4th of July Cake

What I used for this project.

Colored a vanilla cake and baked.

Made a SMBC and starting building.

Filled, crumb coated and chilled for 15 minutes.

Practiced the horizontal lines.

Used a star cookie cutter and filled with colored sugar, used a silicone brush to spread.

Need to practice this! Brushed away some of the sugar that got away.

DIY Wedding Cake–The Foundation (Cake)

In a year from now, I will be making a wedding cake for my daughter. Why would I take this on? Purely for financial reasons. Wedding cakes are anywhere from $8 to $12 per person where we live and the head count will be around 200. I will be sharing my attempts via this blog and the hope is that I improve..drastically by this time next year. What I would like to share in this post is tips and tricks I have learned, and what NOT to do if you attempt this feat. You will have some money invested, but you can say it’s your wedding gift! This blog will focus on the “foundation”, or cake portion of this ordeal. You need to think like an engineer for this part.

Things a newbie needs to know about the wedding cakes:

  • There is a difference between “sheet cakes” in the back and “kitchen cakes” in the back. Kitchen cakes have the same construction and look as the wedding cake. Sheet cakes are a sheet of cake with frosting on top. Kitchen cakes are the way to go so everyone has a piece of real wedding cake, but they are just as much of a pain to construct as the real deal.
  • That top tier that the couple traditionally saves until their first anniversary? Just make an extra one and immediately freeze it so no one has to worry about it sitting out and getting wrapped up. I found this to freeze it in for the couple.
  • What makes a wedding cake special is typically (3) layers. A birthday cake, for example might have (2).
  • I have included (2) cake cutting charts for the day of the wedding. Back in the day, couples would enlist a friends or family members to do this. We will ask family members, because if we are too cheap to buy a wedding cake we sure as heck aren’t going to pay someone to cut it.

  • Instead of trying to cut the cakes to make your layers, just bake them thinner. You will need “cups” of batter so they come out even. I found that: 3 ice cream scoops=about 1 C and if you are using cake mixes, a typical mix yields about 6 C of batter.
  • I’m at high altitude, but the way I have learned to doctor cakes mixes: substitute melted butter for the oil, milk for the water and add a T of vanilla to any flavor of cake mix. I always get compliments on the taste my cakes and this is the secret.
  • You can wrap well and freeze your cakes after the point of layering, filling and crumb coating up to (2) months ahead and you can frost and decorate the day before and place in a fridge. (With the exception of decorating with fresh flowers–do that day of). Make sure your fridge/freezers are strong-smell free.
  • Use “cake paste” and parchment circles (order these–don’t try to cut) to release your cakes. Cake paste is an equal mix of shortening, vegetable oil and flour whisked together. Apply to your pans with a brush (not silicone) and get into every crevice. Then place the parchment circle in the bottom of the pan (on top of the paste). Just remember to peel it off after the cake is released (it is NOT easy to see). These cake boards are important to place your cakes on and they make them easy to flip.

  • If you have a tendency to bake cakes with “domes”, invest in a cake leveler or wraps.
  • I will use 2″ pans, so I don’t have to cut them when layering. You can use 3″ or 4″ pans and cut the layers as well.  There is a baking chart for 2″ and 3″ round pans at the end of this post. My first attempt was a 2 tier cake. More on this later. Happy baking!

Pan Servings Batter (cups) Baking Temp. Baking Time Icing (cups)
Round 3”
6″ 12 3 350° F 35 – 40 3
8″ 20 5 350° F 55 – 60 4
10″ 28 8 325° F 65 – 75 5
12″ 40 10-1/2 325° F 60 – 65 6
14″ 63 15 325° F 75 – 85 8
16″ 77 18 325° F 75 – 85 9

 

 

Pan Servings Batter (cups) Baking Temp. Baking Time Icing (cups)
Round 2”
6″ 12 2 350° F 25 – 30 3
7″ 16 2 1/2 350° F 30 – 35 3 1/2
8″ 20 3 350° F 30 – 35 4
9″ 24 5 1/2 350° F 30 – 35 4 1/2
10″ 28 6 350° F 35 – 40 5
12″ 40 7 1/2 350° F 35 – 40 6
14″ 63 10 325° F 50 – 55 7 1/2
16″ 77 15 325° F 55 – 60 9

Easy Rustic Berry Slab Pie

Ingredients

Oven 350 degrees. 11″x17″ cookie sheet–this is a big slab pie so feel free to half the recipe and use a smaller cookie sheet.

