Home     About Me     Recipes     Sources Of Inspiration     Links     FAQ     Contact Me     My Secrets

Ta Da! Cake Pops!

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

These little cuties were so much fun to make! The most challenging part for me was keeping them from falling off the stick during the candy coating process. Luckily I watched Bakerella’s video online before beginning and tried to imitate her technique as best I could. I chose lavender candy melts and decorated them with flowers that I cut out of white fondant. This was my first attempt, and I’m pretty pleased with the outcome. Here's a pic!

Cake Pops, Part 2

Friday, January 27th, 2012

So today is part 2 of my cake pop adventure! Earlier I used my food processor to make crumbs out of the cake I baked last night. I was a little sad to purposely destroy a perfectly good cake, but I’m sure I’ll get over it. First though, I made a batch of chocolate frosting. Once that was done, I combined the crumbs with about half of the frosting, into what looked like cake “mush”. Delicious cake mush! It’s now covered and resting in the fridge until cold enough to roll into balls.

I don’t know if I’ll get around to the next step tonight. It’s Friday, which in my house means steak dinner; cooked by yours truly. So I think I’ll save the rest for tomorrow. In the meantime, I thought I’d post the frosting recipe I used. It’s a rich, thick chocolate frosting that can be used for cake, cupcakes, brownies; you name it. Part 3 to come. Stay tuned…

Chocolate Frosting


½ cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 – 6 tablespoons milk or heavy cream


In a large bowl, sift together the sugar and cocoa powder. Set aside. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and vanilla until smooth; approximately 3 minutes. Add sugar and cocoa, one third at a time; mixing well and scraping down bowl after each addition. Add milk or cream, 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Use immediately or refrigerate for longer storage.

Cake Pops, Part 1

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Cake pops have been all the rage for the past few years, and no surprise as to why; cute little bite size cake “lollipops”. Genius! I’ve never attempted to make them but I don’t have much going on for the next couple of days, so I think I’ll give it a shot. I halved my chocolate cake recipe to make one 9 inch cake and it’s in the oven as I speak. Once cooled I’ll wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge till tomorrow; when I commit the ultimate cake crime by smashing it to pieces. Can’t wait to see how these turn out! To be continued…

Pumpkin Bread

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

I hit the driving range yesterday and was finally able to use the golf clubs that I received for my birthday in August. What took me so long? Other than that, the majority of my weekend was spend cleaning and organizing my kitchen. While clearing out my pantry I came across a can of packed pumpkin left over from the holidays. Hmm... Pumpkin Bread? Yep! What better way to spend a cold afternoon than by filling the house with smells of cinnamon and spice?

Those of you who know me know that I'm not a fan of typical breakfast food. I don't like eggs, don't drink milk which makes cereal out of the question, and oatmeal? You couldn't pay me enough. However, a warm slice of Pumpkin Bread slathered with softened cream cheese is oh so perfect with a cup of coffee! Here's how I made it - 

Pumpkin Bread 


1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

For Strudel Topping -


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, softened


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. (See my FAQ page for my trick to preparing a non-stick pan). In a large bowl mix together pumpkin, oil, eggs and sugar. I use a stand mixer for this, however you can also mix by hand. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add to pumpkin mixture, one third at a time, until thoroughly combined. Be careful not not over mix. Pour into prepared pan and set aside.

To make the strudel topping, combine all ingredients with a fork until mixture resembles large crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over batter, staying away from the edges. (Strudel topping sticks easily to pan). Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to one hour, until top springs back when pressed. Allow loaf to cool in pan for 15 minutes; run knife around edge and turn out onto counter or wire rack. Cool an additional 15 minutes before serving. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for longer storage.

Successful Cake Delivery!

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Well, the cake made it to the baby shower in one piece; thank goodness! I’ve had some troubles with transporting in the past, and because of that it’s probably the most stressful part of cake making. I’ve learned some tricks along the way, some of which involve duct tape. Don’t judge. You gotta do what you gotta do! (Tape never touched cake; only the bottom of the cake board). The most ideal scenario is to have someone else drive while I hold the cake; cursing that driver for what I believe to be purposely hitting every bump in the road the entire way. (My apologies to you if you were in the driver’s seat). But alas, I didn’t have that luxury with this one, so I had to go it alone.

