Sunday, April 26

Wilton Course 1, Class 3!

In lieu of the terrifying clown cake I planned to replicate a cake out of the back of the Course 1 book.  I couldn't find the correct tip to do the flowers (it was supposed to be tip #129 I think), so I just made drop flowers to get a similar look.  And to make things more interesting I tried my hand at a rainbow colored cake. 

This was so easy, just make your favorite recipe for a white cake. Or a box mix if you're short on time! Divide the batter evenly into 4 bowls and use food coloring to get your desired colors. I'd use the Wilton colors because they won't change the consistency of your batter. You can make these much brighter but I stuck with pastels to coordinate with my cake decorating.  

After you've greased and floured your pans, layer the colored batter in the pans. Go slowly, give the batter time to flatten out. You can tilt the pan from side to side to get your colored batter to spread evenly. Then add the next color, and so on.  

Getting your icing smooth is tricky! I'm no pro at this yet but the best method I've used so far is to set your cake on a turn table (after you've leveled and filled it).  Place tip #789 into a 16 inch featherweight bag, #789 will need it's own 16 inch bag cut to fit the large size of the tip, you won't have to worry about using a coupler for this.  Fill your 16 inch bag with buttercream frosting that is a thin consistency.  

Starting in the middle of the top of your cake make a big swirl, turn the table as you go, lay it on thick!  You are going to use a lot of buttercream!  Ice the sides as well and then use your large spatula to get the buttercream as smooth as you can, the spatula should never touch the bare cake.  This will keep crumbs out of your frosting.  It doesn't have to look perfect now, just put it in the fridge for about 20- 40 minutes.  

After your buttercream has crusted a little, put your cake back on the turn table and cover a section with an unpattered paper towel or wax paper.  Gently rub your hand over the paper to smooth any ridges in the buttercream.  Work your way around the cake.   This should give your cake a more flawless frosted look. 

So here's my finished product! I used royal icing to make these flowers two days ahead of time. All I had to do in class was stick them on with some buttercream. My instructor showed me how to do the leaf border with tip #67, it's very easy and quick!

I dropped this cake off at a jewelry party a neighbor was hosting so I don't have any neat pictures of the rainbow effect inside the cake!

I can't wait to show you what I have in store for the Course 1 finale cake!  

Tuesday, April 21

Entertaining is Fun...

 but not when you're stuck playing bartender instead of enjoying your company.  Keeping a constant eye out for empty glasses that need to be refilled is not relaxing!  A simple solution is to pick one signature cocktail for the night and make a HUGE pitcher. You can offer beer and wine too, so your guests have options but to keep things simple go ahead and commit to one mixed drink. 

We've all done Sangria a million and ten times. BTW I have an awesome White Sangria recipe I'll share one day soon.  But what will we be drinking tonight?  Sex on the Beaches!  Yum!  

Classic Sex on the Beach:
3 3/4 cups Cranberry Juice
3 3/4 cups Orange Juice
1 1/4 cups Vodka
1 1/4 cups Peach Schnapps
10 Maraschino Cherries

Combine all ingredients except cherries in a pitcher, stir well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve over ice in a tall glass, garnish with a cherry.

** What I did differently: I subbed Creme de Banana for the Peach Schnapps. Yes, I'm a wild unpredictable woman. It was very good  and I'd make it that way again.  Creme de Banana is nothing fancy, it's just another flavored liquer made by Dekuyper and found near the schnapps at your liquor store.  
This book  can be found on Amazon used for about 5$.  I picked it up to use as an easy cheat sheet for party drinks.   It's The Ultimate Guide to Pitcher Drinks by Sharon Tyler Herbst.   I've tried a few of the recipes already and I've really liked them!  Plus the book has cute little quotes mixed in like,
 "An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do." 

Ha!  So check out the book if you want some cocktail inspiration for your next get together.  

Monday, April 20

This Cake Stuff is Addictive!

I love it! I can't stop picking up a little something to put in my kit whenever I go to the store.  But when tips and colors are about 1$ a piece I'm hardly a danger to the credit cards. 

