Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Camouflage Cake

This past weekend, we celebrated my son's 4th birthday with an 'Army Man' inspired party.  And so, I set out on a mission to create him an 'army' inspired cake and some cookies:)  I looked all over the internet and got lots of images of a cake made to look like a tank...or a camo cake on the outside.. hmmmm... I have limited time and skills, so I really didn't think making the cake look like a tank was an option for me.  But, I really wanted to do something camo.  So, this is what I came up with:
It is a 1/2 sheet size (needed the size for our battle scene on top), vanilla cake with a buttercream and fondant covering.

I made the inside cake camo:
This is what it looked like before it went in the oven

This is what it looked like when I flipped it out of the pan
To get this look, here is what I did (so easy):
1. Make vanilla/white cake
2. Divide batter into three bowls
3. Color each bowl of batter a different color (I did black, brown and green)
4. Using an ice-cream scoop, I plopped out cake batter randomly across the pan
5. I than used a knife to swirl it all together so it was smooth and even before baking (not too much swirling or it will all turn to a grayish black color...kinda like your kids do to their paints when they first start painting.. lol)

That's it.  Easy, right??

Next, I made a simple buttercream frosting and tinted it a tan color to match with the color scheme.  Smeared it all over the cake to prepare for a nice smooth fondant cover.

For the fondant- I have a lot of white...so I colored the fondant.  I put a big blob on my board and randomly put brown, black and green coloring in it.  I than kneaded it all together so the colors could blend.  I got a very grayish/army greenish color.
Hindsight here people... I think it would have been better to make 3 separate fondant blobs and color them individually.  Than, like the cake batter, randomly place them on my board and roll them together.  I may have to try this with the colored fondant I do have (red, blue, yellow, brown...hmmmmm, that could be cool).

And, again with this whole time constraint issue, I decided to put a 'battle' scene on top of the cake.  Max loved it and I think it turned out great!!

These were the camo inspired cookies that went along with it:)
From one baker to the next, Happy Baking!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Missed 'Golden' Opportunity:(

So, as you all know, I am baking my way through my own education in the baking world... making mistakes and learning from them along the way:)

Turns out, one of my fellow 'mom' dancers in my Polish Dance group used to own a bakery.. Yup, that's right... I can get information from a tried and true baker who's made lots of her own mistakes.  And yes, we will be doing a lesson on fondant this summer.. YEAH!!

But, here's the bummer news.. she is going to be putting together a 3D cake tomorrow.  How cool would that be to go over and watch/help her with it??  Yes, totally cool, right??

Alas, I am a Mom first and my children are my top priority... and, so, I will NOT be able to go watch and learn:(  Boo!!

This is one of the reasons it can be so hard to get ahead in doing everything I want to do...like my baking and trying to get a website/business really and truly up and running.  But, I know my day will come, right??

I totally want to ditch Kyra's dance tomorrow... but, alas, it is paid for and missing a class (to me) is like throwing money away, right??  And, my niece is visiting from Texas so a bbq has been planned to celebrate her bday tomorrow night...

Now, must have my oven and kitchen fixed up in the apartment next door so maybe I could convince her next time (hopefully there will be a next time) that she needs to come do everything in my 'baking' kitchen!!

Been busy these past couple months... here's what I've been working on since I last wrote:)  I've probably missed some...it's been a bit hectic with school ending, my brother's wedding and some orders!!
Ballerina cookies

Oatmeal Butterscotch cookies with Black & Tan Brownies:)

Baseball cookies for a 1st bday

Little Purse Cakes with Fashionista cookies and mini cupcakes!!

Shower Cake

Cheers themed Father's Day Cookies

Dessert Bouquets for Teachers

Rehearsal Dinner Cake

75 Horse Shoe cookies and some cake pops in the back!!

125 'Derby Bars' for Derby themed wedding

Read some fun books recently too... will put up a review soon of both.

This week- Graduation Cap cookies!!

