Thanksgiving Turkey Cake

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is this week!!!! Since I am a pie novice, of course I wanted to make a cake to celebrate T-Day. I was inspired by the turkey cake Baked by Dan made on one of his Food Network livestreams. This cute little turkey cake is made with colorful swirled pumpkin cake layers, and is covered in milk chocolate ganache. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “pumpkin, and chocolate??” Trust me on this one, it’s a surprisingly delicious combination. The recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Pumpkin Cake Batter:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (183 grams) – about 5 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (I used canned pumpkin for this)
  • yellow, orange, and red food coloring

Milk Chocolate Ganache:

  • 23 oz. (652 grams) milk chocolate chips (I use Hershey’s)
  • 1 cup + 1 tsp (230 grams) heavy cream

Additional Decorations:

  • red, orange and yellow fondant (I use the Satin Ice brand – I think it tastes best of all the premade fondant!)
  • 1 set of jumbo eye sprinkles, or eyes made with black and white fondant
  • piping bag
  • kitchen scale (for ganache)

Instructions:

The milk chocolate ganache needs a few hours to firm up before you can you cover the cake, so I like to make it in advance (usually the night before)! Note that if you want to use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, you will need to use more cream (weight ratio of dark chocolate to heavy cream is 2:1, milk chocolate is 3:1)

To make the ganache,  place chocolate chips or chopped chocolate into a bowl. In a separate bowl, heat heavy cream at a medium heat until it just begins to bubble (watch very carefully, heavy cream can bubble over in the blink of an eye!!). Pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for about 2 minutes without touching it, then stir until fully incorporated. If there are still lumps of chocolate, heat the bowl for 15 seconds and then stir again; continue until no lumps remain. Once the mixture is nice and smooth, place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache, and let it sit overnight.

The fondant accents also need to be made in advance, so they can dry. Roll out colored fondant to be 1/4 of an inch thick, and cut out feather shaped pieces (mine looked like giant tear drops) that are about 4 inches long. Use circle cutters to make cartoon fondant eyes, and shape a beak, two turkey feet, and a gobble. Set aside to dry.

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Next, prepare the pumpkin cake layers. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 7″ round pans.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and pumpkin puree, and mix at a low speed until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Divide batter between three bowls, coloring them yellow, orange, and red with gel food coloring. Add spoonfuls of batter into the pans, then tap them on the counter to flatten the batter. Swirl together using a butter knife (full tutorial on how to make swirled layers here).

Bake for 37-38 minutes for 7 inch cake pans (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers on a rack to finish cooling.

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To assemble the cake, cover cake layers with a generous layer of ganache, and stack vertically. Add a thick, even layer of ganache around the cake using an offset spatula. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

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Place remaining ganache into a piping back, and pipe wings half way up the sides of the cake. Next, add on the facial features to the front of the cake. Secure the feathers to the back of the cake, using additional tabs of ganache. Once the entire back fan of feathers is in place, trim remaining feathers and gently insert into the top of the cake neat the other feathers. I found the cutting a slit into the top of the cake with a small knife made this process much easier.

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As fun as this cake is to build, it’s even more fun to cut into!! The swirled layers contrast beautifully against the chocolate ganache, and the pumpkin / chocolate flavor combo is a real crowd pleaser. It’s perfect for kids, and the adults don’t seem to mind it either 🙂

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Apple Pie Layer Cake

In the spirit of Fall, I wanted to make some pies! That was, until I remembered that I’m terrified of pie crust, and thought better of it! Instead, I wound up making this Apple Pie Layer Cake. It’s made with a cinnamon spice layer cake, cinnamon buttercream, and an apple pie filling. It’s basically a pie and cake all wrapped up in four layers of deliciousness, without the fuss of ice cold butter and a pastry cutter.

For the decoration of this cake, I was inspired by Milk and Water Baking Co! Their beautiful and vibrant frosting techniques have taken over Instagram by storm, and I couldn’t resist trying it out on this cake! The full recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Cinnamon Spice Cake Batter:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (244 grams) – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil

Apple Pie Filling: 

  • 1/2 cup of water (120ml)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (25g)
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch (30g)
  • 2 Tbsp water (30ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced apples, peeled and cored (about 1 1/2 large apples – I used granny smith) (200g)

Cinnamon Buttercream:

  • 6 sticks or 3 cups (about 650 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 cups (1,360 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp (6 grams) salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. (60 grams) heavy cream
  • 3 tsp (12 grams) vanilla
  • optional: fall colored gel food coloring (I used yellow, orange, red, and brown)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 8″ round pans with parchment rounds.

