Friday, October 29, 2010

Fun to Make Monkey Cake
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While this fella looks like a lot of work, it's quite the opposite.  He is made from 7 - 7" round cakes and two cupcakes.  That's it!  The only carving done was for the feet.  Here's how I did it:

After coloring your decorator's icing the desired colors, on a full-sheet board, stack two of the 7" layers, icing between them if desired within 5 inches of the top of the board and centered vertically.  Then place the next stack of two layers touching and just below the first ones.  Ice the sides and just about 1/2" around the top of your layers, smoothing it as best you can.  Then ice the center of the top and smooth it.  You may want to go back over the outer area of the top with a wide-tip piping to make it as perfect as possible.

Next Take a single layer and center it on top of what you already have iced, positioning it slightly more to the top as you want the belly to be larger than the eye area.  Ice this layer and smooth it.  After about 30 minutes the layers should start to crust over and you can take a paper towel or parchment paper and lay it lightly onto the cake and gently smooth it with the palm of your hand.  If it's still sticky, wait a few minutes longer.

For the ears take a single cupcake for each ear and cut the bottom off at an angle from top corner to the opposite bottom corner.  Lay them with the taller side on the outside and the short side touching the side of the head.  Ice them using the same process.  You may find a smaller piping tip and a smaller size spatula or spreading tool works best for getting close to the cake when doing the ears.    
Pipe on your arms, eyes, nose, mouth and don't forget the belly-button!  If you want to do numbers; put the numbers onto the board after making the arms but before doing the hands as you'll want the fingers to wrap around the number as if he is holding it.

With this cake you can play around with it and make it a female, adding a flower in the hair or clothes, etc.  When I started making these at Walmart, I had at least three orders per week for this cake.  Children really love monkeys!  I only wish I had taken pics step by step for these instructions.  If you have questions feel free to write me or comment below.

Until next time.........happy baking!

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Royal Icing Sugar Cookies....Yumm!

Taken from Good Houskeeping's website
From Our Best Bites website
From Our Best Bites website

Usually, I make my cut out cookies from a simple sugar cookie recipe which I found works best and they're not overly sweet.  It's a very simple recipe and takes only a few minutes to make.  You'll need the following:

Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 Cup Real Butter (unsalted)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Egg - large or xlarge
1 1/2 teaspoons flavoring (vanilla or almond are good)
3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add in eggs and extract and mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture a little at time and mix until completely combined.  Don't forget to scrape sides and bottom of bowl from time to time.

Shape the dough into two flat circle shapes and wrap in waxed paper and place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour or so.  The dough needs to be really chilled for best results.

A idea is to roll the dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and place flat in the refrigerator. It'll chill faster so you can get started sooner..

When you're ready to roll out dough lightly sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out dough with a rolling pin. Cut them out and place them onto cookie sheet.  If you want them on a stick make the dough a little thicker.  Make sure the stick goes half way up the back of the cookie for it to hold well.  Bake 350 degrees farenheit for about 10-12 minutes or until golden.  Depending on how you like them you may choose to lessen or increase the time by a few minutes.

The icing recipe that works best for quick decorating is this one from Wilton's website:

Royal Icing Recipe

This smooth, hard-drying icing is perfect for making decorations that last. It is also useful as a "cement" to fasten decorations together. Royal icing is edible, but not recommended for icing cakes.

  • 3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar
  • 6 tablespoons warm water
Makes: About 3 cups of icing.


Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
**When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
Thinned Royal Icing: To thin for pouring, add 1 teaspoon water per cup of royal icing. Use grease-free spoon or spatula to stir slowly. Add 1/2 teaspoon water at a time until you reach proper consistency.

MY NOTE:  This may make 3 cups and it sounds like a lot for royal icing but it isn't enough to cover but maybe 3 dozen cookies unless you thin it down to a consistency where it will pour but not too quickly.  You have to be careful not to thin it too much or it will run off the cookies and that will not give a nice appearance.
I personally don't like it as thick as the recipe but I like it just thick enough that it sets quick and doesn't run anywhere.  

ANOTHER NOTE: If you want to do designs through the cookie using a toothpick, You might consider having it slightly thinner otherwise you may have cracks where the toothpick goes through if the icing is starting to setup when you're making your design.

Separate it into bowls and color with paste food coloring for best results.  There's a new gel food coloring out now.  It can be found in the cake mix section of the grocery store.  It works pretty good as well.

STORAGE OF ICING:  I like to put my icing immediately into pastry bags.  I roll down the open end and tape it so it doesn't run out.  I don't snip the decorating end until I'm ready to start.  While I'm working I just fold the decorating end over so it doesn't run out when not in use.


Once you have your cookies and icing made up you're ready to start decorating!  Let the FUN begin!  I enjoy doing these cookies so much now that I have an icing that I can work with!  You may want to start with a border trim to hold the filling in.

Here are my first attempts at making these delicious babies. 


I made this (below) for a friend of mine's son whose birthday falls near St. Patty's Day.  
I made the cookies on a stick, found an inexpensive basket a leprechaun hat 
and a spray to stick in the background, some hot glue and wallah! She loved it!