....and because I'm a huge dork. I put my name on my kit in letter stickers. Ha!

Check out these tips ;o)

Sunday, April 19

My first Wilton Cake!
Course 1, Class 2

This is the cake I decorated for class two. We were allowed to bring in an iced standard 8 inch round cake, or any cake baked in a Wilton shaped pan. I didn't really want to do the Rainbow cake we're supposed to learn in class so I checked out the Wilton site to see if they had any cute shaped pans.  I really liked this one, I had to have it! It's the Dancing Daisy pan. 

The shaped pans make great starter cakes! They come with a booklet with suggestions for a few different ways to decorate your cake, there's a step by step instruction for each of the designs and a list of icing tips and colors you'll need to get the look you want.  It's paint-by-numbers easy.  

If you bring a shaped cake to class you didn't need to have it iced.  But I went ahead and iced my daisy anyway so I could practice getting smooth icing and it's more forgiving if I wasn't able to get the stars close enough.   You don't want to see brown cake peeking out. 

If you want to decorate a shaped cake be sure to pick up tip #2010, it's the triple star tip.  It will save you loads of time while you're decorating.  It took me  almost no time to cover all those petals!  Make sure you grab a large coupler at the store, you'll need it to use tip 2010.  

I was a tiny bit dissapointed that we only got to work on our cake for the last 15 minutes of class,  I wanted to leave with a finished cake!  Instead we spent the majority of the time working on the practice board, but I learned a lot so I won't complain.  I finished the cake on my own when I got home.  I really love how it turned out!  It was a strawberry "doctored" cake mix from my Cake Doctor cookbook.  I dropped it off at a neighbor's house the next day, Adam and I do NOT need to be eating all that cake!

Friday, April 17

One thing I know for sure...

Nobody turns down a jello shot! Seriously. I've had gatherings of neighbors, some of them are older folks and even they didn't shy away from two or three of these little guys.   They look harmless enough right?  

I actually ordered these online but I'm sure that you could get them cheaper somewhere locally.  Does anyone know?  Can you pick them up at a pharmacy?  I also don't want anyone to mistake my alcohol problem for a drug problem when I ask for 30 syringes!  These came with velcro attached to them so you can wear them on a belt and dispense them as needed, you'd be the ultimate hostess!  My parties aren't that crazy but wouldn't that be cute to go along with a nurse costume at Halloween?  YES.  

This pretty pink color is Strawberry Kiwi Jello.  Here's the simple recipe I use:

Boil 6 oz of water, stir in your 3 oz package of jello.  Once it's dissolved stir in 6 oz of vodka or the liquor of your choice.  That's it!  Fill up your dixie cups, shot glasses or syringes and fridge 'em till you're ready to serve.  

Another reason I love these?  You can use the sugar free jello and they are still delish, so it's a fun low-cal treat. Annnnd if you're throwing a naughty bachelorette party the Pina Colada flavor would be perfect.  I'll let you figure out why ;o)

Thursday, April 16

Have You Fed Your Hummingbirds Yet?

Don't forget to set out a snack for your tiniest visitors!

This is Mom's feeder at her house in the mountains.   She set up a feeder on her deck so she can enjoy the mountain view and watch the hummingbirds!

Here's a picture of my feeder.  I hung a Shepard's hook outside my kitchen window so I could watch the hummingbirds feed while I do dishes and make dinner.  It's so much fun to watch them, we sometimes have 3 or 4 zooming through the backyard.  They are very territorial and love to chase each other away from "their" feeder. 

It's easy to make your own hummingbird food!
I make mine by the jug because we go through it so quickly.

1)  Boil 2 quarts of water.
2) Stir in 2 cups of white granulated sugar until dissolved.    
3) Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.  Adding a few drops of red food coloring is optional.  

Hummingbird food can last for up to two weeks in your fridge.  