Unfortunately I can’t share a picture of the final product. I was literally adding the last minute details up until it was time to deliver. No time for a photo shoot! But I will share some of the highs and lows with this project…
High points:

Cake flavor -

I thought it tasted fantastic! Chocolate layers were really rich but not overpowering, and the vanilla was spongy and dense. Both were incredibly moist; perhaps in part to the brushing of simple syrup prior to stacking. I’ll add this trick to my “Secrets” page on my blog later. Originally I planned to make four layers, but once I started stacking I knew that would make it too tall. So it turned into a three layer cake; chocolate on the bottom and top, with vanilla in the middle.

Cake made it damage free –

No need to elaborate on this one!

Low points:

Filling –

With every cake I’ve made, I decided to try something new without a test run first. Vanilla custard was requested for the filling. Sounded easy enough, but something I’ve never done before. I followed a recipe I found online, which tasted amazing; however it didn’t thicken up enough. I had to scrap it and use a plan B – instant vanilla pudding. It worked, but it wasn’t ideal since it wasn’t homemade.

Design –

My original sketch incorporated the elements of the shower invitation and the baby’s nursery, in sort of a haphazard way. The night before assembly I decided to make a quilt design, with squares of pattern to match the crib bedding. Super cute on paper, but when it was finished it looked disconnected. I had four squares; two with butterflies, one with a small green flower design and one with larger purple and white flowers. When I delivered the cake it was greeted with big smiles, but for me it didn’t mesh. The feedback I received was really positive though so that’s all that matters.

So, what’s next? I have a request for a wedding at the end of February – a small cake for the reception and cupcakes for approximately one hundred people the following weekend. In the meantime, who knows what will come up. I'll keep you posted!

Chocolate and Vanilla Cake Recipes

Friday, January 13th, 2012

As promised I’m posting the recipes I used for the chocolate and vanilla cakes I baked yesterday. These are slightly tweaked versions of recipes I’ve used in the past so I’m a little nervous about the outcome. I tasted the batter and it was delicious, but I won’t know about the texture until I sample the scraps when I level the cakes tomorrow. The two recipes use different types of flour, one with all purpose and one with self rising. I was curious to see if there would be a difference in how the two turned out. (No noticeable difference as far as I could see). Anyway, I have yet to find the perfect cake recipe, so I find myself making small adjustments with every one I make. One day I’ll hit the jackpot and find the ideal combination, but until then I’ll have fun experimenting!

Rich Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (15.9 oz.) instant chocolate pudding mix
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, at room temperature
1/2 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease three 9 inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. (See my FAQ page for my fail proof method to prevent cakes from sticking). In a large bowl, whisk the sugar with the flour, cocoa powder, pudding mix, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, vanilla, melted butter and coffee. Using an electric mixer, beat half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients at low speed, then scrape down the bowl. Beat in the remaining wet ingredients on medium speed for approximately one minute. Be careful not to over mix.
Pour the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Hold each layer about 3 inches above your counter and carefully drop the pans flat onto counter several times to ensure release of any air bubbles. This will help you have a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until the cakes are springy to the touch. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator if using within two days, or freeze for up to one week.

Vanilla Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter (room temperature)
2 cups of sugar
4 eggs (room temperature)
3 cups of sifted self-rising flour
1 (15.9 oz.) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup of whole milk (room temperature)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring 
Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease three 9 inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. (See my FAQ page for my fail proof method to prevent cakes from sticking). In a medium bowl, combine flour and pudding mix; set aside. Using a mixer, cream butter until fluffy.  Add sugar and continue to cream for about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg is added.  Add half of flour and pudding mixture then half of the milk to creamed mixture. Mix well then scrape down bowl. Repeat with remaining flour/pudding mixture and milk; mix until combined.  Add vanilla and butter flavoring until just mixed. Divide batter equally into three cake pans. Hold each layer about 3 inches above your counter and carefully drop the pans flat onto counter several times to ensure release of any air bubbles. This will help you have a more level cake. Bake for 25 – 28 minutes, until done. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator if using within two days, or freeze for up to one week.

