Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Giraffe Pattern

Here's another design I'm perfecting for you. A surprise inside giraffe pattern hidden in a twice baked cake! 

Giraffe patterns are everywhere on the exteriors of cakes.  But on the inside? Not so much. And never in a round cake that I've been able to find so far.

A little trickier but you'll be able to do it with no problem. Promise.

Hope you can add this to your collection of DIY surprise inside animal prints one day soon! I'm SO excited to show you how!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Chevrons

I started working on this surprise inside twice baked chevron cake ages ago.
After MANY failed attempts, I finally came up with this one. Even though it had possibilities, it still isn't good enough to share. Almost but not quite.

But compared to even earlier experiments like this one, it's gotten much better. Poor little Charlie Brown chevron cake. : (

Please don't laugh at this one. It was meant to be a gluten free version.

In any event, I've tried this design at least a dozen different ways now and while I've learned what DOESN'T work, I've also learned what does. So I'm saving the best and tried and true methods for my book. After all, I only want what's best for you.

I hope that you'll still love chevrons by then but even if that's not the case, the methods I'll share with you can be used to put nearly any design you come up with inside a cake.

Patience is a virtue (but not my strength for sure) so please be virtuous and patient with me as I continue messing up my kitchen over and over so that you won't have to.

Confectionately yours,

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Bunnies!

Just finished this fun Easter cake with hidden bunnies inside. I took the extra step of adding white cotton tails to the hidden shapes this time. Worked like a charm!

The bunny shapes were made using 48 cupcakes tinted to match the exterior. Although the colors were a bit more vivid than I'd planned, I'm happy with it overall. Next time I'd go a little easier on the colors to get a softer look. Seems no matter how many times I tint batters and frostings and plan for the colors to deepen, they develop into even brighter versions than I'd hoped for.

This cutter started the whole idea. The little floppy ears have such personality!

First were the fondant bunnies in graduated spring tones.


Then came the white fondant letters placed on a parchment circle the same size as the cake top for planning.


The letters were made from fondant using this mold from N.Y. Cake.
You can get one on sale here for $6.99.

Before I spent any more time or wasted the frosting and decorations, I HAD to take a peek to make sure that the ears weren't a complete flop.

And then I took a second peek to make sure the colors would show. Totally worked! YAY! The bunny shapes on the inside of the cake are done in the same color palette as the exterior bunnies. Each cut reveals another color so each guest should get a unique slice.

And here it is all decorated up. You can always take a slice or two of your cake to peek inside before you decorate it. Just to be sure.

The cake was partially frozen when I cut it and very moist. I simply replaced the slices and went about frosting it. Since I most likely won't be present when this one goes under the knife, peeking was mandatory. Okay. Maybe not mandatory, but necessary. Let's face it, I just couldn't wait!

Here's the lettering. I was so worried that they wouldn't fit properly but the placement seemed to work and reminded me a bit of bunnies hopping down a trail. Especially if they were side tracked with carrots and things.

Hope these little characters made you smile!

UPDATE: Here's a shot taken by the staff at Orson Gygi after the Cake Wrecks-like trip from the airport. The cake was still in fairly good shape but the winters are tough on the roads and the pot holes nearly won out. Hello little pink and purple bunnies!

Happy Easter!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden DIVERGENT Factions with Template

An old friend was visiting recently and shared that her daughter Lauren was longing for a DIVERGENT cake for her birthday. The party was scheduled for the opening day of the movie. 

Although Lauren was hoping for a cake for each of the five factions, I made a suggestion to incorporate all the colors into one cake. Seemed more manageable and practical since it was a small party and the idea of five separate cakes seemed daunting to her Mommy.

Since I couldn't be there to make the cake for her, I fashioned a plan for her to take back home & bake/decorate in stages. Keeping it simple was the goal since my friend is not a Dauntless baker.
Here's the plan I came up with:

This is NOT however the plan I used. The bottom tier ended up half white, half black. I used clear piping gel rather than white buttercream between the layers. And I added a core of Sixlets candies in all the faction colors to symbolize the DIVERGENT or bits of factions in most all of us.

The layers were made from one Betty Crocker white cake mix per directions on the package. The batter was divided into 6 colors with the black and white layer using half as much batter as the other layers since they were combined to equal one layer. Does that make sense? Candor is both white and black in the book.

