Baseball Cake

Take me out to the ballgame! This baseball cake was commissioned as a birthday surprise. A three-tired cake with a baseball on top. The biggest layer, the bottom one, was only 6 inches across. Think miniature.

The birthday boy’s girlfriend wanted a Giant’s colored baseball themed cake and left the designing up to me (my favorite kind of order!). Well, baseballs aren’t orange, so I did the best I could to keep tried to the theme and stick to the basics of the game.

Everything is fondant-free, of course. I just used swiss meringue buttercream for everything. It’s nice because it hardens up in the fridge so it’s easy to work with.

My first time using the grass piping tip, can you believe it? I like the added texture.I had some trouble with the orange/white seam, as you can see, but I learned enough that the next time I make a cake like this, it’ll be even better. Not everything I make is perfect, especially not the first time around, but I try to make each project into a learning experience.

I got lucky with the dome shape at the top  – the carving could have gone horribly wrong but it worked out great! Overall, not a perfect cake but definitely a fun one! Raspberry chocolate cake on the inside, by the way. Yummy!

Patriotic 4th of July red white and blue sugar cookies

4th of July Cookies

Alright, I admit. I went a little crazy with these. I got home from work at 4:30, started these right away, and worked through dinner until 10:30 at night. What? You mean that doesn’t happen to everyone? But they were so much fun! Just about ever cookie is unique. I decorated with dragees, piping, and marbling techniques. Take a look at how I did the cookies with the marbling:

Immediately after outlining, then flooding the cookie, I piped circles of color onto the cookie. I tapped it against the table a few times to make it settle, then immediately dragged a toothpick in the direction I wanted. Ta da! This method is very forgiving and quite a bit of fun to do because of the endless possibilities.

Anyways, lots of stars and stripes.

Tons of swirls

And, of course, lots of red white and blue!

Under the Sea Cookies

Can I tempt you with some aquatic cookies? I made this set of cookies for a teacher appreciation event at my sister’s school. Since I get so many questions about how I decorate my cookies, I decided to create a tutorial of sorts. A talented friend photographed the final product, but unfortunately you’re stuck with my little point and shoot camera for the step-by-step photos.
Take a look at how I made them:
 I rolled, cut, and baked very thick sugar cookie dough. The dough had some vanilla bean and lots and lots of butter. Before baking,  I froze each tray of cookies for 15 minutes to help them preserve their shape. I also omitted the baking powder in my favorite sugar cookie recipe. This didn’t change the flavor, but it helped keep the edges clean even after they baked.
20 starfish and 20 seahorses. Because they were so thick, it took a triple batch of cookie dough to make them all. I was pleased by how well these cookies held their shape after baking even though they were so thick.
After cooking, it’s time to start piping the royal icing. I use a mixture of pasteurized egg whites, lemon juice, and powdered sugar.
I started with the outline on each cookie, letting it dry before filling the center.
After piping the outline, I thinned out the royal icing to flood the center. I glopped a fair amount of icing into the center of the cookie and spread it to the edges with a toothpick.
Tip: After flooding, firmly rap each cookie on the table to encourage the air bubbles to rise to the top. Immediately, use toothpick to pop the bubbles so they don’t form holes after they dry.
The marbelized sea hoses were made by piping two lines of green icing onto the still-wet flooded cookie. I then used a toothpick to draw a line through both colors at once, creating the swirl. I took about 15 pictures of this process, but I’m sorry to report that each and every one of them came out blurry, so use your imagination.
After the flooding has had a chance to dry (I waited about 3 hours), I started piping the details. Here, I piped the large dots before going back and adding the smaller details. Pretend you don’t notice that my work surface gets increasingly covered in frosting.
Ta Da!
 I set them out on a white ceramic tray with graham cracker crumbles mimicking sand.
 Inspiration for one of the seahorses came from here.
I love the great texture from the raised dots.These were definitely some of my favorite cookies and they were a big hit at the event!

Let Me Welcome You With Rainbow Cake

I like to bake, so let me show you one of my favorite projects. This cake was made with my close friend Stephanie, who also took the fabulous photos. What was the occasion, you ask? Well, we just wanted to make a pretty cake, and that’s a good enough reason for me.

Ingredients include a ton of butter, a basket of egg whites, and copious amounts of food coloring.  Note the single 7-inch pan. Yes, each layer was baked one at a time. 

On to the batter! I love using vanilla bean paste. It’s not all that more expensive than pure vanilla, but it’s so much cheaper than vanilla beans. The paste adds great flavor, plus the vanilla bean seed speckles are gorgeous. 

Oops! I swear, it wasn’t me!

Now let’s swirl in the food coloring. I used a combination of Americolor pastes and regular supermarket food coloring. The pastes are great because they add strong color without impacting the consistency of the batter by adding too much liquid.

The blue and purple layers were made by modifying my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe from Joy of Baking.  The flavor was great, but the consistency was too gummy and dense for what I was looking for.

The green and yellow layers definitely the best flavors. The cake was moist, fluffy, and delicate. The recipe – my new favorite vanilla cake – was Sweetapolita’s Classic Vanilla Butter Cake.

Finally, the red and orange batters. The recipe was Sweetapolita’s Vanilla Buttermilk Cake. It was good, but texture-wise it didn’t hold a candle to the butter cake. 

Each layer was baked, frozen, and stacked. We made a giant batch of Swiss Meringue Buttercream and slathered it on. The great thing about Swiss Meringue Buttercream: if it curdles, you’re doing it right. The cake was frosted, which we didn’t get pictures of because we were far too excited to finally cut into it.

Would you like a slice?

I love how bright and sunny this cake is. Enjoy!