For Filling:

7-8 C of berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)

1/4 C cornstarch

1 1/4 C sugar

2 T lemon juice

For Crust:

2-3 C crushed frosted flakes

2 boxes (2 per box) of Pillsbury all ready pie crusts OR make your own (enough for 4 crusts)

optional: 1 egg white and about 1 T sugar for dusting, parchment paper

 

 

Mix your filling and set aside
Mix your filling and set aside
Unroll 2 of the crusts. Roll and make crusts fit an 11X17" cookie sheet--I would do this over parchment paper sheets for less mess. You will have to cut crusts to fit
Unroll 2 of the crusts. Roll and make crusts fit an 11X17″ cookie sheet–I would do this over parchment paper sheets for less mess. You will have to cut crusts to fit.
Don't worry about how it looks........
Don’t worry about how it looks……..
Add a layer of crushed frosted flakes--you can use cornflakes or unseasoned bread crumbs as well--but I like the frosted flakes. This will keep your bottom crust from being soggy.
Add a layer of crushed frosted flakes–you can use cornflakes or unseasoned bread crumbs as well–but I like the frosted flakes. This will keep your bottom crust from being soggy.
Layer your fruit filling
Layer your fruit filling
Add your two top crusts and tuck under. It ain't pretty--this is why it's called "rustic" :) IF you want beauty, you could do shape cut outs.
Add your two top crusts and tuck under. You don’t need to seal. Make some cuts in the top.  It ain’t pretty–this is why it’s called “rustic” 🙂 If you want beauty, you could do shape cut outs. I brush an egg white and dust with sugar but you do not need to do this step. Bake it for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 min.
Let it cool until you can slice it easily.
Let it cool until you can slice it easily.
Easy Rustic Berry Slab Pie
Easy Rustic Berry Slab Pie

 

 

Hot Chocolate Winter Wedding Favor

I’m so excited about these winter wedding favors. They were my gift to the lovely bride and groom. Check out below how to EASILY make these! A supply list is at the bottom of this post.

Winter Wedding Favors

For the Hot Chocolate mix: You need 4 things–and it is SO good!

1 recipe makes about 20-30 tubes–as you can see, I had to go to Costco because was a big wedding!

1(6 quart box) powdered milk

1 pound box or bag powdered sugar

1 pound container of Nestle’s Quik

1(6 oz) package of powdered coffee creamer

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Mix it with a slotted spoon–a blender would have been much quicker, but mine was too small for this recipe. You could also shake it all in a paper or plastic bag.

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Use a dry food funnel to get the mix into your cute tubes.

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Ditto with your chocolate sprinkles and dehydrated mini marshmallows. You could use crushed peppermint candies in place of the sprinkles too–that would be a little more Christmasy!

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Put a cork in it:) I added scotch tape around the end to seal it a little tighter(I was mailing them as well)

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Add on: You could probably make the labels but I ordered. I also got twine to tie around. We might add it later–they look pretty great as is. This couple used gold and burgundy for colors–so pretty!

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The appreciative bride when she received. They were mailed. Also notice they settle a bit so fill them up when you make them! Make sure you let guests know somehow that with this recipe you mix 1/3 mix to 2/3 hot water to make your gift!

