Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good thing my birthday only comes once a year

I made two cakes last week. The first one was to celebrate my and a coworker's birthdays, which are only one day apart.


It’s a vanilla cake with raspberry cream filling and vanilla buttercream. I made all of the flowers myself from royal icing. It was my first time using royal icing to make cake decorations but the results were beautiful, and it was surprisingly easy to work with. My writing-with-icing skills need some work, though.

It was also my first time making lilies, but I made some roses and drop flowers, too, which in the past I've always made with buttercream icing.


I made the lilies, drop flowers and roses about 11 days in advance to let them dry out before putting them on the cake. The royal icing dries hard as a rock so it’s great for making decorations in advance.

To go with that cake, I made some mini chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and pink tinted coconut.


The other cake that I made was made for my family birthday dinner.


It’s chocolate cake covered and filled with chocolate buttercream, and it's decorated with KitKat bars cut into their individual segments (each bar has 4), assorted candies, and gingerbread people, which were part of the batch of gingerbread cookies that I showed you the last time I posted. It’s also known as a candy barrel cake and it’s pretty simple to make. Mine has the look of a family of gingerbread people taking a dip in a candy-filled hot tub or swimming pool as opposed to a barrel. The rainbow hued ribbon wrapped in a big bow around the cake helps to keep the KitKats in place.

I tried to use leftover pink buttercream to pipe on a bathing suit and cap on the gingerbread baby, and a bikini on the gingerbread mother as last-minute additions before adding them to the cake, but their swimming outfits look a little rough.

I used gummy bears, Whoppers, cookies ‘n’ creme Hershey’s Kisses, and Peanut M&Ms to decorate the top of the cake, and Smarties to decorate around the bottom, but you can use any candy you like.

I also made some Gingerbread Stuffing to go with chicken for my birthday dinner using a modified version of Nigella Lawson’s original recipe. Rather than buying the gingerbread pre-made, I made the gingerbread myself from this highly rated Old Fashioned Gingerbread recipe that I found on I made the full gingerbread recipe but only used half of the finished baked gingerbread for the stuffing recipe as half weighed about 500g, slightly more than the amount indicated in Nigella’s recipe. I also changed Nigella’s recipe by using only half a pound of bacon, adding cranberries (soaked in hot water first to plump them), and toasted chopped walnuts. It was so good. It's like cake with bacon in it that you eat with gravy! Ridiculous.

I made mini raisin buns last week, too.


My buns never, ever look like buns. They start out in their raw doughy forms looking like buns, and no doubt they genuinely aspire to be buns, but they seem to settle into sturdy little lumps after they come out of the oven.

My autumn induced baking frenzy now appears to be over for this year. I hope. It's a good thing my birthday only comes once a year but I suppose it's my own fault for deciding to bake and decorate two cakes at the same time. I still have two more cakes to make in December, not to mention the 38,972 cookies that I have to decorate. After that I'll need a break from baking. I've earned it.

Luckily, I have good company in my kitchen. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I never bake alone! Here’s a picture of my constant kitchen companion, the Swedish Chef of The Muppets fame.


He just sits there on top of a recipe box on my kitchen table muttering jibberish and saying, “Bork! Bork! Bork!” occasionally. At least, I like to pretend he does.

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