Red Cake, Pink Frosting.

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Over the weekend, I made a cake by request for someone – a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, covered entirely in rosettes. They needed it to feed about 40 people, so I made it two tier – one 8″ layer, and one 6″ layer. ¬†The baked cake looked pretty rad (or should I say, “red”).

red is the new rad.

red is the new rad.

Due to that rich red color red velvet cake boasts, I decided it best to crumb coat the cake first, to keep the final iced creation free of red specs.

crumb free.

crumb free.

After the initial coating, I refrigerated it for a bit, and made the rest of the cream cheese frosting. I tinted it a very light pink, to make it more rose-like (and because pink is just flat-out pretty).

pretty in pink.

pretty in pink.

A rosette cake uses a lot of icing, thus the finished product was a little on the heavy side. So, be extra careful when picking it up and make sure you pack it in a sturdy box.

heavy petals.

heavy petals.

All in all, this cake was a success – you really can’t go wrong with the red velvet/pink cream cheese frosting combo. It’s also one I really enjoyed making. It just goes to show you – when you do what you love, you love what you do (and other people love it too). I think Dr. Seuss said that. ūüėČ

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The Lamb Cake Gets a Makeover.

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Easter was over a week ago. I know. I’m a little behind…again. But seriously, this time I have a legitimate excuse – I have a wedding to plan! And although I’m writing a week late, I did actually make the Lamb Cake for Easter, I just haven’t had a chance to tell the world about it yet. This is the 4th year of the Lamb Cake; the 4th year since my Aunt Cetta gave me the lamb-shaped pan, and I decided to make it my job henceforth to bake the traditional Easter Lamb Cake every year going forward.

the pan where it all started.

the pan where it all started.

Over the years, the Lamb Cake has evolved, Year 1, I was just learning how to make this thing happen. Year 2, I played around a little and made some adjustments, Year 3, I had a near disaster, but managed to save the Lamb and maintain good form. This year, I was tired of the same old Lamb. I wanted something a little different. Plus it was also my fiance’s (I’m still getting used to saying that) birthday, so I wanted to make the Lamb out of things that he would like. He’d been asking me to make him a red velvet cake for a while now, so, I seized the opportunity to make the inside of the Lamb¬†red velvet. Why didn’t I think of this before!¬†Anyway, with red velvet insides, I needed something that worked on the outside. Instead of piping the Lamb with swirls of buttercream, I flat-iced it with a thin layer of my signature buttercream¬†, then coated it with coconut flakes.

flakey.

flakey.

The coconut complimented the red velvet innards quite nicely, if I do say so. I put the Lamb in a box, and we carted it off to my parents’ house for Easter dinner. When it was time for dessert, I added a little something extra, to make it a little more birthday cake-like.

birthday lamb.

now it’s a party.

We devoured it as usual, until only the head remained (I will not subject you to the gruesome photographic evidence).

Until next year….

The Curious Incident of the Red, Red Velvets.

I have a funny story to share, and all you bakers our there will really appreciate this having, I’m sure, been there and done that at some point yourselves. The other night, I was making red velvet cupcakes for a dear friend’s birthday, as red velvet is her favorite. I planned on topping them with a sour cream buttercream¬†I had made once before, that was uber delicious. So I got to work.

i hope i didn't just give away the ending.

i¬†hope i didn’t just give away the ending.

Everything was going along well – I’ve made red velvets from this recipe a handful of times, so I knew what results to expect. I started measuring, mixing, pouring, and beating. When all was said and done, I added the red food coloring and mixed well. At this point, I realized something was amiss. It looked very red – too red. This was a clown-nose red, as opposed to a deeper almost maroon red – the color red velvet batter should be. I tasted the batter, and it tasted good – a little sweeter than previous batches, but still a good batter.¬†Did I use too much food coloring? No, the bottle is always the same size! Maybe there was something wrong with the food coloring and it was heavier on the dye. I convinced myself that must be it¬†and lined the pans with cupcake papers. I grabbed my trusty scoop and was about to dip in for the first cupcake, when I paused, and contemplated the extreme redness one more time. “What would make the batter darker?” I silently questioned. Then, like a bolt of chocolate lightning from above, it hit me – I forgot to add the cocoa powder.

nearly lost you.

nearly lost you.