Being by making the cinnamon spice cake batter. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-37 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Remove the layers from the pans, wrap in saran wrap, and place in the freezer. It’s ok if they’re still warm, this will help lock in the moisture, making delicious, moist layers!

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the apple pie filling. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp of cinnamon into a large sauce pan, and bring to a boil at a medium high heat. Mix together the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar, 2 Tbsp of water, and 3 Tbsp of cornstarch to create a slurry (to thicken the filling). Add this slurry to the sauce pan, and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens (should happen pretty quickly). Add the diced apples, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 5 minutes, until the apples are partially tender (you don’t want them to get too soft, and turn to mush!!) remove from heat and set aside to cool fully.

Next, prepare the cinnamon buttercream. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Once all the components are prepared, it’s time to assemble the cake! Secure the first cake layer to the cake board with a small dab of buttercream. Pipe a thick ring of buttercream around the perimeter of the layer. Fill the center with about 1/2 cup of the apple pie filling. repeat with remaining layers. Apply a thin layer of frosting around the outside of the cake (crumb coat), and smooth with a bench scraper. chill for about 10 minutes in the fridge (or 5 in the freezer), until the crumb coat is firm to the touch.

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To create the Milk and Water Baking Co look, color the remaining frosting fall colors (orange, yellow, red, brown), and blend together in piping bags with various piping tips.

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Pipe colorful bursts of frosting around the cake, until the entire cake is covered. I combined some of the colors into piping bags, and tried to spread out the colors to give it a somewhat uniform look.

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I added some rosettes and squiggles using a wilton 1M, and some ruffles and cherry blossom flowers using a petal tip.

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Once the cake is fully covered, it’s time to enjoy!! This cake not only looks like Fall, it tastes like it too 🙂

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Salmon Avocado Sushi Roll Cake

I’ve made sushi cakes before, but this time I wanted to take it a bit further and create a giant piece of a sushi roll!! The key to making a good sushi cake is having jet black frosting, and perfectly sized candy “rice.” Through trial and error, I’ve found that white jelly beans (the coconut flavor, to be specific) work best! I get mine at my neighborhood candy store, but if you can’t find them you could also use white sprinkles, or shredded coconut. For the jet-black frosting, I like to make chocolate buttercream using black cocoa, and then add a bit of black gel food coloring.

You can watch a full tutorial here, and the recipes are included below:

Recipes:

1 batch vanilla cake batter, baked in four 8 inch cake pans, for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F

1/2 batch vanilla cake batter, divided in half, one colored light green, one colored salmon; baked in two square (8 x 8 inch) pans sheet pan for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit

1.5 batches buttercream frosting, colored as follows:

  •  1/3 colored black with 3 squirts of black gel food coloring and 1/3 cup black cocoa + 1 additional Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/3 left uncolored
  • 1/6 colored orange
  • 1/6 colored lime green
  • 1/6 colored dark green

Tools/decorations:

  • 10 inch grease-proof cake board
  • offset spatula
  • spinning cake stand
  • Gel food coloring (I used Americolor):
    • avocado: electric green and leaf green food coloring
    • For the salmon: orange gel food coloring
  • white jelly beans (the coconut flavor)

Use the cake recipes above to make four, 8-inch cake layers (white), and two 8 inch square layers (orange and green).

Chill the layers in the freezer once baked and cooled, to make them easier to frost and cut (I wrap my layers in saran wrap, and freeze them overnight, then allow them the sit out for about 20 minutes before frosting). Use a 4 inch circle cutter to cut out 2 orange cake circles, and 2 green cake circles. Cut each circle in half.

Use the same cutter to cut out the centers of the four cake layers. Take one half circle of orange cake, and one half circle of orange, and place them into the open center of the white circle layers.

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Once the buttercream is prepared and colored,  place each color into a piping bag. To assemble the cake, pipe the colored buttercream onto each layer to correspond with the color of each cake layer. Begin in the center with the orange and green frostings, and then use white frosting to pipe around the colored frosting.

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Repeat until all four cake layers are stacked, then repeat on top of the cake. Add white jelly beans onto the white frosting. Place the remaining white buttercream into a piping bag with a very small opening (1/2 cm), and pipe thin lines into the orange frosting, to look like the fat of the salmon. Smooth any overhanging frosting, and chill the cake for about 5 minutes in the fridge or freezer.

