Monday, February 25, 2013

Happy Monday! Last night was a big deal in our house. It was Oscar Night! For the past 14 years we have been making a big deal out of the Academy Awards broadcast and last night was no different. Each year I make a different cake, sometimes movie themed, sometimes not. I dubbed last night's cake the "Silver Linings" lemon cake but in our house it's normally referred to as "Aunt Patty's Lemon Sunshine Cake" since my sister Patty is the one who found this recipe (which I will post at the end of the blog) and presented it to a very grateful family! 

 You begin with a white or yellow cake mix. Yup, plain ol' boxed mix. Naturally you can make it from scratch but, with an Oscar Party, you want quick and easy so why not use a mix?

Bake it up till it's golden brown. Don't worry about leveling it or even removing it from the pan. I leveled mine so you could see the details easier but you really don't have to do so. Just let it cool off a bit so you don't manage to burn your hands when it comes time to poke it. Yup, I said "poke" it.

Before you poke it mix up a box of lemon Jell-O with 1/2 cup boiling water. Dissolve the powder into the water then add 1/2 cup cold water. You notice that the liquid is drastically cut down from how you would normally make up Jell-O. This is so you don't drown the cake. 

Now take a fork or a skewer and poke holes all over your cake. Try not to get too many in one area but cover the entire cake with holes.

It's time to pour the Jell-O over so that you cover the entire cake. Now put the cake into the fridge for 3 hours to set up. I lightly wrapped mine in Press & Seal to help keep my fridge clean and the fridge smells out of the cake.

When it's all set up remove it from the fridge and place your pan into a bigger pan of warm water and run a spatula around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan.

Tip it out and turn it upright on your cake stand or plate. Now if you bake your cake in a decorative or clear glass dish then you won't have to remove the cake from the dish. Just cover with the "icing" and serve.

Now to make the icing. Mix one package of Jell-O instant lemon pudding mix with one cup cold milk. Stir until it begins to thicken up. Now stir in 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Now fold in one tub of Cool-Whip. 

Cover your entire cake with the "icing", make pretty swirls or dips or whatever. Top with grated lemon zest for an added touch.

In the past we have made this recipe in a 9x13 pan and, I have to say, it is much easier to cover the cake with the icing than the 6 inch round cake I chose this year. If you decide to do an "out of pan" cake then, after you unmold it, place it onto a cooling rack and pour the icing over it like you would ganache. It will drip all down the sides and through the wire rack so put something under the rack like a cookie sheet to catch the drippings. The icing sets up fairly quickly so you will be able to transfer it to a cake plate in just a few minutes after covering it.

I promise you. This cake is SO good you will be glad you are sharing it with others so you don't eat it all up by yourself.

Here is the complete recipe:

    1 3 oz. package lemon gelatin
    1/2 C. boiling water
    1/2 C. cold water 

    1 package instant lemon pudding and pie filling
    1 C. cold milk
    1 T. lemon juice
    2 C. whipped topping thawed

    Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13, 8 inch square or round pan. For cake, prepare according to package directions. Let cool for 30 minutes. Poke holes in cake 1 1/2 inches deep and 1/2 inch wide. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water, stir in cold water. Slowly pour gelatin over cake. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. 

    For topping, combine pudding mix, milk and lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it begins to thicken. Gently fold in whipped topping. Spread evenly over cake. Sprinkle with lemon zest. 
    SERVES 8 - 10
You are really going to LOVE this cake! Enjoy!

Check out the Cherry Party Blog today to see our entire Oscar Party including more food recipes! As always you can join us over at our Facebook Fan Site for daily tips and tricks. We are presenting some fun ideas for St. Patrick's Day starting today!


    Sunday, February 17, 2013

    Happy Sunday! This weekend was a celebration for a very special birthday here at Cat's Cakes and The Cherry On Top was Tory's Favorite Things Birthday Party! 

    Just like the song from The Sound of Music, everything for the cake and for the party was centered upon what Tory loves. So I'm going to share with you each side of her cake. The cake was lemon chiffon filled with lemon curd buttercream icing. The top of the cake featured both Cherries and white daisies...both of these are huge favorite designs for her. The front features her favorite shoes, flip flops, and her favorite place to wear them, Hawaii!
    Lately she's caught the "Nail Art" bug so we featured two bottles of nail polish. She's always loved handbags but her favorite is one with cherries all over it. SO cute!
    Since she was a baby she's been a "blankie" girl. To this day the best thing is to curl up on the sofa with a blanket on her lap and one of her favorite books in her hands. I think you could figure out the two favorite series featured on this side of the cake.
    Finally there are the things she is the most fond of. Disney, music and movies. In fact, I think she knows all of the music from all of the Disney movies! Every piece was made from fondant and, except for the daisies which needed a few days to dry, each piece was placed on the cake the day before the party so it was soft to cut and eat. Hand piped buttercream icing was used for the finishing touches such as the trim and the lettering on the top, sides and front.

    Tomorrow I'll feature the entire party plan on The Cherry Party Blog so you can see how this cake fit into the party! In the meantime we are giving daily tips for those of you who are planning your Oscar Party this week on our Facebook Fan Site so drop on by and check it out!


    Sunday, February 10, 2013

     Happy Sunday! This week's celebration is Valentine's Day. As a family we have never done the "go out to a romantic dinner" thing but have always celebrated at our own home with a special dinner and dessert. So this week I thought I'd make up a special treat for my own family and share with you all how easy it is to make something special that doesn't take a lot of time or effort but looks like a wonderful splurge!