Colors were from AmeriColor in Royal Blue 202, Super Red 220, Super Black 201, Bright White 226, Egg Yellow 206 and Ivory, 208. The ivory was added to the Egg Yellow and Super Red layers in an attempt to more closely match the colors of the faction symbols I'd found online.

Not sure if these are the true faction colors since the book doesn't mention all of them. Haven't seen the movie. Yet.

The symbols on the first cake plan were changed to add banners with the name of the faction and the meaning. They were all printed to card stock then cut out and punched with a 1.5" round paper punch.

I added a black circle punched from black card stock and attached it to the back of the plastic coffee stirrer to finish off the back side and hide the tape. Not so fond memories of Kerry Vincent yelling at Food Network
contestants for not finishing the back of their cakes came to mind.

I decided to use disposable aluminum pans since I'm not sure I had enough real pans of the right size. And why would I? I'm not a bakery.

The dimensions of the aluminum pans were not as listed on the package. Actual size was 5.5" at the bottom of the pan and 6.25" at the top.

The plastic bowl I used as a mold for the black exterior frosting of the cake and to assemble the layers was part of this set I'd found at Home Goods. The one I used for this project was 7" across and 3.25" tall.

You are gonna LOVE the way this one gets frosted! Invest in a set of these for future use for cakes of all sizes. Trust me.

While the cakes were baking, I cut and punched the outside decorations out from card stock. Cheating, I know. But this is meant to be a simple project and making all of these elements edible didn't meet the criteria.

The banners and symbols were taped to black plastic coffee stirrers using double stick tape.

You can download a copy of the template HERE.

As soon as the cakes were done baking, the damp paper towel method of flattening was used to smooth out the tops.

Another advantage to the paper towel method is that it pulls off the topmost crumb layer that almost always has a slightly browned appearance. No need to trim!

Once the cakes were cooled, they were wrapped and frozen. The frozen layers were stacked with clear piping gel between.

A core for the Sixlets candies was cut in a ring around the cake so that each cut would reveal the candies. A center core would work as well. Be sure the layers are quite firm before cutting the core or stacking them.

Return them to the freezer before the "frosting" step which should really be called the "Not Frosting" step. Just pour and chill. No smoothing. It's that easy!

I don't have great photos to show you : ( but here are the directions:

Spray the inside of the plastic cake shaped bowl with butter flavored Pam and wipe out excess. Make ganache from 2 packages of black Candy Melts and 2 sticks or 1 cup of butter melted together and cooled. I added a bit of black AmeriColor to deepen the color.

Pour a bit of warm ganache inside the plastic bowl and swirl around to coat the bottom and sides. Let the excess stay in the bottom and set the bowl in the frig to cool for a few minutes.

Remove from frig and place the frozen and cored layers inside. Be sure to put the gray layer against the bottom of the bowl so it will be on top when inverted later on.

Fill the core with Sixlets candies.  I didn't love the blue but it was all I had on hand. I'm sure you could match the color better if you'd like.

Pour the remaining ganache around the sides and on top (which will really be the cake bottom) and gently tap on counter to level and remove any trapped air bubbles. Place the filled bowl in the freezer until ganache is firm.

Unmold to cake plate or pedestal. To unmold, simply turn the bowl upside down on the plate and it will slide right out.

The texture isn't completely smooth but I rather liked the finish for this project. So it was left exactly as is.

The faction symbols with banners were stuck in the top in an evenly spaced row. Well, not really evenly spaced if you look closely but, "good enough for government work" as Grandma used to say.

The DIVERGENT logo stuck to the cake with no "glue" since it was tacky from it's trip from the freezer. You may want to use a small amount of piping gel or corn syrup if needed.

Here's the finished cake! Clean and simple. And so very easy to make.

Surprise!!! I added more Sixlets for the photo just to make it more purty but there is already a generous amount in each serving.

The ganache is easy to cut even when frozen and sort of feels like cutting a layer of fudge. Delish!

Happy Birthday Lauren! Hope it was fabulous.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Star Wars

For all of you Star Wars fans out there . . .

This is what happens when you have some alphabet cookie cutters that remind you of Star Wars and a little too much time one fine afternoon. The "cake" is actually Rice Krispie Treats frosted with 2 Ingredient Candy Melts Buttercream.

