Category Archives: Cakes

Cakes of all kind

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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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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The Ultimate Breakfast Cake

One of my favorite things about the East Coast is diners! There are tons of old-school diners, complete with bottomless coffee and a 15 page menu. It has become one of my favorite weekend activities, and is also the inspiration for this cake. It’s made with maple cake layers, a maple buttercream, and even has a maple caramel drizzle! To decorate the top, I also added real mini pancakes, candied bacon, and some fondant fried eggs. You can watch a full tutorial showing how to decorate this cake here:

The recipes can be found below:

Recipes:

1 batch vanilla cake batter + 1 Tbsp maple extract (I get mine at Whole Foods)

1.5 batches buttercream frosting + 1 Tbsp maple extract

1 batch caramel + 1 tsp maple extract

Decorations:

  • 2 fondant fried eggs (made out of yellow and white fondant, with edges painted brown using gel food coloring and vodka)
  • candied bacon (8-10 strips of bacon, sprinkled with brown sugar and tiny bit of cayenne pepper; baked at 400 degree F for about 20 minutes)
  • 5 mini pancakes (about 2.5 inches in diameter, made with pancake mix)
  • 1 pat of butter
  • chocolate ganache

Use the cake recipe to make four, 8-inch cake layers. Chill the layers in the freezer once baked and cooled, to make them easier to frost (I wrap my layers in saran wrap, and freeze them overnight, then allow them the sit out for about 20 minutes before frosting). Once the buttercream and caramel are prepared,  assemble the cake. Spread an even layer of buttercream onto each cake layer, and drizzle maple caramel over the entire layer on top of the frosting. Stack and repeat using remaining layers, flipping the top cake layer upside down (makes it easier to frost).  Apply a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake (crumb coat), and chill the cake for about 5 minutes in the fridge or freezer. Once the frosting is firm to the touch, apply a second, thicker layer of frosting and smooth using a bench scraper. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here.

Once frosted, begin decorating the cake by adding the hash brown boarder. Coat the sides of a frosting bag with chocolate ganache, and then fill with leftover buttercream.

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Cut a small opening at the tip (1/4 inch), and pipe 1 inch lines in various directions around the base of the cake. The frosting should be streaked with the ganache giving it the look of browned hash browns.

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Next, stack the mini pancakes on top of each other, and secure using a small skewer. Slice the candied bacon strips in half, and pile next to the pancakes. Add the fondant eggs to the remaining space on top of the cake.

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Drizzle caramel over pancake stack and down the sides of the cake. Top the pancake stack with a pat of butter, then slice in and enjoy!!!

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Easy Smash Cake Ideas

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Smash cakes seem to be a rite of passage for many of today’s children, and I wanted to share a few easy ways to decorate them! These smash cakes are inspired by Baked by Melissa’s (Melissa Ben-Ishay) new cake book! It includes a banana smash cake with a straight peanut butter filling, which she used to celebrate her daughter’s first birthday. This helps keep the sugar levels low in the cake…or at least lower than a normal cake! If you’re interested in ordering her book, you can click here.

I was able to make 3 smash cakes out of one batch of a banana cake recipe, which I baked in two half sheet pan! I built each smash cake using 4 inch circle cut outs. Each cake was built with three layers (total of 12 cut outs). You could definitely make larger cut outs if desired, or bake the layers in cake pans as opposed to doing cut outs.

I made three different designs; one was covered covered in sprinkles (easiest), one was decorated with buttercream flowers (more difficult), and another was decorated like a monster (moderate difficulty). Below is a full video tutorial showing how each smash cake is decorated:

The tools and recipes you need to make these cakes can be found below:

Recipes:

  • 1 batch of your favorite banana cake (this is mine)
  • 1 cup of your favorite frosting (here’s mine)
  • 1 small jar of your favorite smooth peanut butter (I used Skippy’s)

Sprinkle Smash Cake Decoration:

  • one jar of rainbow jimmies

Pink Flower Smash Cake Decoration:

  • pink food coloring (I use americolor gel food coloring)
  • green food coloring
  • frosting piping bags (or ziploc bags)
  • Wilton 1M tip (open star)
  • Wilton 103 tip (petal tip) – optional

Blue and Green Monster Smash Cake Decoration:

  • blue food coloring (I use americolor gel food coloring)
  • green food coloring
  • frosting piping bags (or ziploc bags)
  • grass frosting tip (wilton 233)
  • black and white fondant

Once the cake batter is baked and cooled, cut out circles of desired size.

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Stack the layers, applying an even layer of peanut butter between each layer. Chill cake in freeze for roughly 10 minutes. This will make them much easier to frost.

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Once chilled, apply a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) using an offset spatula or butter knife. Be sure to cover the entire cake, so that all the crumbs from the cake layers will be locked in place. Chill the cake in the fridge or freezer until the frosting is firm to the touch (5-15 minutes), then add a second, thicker layer of frosting. Smooth using an offset spatula, and a bench scraper.

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For the sprinkle version, take a handful of sprinkles, and very gently press them into the frosting. You want to press just firmly enough to stick them into the frosting, but not hard enough to cause an indentation in the smooth frosting.

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To make the pink flower version, color 5/6 of the left over frosting pink, and color 1/6 of it green. Add dabs of pink frosting around the cake, and smooth around the cake to create a watercolor effect. Place some pink frosting into a piping bag with a wilton 1M tip, and pipe buttercream rosettes on top of the cake. If you have a wilton 103 or 104 tip, pipe roses onto parchment squares, and freeze until they’re firm to the touch (as seen here). Gently peel them off the parchment paper, and place on top of the cake. Add small dabs of green frosting between the flowers, to look like leaves.

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To make the monster-inspired cake, divide the remaining frosting evenly between two bowls, and color blue and green. Place colored frosting into two separate bags with a grass tip. Starting at the base of the cake, pipe horizontal stripes of blue and green around the cake, until it is fully covered. Make fondant horns and eyes (could also use an oreo cookie for the eye, and macadamia nuts or almonds for the horns), and gently press into buttercream.

And then it’s time to place the smash cake in front of your adorable baby and see what happens!! Most kids get pretty into it, and tend to make a mess! Be sure to have a camera ready to capture the moment 🙂