Tag Archive for frosting

One Tough Cookie

Like every good baker, every now and then I go into other bakeries and test out their goodies. I like to check out what’s new in the baking world, taste their different flavors and frostings. This helps me to get new ideas on different flavor profiles and decorating ideas. I like to do my research and see what Sweet B’s is up against.

Being a foodie, I love to talk about food with everyone. In one of my most recent conversations with a coworker, we were talking about a new bakery that is in our area. She was raving about their sugar cookies and how they were the best sugar cookies she has ever had. This sparked my interest. Right after work, I made a detour and stopped at the bakery and picked up a couple of their sugar cookies. These cookies waited patiently on the passenger seat, until I got home so I could give them my undivided attention.

This bakery had huge circle sugar cookies that were topped with colored royal icing, and they looked delicious. After pulling the cookies out of the bag, I noticed how crumbly they were; they completely fell apart. Both cookies were in pieces before I even got to try them. After a few bites, I realized they reminded me of something. They have a processed taste similar to the cookies that you buy in the tin at Christmastime, and I was not impressed.

Nothing about the cookies made my taste buds excited. I didn’t think they were special at all. Sugar cookies should have a light taste with a hint of vanilla. They shouldn’t be overly sweet, dry or crumbly. Even the frosting should not be so sweet that it takes away from the cookie. Well, this is my obviously biased but honest opinion. Of course I think that I make a much better sugar cookie. I think I’ll take a few of my sugar cookies to let my coworker try and get her opinion. What’s your idea of a a good sugar cookie?

A Good Thing in a Smaller Package

Recently I attended my friend Jillian’s wedding in Wisconsin. As soon as I walked into the reception hall, my eyes were immediately drawn to Jillian’s unique centerpieces. They were 6 inch wedding cakes! Each table had their own little cake covered in white buttercream frosting, decorated with different designs in her wedding colors. What a cool idea! I knew right then and there that I needed to get a 6 inch cake pan so I can make these adorable little cakes.

After a trip to my favorite cake supply store, I became the proud new owner of a 6 inch cake pan. How perfect! People are always looking for smaller cakes. They often want something for a celebration but don’t want the guilt of eating too much cake and I completely understand. Smaller cakes are also ideal for people that don’t want to spend too much and have too much leftover. For some folks, it’s just enough cake without over doing it.

It seems to be a trend in the baking world. People want smaller cakes. You will notice this in your chain supermarket stores and bakeries; smaller cakes and even half cakes are very popular. Consumers want their cake, but they don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on it. This might also explain why cupcakes are all the rage right now. Sometimes, a 6 inch cake is the way to go!

Last week I made a 6 inch cake for a 1 year old’s birthday. The cake was used as a topper for a cupcake tower. It turned out to be very cute! It was decorated perfectly for a little girl. Pink and purple ribbons of butter cream surrounded the little cake with purple covering the top. The cupcakes were decorated with white, purple and pink buttercream with a sprinkle of colorful jimmies on top.  The 6 incher is definitely one of my favorites to make and decorate and please believe that I’m adding it to the menu. It’s budget friendly and you will love how charming and tasty this miniature cake is.

Operation Make a Cake

If you have been reading my blog, you probably know that I consider myself a cookie queen. As for baking cakes by scratch, I am kind of a newbie.

A couple of months ago, I decided it was time to start baking cakes. Operation Make a Cake was in full effect. The KitchenAid was in overdrive and the oven was working overtime. Cakes and cupcakes were popping out of the oven on a nightly basis. There were some good ones and some not so good ones; finally I came across an excellent recipe.strawberry batter

After all of my cake trials and errors, I decided to take on a strawberry cake with strawberry filling. As a cake novice, I was a little nervous, but thought, it is now or never. Of course I made some sample strawberry cupcakes and there were delish! After spending a couple of hours, mixing, baking, filling, frosting, and decorating, I had the perfect strawberry cake….or so I thought.

Something went wrong, majorly wrong! I was mortified! What happened? I was told it was hard and mushy. How could it be both? They were very inconsistent messages, and I was not even able to try it! After some tears, swear words, more tears and questions, I decided that maybe cakes were not for me.blank cake

My husband came to the rescue with hugs and advice. My confidence was back up (kind of), and I was back in the cake baking business. After more researching, mixing, tasting and a few pounds, I found it. The cake looked great and I had a good feeling about it. It tasted so good, I didn’t even regret not frosting it.

Fast forward a couple of months later, one of my family members asked me to make them…you got it, a strawberry cake with strawberry filling. Of course I said I would make it, although I was nervous. With tender loving care and lot of prayer, I made theside of cake strawberry cake. It looked beautiful from the outside, but how was the inside? Would it be moist, light and most of all…unforgetable? My anxiety rose as the cake was being cut. Did it have the same issues as the last strawberry cake? NO WAY!! It was delicious, moist strawberry cake with homemade strawberry filling, with real strawberries, and butter cream frosting. The cake was a hit.

In case you are wondering what the problem was in the first cake, it was the filling. Apparently I did not let it cook down and thicken enough. LESSON LEARNED!mels cake

Am I still nervous about cakes? Sometimes, but I have been learning tons and my confidence is growing.

What makes you nervous about baking?

Sugar Cookie Obsession

If you put a variety of cookies in front of me, which would I choose? Super easy… in a heartbeat, I would choose a frosted sugar cookie.

baby boy

50th

From a very young age, I’ve been fascinated with frosted sugar cookies. I remember my little sister and I helping mom cut out the cookies and decorate them with homemade frosting and colored sugars. Each of us would have a lid to some kind of cake pan or a plate to “help” control our sugar messes. We did this as a family for most holidays. My most vivid memories are of Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. (I tried to dig up some pictures of those days, but did not have any luck. Maybe my mom and sissy do….if so, let me know!)

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firetrucksBaking and decorating interested me so much that during my senior year of high school, I got a job at Cookies Etc. in the mall. Thanks to to them, I learned how to decorate cookies using piping bags and different kinds of metal tips. It really opened up a whole new world for me. I could not get enough of cookie decorating.

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This may sound geeky but for the Christmas of ’99, my family gave me decorating bags, tips, and a caddy to hold all of my decorating tools. I couldn’t have been happier!  After this I went on a cookie baking frenzy, making the cookie dough, cutting out fun shapes, frosting, and decorating sugar cookies for every holiday. I still use the same recipe that we first used with mom.

grad hats

Throughout the years, I have been working on my piping and decorating skills.  Baking is not a full time job for me (yet-fingers crossed), but I love learning, so the plan is to take some classes to learn different tecniques, when time allows.  Most recently, I took a Wilton decorating class to help me brush up on my decorating and to learn some new fun things.  At the beginning of this class I felt like the GT student, my patience was tested, but I loved it and am still practing my flowers.    carriages

Being able to be creative in the kitchen, is an amazing feeling. Whether it is choosing which cookie cutter to use (which I have a pretty nice collection of) or which tip to use, I’m always practicing and refining my skills. Not to toot my own horn, but…. I do have some pretty delicious and beautiful sugar cookies.

decorating

Me at work.