once it cooled. Promise.) Just trust the baking gods, and don’t press into the middle of them when you first take them out of the oven. They are very soft at this point and you will squish your cookie to nothingness!
Sidenote: I got to try out my new cookie scoop for the first time with these! While not a necessity, it does ensure perfectly-uniform cookies, and you don’t need a second spoon to get the dough off your scoop. All in all, a great purchase. 🙂
…And if Daisy is any judge of delicious cookies, she got the first one out of the oven and let me tell you – she followed me around the entire rest of the evening just hoping for another little taste of the fluffy, colorful, soft cookie heaven. If only she wasn’t colorblind and could appreciate the delightfulness of the speckled wonder that is funfetti….
…Just thought I’d share a little bite of Daisy in all her snowy puppy glory.
Anyway, enjoy the cookies!
Funfetti Sugar Cookies
Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 8 minutes
Yield: 15 cookies
1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar (cannot be omitted)
1/2 cup (80g) sprinkles, plus more for sprinkle on top before baking
- In a large bowl, cream softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Once smooth, add the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
- On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 parts. The dough will get quite thick by the last addition, so you may have to stir by hand at the end. Once combined, fold in 1/2 cup sprinkles.
- Scoop about 2 tablespoons of dough each and roll into balls. Make sure the balls are taller, rather than wide. Add a few more sprinkles on top of each ball dough.
- Chill the balls of dough on the cookie sheet for at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours in the refrigerator.**
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Bake chilled cookie dough for 8 minutes, no more. The cookies will appear undone and very soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 3 minutes because they will continue baking slightly on cookie sheet during this time. Then move to wire rack to cool completely.
*If you forget to take egg out and need to bring it to room temperature quickly, place in a warm bowl of water for about 10 minutes as you get the other ingredients ready. See my Bakeology post on eggs for more on why this is important!
**Chilling dough is important to prevent spreading in the oven and to keep the cookies plump and fluffy.
~ Cookies stay fresh for up to 1 week at room temperature, and freeze well. Dough can also be rolled into balls and frozen up to 3 months to bake at a later date.
~ This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. I made a triple batch and got about 45 cookies!
Today’s lesson is about eggs and their role in baking. In pastries, eggs act as a glue that helps bind things together. They add proteins, moisture, and fat to baked goods, and give structure and texture to a dish. Continue reading
Let me start this post by reminding you of a very important fact: Today is my birthday…at least it is for 10 more minutes…So, to say goodbye to 25, here are 25 highlights of my 25th year of life: Continue reading
If you know me at all, you know I love Christmas. If you don’t know me, you will learn quickly that I love Christmas. I love decorating for Christmas; I love Christmas smells; I love baking for Christmas; I love Christmas music; I love the general feeling of joy and warmth I have all season long. I love Christmas. For me, Christmas is the happiest time of the year. End of story. Read more…
Sorry for the delay in posting! Between Thanksgiving travels and work travels, I’ve been very preoccupied for the past week! But enough excuses. Without further ado, my next lesson…
Today’s lesson is in browning butter. Many recipes call for browned butter, but, what does that mean, and, more importantly, why should I take the extra time to brown my butter?
The browning of butter gives it an extra layer of richness and a deep nutty flavor you simply cannot achieve without browning. It is also called beurre noisette, meaning hazelnut butter, which is exactly what it tastes like. It is a step most recipes can do without, but, once you try it, why would you want to? Let’s start with the basics: What is butter?
Butter is a combination of butterfat, milk proteins, and water. It is an oil-in-water emulsion* of water and fat with milk protein solids suspended inside.
Happy Thanksgiving! In honor of Turkey-Day, I am posting a recipe I made recently…that has absolutely nothing to do with Thanksgiving. Yaaay!!! Now, I am making my Pumpkin Pie with Vodka Pie Crust and Apple Strudel Rolls this morning to take to Christian’s family’s Thanksgiving festivities this afternoon, but I have already posted about those*, so I decided to go with something new; something delicious, (mostly) classic, and as All-American as Thanksgiving itself: Chocolate chip cookies…with a twist. Continue reading