Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Green Cake

There has been a green cake that has made its way into a couple of posts.  It was my nod to St. Patty’s day, but also just a chance to play around a little.

Not only was the cake colored green, it was also mint flavored.  I started with the Cake Mix Extender recipe and made one quick and easy change as well as an addition.

The Green Mint Cake:

4 eggs
1 1/3 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup (8oz) sour cream or yogurt
3 teaspoons Mint extract*
1 box white or vanilla cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Green color gel

Mix the wet ingredients together.  Add the dry ingredients in, mix on low until just combined, scrap down sides, then mix for about 2 minutes on medium speed.

I used the vanilla Better Crocker cake mix, and had a prefect amount of batter for my two 8in round cake pans.

*You could totally do a Peppermint flavored cake as well.  I used 3 teaspoons of mint because I wanted a good mint taste.  Depending on how strong the extract is, you may need to use less of it.

I paired this cake with the Cookies & Cream filling, but a chocolate filling and icing would also be very good with it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Layering the Layers

Now that we have our two flat cake layers it is time to put them together.  The following is how I do it.  I'm not saying it is right and any other way is wrong, it is just what I have learned works best for me.

I place the first layer, bottom side down with the cut side up.  The part that was in the bottom of the cake pan is against the cake board.  I do put a smear of icing down to ‘attach’ the cake to the cake pan. 

Spread on a layer of icing or filling.  If you are using a filling other than icing, don’t forget to make your butter cream damn around the inside edge of the cake, using a tip 12 and medium or stiff icing.

When I place the next layer of cake on, I put cut side down and the bottom of the cake up. 

Why do I place the two cut sides in the middle of the cake?  To make my life easier.  Cut edges make more crumbs.

If I torte the cake layers I still follow this method for stacking, placing the two cut tops in the middle of the cake. 

When I am using something besides icing for my filling, I will do two layers of filling and one layer of icing.  My cake would be cake layer, filling, cake layer, icing, cake layer, filling, cake layer.

When I use the 8x3 round cake pan, I put the top of the cake against the cake board.  I like have the flat bottom up, which gives me a flat surface to start with when I ice it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

April's Class Schedule + March Tall Cakes Class

Tall Cakes - Wedding Cake Piping Skills Class!
Saturday, March 31 at .
Cost: $20 supplies not included.

During this 3 hour class you will learn how to assemble a two tier cake and decorate your special creation. We will cover classic piping techniques including Brushed Embroidery, Cornelli Lace, Sotas, Ruffle borders and garlands, Basic String work, Picot work and embellished borders.

I must have 4 students signed up and paid 48 hours before this class is scheduled to start to run it.  Sign up sheets are in the book!

Sign up during 3/11/12 - 4/7/12 for Buy 1, Give 1 
"Register for any Wilton 4-week classes (for $45) and give one to a friend for Free - a $45 value!"

Individual Registration Price is 50% off ($22.50)

Sign up for any 4-week course, including courses in the up coming months, during the above time period to take advantage of this promotion.

April 2012

Decorating Basics – Tuesdays
Starts April 3rd

Gum Paste & Fondant – Mondays
Starts April 2nd

Advanced Gum Paste Flowers – Wednesdays
Starts April 4th

Prerequisite:  Gum Paste & Fondant – Course 3

To plan ahead visit the Current Class Schedule tab to see the 4-week course dates for April, May and June.

From now through June I will be offering Decorating Basics (Course 1) and Advanced Gum Paste Flowers (Course 4) every month.  Flowers and Cake Design (Course 2) and Gum Paste and Fondant (Course 3) will be offered every other month.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 2

In Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 1, I showed using Tip 1M to on the sides of the cake. 

This time I used a technique we learn in Decorating Basics, the zig zag.

I crumb coated the side of the cake, but did put a normal amount of icing on the top of the cake. 

Using a Tip 21 I piped zig zags from the bottom to the top.

I really like how it came out.  It gave me a chance to make a not so plain cake on a night (after class) that I didn’t have to spend a lot of time decorating.