Tuesday, April 14

Wilton Course 1, Class 1

Here's a quick run down on what I learned in my first Wilton class.   No pictures today, so sorry, but we haven't started actually decorating cakes yet.  We met in the very back of Hobby Lobby, I never even noticed there was a small classroom back there with a mini kitchen and a few big tables. I was afraid there would only be 1-2 other people there but the class was really full!  I think we have 11 ladies and my instructor mentioned  there's only 15 slots per class.  
Right away our instructor showed us how she makes her buttercream frosting,  each week we will need to bring in one iced cake and 3 containers of buttercream, each a different consistency.  You need one to be stiff, medium and thin, they also need to be dyed the colors you want to use on your cake. Lots of prep work people, these classes are serious business! :)

The Wilton Buttercream:
-1 stick of butter
-1/2 cup of Crisco
-1 tsp clear vanilla extract 
-4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 1 tbsp meringue powder
- 2 tbsp milk

 In a large bowl cream together butter and shortening with mixer.  Add vanilla.  Gradually add sugar one cup at a time beating well at medium speed (but not above 4, or you'll get too much air in the frosting)  .  Scrape down the sides of your bowl often.  Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth until your ready to use your icing.

A few other fun things I learned, you can use any clear extract in place of vanilla.  So you can use almond flavor, lemon, coconut whatever does it for you and works with your cake.  Also if you keep a dish towel over the mixer while mixing in your sugar it will cut down on the sugar dusting that ends up coating your countertops.  You have to ice your cake with thin frosting.  To get one cup of stiff icing thin you can add a tablespoon of milk and a tablespoon of light corn syrup. 

 Not too bad for a first class, we covered lots of content!  And we get a nifty free Course 1 book, our teacher also said we get a gift certificate at the end for around 15$, so you actually make all your money back from signing up for the course.  

Sunday, April 12

Happy Easter from the NC mountains!

Check out the Easter eggs I dyed with mom while visiting my parent's mountain "shack" and check out the view! Woah!

Saturday, April 11

Not too bad for a first cake! I finished this cake the day before my very first Wilton class.   I guess that fancy kit really was worth it, at the very least, the book inside is awesome, informative and easy to follow.  I taught myself how to make my own buttercream, fill and frost the cake.  I also made my own royal icing two days before baking the cake and used that to practice the technique to make the purple and pink flowers.  I made a TON of those, let them dry then added those on to my sad attempt at a basketweave.    I also picked up the grass tip#233, it was really easy to use.  The bunny on top is store bought!

This white cake with strawberry filling is coming along with us for Easter in the mountains!  We're packing up the yorks to go visit with my parents this weekend.  Bonus, I'll also get to practice transporting a decorated cake on a long bumpy ride in the truck.  

I should also mention that I stumbled across the awesome site, they have message boards with great tips and tons of galleries where you can find cake design inspiration.  Lots of recipes for cakes, fillings and fondants too.  If you aren't able to take a Wilton class, you could probably learn everything you need there.  AND I searched cake decorating on, there are loads of videos from talented decorators giving you step by step instructions for just about everything!  

Friday, April 10

Braided Easter Bread!
This recipe would be perfect for an Easter brunch.  It fits perfectly on a Pampered Chef pizza stone.  Remember not to hard boil these Easter eggs before you dye them, they will cook in the oven.  I also suggest paper toweling off the excess dye so it doesn't bleed onto the dough. 

Try not to lay your colored eggs over the dough, really bury them into the braid or as the bread bakes it will push the eggs right out. 

40 minutes later the bread looked more like this. Following the reviews on I brushed the ring with melted honey butter ( literally, just mix up warmed honey and butter)  and sprinkled with colored sugar crystals. I love the way it turned out, I'll be making this again I'm sure.  

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 whole eggs, dyed if desired
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1.In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well. Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan; heat until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted.

2.Gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture; stirring constantly. Add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

3.Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

4.Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. Using the two long pieces of dough, form a loosely braided ring, leaving spaces for the five colored eggs. Seal the ends of the ring together and use your fingers to slide the eggs between the braids of dough.

5.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place loaf on a buttered baking sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Place loaf in a warm place and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Brush risen loaf with melted butter.

6.Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until golden.  

I have to credit my long time friend Laurin for telling me about this recipe. She likes to make it and after hearing about it I had to give it a try too.  I wish she lived closer so we could get our bake on together!