Have a great night and go Eat Some Cake..lol

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Royal Icing... What went wrong??

OK... so I've been doing all these cookies and using Royal Icing up the wazoo (is that even a word..lol) with pretty good results.  BUT... this past weekend, I made some patriotic cookies and the red just didn't want to dry.  And some of the other colors were pretty runny (too runny) and took way longer to dry as well.  So... I went searching and searching to see what I did wrong..  (the red did eventually dry on my non-patriotic cookies I have sitting on my counter... like 2 days later)

Seems as though I could have done several things wrong this time around and the humidity that reached our area recently didn't help either.  So, here's what I think I did:
- too much water (this happens when you let your kids add the water...)
- too much color (I didn't have the no-taste red either... so not only did it not dry completely before party, I think the red tasted awful...I hate that taste...but there were no complaints from the cookie eaters, I just don't like it)
- humidity
- think I overbeat the icing...this also happens when you're trying to do too much at one time and  your kids are 'trying' to help you  (Please note: these cookies were for a bbq we were going to, so the kids helping was ok this time around... I generally kick them out of the kitchen when I am prepping and decorating)
- the use of the Wilton brand meringue powder, it seems, could have something to do with it

Yes...I did all of those things.  No wonder I had runny icing that didn't want to dry!!  But, alas, the best part of it all is that it was a lesson learned and I got some pics of the cookies to use in my photo gallery of cookies.

Here are my cookies:

I also found some fellow 'cookie decorating' bloggers... here are some links in case you are interested.. I found some new ideas on how to make, store and thin:)




I will be trying the Sweet Sugar Belle way of making, storing and thinning... and I gotta get another spray bottle...that seems like a great tip for thinning the icing to make it NOT too runny:)

Happy decorating!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vanilla Cake... and my biggest fondant cake to date!!

Vanilla cake has been my hardest thing to make.  I think I have been searching for that perfect Vanilla cake for over a year now.  Every time I make one, I try a new recipe.  And...drum roll please...I've finally found my final vanilla cake:)  Yeah me.

I really did love the vanilla cake recipe in Buddy's book... but, realistically, it was a lot of extra work and the cost to make it wouldn't have proven cost efficient for selling.  He adds vanilla pastry cream to the batter...which makes is super moist... but it's an extra day, and extra thing to make, and extra $$.  I did make it for the strawberry/whipped cream cake I sold a few weeks back:
You can make the cake without the pastry cream but I didn't think it was as good... so I went back to the drawing board.  I finally made one that came out of a magazine (with a few tweaks to make it my own) and came up with a winner!!

I used that cake for my HUGE 1/2 sheet fondant covered (filled) cake and it worked out beautifully!!  I was moist but at the same time, held it's shape for slicing, filling and decorating.

Now, about that really big cake... Wow... that was a lot of time and effort... and I probably only made about $2/hour making it... but, it was a learning experience.  And learning experiences are completely priceless for me right now!!

I made the fondant characters ahead of time:

I put the cake in the freezer to make it easier to slice down the middle.  This was probably the most stressful process for me.  I really do hate slicing big cakes down the middle...I haven't quite mastered this and I don't have a knife long enough to go all the way through... but I did it.  I also created a well in the lower level for the filling and created a barrier around the outside with buttercream to make sure it didn't run out:
And than came the next stressful factor...rolling out fondant big enough to cover this sucker!!  I had to do it on the countertop b/c I didn't have a big enough mat.  Someone gave me advice that I wish I acted upon sooner but didn't have a chance to buy...will be looking out for it so I will be more prepared for this part.  Use the vinyl table cloth stuff...and than you can just pick it up and gently unroll vinyl while laying fondant on cake.  Yup...that would have made it easier.  Because, did you know that if you fold fondant it will leave a crease that doesn't smooth out once on the cake??  Well, now you do and so do I...lol.