If you happen to have a cake where you get crumbs in the side of the cake, this would also be a nice ‘cover up’ for the crumbs.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Leveling & Torting Your Layers

I’ve talked about different things you can do to get a full cake layer with a flatter top including the amount of batter you use, using Bake Even Strips and heating cores.  The next step is to level and torte them.

My oven has a slight lean to it, which makes my cakes bake with a lean.  I try to remember to turn them half way through baking to help even out, but I often forget.  And really that is okay, because 99% of the time I am going to trim it to make it level.

When is the 1% of the time that I don’t trim?  When using the 8x3in pan by itself.

For the rest of the cakes, I trim the tops even.  I use the Cake Leveler for this.  Set it to the height that you want the cakes to be at.  When using the leveler, start with it closest to you and slide your hand through the leveler to place it on the top of the cake.  You will lightly saw, moving the leveler to the left and right, through the cake.  Peel off the top layer that has now been cut off.

Do this for each layer of cake that you will be using.

With most of my cakes I would also torte the two layers I am using.  Remember we torte, cut the cake in half, using the leveler the same way as described above. 

For the cake I used above I did not want to torte it because I felt it would have taken away from the zebra effect.  Here is a quick picture I snapped of another cake I was working on that I did torte the layers.

By torting both of my layers of cake I will end up with four thinner, layers of cake and three layers of icing/filling in the final product. 

Next Post:
Wed., March 21 - Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 2

Friday, March 16, 2012

I Don’t Free Hand!

We learned about using piping gel method for getting an image on a cake in Decorating Basics.  Well there is another way to get some outlines on your cake for you to follow.

You can use a cookie cutter.

Take your cookie cutter and lightly press it into your icing.  When you pull it away you have an imprint that you can now outline.

I filled in my hearts with some zig zags.  You could also fill them in with stars or dots as well.

Next Posts: 
Mon., March 19 - Leveling & Torting Your Layers

Wed., March 21 - Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 2

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 1

For my cake with the zebra striped insides I wanted to do something a little different on the sides.  I was looking for something that would dress up the cake, with out doing a ton of decorating.

I went ahead and iced the top as I normally would.

Then I took my bowl of white icing, and tossed in some of the left over pink from class, along with a few tooth picks of red coloring, and lightly mixed it up.  You could also do some bag striping here as well.

I bagged it in the 16in bag with a tip 1M.  Next time I do this, I will use the regular 12in bag. 

I piped a line from the board up along the side of the cake.

I added some stars along the top edge, again using the tip 1M.

The guys at work loved the cake, so I consider it a success.  Of course I’m pretty sure since it was free cake they weren’t going to complain any about it.

And are you curious about what the inside looked like?  I got a picture of that for you as well.

(Sorry for the bad cell picture here.)

I think it looks pretty neat myself!

Next Posts: 
Fri., March 16 - I Don’t Free Hand!

Mon., March 19 - Leveling & Torting Your Layers

Monday, March 12, 2012

Flower Nail = Heating Core, plus Temperature

In the last post, about Bake Even Strips, you may have seen something sticking up out of the middle of the cake pan.  It was a flower nail.

In large cake pans, different sources will recommend that you use a heating core in the center of the pan.  It works similar to the Bake Even Strips, only working from the inside out.  With the heating core, which is made out of metal, in the middle of the cake it conducts heat into the center of the cake.  By doing this, it will help the middle of the cake bake more evenly with the sides of the cake.

Many cakers will use heating cores in smaller cakes as well, since having the cake bake more evenly will give you a flatter cake top.  Some smart person (nope it wasn’t me) figured out that you can use a metal flower nail for this purpose as well, and even better, it doesn’t leave a big hole in the cake.

I do use the flower nail in almost all of my cakes, usually from the 8in cakes and up, especially my 8x3in cake pan (the one I show the first night of Decorating Basics).  You can use two flower nails spaced out in larger pans like the 13x9, 11x15 or 12x18.

To use the flower nail in your pan, grease the cake pan, then grease the flower nail (I often just spray the flower nail with some cooking spray) and place it, flat side down in the pan. 