Hoping that it wasn’t too late, I quickly added the key missing ingredient, and tasted the batter again. This time, it looked and tasted like a red velvet should. The mystery of the red, red velvets was¬†solved. I scooped, baked, iced, and served. And all was once again right with the world.

simply red.

simply red.

Be My Baby.

Over the past weekend, I was asked to make a baby shower cake, for a baby girl, in the shape of a onesie. It was something I’d never done before, so I was totally stoked, and couldn’t wait to start working on it! The cake itself was to be red velvet, iced with buttercream, and few fondant adornments. I don’t own a onsie-shaped pan, so I had to first draw the pattern on a piece of cardboard. Once I had that done, I laid the pattern on top of the sheet cake, and carved it out.

I then iced it with pink buttercream.

ice, ice, baby.

I then grabbed some fondant (I swear by Satin Ice), colored some dark pink, some yellow, and left the rest white, and crafted the accoutrements.

we’ll make them turn their heads, every place we go.

The cake was a hit with both the person who ordered it, and the mom-to-be. And I was tickled pink. ūüôā

We All Scream for Sour Cream.

I love experimenting with recipes – it may be one of my absolute favorite pastimes. So this weekend, I really wanted to try a new icing – a sour cream-based buttercream. I just needed the perfect cake to test it out on. It was kinda like getting a brand new pair of¬†shoes and¬†planning your outfit around them, rather than getting dressed first and choosing the¬†shoes to match. I had my heart set on this new icing. So I picked up this tub of sour cream, and thought, “well I’m sure not gonna use this whole thing; I hope I can figure out another use before it goes bad.” And like a bolt of lighting to the brain, it hit me¬† – red velvet cake calls for sour cream in the recipe. Eureka! I’ve found my test cake!

I quickly went to work, and whipped up a batch of red velvet mini cupcakes, then proceeded to use almost all of the remaining sour cream for the icing. The result? One of the most-loved desserts I’ve created, to-date.

what comes is better than what came before.

Everybody’s Baking for the Weekend.

So this past weekend was an extra busy one in the kitchen! Not only did I have many things to bake, but I‚Äôm getting ready to go on my big European Vacation, so I was cleaning and putting everything away. There‚Äôs nothing¬† worse than coming home from a trip to a messy house ‚Äď I‚Äôve done it, and it just makes life a lot more stressful. When I come home, I just want to unpack, and relax ‚Äď not clean up the mess I left for myself before I left for the trip.

Anyway, back to baking. So, this weekend, I started off with Chocolate Pixie Cakes. These were chocolate cake, with buttercream, covered in white chocolate, and drizzled with milk chocolate.

extreme makeover – chocolate edition.

Next up, were Red Velvet Pixie Cakes. These were red velvet cake, with buttercream, covered in white chocolate, and drizzled with pink chocolate.

wedding day perfect.

And last, but not even close to least ‚Äď cinnamon chip cookies. I used my top secret chocolate chip cookie recipe (which you can find on the blog, here), but replaced the chocolate chips with cinnamon chips.

cookie confidential.

And now, I‚Äôm off to another continent, to visit castles, eat pastries, and ponder what I‚Äôm going to with my life. ūüôā

Au revoir!

The Power of Pixies.

So the other night, I participated in WHYY’s Best of Chefs Event, as I mentioned in my last post. The event was a blast! It was organized, fun, well-attended and also provided me with a serendiptious opportunity to do some market research. Allow me to explain: I made an assortment of Pixie Cakes, in the following flavors:

Chocolate Pixies

Chocolate cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in dark chocolate, with chocolate sprinkles.

Vanilla Pixies

Vanilla cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in white chocolate, sprinkled with sugar.

Red Velvet Pixies

Red Velvet cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in white chocolate, sprinkled with red sugar.

Cookies and Cream Pixies

Chocolate cake mixed with cookies and buttercream icing, rolled in cookie crumbs.

and Coconut Pixies.

Vanilla cake mixed with coconut buttercream, dipped in white chocolate, and sprinkled with coconut.

I placed them all on a tray, as so:

Pixies on a plate.