Winter Wedding Favors

Supplies:

Hot Chocolate Mix (recipe above)

dehydrated marshmallows

chocolate sprinkles

tubes/corks

labels

twine/ribbon (optional)

Some tips:

InkScissorsPaper and other sites have all kinds of tubes–printed, screw top, flat on the bottom or curved, glass or plastic. I ordered flat plastic. I wanted them to be able to stand up. They also offer many different sizes.

 

Camo Cake

This is great for military or hunting. If you want to make it feminine you can use purple, teal, pink and white. I don’t like fondant, but camo needs to be smooth. Four colors (including your white) works great and you must use a crusting buttercream for the frosting. See my recipe here. This would work for a tie-dye look as well. For the cake, make four equal colors (you can mix chocolate and vanilla flavors too–get creative). Plop the cake mix by spoonfuls into your prepared pan and don’t mix. It’s random and fool-proof. I used Wilton Brown for the off white and brown colors, Juniper Green and Black. You can also use a VIVA paper towels to smooth instead of a paint roller, but it must be VIVA  brand. I ordered the Army edible from cakes.com and had the Army men. I used dog tags but I’ve seen edible dog tags as well.

After your cake cools and has a set crumb coat, it’s time for the fun. You can pipe or just squirt out of a ziplock with the end nipped off. Bag your 4 equal frosting colors. Randomly pipe the frosting on your cake. When you are finished, use a clean foam paint roller and you have a perfectly smooth, camo cake!

After your crumb coat, start randomly piping!
After your crumb coat, start randomly piping!
Sides too!
Sides too!
Make sure you fill the spaces.
Make sure you fill the spaces.
"paint" your cake--start with the sides and roll up and then smooth the top.
“paint” your cake–start with the sides and roll up and then smooth the top.
Whoohoo!
Whoohoo!
Finishing touches
Finishing touches
So easy!
So easy!

King Cupcakes for Mardi Gras Graduation Party–Part 3-The Frosting

Decorating–the fun part right? Not usually for me, because my frosting is usually buttercream-made with all butter, which tastes great, but is a greasy, slimy mess. This time, I was not going to deal with that. My aunt, the master baker of the family is very patient answering my questions like “Do I use unsalted or salted butter?” She found me a killer recipe for decorator buttercream. It was actually fun to ice my King Cupcakes.

2 sticks salted butter (at room temp)

1 white crisco stick –don’t try to use just butter flavored and skip the butter-flavored Crisco–trust me

cream butter first and then and crisco and blend together till smooth and fluffy.

Add 1 T of vanilla (I used regular and my frosting was still very white–use clear vanilla for a whiter look)

Blend well

Add 2 lbs of powdered sugar slowly while blending–then add milk to desired consistency a teaspoon at a time

Whip it for 5 minutes until it gets light and fluffy

Put a damp paper towel over the icing that you are not using–I guess this can be made and sealed in fridge up to 2 days before–I didn’t try that trick.

 

I doubled the recipe and mixed all at once--I should have probably done 2 batches--a little hard on the Kitchen Aide.
I doubled the recipe and mixed all at once–I should have probably done 2 batches–a little hard on the Kitchen Aide.

The doubled recipe iced 95 cupcakes using a start tip with abut a tablespoon of frosting left over.

I finally got a wilton bag and used it the right way--just used a bigger start tip. Put the bag in a glass to fill it. I had to remember to cover up any plastic babies......
I finally got a Wilton bag and used it the right way–just used a bigger start tip. Put the bag in a glass to fill it. I had to remember to cover up any plastic babies……
Cover your babies
Cover your babies

 

I like the colored sugars I got. Both brands were great. The Black and Gold are The Baker's Kitchen-the coarse sugars. The Royal Blue is CK Products Sanding Sugar. The CK Product was sparkly and shimmered more like glitter, which is great for a Mardi Gras party. Both are great for different looks.
I like the colored sugars I got. Both brands were great. The black and gold are The Baker’s Kitchen-the coarse sugars. The royal blue is CK Products Sanding Sugar. The CK Product was sparkly and shimmered more like glitter, which is great for a Mardi Gras party. Both are great for different looks.
Fondant topper mask placement. We added toppers to about 70% of the cupcakes.
Fondant topper mask placement. We added toppers to about 70% of the cupcakes.