All in all, I think it came out great...for being so new to the fondant world.  Yes, there was a crease...but, the ends (where the fondant ends) came out much better than the communion cake I did for my daughter.

Here is the final outcome:
Oh, and I used Royal Icing for the outlines and letters.  Blue buttercream along the base.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My first 'Dessert Table'...

Dessert tables seem to be all the rage these days... or, at least, I see a lot of them on websites and in peoples pictures and at some parties that I attend.  So, I thought, I want to put one together.  And what's more perfect that my daughter's communion party to try my hand at it.

I know it's not as elaborate as some I've seen and I didn't have any fancy signage for the treats and no matching straws/drinks to go with it...but I think I did a pretty darn good job pulling it off.  We went with a pink and white theme...even did her cake myself (yes, my first tiered cake covered in fondant).  Was it all perfect??  Of course not...but, it was a definite learning experience:)

I know all my blood, sweat and tears paid off when my daughter came into the room and her eyes nearly popped out of her head...she was sooooooo excited that I did all of that just for her!!

And, so, I leave you with my pics...

Special thanks to my Party Planning friend for the use of the tiered cake stand... http://www.melissanewell.com
And special thanks to my Momma for cleaning up after me while I made a mess trying to put it all together!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Yes, that horrible thing called pricing.  At least, it's always been like a plague for me.  I just never know what's an appropriate price for things.

I look it up on the internet, you know the whole 'price equation' and I look around and see what others charge for things...but it always seems like it's so much.  I guess, for me, I would never pay these prices for cupcakes, cakes, pops, cookies, etc.  Perhaps because I know I can just make them??

My latest pricing predicament is for cupcakes.  A neighbor ordered cupcakes for a b-day party in school.  And I have no idea what to charge for them.  If I low-ball it, based on the average price out there for the bakery and/or home baking business, it would be $2/cupcake.  Wow...I think...that's a lot for cupcakes for school.  Like I said, I would just bake them myself, you know??  So, do I go lower or charge the $2/cupcake??

Oh, what to do, what to do...

On the flip side...we home baking business owners need to make money so I just need to man up and charge what I need to charge, right???

Yes...this is my biggest weaknes!!

Comments are welcome:)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My first fondant bow...

Yeah... it's a disaster!!  I didn't work fast enough, it looks like crap and it's already cracking:(  But, it's only tuesday so perhaps I can try again tomorrow...
The crosses came out cool, though:)  And while I was at it, thought I'd make some little flowers just in case I want to use them...those came out good.  But, than again, I just rolled and used a cookie cutter.  There was not folding, attaching, moving, etc.

I also put this thing together...kinda could be a cross and I can put that nice pink one in the middle of it???
I'm still brainstorming on this cake.  I am definitely covering it in fondant and it is going to be 2 tiers.  So, now I have to figure out what decor I'm going to actually use and what to use to do the borders.

Any ideas from you creative people out there feel free to give a shout out!!

Have a great night:)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Change of plans...again...

OK, so I was really excited about baking my way through Buddy's book.  And I started to...even have the pics to post here for you.  But, than life took over and I just didn't get to it.  So, I am thinking that I will just have to write about what I'm doing on that particular day and if I get a chance to throw in a Buddy recipe, than I will.

Thanks for bearing with me and I hope you find some useful information in here as I move forward in my self-taught baking education!!

This week I am working on my daughter's communion dessert table:)  I will post my progress when I have a chance.

In the meantime, here are some pics of my latest baking/decorating adventures:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dear Buddy,

I am so excited to start my new adventure by baking my way through your new book.  I am a fan of the Next Top Baker show and occasionally do watch the Cake Boss one.  But, sometimes I just can't watch it b/c you tend to be a little full of yourself... although, you kinda can be a little full of yourself because of all that you can do.  And, you're not as annoying as that other guy...what's his name, Duff something or other??  So, I enjoy your work and was glad to stumble on your book.