Fill the pan half full and bake as you normally would, though you may find you have to adjust the time you bake it a little bit.

After you flip your cake out on a cooling rack you will remove the flower nail.  I always use a fork since it will be HOT!

You can see it just leave a small hole in the cake that no one will notice when you ice the cake.

Baking Temperature

I bake everything at 325*.   This, along with the Bake Even Strips and heating core will help your cake come out flatter on top.

Next Posts: 
Wed., March 14 - Something Different, Textured Sides – Take 1

Fri., March 16 - I Don’t Free Hand!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mutiples of Tips

I often mention in class that I prefer to have several different tips of the same size over owning every tip out there.  If I want to make two different colors of roses I like to have a tip for each color.  With extra tips if I need to make one more rose of the opposite color I don’t have to clean the tip out yet again.  I just get to pick up the other bag and pipe.  In the long run having several of the same tips for roses, stars or even dots and writing can be a time saver.

I feel that which tips a person has multiples of depends a lot on the techniques they use a lot, but I will share with you the tips that I find handy to have several of.

Round tips:
1, 3 and 12

Star tips:
16, 18, 21, and 1M

Petal tips:

2D and 233 others I like having a few of.

There are some tips that do not come in the course kits that I like having on hand as well.  For me those are the round tips 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 as well as basket weave tip 47.  I also like a variety of petal tips: 101, 102, 103, 59* and 97.

If you like the swirl flowers you may want to look at the drop flower tips, as they come in many different sizes and do a similar flower shape.  

Of course when you start owning more and more tips, organization is key to finding the tips you want when you need them.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cookies & Cream Filling

With Oreo’s celebrating their 100th Birthday this week, it seems like a great time to post this quick and easy recipe for everyone to enjoy.

Cookies & Cream Filling

Mix together:
1.5-2 cups of thin butter cream
20 or so crumbled/crushed oreos.

You can definitely adjust these ratios if you want more or less cookies.

You do want to start with a thin butter cream.  If you are going to make it ahead of time, you might even want to start with a little bit thinner than normal because the cookies will absorb some of the liquid and soften up.

How yummy does this look?

Next Posts: 
Friday, March 9

Monday, March 12 - Flower Nail = Heating Core, plus Temperature

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bake Even Strips: A Comparison

In the first lesson of Decorating Basics I get to introduce my students to Bake Even Strips. 

The metal pan acts as a heat conductor and that is why the first inch or so around the outside of the cake bakes first.  Once that section is bake, it no longer rises, which explains why the center, the furthest away from the metal cooks last, and generally rises higher.

Bake Even Strips are soaked in cold water then wrapped around the pan.  They keep the metal of the pan cooler for a longer period of time.  This allows the cake to bake move evenly, rather than the outsides baking faster than the center.

For this example I tried to start with about the same amount of batter in the cake pans.  The pan on the left does not have the bake even strip on it, while the pan on the right does.

In case you are wondering, I decided to take this time to try something new for me and make a zebra print inside the cake.  I did not do pictures while doing that part, but if you google it, you will find several how to’s for it.

Here are the cakes after they came out of the oven.  Do you notice any differences between the cake on the left and the cake on the right? 

The cake with out the Bake Even Strips came out of the oven about 10 to 15 minutes before the other two.

The cake on the left was the one that was baked with the Bake Even Strips, the one on the right with out.

What do you notice in these pictures?

The cake on the left does have a lean to the top, but that is mostly due to the fact that everything I bake in my oven does that since I really need to level it.  (I’ll show you have to fix that another post.)

The cake on the right has a large hump.  Even if we trimmed it off to even out the top we would lose quite a bit of height to the cake.

The cake on the left has a light colored crust, while the cake on the right has a darker and tougher crust.  Also notice the ledge on the cake on the right?  It is often hard and crunchy.

In my opinion, using more cake batter as well as using the Bake Even Strips will give you a better looking cake.  It comes out taller and has a lighter, softer crust on it.  I do use the Bake Even Strips with almost every cake I bake.