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Once the frosting is firm to the touch, apply a second, thicker layer of black frosting onto the sides of the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

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Then it’s time to cut and enjoy!! The best part is how colorful the inside is once you slice in 🙂

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Chocolate Pistachio Cake

I didn’t really eat pistachios as a kid, but grew to love them in college! My fiance is quite severely allergic to them (all tree nuts, for that matter), so I rarely eat them these days. Since we don’t keep any in our apartment, that also means I never bake with them!! I wanted to fix that, and the solution was this chocolate pistachio cake one afternoon while he was out running errands. It’s decadent, salty, and packed with pistachios!

This cake has a lot of different components, so I made the cake layers, chocolate ganachce, and brigadeiros a day advance (froze the cake layers, stored brigadeiros at room temperature in an air tight container, and let the ganache sit on the counter) to break up the time commitment of this cake. The recipes used can be found below:

Begin by baking the cake layers, making 6, 8 inch layers (they will be relatively thin, and should bake flat!). Allow the layers to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing. Wrap layers in saran wrap and place into the freeze to cool, and lock in moisture.

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While the cake layers bake, prepare the brigadeiros. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the 3 Tbsp cocoa, 1 Tbsp butter and 1 14 oz. can of condensed milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan (about 12 minutes). Remove from heat, and chill until the mixture is cool to the touch (it should be pretty firm to the touch, and will need to be to keep it’s shape!). Form into small balls, and roll in chopped pistachios. Place onto parchment paper and chill in the fridge.

Next, prepare the pistachio buttercream. Make 1 batch of my classic american buttercream. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour pistachio pudding mix into a bowl, and add 2 Tbsp heavy cream. Stir to begin to dissolve the pudding mixture. Once mixed, add into the frosting, and mix until fully incorporated. Add a couple small drops of gel food coloring to achieve a light green shade of frosting.

Then make the chocolate ganache. If making dark chocolate ganache, use a weight ratio of 2:1 (chocolate to cream). If making milk chocolate ganache, use a ratio of 3:1. For this recipe I used 2 bags of chocolate chips (about 23 oz, or 650 grams). Place both the chocolate and heavy cream in a heat proof bowl, and heat it for 30 second increments (stirring very gently each time, scrapping the edges of the bowl). Usually after about 2 minutes of heat, all the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is fully incorporated and smooth, I place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache, and let it sit overnight. Before adding the room temperature ganache to a cake, I give it a slow stir with a spatula.

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Then it’s time to assemble the cake! Stack cake layers, alternating chocolate ganache and pistachio frosting, and sprinkling chopped pistachios between each layer.

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Once assembled, cover the cake in chocolate ganache. Sprinkle chopped pistachios around the base of the cake, and top with brigadeiros. I used a large offset spatula to create rings around the side of the cake, and I sprinkled some sea salt over the top of the cake. It tasted just as good as it looks! I brought this into work for my coworkers to help eat, and it was gone in record time 🙂

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Shattered Glass Cake

I have a confession…I loved the shattered glass Halloween cupcakes I made last week so much that I decided to make a shattered glass CAKE!! It some how looks more gory than the cupcakes, but it tastes just as delicious. The recipe and instructions can be found below:

1 batch my favorite vanilla layer cake (4, 7″ cake rounds)

1.5 batches my classic American buttercream

Edible Glass Shards:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • candy thermometer

Additional Supplies:

  • strawberry jam
  • red food coloring
  • hammer or meat mallet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare cake batter. Bake 4, 7 inch layers for about 38 minutes. Once removed from the oven, carefully run a small offset spatula around the perimeter of the pan, to separate the layers. Let these cool for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the pans and place in the freezer for about 45 minutes (accelerates the cooling process).

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the buttercream frosting. Beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the heavy cream half way through. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time). To watch a full tutorial on how I make my frosting, you can click here.

To make the edible glass shards,  mix 1 cup water, 1/2 cup corn syrup, sugar, and cream of tartar in a large saucepan or pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Use a candy thermometer and boil sugar syrup until temperature reaches 300 degrees, stirring constantly. It’s super important that you get the mixture to exactly 300 degrees, and immediately remove from the heat one it does. If it doesn’t reach this temperature, it won’t fully harden, and you won’t be able to smash it into smaller shards. If it gets hotter than this, or if you don’t stir if constantly, the mixture can begin to caramelize and gain a yellowish hue. When sugar reaches 300 degrees, quickly pour onto a metal baking pan. Cool until completely firm to the touch. Break into “shards” using a hard object (I sterilized a hammer for this, but a meat mallet would work too!).