There is a LOT of black going on here even though I started with cocoa cereal and black Candy Melts. Kids would love the teeth staining from this one! Just finished cleaning up what I hope is the last of the black from the kitchen. It seems to get everywhere when you're working with other high contrast elements.

May the FORK be with you!

Hey, if you're Catholic, does it come natural that you want to follow up with, "and also with you?" I'm not Catholic but have been to several weddings and the sign of peace ceremony made quite an impact. Probably because complete strangers start hugging one another. Well, actually, touching one another. I'm SO much better about hugging now but let me tell you, that first time, all I could think was, "back off!" and "there's never an knife around when you need one." Not so much in the spirit but they didn't kick me out. Even after I asked if the kneeling bench thingys were foot rests . . . What can I say? My family didn't hug or touch much. So now I try and make up for it whenever I can.

May the Force be with you! (and also with you!) 


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mini Apple Crisps in Jars

These lovely little jars are filled with sheer yumminess. I don't even want to tell you how fabulous the kitchen smelled when I pulled them still bubbling from the oven. Bliss Crisps. Better name.

I made a test batch before sending these off to a friend with a newborn baby boy. We gobbled up those first four test jars before the sun went down. Maybe even before dinner. Okay. We did.

Funny thing was that when the second helpings were reheated in the microwave a few hours later, they almost seemed too sweet. And if you know me at all, I never say that ANYTHING is too sweet. It's sheer blasphemy in the kitchen of most bakers. You may want to omit the honey if you find the same is true for you. Perhaps the scoop of ice cream sent the sugar rush over the top.

In any case, you are going to LoVe this recipe! It comes together in just a few minutes and can be made ahead and baked as you sit down to dinner for a mouthwatering, warm, lick-the-spoon clean dessert. Not sure how you could lick the jar but where there's a will, there's a way!

Mini Apple Crisps in Jars

Photos show double recipe

Serves 4

(4) 8 oz Mason jars with wide mouth
Pam spray
Grater with small holes
Jellyroll pan of ice
Plastic wrap
Jellyroll pan (reuse the same one from the ice) lined with Silpat , baking parchment or foil

                  3 Fugi apples
                  1 T lemon juice
                  1 T honey
                  1/2 t cornstarch
                  1/2 t salt
                  1/2 t cinnamon

                  1/3 c firmly packed brown sugar
                  1/2 c flour
                  1/4 c Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
                  1 t cinnamon
                  4T grated cold butter

Optional (just kidding – ice cream is never not an option with warm apple crisp)
                  Vanilla ice cream
                  Cinnamon sticks for garnish


1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray the inside of the jars with non-stick spray and wipe out the excess with a paper towel.

2.  Peel and core apples. Slice and cut into bite sized pieces. Place apple pieces in a bowl. Add lemon juice, honey, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

3.   Mix the brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

4.   Grate the butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap over the pan of ice using the smallest holes on the grater. Place the pan in the refrigerator or freezer if kitchen is too warm.

5.   Distribute the apple mixture evenly between the four jars. Sprinkle the topping on top of the apples and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Divide the grated butter into four rough portions and pile on top of the oat mixture being careful that the topping and butter aren’t spilling over the rim. Wipe jar exterior if needed. Do not add the lids.

6.     Line the jellyroll pan previously used for the ice and place the jars on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes covering the jars loosely with foil after 20 minutes to prevent further browning. Serve at once with ice cream and a cinnamon stick garnish if desired.

To make in advance:
Prepare filling, topping and grated butter. Fill jars with apple mixture only. Add lids and refrigerate until assembly time. Add the oat mixture and butter as you sit down to dinner and you can have a fresh warm dessert without all the fuss.

To give as a gift, tie a mini spoon and fork around the lid with bakers twine. Add a small doily (Martha Stewart at Michaels) and tuck the jars in a basket along with reheating instructions.

To reheat:
Remove the lids and set the jars on a cookie sheet in a 350 F oven until topping is crisp but not over brown. The crisps can also be heated in the microwave but the topping will be less crunchy. Use care when handling the hot jars.

If you need more convincing, here's a quick video of them happily bubbling away before they met their demise. Such a short but happy life they led . . .