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Congratulations ladies! Have fun in the deep south!
Congratulations ladies! Have fun in the deep south!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King Cupcakes for Mardi Gras Graduation Party–Part 2–The King Cupcakes

Now for the cake. This can be done ahead of time (up to one month and frozen. My secret to making cakes taste homemade is use a box mix, with the following substitutions: replace the water with milk, replace the oil with coconut oil or melted butter. Some people add an extra egg, I have found this not to work as well at higher altitude. (We are at 6,600 ft). I also add a teaspoon of vanilla–even to chocolate cake. For the King Cupcakes, I added 2 t of cinnamon per cake mix (dry) and 2 T of lemon juice to the mix.

I added 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon to the dry cake mix and sifted it--I'm sure you can skip sifting-I was having a thorough day. Add 1 teas. of vanilla, and mix the cake as directed replacing the water with milk and the vegetable oil with coconut oil if you have it. Beat it for a long time until it's lighter than normal.
I added 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon to the dry cake mix and sifted it–I’m sure you can skip sifting-I was having a thorough day. Add 1 teas. of vanilla, and mix the cake as directed replacing the water with milk and the vegetable oil with coconut oil if you have it. Beat it for a long time until it’s lighter than normal.
After baking as directed (I used white liners to bake in), I let them cool for a couple of minutes and then inserted a plastic baby in a few. DO NOT bake the baby in the batter--it will melt. That might seem obvious, but I had to ask my friend from NOLA......I bought the little plastic babies from Windy City Novelties online.
After baking as directed (I used white liners to bake in), I let them cool for a couple of minutes and then inserted a plastic baby in a few. DO NOT bake the baby in the batter–it will melt. That might seem obvious, but I had to ask my friend from NOLA……I bought the little plastic babies from Windy City Novelties online.
This is the point at which I sealed in tins and froze. I did get gold, black and blue liners to place under the white liners.
This is the point at which I sealed in tins and froze. I did get gold, black and blue liners to place under the white liners.

 

This is the story that will be displayed with the cupcakes. Coloradans aren't used to finding babies in their food. I don't want to break someone's tooth.
This is the story that will be displayed with the cupcakes. Coloradans aren’t used to finding babies in their food. I don’t want to break someone’s tooth.

King Cupcakes for Mardi Gras Graduation Party–Part 1 The Toppers

This is the first of a 3 part series. I’m pretty proud of myself–it was an intense project for the DIY who doesn’t like to do it herself. Here is the back story: My daughter will be attending college at McNeese State in Louisiana. Her graduation party partner in crime will be attending University of Southern Mississippi. We are from Colorado–I repeat–we are not southern and do not celebrate Mardi Gras. So what do we decide for a graduation party? Mardi Gras…….I’m in charge of the cupcakes. I’m gunna slay these bad boys. The first step (what you will see in this post) is to make the fondant masks for the toppers. These can be made 2 months in advance and frozen. I’m a big time person who plans ahead, so here it is. By the way, instead of the traditional Mardi Gras green, gold and purple, we are going with the college colors combined: royal blue, gold and black.

Silicone Fondant Mask--Bought off E-bay-like 2 bucks
Silicone Fondant Mask–Bought off E-bay-like 2 bucks
Fat Daddio's Pro Series Fondant in Yellow-8 oz. This stuff is from England--got off ebay--it's awesome--you can get any and every color and you don't have to buy a big tub. It was under 10 bucks.
Fat Daddio’s Pro Series Fondant in Yellow-8 oz. This stuff is from England–got off ebay–it’s awesome–you can get any and every color and you don’t have to buy a big tub. It was under 10 bucks.