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Remove the layers from the freezer, and use a 3 inch circle cutter to remove the centers of two of the layers. Begin assembling the cake using an uncut cake layer. Frost with an even layer of vanilla buttercream, then top with one of the cake layers. Gently frost the cake ring, the stack with the other cut layer. Spread an even layer of buttercream on top of the second cake ring, then smooth frosting into the cut-out center of the cake.

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Mix one squirt of red gel food coloring into the strawberry jam, and then carefully pour into the center of the cake. Fill to the top, then place the last cake layer on top. Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second, thicker layer of frosting using the black chocolate buttercream. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

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Stick glass shards into the frosting on top of the cake, and then drizzle some of the remaining red jam between the shards. Then gather everyone around, and cut into the cake for a gory site!!

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Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes

I know, red wine AND dark chocolate?? WHAT?? This is one combo you’re just going to have to trust me on. The deep flavors of the dark chocolate and red wine pair surprisingly well together, and it’s just an added bonus that you can pour yourself a glass of the leftover red wine while making these. This recipe is perfect for these chilly fall evenings, and for the Holiday season! The full recipe can be found below:

Chocolate Red Wine Cupcake Batter (inspired by Sally’s amazing chocolate cupcake recipe):

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup your favorite red wine (I used a bottle of cabernet sauvignon)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Red Wine Buttercream:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp red wine
  • red and black gel food coloring

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Ganache:

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp red wine

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Bake Time: 19-20 minutes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and line cupcake tins with 12 liners.

Begin by making the red wine chocolate cupcake batter. Add dry ingredients into a bowl, and whisk together. Combine buttermilk, eggs, wine, and oil in a separate bowl, and mix into the dry ingredients in two installments. Stir until the ingredients are fully combined, then scoop equal amounts into liners using a cookie scoop (fill about 1/2 way, they will rise!). Bake for 19-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack.

While the cupcakes bake and cool, prepare the red wine frosting. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Add the cream and red wine during this process.  Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. Add a few squirts of red gel food coloring, and the smallest drop of black gel food coloring. Mix until the color is evenly distributed, and is a deep red shade. Place into a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M tip.

Next, prepare the red wine chocolate ganache. Place chopped dark chocolate and heavy cream into a heat proof bowl, and heat in microwave for 30 seconds at full heat. Stir, then heat for an additional 30 seconds. Stir again, then heat for 15 seconds. Let the mixture sit for about 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Add in the red wine, then set aside.

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Remove the centers from the fully cooled cupcakes using a 1 inch circle cutter or cupcake corer. Fill the center fully with a spoonful of red wine chocolate ganache.

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Frost with a large swirl of red wine frosting. Warm up any leftover ganache for 30 seconds to make it more fluid, then drizzle the leftover ganache over the top of the cupcakes.

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I also added a wine shaped pipette into the cupcakes, filled with wine. Because you can never have too much wine 😛

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Spooky Vampire Bat Cake

As we get closer to Halloween, my mind is completely filled with Halloween-themed cake ideas!! This vampire bat cake is made with my favorite chocolate layer cake recipe, frosted with my black buttercream frosting, and has a strawberry “blood” filling!! This cake is just as spooky as it is silly 🙂 The full recipe can be found below, along with a quick tutorial:

Recipes:

Bake four, seven inch chocolate cake rounds. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the bat’s wings and facial features. Use circle cutters to create the eyes, and wings. Insert wooden skewers or tooth picks into the wings, to make it easier to secure them onto the cake. Place the fondant details onto parchment paper to dry.

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Once fully cooled, use a 3 inch circle cutter to remove the centers of two of the layers. Begin assembling the cake using an uncut cake layer. Frost with an even layer of vanilla buttercream, then top with one of the cake layers. Gently frost the cake ring, the stack with the other cut layer. Spread an even layer of buttercream on top of the second cake ring, then smooth frosting into the cut-out center of the cake.

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Mix one squirt of red gel food coloring into the strawberry jam, and then carefully pour into the center of the cake. Fill to the top, then place the last cake layer on top. Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, add a second, thicker layer of frosting using the black chocolate buttercream. Smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

Add facial features onto the side of the cake, and insert the wings 2/3 of the way up the cake, on each side of the face.

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Then gather everyone around for the dramatic cut!!! The strawberry jam will begin oozing out as soon as you remove the first slice, so be prepared!

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A little bit Chelsey, a whole lot of sweet!

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