Time to bake!

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

I was able to sketch out the baby shower cake and I think it’s going to look really cute! The nursery colors are mostly pink and brown, with accents of pale green, and my cake is going to match. I'll decorate it with fondant and gum paste flowers and butterflies, which I'll make on Saturday.
So today I’m baking the cake. I try to do as much as I can in advance, not only to make it as stress free as possible, but also to avoid potential disaster. I once waited until the morning of the event to do my baking and unbeknownst to me, the city was working on the water. No water to wash my hands! I was able to get a gallon of water at the store and it all worked out well, but it made me think – what if a storm hit and the power went out? I wouldn’t suggest baking too far ahead of time since it would affect the quality, but a few days prior to the event is fine because I’ll double wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer.
In order to please both the chocolate and vanilla lovers I’ll be making a four layer cake, alternating between a rich dark chocolate and a vanilla cake. I’m making a total of four cakes; two 9 inch chocolate cakes and two vanilla. I’ll fill the pans less than half full so I don’t end up with too tall of a cake. I’ll be doing this in two batches because I don’t want to overcrowd my oven, which results in uneven baking. Lesson learned from a previous experience! I’ll post the recipes I use tomorrow. Time to put on my apron and get started!

Cake Design

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Last night I made the fondant I’ll need for the cake I’m making for a baby shower on Saturday. Today I need to get the design sketched. This is something I do for every cake, even if I’m given free rein to do whatever I want. I’ve found if I don’t start with an exact plan in place I’ll spend countless hours trying to figure out what will look good only to cover the cake in polka dots at the last minute. Sketching it out in advance is a huge time saver. I was given a picture of the baby shower invitation and the nursery for inspiration. Time to research the web for ideas!  

Marshmallow Fondant

Monday, January 9th, 2012

I’m super excited about a request that I received over the weekend - A chocolate and vanilla cake for a baby shower, covered in pink fondant and decked out with flowers and butterflies. Adorable! The shower is this Sunday, so today I need to get the fondant made. Marshmallow fondant is the only fondant I’ve ever used so I don’t know how it compares to others. Once I figured out how elements such as heat and moisture affect the consistency it’s worked out well. I thought I’d share my recipe. I’d love to hear your feedback if you give it a try! Have fun!


1 (16 oz.) bag miniature marshmallows
1 (2 lb.) bag powdered sugar
2 – 4 tablespoons water
Approximately 1/3 cup Crisco shortening


Combine marshmallows and 2 tablespoons water in a microwave safe bowl that has been greased with Crisco. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat until marshmallows are completely melted and smooth. Total cook time is approximately 2 ½ minutes. Generously grease counter top with Crisco. Add 1/2 of the powdered sugar to the marshmallow mixture. Pour the rest of the powdered sugar in a circle on the greased counter top. This will help keep the melted marshmallow mixture from running all over your counter. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the circle. Grease your hands (front and back) with Crisco and Start working the mixture together with your hands. Knead the mixture like you would bread dough, adding Crisco to your hands as needed to keep them from sticking. If the mixture seems dry and tears easily, add 1/4 teaspoon of water and knead until the mixture forms a smooth, elastic ball. Total time kneading is approximately 8 minutes. Cover fondant with a generous coating of Crisco and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Store in a Ziploc bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Fondant can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

My blog is born!

Friday, January 6th, 2012

I must admit - it took a lot of research to figure how to get this blog up and running, as I am not very computer savvy. I thought it would be so simple, but making it look good was much more complicated than I anticipated, especially since I'm such a stickler for details. But so much fun! It's not perfect, but I can't wait any longer. I’m thrilled to share my stories, recipes and photos! My hope is to connect with other baking enthusiasts and who knows - perhaps inspire someone else along the way. Thank you for visiting! Enjoy!