 

 

Wash your hands and start working the fondant like playdough. Mash a chunk into your mold and scrape the excess. You might even push in the corners for a cleaner look
Wash your hands and start working the fondant like playdough. Mash a chunk into your mold and scrape the excess. You might even push in the corners for a cleaner look
Pop the masks out and lay on parchment paper or foil.
Pop the masks out and lay on parchment paper or foil.
We tried to make edible paint, but ended up using the edible metallic black and blue markers I purchased online. Way easier that using small paint brushes and mixing edible paint. Have some Q-tips and toothpicks handy to correct mistakes.
We tried to make edible paint, but ended up using the edible metallic black and blue markers I purchased online. Way easier than using small paint brushes and mixing edible paint. Have some Q-tips and toothpicks handy to correct mistakes.
This is pretty creative for us. We actually had fun with this.
This is pretty creative for us. We actually had fun with this.
After letting them dry a bit, we layered in Tupperware with parchment paper between layers. They are currently in the freezer waiting for the big bash. Stay tuned for part 2--making and freezing the King Cupcakes!
After letting them dry a bit, we layered in Tupperware with parchment paper between layers. They are currently in the freezer waiting for the big bash. Stay tuned for part 2–making and freezing the King Cupcakes!

Colorado Snow Ice-Cream Recipe

4 C of FRESH fallen snow (use dry ingredient measuring cup)

2/3 C powered sugar

1 t vanilla

2% or whole milk start with 2 T but you may need to add as needed

 

Mix all ingredients quickly and eat right away or freeze.  Can be frozen for a couple of days.

Some tips:

**My definition of “fresh snow” is about 1/2 to 1 foot that has fallen and has landed on a base of snow already there.  Of course this is up to you.  Kids will for sure eat dirty snow.:)

**Colorado snow is very dry, light and powdery.  If you live in the Midwest or in the East, you might need more sugar, and leave out milk.  If you just can’t get it right try granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar if you are dealing with dense, wet snow.

Fresh fallen snow: excuse the green light–it’s my porch light                                                               
Colorado Snow Ice-Cream
Colorado Snow Ice-Cream

 

 

 

Get Lit Gifts

These are great for teachers, the trash guy, your hair stylist–anyone who is over 21. You need:

Mason Jar Libation

(1) wide-mouth mason jar

(1) can of pop (Coke or 7up)

(1) cool looking straw

(1) little bottle of vodka (or your choice liquor–whiskey would be great with these)

some twine or thin cord

ribbon, jar wire and fabric square optional

 

 

start with your jar and a can of pop

place your can into your jar–you will have to eyeball the size–I got mine a little tall

place your can into your jar--you will have to eyeball the size--I got mine a little tall

I filled in with tissue paper

I filled in with tissue paper

this is the point where the string needs tied around your jar–leave the string ends long

this is the point where the string needs tied around your jar

place your fabric square over the lid seal and screw the lid on tight

place your fabric square over the lid seal and screw the lid on tight

 

with your string tight the straw tight with a knot

with you string tight the straw tight with a knot

tie the liquor bottle on

tie the liquor bottle on

add some ribbon and a jar wire:)

add some ribbon and a jar wire:)

 

Chug It Drink

(1) quart milk type jug (I purchased at Hobby Lobby)–If you cannot find use a mason jar–but the jugs are sooooo cute!

(1) quart of juice–I used cranberry–but really pineapple–or anything would be great

(1) little bottle of liquor–I used rum

(1) cool looking straw

twine, thin cord or ribbon

 

fill your quart jug with a juice (might want to use a funnel) and screw the lid on TIGHT

fill your quart jug with a juice (might want to use a funnel) and screw the lid on TIGHT

tie your cord/ribbon around the neck and make a knot

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tie straw on tight with a knot (may want to use some clear tape to keep in place)

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tie on the liquor bottle with a knot then a bow

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ready to give!