Here are some nicely decorated cookies that I found around the internet.  So beautiful and so much fun to make!

I can't wait to try this idea! (above) I love it!

Until next time.....Happy Baking!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cake Decorating Tricks and Tips
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Here are some simple tricks that will help you make a more perfect looking cake every time!
1)   Instead of trying to slice across your cake to make the top level try using a cake leveler to make your layers evenly flat.  This handy tool works wonders.  

2)   To help get the smoothest icing, apply a thin layer of icing to your cake (also known as a crumb coat).  Set it in the refrigerator until it hardens slightly then ice the cake using a angled spreader.  Smoothing the sides first then the top last. Once the icing crusts over you can lay parchment paper lightly onto the cake and gently smooth the icing with the palm of your hand or with the angled spatula.  You should get a fondant look by doing  this.

3)  If you're having difficulty getting the icing smooth a hot knife can do wonders.  Just keep a tall glass of hot water and paper towel nearby while you're frosting the cake.  Make sure to dry the water thoroughly from the knife before laying it on the cake.

4)   When piping straight lines onto a cake pre-mark the cake using the edge of a ruler.  This makes it so much easier to obtain the straightest lines possible.  Piping should always be done with the piping bag head in a vertical position with the tip about a quarter of an inch above the cake for your best results.

5)   Always choose the right icing for the occasion.  Royal icings are usually stiff and work best for decorating cookies and gingerbread house type projects.  Decorator icing is also a stiffer icing and can be used for piping flowers and edging.  Buttercream is not as stiff as decorators icing so it can be used to ice the cake as well as for trim and flowers.  Whipped icings are delicious but because they don't dry or stiffen any aren't as preferable for most decorators.  However you can mix cream cheese and whipped cream to get a more desirable result.

Until next time......Happy Baking!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

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My John Deere Cake - A Hit!
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Well, earlier in the week I asked if anyone had ideas for a birthday cake for an old time farmer who was turning 88 years old.  I received a few responses but decided to go with my own idea.  Because I only had a day's notice on getting the cake made I decided to go with the John Deere theme.  As many of you know Walmart and other supply stores carry the simple tractor kit.  I bought this and decided to give it a little more character.  I wanted to add a barn in the field.

Many of my projects are last minute and thrown together ideas, like this one.  But so far a success!   So what I came up with this time is a cookie barn.  I made some sugar cookie dough with a recipe that I have found to work well with the royal icing.  And cut it into the shapes I needed for the barn.  Baked them and walah!  I would have a barn that was going to take half of the cake! Yikes!

Barn made from sugar cookies and royal icing
Ok, it's 9o'clock at night and I'm thinking I'm going to have to make more cookie dough.  Not a nice feeling since I need to wake up at 5am the next morning mind you.  So I decided to take a rigid blade, sharp knife and lightly saw my way into smaller pieces.  It worked!  Some of the pieces chipped off and left slightly jagged edges but since I was going to be putting royal icing on it I figured it wouldn't show; and it didn't.  Whew!

Made up my icing using the Royal Icing recipe as it is written on Wilton's website.  I left it thick so it would bond well and harden quickly.  Worked like a charm!  While I smoothed on the icing I made strokes with a case/butter knife so it would give an old wooden affect.  I then put the farmer's company initials on the roof.  I wanted to put See Rock City but oh well, maybe next time.

Here's my finished results, tell me what you think:

John Deere Tractor Cake with Cookie Barn

Rose told me the 88 year old farmer told his wife "don't let anything happen to my barn".  I asked if he planned to cover it in resin and use it for a paperweight!  LOL  But it just goes to show how special little ideas can be for someone. 

So go make a memory for someone today!  Until next time happy baking.......

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010


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As a decorator many times we find that we need items to complete "the look" yet we can't make it with icing, we can't find it in the store but it might be possible to make it by hand if the right supplies can be found.  I came across such a situation two weeks ago while making the Princess Castle Cake.

This particular cake uses a kit that you can buy at various places such as WalMart.  However, I wanted to make the larger version which I saw on the Internet.  The store didn't have that kit and I didn't have time to order online.  What I did was purchase the basic kit at the store for $15 and they had separate trees and butterflies that would work.  What they didn't have was a garden arbor.

I searched the toy department, Hobby Lobby, toy stores that had the model house kits, etc.  I couldn't find one anywhere except online.  And again, I didn't have time to wait.  I had to find some way of making one myself.  First I thought of cutting it out of a sturdy paper or plastic coated paper.  That didn't work; too many tiny holes to cut and it didn't look nice or realistic.  I went back through Hobby Lobby for more ideas.  Finally it hit me!  Plastic cross-stitch canvas!  Alas my troubles are over!

I took a sheet home and cut it at an angle from one corner to the opposing diagonal corner.  Gave some room for "legs" to stick into the cake and began cutting to make the holes slightly larger to give it a lattice look.  Walla!  I did it! 

When I finished the other decorations I made icing vines across the top and put tiny flowers to add a more delicate look.

And here's the finished product!  Not too bad I don't think.

Always remember to look to all your resources before giving up!  Until next time.....happy baking!

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