It must have been fate b/c I have been searching for the Perfect book to Bake my Way Through for a while now.  I was going to do the CIA Baking and Pastry book...but, I think that's a little too daunting for my first time cover to cover book.  Well, I was walking through the library (which is one of the places I work) and I saw someone with your book in their hands and they were actually putting it back on the shelf.   I snatched that book right up so that I could see what you were all about.  Wasn't really sure what I would find in there either...but I was kinda hoping for some tricks of the trade and stuff.

I've never really 'read' a cookbook and all the forwards and helpful information sections before.  But, for some reason, I read yours.  I like it and I like your book.

So, tomorrow I start baking away and through your book.  I'm going to start with the cookies as you suggest...even though I am not a beginner in the baking world.  I just want to have some kind of direction.  I may wander through the book, though... as I might need a cake or something before I get there.  I will also be comparing your stuff to the stuff I already bake and bake well.  I'm really looking forward to the whole 'decorating' stuff at the end!!  

Thank you for putting out this book.  I'm excited to get started!!

Sincerely Yours,

Mommaliscious Bakester

Friday, February 17, 2012

On my New Mission..

My new book will be here today!!  Totally looking forward to getting started on the new direction:)
Baking with the Cake Boss: 100 of Buddy's Best Recipes and Decorating Secrets

Sunday, February 12, 2012


OK... so I think that maybe I'm biting off more than I can chew here... I do love my CIA cookbook and I do use recipes out of the book.  And, I'd love to actually go to the school and take their classes... but, I really don't think this 'brilliant' plan of mine is going to actually continue at the pace I want.  If I continue on this venture, I think we will get through the book in about 5 years...

Sooooooooo.... I think I've found a different book to bake my way through.  It is shorter, the recipes are geared more towards making 1 cake or a couple dozen cookies as opposed to 6-8 cakes and 12 dozen cookies...

And, since there are not a lot of people reading this yet... I thought it might benefit all of us to change it up.

Now, I will still continue to go through the CIA book... at my snail's pace... and I will still continue to update you on those triumphs and failures... OK???

So, let me know your thoughts...if you have any...and/or concerns:)

What do you all think of this book:


Yeah, I know.. the Cake Boss book.  But, I have to say, I started to actually read it last week and I think this is what I need right now.  I don't ever read the cook books I have, you know??

Now, I will have to go buy the book...ha ha

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pate a Choux... CIA Baking and Pastry

I wanted to attempt to make some cream puffs this week.  Well, in order to make Cream Puffs, you need to master the art of the Pate a Choux dough.  This dough is a pastry dough and can be made into Cream Puffs or Eclairs.  Not really sure what else you use this dough for, but it creates a  nice light, airy dough and is ideal for filling.

My first attempt made some pretty good results.  My second attempt...not so much.  My third attempt, better than the first.  The CIA Baking and Pastry book has all of the recipes and a lot of information.  But, as I learned from trying the Cream Puffs (Pate a Choux dough specifically), it really does not give a lot of guidance. I'm sure that if you were taking the class, the teachers would have some insight before while and after you are making the recipes.  But, because I'm not taking these classes, I am trying, making mistakes and/or perfecting them on my own.  Hopefully you can benefit from these mistakes and I will try and give you the 'tips' I learn from my research after I make the errors:)

This recipe is in weight measurement.

Pate a Choux
16 oz milk   (I used whole milk)
8 oz butter (2 sticks)
3/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
8 oz. bread flour
1 pound eggs  (this equals roughly 9 large eggs)

1. Bring the milk, butter, sugar and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once, and stir vigorously to combine.  Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 3 minutes.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat briefly on medium speed with a paddle attachment.  Add the eggs two at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.

3. The Pate a Choux is ready to be piped.

So, the first time I made this, it came out ok.  I forgot to egg wash it but it was ok.  I thought it was a little runny but the shapes held up.