    I know that chocolate is traditionally associated with Valentines day but we have a few members of our family who are not wild about it. So today I made a simple yellow cake and then decided to dress it up with a "heart" of goodness! I baked the cupcakes in a gorgeous dark purple liner...that I got in my local grocery store! Yup, it's amazing what you can find there now. 
     While the cupcakes were cooling I placed them inside a decorative liner. Often the liner you bake the cupcakes in gets lost in the moisture of the cake and you don't get to see the wonderful patterns. This way you get just a bit of the moisture that helps hold the two liners together but only on the bottom. Once the cupcakes were cool I used a small circle cutter and dug out a little circle in the center of the cupcake. If you don't have a circle cutter just use a small spoon to scoop some of the middle out. Then I mixed seedless blackberry jam with some buttercream, placed that into a piping bag that didn't have a tip and then just filled up each hole.

     I covered that with more buttercream and drizzled it with some more of the jam that had been melted and placed into a squirt bottle. You can just put a small amount into a spoon and drizzle it over, just make sure it has cooled off enough to not melt your buttercream! I then topped each one with a little fondant heart. You can certainly use "conversation hearts" candy instead.

    When your guests open them up they find a wonderful heart of blackberry goodness waiting for them! They are completely yummy and much more special than a "regular" cupcake but they didn't take hardly any extra work to make them wonderful. My son is very disappointed that I won't be making all of my cupcakes like this! 

    Have a wonderful Valentine's Day, splurge just a bit and treat your loved ones with something just a bit special. Keep checking in each day on our Facebook Fan Site for daily tips and tricks to make your celebration that much more special!

    For those who are local to Northern California, our Valentine to all of you is a great sale! The entire month of February we are giving 30% off any cake booked for events that are coming up this June 1st through November 1st. And we give an extra 10% off for a second cake booked and an extra 20% off a third cake booked! (yes, that means the 3rd cake is 50% off!!!) So if you have some special events coming up this year then this is the time to book your custom cake and save some BIG bucks! Just Contact Me Here to get your cake or cakes booked for the upcoming Summer and Fall season.

    See you next week with a special birthday cake here and a special birthday party plan over at the Cherry Party Blog to go with it!


    Friday, February 1, 2013

    Happy Friday...yup, Friday! Normally the Blog comes out on Sunday but since I'm making a HUGE announcement today on our FACEBOOK FAN SITE I thought I'd share this week's cake a bit early too. 

    This week's cake is the 2nd of 4 Demo Cakes I need to get done this year for Bridal Fairs this Fall. Many Brides want to combine the architecture of a more modern look with a feminine feel. This is also a way to have a "Pink" look without it overwhelming their Groom. 

    To make this cake isn't a fast process but it's not too hard either. I started out making a batch of white fondant and a batch of pink fondant (really easy to do this time of year when there are pink marshmallows available in the grocery store!) and then I took a third of each fondant "loaf" and mixed them together to get the light pink fondant color. I tried using a cookie cutter for the squares but the squares were not really square so I ditched that idea and decided to just roll out large rectangles of each color and then cut those into 1 inch squares on my grid marked mat. 

    To get the cascading colors you just need to watch how you place the squares onto the cake. I started out with a white square then added a dark pink on top of that, then a pink, then a white. When I started the next row I just started with the 2nd color of the first row as my first square and then followed that up with the 3rd color of the first row, etc. What that does is set up color lines on your cake when you get it all together. 

    I purposely didn't make the fondant all the same thickness. I wanted to get the texture of a quilt, not just flat fondant. If you want it to all be the same thickness then just run your fondant through a pasta machine and you will have the same thickness for each color. 

    When it came to the top of the bottom cake I just trimmed the top corners a bit on each tile so that they would fit the angle of the top of the cake. I only did one row so that the top tier, when it was decorated, would fit down into the bottom one and not need any trim to connect the two. I didn't do this same treatment to the top of the cake because I wanted a solid color for the Word Topper.

    It is very hard to make a super long thin ribbon and not have it break. You either have to make it really thick or do what I did which is to actually make two lengths of ribbon that join up in the back of the cake. Yes, picking a back of the cake is very important since your seams will be hidden back there. Unless you have a 360 degree presentation there will be a definite front and back of the cake. With the topper on this cake there is a clear front of the cake so I ran a thin line of "ribbon" from the center of the front of the cake to the center of the back of the cake. Then I joined another thin line from the back to the front. When I reached the front I just hid the "join" with a bow. If this was a 360 degree cake you could do the very same thing at the back of the cake where there is the 2nd join. In fact, if you wanted to do so, you could put bows in equal distance placement and make the ribbon placement even easier. 

    Once the ribbon was in place it was time to place the hearts. I already knew I wanted the hearts on the white squares but really just started with the front and made my way around randomly placing them where I thought they looked good. No rhyme or reason with that placement.

    Lastly was the topper. Made from white fondant that was cut from thin strips and then rolled and molded into lettering, this topper was meant to copy the "Curlz" font. Playful, happy, girly. It seemed to fit the "mood" of the cake perfectly. I had to let the fondant sit for quite awhile before it was firm enough to stand up on the cake. I attached each letter to the one before with a bit of water to give it more structure. If you don't have the time for the fondant to dry just add in a bit more tylose or gumpaste and do this the day before you actually decorate the cake.

    If you are a beginning caker you can do this cake! The topper may be out of your comfort zone but you can always buy a topper that captures the same feel at your local Bridal, Cake or Craft store. Anytime that you can "panel" a cake it is going to be easier than getting that smooth fondant finish on one. I really love the textured look of this cake as well as the color runs that make it look very architectural but the other details keep it wonderfully girly. It's a really "fun" cake.

    Check out this week's Party Blog to see the Wedding Plan that matches this cake! Traditionally elegant with a modern touch or two but very fun and just a bit "girly". See you there Monday!