Now here’s where it got interesting: the doors opened and the crowd shuffled in. As they approached my table, one after another after another went straight for the Red Velvet. And if it wasn’t the Red Velvet, it was the good old fashioned¬†Chocolate. Now by mere coincidence, I made more of the Red Velvets than any of the others; but it didn’t matter – I ran out of them first, and people were coming back and asking me if there were anymore! When I told them¬†I ran out, they were only dejected for a second, and then just sampled another flavor instead (and liked it!).

The moral of the story: cake is great, but Red Velvet rules.

The people have spoken.

Mom takes the cake.

Actually, I brought it to her, and willingly gave it to her, so literally, mom did not “take” the cake, as it was a¬†gift. Figuratively, however, she sure does take the cake.¬†And so does your mom, and everyone¬†who is a mom. I hope you all got a chance to celebrate with your mom today,¬†or celebrate being a mom, or both! And i sure hope there was cake involved!¬†My mom has never been¬†big into flowers,¬†but she sure does love cake. So¬†once again, I have¬†given her the gift that keeps on giving (or at least 8 slices of giving) – a¬†Mother’s Day Cake!

you are my sunshine, mom.

This particular Mother’s Day Cake is red velvet, with chocolate icing. Most people don’t give much thought to the red velvet/chocolate icing combo, which is rather sad, as¬†it really is quite complimentary and extremely delicious. Just ask mom – she knows best! ūüôā

PS: I really wanted to include this photo I took of the cake before the I wrote on it, using Instagram. I’ve become totally obsessed with Instagram. It’s so much fun. Almost as fun as making the cake.

cake effects.

Punk Rock Flea Market!

Tomorrow (Sunday, May 13th), I’ll be at the Punk Rock Flea Market, selling my book and even some baked goods. If you happen to be in the Philadelphia area, and maybe need a last minute gift for mom, the flea market is THE place to be. Besides my lovely cookbook and delightful assortment of baked goods (including White Chocolate Pixie Cakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes), you’ll find tons of options for even the hardest to please hard-core punk-mom.¬†Here are the specifics:

The Punk Rock Flea Market.

when: Saturday, May 13th, 10am to 5pm

where: The Punk Rock Flea Market Dome¬† (461 N 9th Street ‚Äď Right Across From The Starlight Ballroom),

misc: $3 Admission Donation.

website: http://www.r5productions.com/event/101883/?utm_source=fb1&utm_medium=shr

enticing photos:

a cookie classic.

many many mini red velvets.

pretty in pink pixies.

So what are you waiting for? Come out and get your treat on – like a real punk.

I Saw Red.

For a very long time, I’ve been on a search to find the perfect red velvet cake recipe. Time and again, I thought I struck gold, but each time, I had been duped. The cake was either too dry, not red enough, tasted just too much like chocolate, didn’t rise – you name it. I was starting to get discouraged. I found myself in the baking aisle at the supermarket, one fist raised,¬†shaking the red velvet box cake: “What are you made of??!! Show me what you’re made of??!!!” I definitely got the hairy eyeball from nearby shoppers that day.

cake nemesis.

Well sigh no more!! I have finally found it! The one red velvet recipe to rule them all! And I have my friend over at Sweet Saromah Cupcakes and Desserts ¬†to thank! She’s super talented – make sure you visit her site and check out all her yummy (and beautiful!) sweets!

I was so excited to try her recipe, that¬†I wasted no time and went right to kitchen.¬†The batter looked nice and red, and tasted¬†delish. I¬†opted to make¬†cupcakes, and cut the recipe in half, baked at 350, and…

holy red velvet, batman!

Perfection!!! They were the right color, they “puffed” perfectly, they were moist, and just flat-out¬†fabulous. I topped them with a dollop of buttercream, and some pink sprinkles, to give them a little flair.

all dressed up with no place to go.

Having just made these for the sheer joy of baking, I had nowhere to take them. So, I did what I always do when I bake for fun – brought them to work.

Here are a few unsolicited testimonials from gracious dessert-loving co-workers:

“I‚Äôve had one bite so far..And my mouth is totally watering for more as I type this‚ĶI‚Äôm gonna have to hit send right now and go back!”¬† – J.G.

“Wow.¬† You‚Äôre at a whole new level now. Time to get these out to the public.” – M.T.

“Mine unfortunately seemed to evaporate, however, if a 2nd were available for testing I could retry.” – C.C.

The public has spoken.