The second time I tried it, the dough was so runny I didn't know what to do.  I looked it up on line and picked up a few pointers.
- Let the heated dough sit for a few minutes before mixing it in the stand mixer to start cooling down.
- Add the eggs 1 at a time to make sure you don't need them all... if you add too many eggs, the dough will be too runny and useless.
- If you get to the point where your dough is too runny and doesn't hold any shape when piped, you have gone too far and there is no correction.  You must DUMP it!!
- Even if the dough pulls away from the pan immediately after adding the flour and putting back on the heat, keep mixing over the heat to help the moisture cook out.

Some recipes tell you to stir vigorously while adding the eggs and not to use the stand mixer.  But, I found, on the 3rd go around, that the stand mixer works.  Also, keep that dough cooking over the heat for a few minutes... even if it is already pulling away from the sides of the pan.  A film should form on the pot as you're mixing.

Milk/butter/sugar/salt mixture melting away..

This was the first attempt.  Think it should have been a little stiffer... less eggs..

A little flat, but they came out ok... see below..

I will tell you all about the actual Cream Puff and Eclairs in a separate post!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My first recipe from the CIA Baking and Pastry... Sugar Cookies

Wow...finally getting a chance to write up my review on the sugar cookie recipe in the book:)  This is my favorite recipe for sugar cookies.  They taste great (ie- not too sweet and a little chewy) and they are super easy to make.  I have no idea if I'm even allowed to include the recipe in here and I have to tell you, I do weigh my stuff so I may not always have the measurements in cups/tsps/etc.  AND, these recipes call for a lot more than my little mixer and kitchen can handle...so I am constantly halving or quartering the recipes.

My advice to you, if you really want to make these recipes, is to get a scale!!  Saves on dishes (every little bit helps)..

Creaming the butter and sugar- you need to make sure you cream it together until the dough becomes creamy and a pale yellow.  I do this every time I cream sugar and butter for EVERY recipe... Best thing I've learned since reading this book!!

You technically need to sift together the flour, baking soda, salt (the 'dry') ingredients.  BUT, I don't own a sifter so I started whisking my 'dry' ingredients and it seems to work well enough for now.  If I ever do get a sifter, I will let you know if there is a huge difference.. You could also put the dry ingredients in a fine mesh drainer and tap it through...done that before and it works well.

Another piece of advice... crack your eggs into a separate container.. this enables you to find any shells that might accidentally come with the egg and make sure the eggs are good.  Add the vanilla to the eggs (and in this case, the milk too).
Now, add the dry and the wet to the butter mixture alternately.  I always start with the flour stuff and end with it too.  This is what the dough should look like:
At this point, I divide into 2 and saran wrap each section tightly... put into the fridge and let it chill for a couple hours.

Flour is your friend when rolling it out... don't be afraid to use it as it will make life that much easier.  Flour the counter, your hands, the rolling pin, the dough... Go For It!!  Use cookie cutters to make your favorite shapes.  Or, if you don't want to go through this trouble, when you saran wrap it, make it into a log shape and you can just slice the cookies and sprinkle sugar on them before baking.

My rating of this recipe is excellent.  It is an easy one to make and they taste great!!  I highly recommend.

Here are some pics of finished products:

Use your imagination!!  Have fun:)  If you don't want to use Royal Icing, grab a container of white frosting and go for it (easier for the kiddies if you do it with them)

I will do the Royal Icing (recipes and how to's) in a separate entry:)  There is just too much information about Royal Icing to include in here!!

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe  (halved from the CIA Baking and Pastry Book)
1 pound of All-purpose flour
1/4 ounce (1 tsp) of Baking Powder
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) of unsalted butter  (I've used salted butter if I don't have any unsalted and it works well)
1/2 pound sugar (approx. 1 cup)
4 oz eggs (approx. 2 extra large eggs)
2 oz milk
1/4 oz vanilla
Course sugar if you are going to make a log and slice (sprinkle this on cookies before baking)